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Don Quixote

Foreign Elections Thread - Currently: Austria and Australia; EU Parliament coming up

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5 minutes ago, Maurile Tremblay said:

He's at 73% in a blurb I saw. That's remarkable.

Massive protest vote. What it means is not certain, e.g. if he is not successful in bringing the diverse voting blocs what they wanted other than "not Poroshenko" there could be a big backlash in five years

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Meanwhile, in Macedonia...

Pro western candidate wins 1st round of presidential elections

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Results on the State Election Commission web site based on 74 percent of the votes counted showed Pendarovski in lead with 42.6 percent of the votes. His main rival, opposition candidate Gordana Siljanovska-Davkova came second with 41.6 percent of the votes

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The presidency of the former Yugoslav republic is a mostly ceremonial post, but acts as the supreme commander of the armed forces and signs off on parliamentary legislation.

The refusal of outgoing nationalist President Gjeorge Ivanov to sign some bills passed by parliament has delayed the implementation of some key laws, including one on wider use of the Albanian language - 18 years after an ethnic Albanian uprising that pushed Macedonia to the brink of civil war.

 

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1 hour ago, SaintsInDome2006 said:
4 hours ago, msommer said:

Exit polls suggest comedian won in Ukraine run off

Hoping for the best in Ukraine. Governing is not easy, though neither is comedy

I’m not expecting good from this but we’ll see.

I don't know a ton about Ukrainian politics, but electing a comedian who played a president on TV seems like a really really dumb move....

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https://www.thenation.com/article/ukraine-presidential-elections-poroshenko-zelensky/

For millions of Ukrainian citizens mired in economic corruption, this election is anything but funny. Millions of rational people would rather take their chances with an untested comedian than the US-backed Poroshenko. That staggering decision behooves us to pay attention.

For the past five years, Ukraine played a central role in US foreign policy. Washington vigorously supported the 2013–14 Maidan uprising that ousted Viktor Yanukovych and brought Poroshenko to power. A bipartisan Who’s Who of Washington powerbrokers, including Senator John McCain and Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland, hustled into Kiev to cheer on the uprising.

Five years later, the majority of Ukrainians are overwhelmingly rejecting that choice.

Indeed, it’s hard to consider this election as anything other than a referendum on not only Poroshenko’s presidency, but the entire US-backed Maidan project.

Over the past five years, as Western politicians and think tankers churned out bromides about Kiev’s being on the front lines of freedom and democracy, ordinary Ukrainians were plunged into an economic nightmare in a nation that, under Poroshenko, became the poorest country in Europe.

The US and the EU sank billions into Poroshenko’s Kiev in the hope he’d tackle corruption. Of course, the notion was ludicrous. Putting one of the richest men in Ukraine—whose assets had soared the year after Maidan—in charge of defeating corruption is a bit like putting the drug baron El Chapo in charge of drug enforcement. The outcome wasn’t hard to predict.

The West’s faith in Poroshenko further cemented hatred against him. One would imagine the only thing worse than being unable to afford food is doing so while listening to “let them eat spreadsheets” platitudes from Western analysts as the country’s billionaire president adds to his piggy bank.

This brings us to Poroshenko’s other defining characteristic: ultranationalism. Over the past five years, he’s steadily ratcheted up a nationalist agenda, including: state-sponsored glorification of western Ukrainian Nazi collaborators who are reviled in eastern Ukraine; forced “decommunization”; language laws elevating Ukrainian above other tongues in radio, television, and education; and book bans of “anti-Ukrainian” literature, including by acclaimed Western historians.

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Spain general election on Sunday.  Interesting thing to watch will be the support for the far right Vox party.

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Can Spain’s elections on Sunday deliver a functioning government?

On Sunday, Spain will hold an election for its parliament, which will then choose a new government.

This is the third time that Spaniards have voted in national elections since 2015. After the first of these elections, parliament could not agree on a government, so a repeat election was held in 2016. After that, parliament selected Mariano Rajoy of the conservative Popular Party as prime minister — but only because the main opposition Socialists abstained. With only 39 percent of seats in parliament, the Popular Party formed a single-party minority government, with support from a new center-right party, Citizens.

The conservative government did not survive long. In May 2018, a court ruled that the Popular Party had benefited from an illegal kickback scheme in the early 2000s. In June 2018, the center-left Socialist Party (PSOE) rallied opposition parties to bring down the government in a vote of no confidence.

The no-confidence vote brought the Socialist Party into power, and Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez formed a single-party minority government. The Socialists held only 24 percent of the seats in parliament. This government will be even more short-lived than the last one. After parliament rejected the government’s budget bill in February, Sánchez called the early elections that will take place this Sunday.

Both governments struggled to accomplish their political agendas and pass budgets — and, clearly, failed to survive.

That’s new in Spain. Its previous governments were among the longest-lasting in Europe. They generally accomplished their political priorities, regardless of whether they governed with a majority.

The Sunday elections are set to fragment parliament further, complicating the formation of a new government — and raising the question of whether Spain can be governed.

Parties have proliferated in Spain

Before 2015, the Socialist Party and the Popular Party dominated Spain’s politics. Small, often regional parties from Catalonia, the Basque Country and elsewhere gave support to governments when they did not have majorities. This made Spain governable.

Things have changed. Voters supported new parties in 2015. Podemos (We can), an anti-establishment party to the left of the Socialists, won seats in parliament. So did Citizens, a party that campaigned on political renewal. Citizens started as a center-right party opposed to Catalan nationalism; it stresses that it will defend a single Spanish nation. In contrast, Podemos’s vision accommodates Spain’s multiple national identities.

Parliament will fragment even more after the coming election, particularly on the right. Polls project that a far-right party, Vox, will win seats for the first time. Spain had stood out from other European nations trending right because it did not have an electorally viable far right. No longer.

Much like its European counterparts, Vox is nativist and anti-Islam. But its lifeblood is Spanish nationalism, opposing Spain’s own peripheral national identities and the Catalonian push for independence. It supports political centralization, conservative values and right-wing economic policies. It resolutely opposes feminism, which it calls “gender ideology” — and wants to repeal Spain’s laws against gender violence. Citizens and the Popular Party also have moved further right.

These are the first national elections since the failed push for independence by Catalan secessionists in October 2017. While Spain is beyond the peak tension of the Catalan crisis, several political and societal leaders are in prison and on trial for related charges, including rebellion, sedition and misappropriation of funds. Catalonia and territorial and national-identity questions have dominated the election campaign.

The election’s outcome is more uncertain than usual

Polls have the Socialist Party with a secure lead of about 30 percent of the vote. The Popular Party, with 20 percent; Citizens, with almost 15 percent; the Podemos alliance, with 14 percent; Vox, with 11 percent; and other small and regional parties follow. However, the outcome remains highly uncertain.

Voters are far less loyal to parties than they have been in the past. Voters on the right, in particular, are wavering about whether to vote for the Popular Party, Citizens or Vox. Spain’s most comprehensive pre-election survey estimated that as many as 42 percent of voters were undecided. And turnout matters. What’s more, in districts that elect few legislators, small changes in the vote can greatly affect which parties win seats.

So, much like the previous parliament but more so, the new one will be fragmented and even more polarized. This time, however, there is little chance there will be a single-party cabinet. The newer parties will probably demand cabinet positions. A coalition government would be a novelty; Spain has had only single-party national cabinets since democracy returned about 40 years ago.

There are several possible governments. Based on polls, the most likely is a leftist coalition government of the Socialist Party and Podemos, possibly with support from regional parties in parliament. This government may need support from Catalan secessionist parties, as has been true for the current Socialist government. Such a government would face constant criticism from the political right for what it views as selling out to secessionists — which has plagued the Sánchez government.

A second possibility is a coalition between the Socialists and Citizens with a centrist policy agenda, yet unclear effects on how Spain will manage its severe territorial divisions, especially Catalonia. But Albert Rivera, the leader of Citizens, has repeatedly ruled out governing with Sánchez’s Socialists. This makes an about-face costly, if results allow for it.

A third possibility is a right-wing government of the Popular Party and Citizens, in which the far-right Vox either supports or (less likely) enters the government. There is a precedent. Earlier this year, Vox supported the Popular Party and Citizens as the latter two formed a government in Andalusia, Spain’s largest region. The three parties have focused their campaigns on Spanish national identity and opposition to Catalan secessionists, whom they view as having perpetrated a coup against Spain. They have threatened to suspend Catalonia’s autonomy again.

The day after

Regardless of the outcome, choosing a government will take time. Political parties will want to wait until after the regional and local elections on May 26. In Spain’s decentralized political system, political parties often exchange support across territorial levels — local, regional and national. Plus, the ongoing trial of Catalan independence leaders will influence their willingness (and that of their voters) to support a leftist government.

This leaves, of course, a fourth possibility: failure to form a government, and new elections.

 

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We can file this in the "Ungood" section

Benin holds vote with no opposition candidates

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People in Benin are voting for a new parliament but without a single opposition candidate taking part.

The electoral authorities ruled last month that only two parties - both loyal to President Patrice Talon - met the requirements to take part.

New electoral laws mean a party had to pay about $424,000 (£328,000) to field a list for the 83-seat parliament.

Internet access has been restricted with social media and messaging apps blocked in the West African nation.

Five million people are registered to vote in the country, known as one of Africa's most stable democracies.

Rights activists have criticised a ban and crackdown on peaceful protests by those angered by the opposition's exclusion as well as the arrests of political activists and journalists.

"The growing wave of arrests and detentions in Benin is extremely troubling, particularly in the context of elections," François Patuel, from UK-based Amnesty International, said in a statement.

"Banning peaceful protests and detaining those who speak up against the exclusion of opposition parties from the legislative election will only fuel political turmoil."

Last week, security forces fired tear gas as two former presidents - Nicéphore Soglo and Thomas Boni Yayi - addressed an impromptu demonstration about the elections in the main city of Cotonou.

Five years ago voters in Benin, which introduced multi-party elections in the 1990s, could chose from 20 parties for the 83 seats in parliament, AFP news agency reports.

President Talon, a former businessman known as the "king of cotton", came to office in 2016 on a modernist ticket.

He says the electoral reforms were intended to bring together the country's several hundred political parties into streamlined blocs.

He has also overseen laws barring health workers from striking and limiting strikes by other civil servants or government workers to 10 days a year.

Correspondents say many people had expected him to postpone the vote to give the opposition time to meet the new requirements.

But in a national address on 11 April, President Talon said that he did not have the power to interfere in the electoral process.

On Sunday morning, voter turnout was slow in Cotonou, AFP says.

Double plus ungood? Maybe

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Spain's election: What just happened?

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After weeks of Spain's resurgent far right hogging all the headlines, didn't the centre-left just win a resounding victory?

Did Spaniards have a last-minute change of heart? What does this all mean?

Spain's Socialist party members will certainly have the biggest smiles on their faces this morning. But landslide victory this was not.

The party improved massively on its last performance in national elections. It managed to take control of Spain's upper house of parliament too, but still lacks a majority to govern.

Financial markets and the EU would ideally like to see the Socialists now jump into bed with the centre-right Citizens' party (which prefers to describe itself as "liberal") but a more likely Socialist party partnership is with populist left Podemos, with added support from Basque and possibly Catalan parties.

That is something that many Spaniards - who are still smarting from Catalonia's brief but defiant declaration of independence - will resent.

The recent push for Catalan independence and the perceived failure of Spain's traditional politicians to handle the situation is what suddenly drew large numbers of voters to the populist nationalist Vox party.

It promised to "make Spain great again" - a familiar-sounding slogan, just as its tough stance on Islam, on crime and on immigration has echoes of France's Le Pen and Italy's Salvini.

But unlike many of Europe's populist nationalists, Vox failed to seduce disillusioned workers traditionally voting for the left.

Spain is a country that has been deeply divided between right and left since the country's civil war back in the 1930s.

The idea of a far-right party in Spain's parliament - possibly even in government - for the first time since the death of fascist military dictator Francisco Franco, sickened large sections of Spanish society.

You hear a number of voters saying it is not so much that they voted for the Socialists, but rather that they voted against Vox.

In the end, Vox managed to win 24 parliamentary seats, roughly what polls had predicted, but the result fell far short of the political earthquake they had hoped for.

Arguably their most dramatic achievement was to splinter Spain's political right, leaving the normally powerful centre-right, the now rather ironically-named Popular Party, humiliated.

Spain's exhausted electorate now limps towards municipal, regional and European elections in a month's time.

Deep political divisions seem to be the new normal in Europe - just take a look at France, Italy or the UK.

I think "deep political division" is the wrong way to describe what is going on in various European countries now. IMHO the traditional parties have not (yet) come up with real(istic) solutions for new problems and thus the flirtation with populism, with people who say they have solutions (be they ever so extreme) but really have nothing to show for it.

E.G. Italy's coalition is in tatters and despite the election rhetoric have not solved a thing. E.g. they passed a budget, had it rejected by EU, passed another one that the EU liked, which they plan to ignore by stimulating the economy and increasing the deficit

It is an interesting situation (in that curse meaning of interesting), the protest votes have no positive  result, but voting the traditional party also doesn't. 

Edited by msommer
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20 hours ago, msommer said:

It promised to "make Spain great again" - a familiar-sounding slogan, just as its tough stance on Islam, on crime and on immigration has echoes of France's Le Pen and Italy's Salvini.

Sooo.... 1588?

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2 hours ago, SaintsInDome2006 said:

Sooo.... 1588?

For tough on islam, I give you: 1492

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On 4/1/2019 at 7:42 PM, Maurile Tremblay said:

Update:  Turkey Orders New Election for Istanbul Mayor, in Setback for Opposition

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ISTANBUL — Turkey’s electoral authorities wiped away a crushing defeat for President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Monday, ordering a rerun of the race for mayor of Istanbul won by the opposition and heightening the prospect of social unrest and a new economic crisis.

The decision by the High Election Council was immediately condemned by the opposition party as a capitulation to Mr. Erdogan and a blow to the democratic foundations of the country, which have drifted closer to authoritarianism under his 18 years in power.

Mr. Erdogan has jailed journalists, isolated adversaries and conducted mass purges of the police, the military and the courts. He has strengthened his powers under the Constitution. Now, critics say Mr. Erdogan has managed to invalidate what had been a humiliating defeat for his party in Istanbul, the country’s largest city, commercial capital — and the president’s hometown.

Though Mr. Erdogan secured another five-year term as president with sweeping new powers in an election last year, he was rendered suddenly vulnerable by his party’s poor showing in the March 31 voting, which took place as the economy has begun to falter.

Mr. Erdogan’s Justice and Development Party, the A.K.P., also lost control of the capital, Ankara, as well as several important industrial towns in southern Turkey. But the defeat in Istanbul, which has remained his political base and private fief, as well as a source of great wealth and prestige for his family and inner circle, was especially bitter.

The opposition Republican People’s Party had denounced demands for a new Istanbul election as a bid by Mr. Erdogan and his party to undo the will of the voters, who handed a narrow but fiercely contested victory to the opposition candidate, Ekrem Imamoglu.

After a recount of certain contested districts, Mr. Imamoglu was certified as the winner by electoral officials and took up office.

There had been hope among the opposition that the High Election Council would rebuff Mr. Erdogan’s harangues for a new vote. Its decision reinforced suspicions that the council’s members were beholden to Mr. Erdogan’s party for their jobs and vulnerable to coercion.

His party’s mayoral candidate, Binali Yildirim, welcomed the decision, saying “Let it bring good to Istanbul and Istanbul people.”

An opposition lawmaker, Mahmut Tanal, described the decision on Twitter as “the murder of law” and “a black stain.” The new vote was scheduled for June 23.

Opposition party leaders met in emergency session amid talk that they might boycott the second vote. Mr. Imamoglu exhorted supporters not to despair.

“We have won this election with the sweat of millions of people. You are the biggest witness to that sweat, you are our biggest comrades,” he said in televised remarks. “You may be upset now, but don’t lose your hope. We are here. Do not give up.”

Hearing the news, citizens in some Istanbul neighborhoods who oppose Mr. Erdogan took to the streets, banging pots and pans to vent their frustration. “There is a thief here!” protesters chanted in Kadikoy, an opposition stronghold.

“I think this is the greatest distortion of democratic elections in Turkey since the country’s first free and fair polls in 1950,” said Soner Cagaptay, director of the Turkish Research Program at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy.

“This is a sad day for Turkey,” he added. “Never before has the loser in Turkey refused to recognize the outcome of an election. This decision throws into doubt hard-earned consensus in Turkey built over decades that power and government changes hands through democratic elections.”

Turkish political analysts, speaking on condition that they not be named for fear of retribution from the palace, said Mr. Erdogan had been furious at the loss of Istanbul.

By one account, he threw a tantrum on the night of the election, which was ultimately decided by a margin of 13,000 votes....

 

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3 minutes ago, Don Quixote said:

Turkey’s electoral authorities wiped away a crushing defeat for President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Monday, ordering a rerun of the race for mayor of Istanbul won by the opposition and heightening the prospect of social unrest and a new economic crisis.

Erdogan has been full on authoritarian since the coup, but it's been something trying to watch him deal with the ghosts of democracy still left in the machine. He hasn't gotten rid of elections yet. Maybe Ataturk can beat him back from the grave.

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South Africa went about as projected, but still newsworthy...

ANC wins South Africa election despite worst performance

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Cyril Ramaphosa, South Africa’s reformist president, has consolidated his tenuous hold on power after his ruling African National Congress avoided electoral disaster on Thursday.

Although the ANC was set to record its worst performance in a national election since the end of white rule in 1994, the decline was less steep than some had predicted, leaving Mr Ramaphosa in a stronger position to fend off party rivals.

With half the ballots counted, the ANC led with 57 per cent, five points below what the party achieved in 2014 when it was led by Jacob Zuma, Mr Ramaphosa's predecessor.

The party removed Mr Zuma as its leader in 2017 after a poor showing in municipal elections the previous year led even his allies to conclude that he was an electoral liability.

Yet Mr Ramaphosa, chosen to replace him by the narrowest of margins, has always been vulnerable to elements of the party suspicious of his pro-business instincts and his promises to end corruption.

Had the ANC’s share of the vote slipped closer to 50 percent, as some opinion polls suggested, Mr Ramaphosa — who became South Africa’s president last year — risked a potential leadership challenge from an alliance of populists and Zuma-era holdovers who fear prosecution.

With the ANC polling higher than it did in 2016’s local elections, when it lost control of the commercial capital Johannesburg, Mr Ramaphosa can claim that his reformist policies have helped halt the party’s decline.

 “People have shown their trust in Cyril,” said Mcebisi Ndletanya of the University of Johannesburg. “The ANC would never have done so well without him. This is a gift the ANC can’t waste."

The ANC appears to have shed support among black voters to both the pro-market Democratic Alliance (DA) and the far-left Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) led by Julius Malema, a radical populist who advocates the forced seizure of white-owned farms.

However, the DA failed to increase its share of the vote for the first time since 1994 after some white voters deserted it, turning either to the ANC in the hope of bolstering Mr Ramaphosa or to the Freedom Front Plus, a far-right Afrikaner party.

The DA was projected to win 22 percent. The EFF was set to come third, the only significant party to increase its share of the vote, securing ten percent of the votes tallied thus far. 

The party’s hopes of a bigger surge appear to have been thwarted, depriving Mr Ramaphosa’s enemies within the ANC of ammunition in their quest to force him to adopt more radical policies, particularly on land redistribution.

Analysts suggested that, although it enjoys the support of unemployed South Africans bitter with the ANC’s failure to boost jobs, the EFF may now have reached the height of its electoral appeal.

“The EFF appeals to a particular constituency — populism and radicalism — and it is unlikely to get more than in this election,” Mr Ndletyana said. 

 

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Zelensky playing on Putin’s fears Ukraine could be an alternative Russia, Kirillova says

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Even before his inauguration, incoming Ukrainian president has launched an information war against Moscow, calling on others in the post-Soviet countries to see what is “possible” if one does what Ukraine is doing and offering Ukrainian citizenship to those, including Russians, who are struggling against authoritarian regimes.

            To the extent he follows through on these words, Kseniya Kirillova says, he will be conducting “an active information war” against the Kremlin and “will be struggling not so much for territory as for the hearts and minds of those who live there” (qha.com.ua/po-polochkam/igra-na-chuzhom-pole-smozhet-li-vladimir-zelenskij-perejti-v-nastuplenie-v-informatsionnoj-vojne-s-kremlem/).

            “If current President Petro Poroshenko has placed the accent on the strengthening of the defensive capacity of the state including in the cultural sphere by creating an independent church, strengthening the Ukrainian language and banning Russian films and even social networks,” the US-based Russian journalist says, Zelensky is doing something even more threatening to Moscow.

            He is showing is readiness to “’open’ Ukraine’s cultural and information space by giving the opportunity to translate the example of Ukrainian democracy not only to the Donbass but also to the pot-Soviet countries.” How far Zelensky will be and how effective this strategy will work remains to be seen.

            As Kirillova points out, “already at the very beginning of the Ukrainian-Russian war, many analysts noted that Putin’s real fear was not that the post-Soviet countries would full away from ‘the Russian world’ but that they would establish a version of ‘the Russian world’ independent from Russia: the phenomenon of Russian culture free from imperial propaganda.”

            Today, Russian officials in expressing their concerns that Ukrainians are not commemorating Victory Day are in fact displaying much greater fears of something else: the appearance in Ukraine of “an ‘alternative’ Victory Day,” one that shows that it is possible to feel very different about that conflict than the Kremlin wants people to.

            As Kirillova puts it, “the chief fear of the denizens of the Kremlin is not the rejection of the former Soviet republics of reading Pushkin but that in them will appear a different reading of familiar works, the same poems and books in Russian but in ways that do not support Russian imperial aspirations but work against them.”

            And that is true of the Moscow Patriarchate as well, which is less worried about the attacks on Christianity in Ukraine it claims to see than on “a demonstration that there exists ‘a different Christianity,’ not connected with Russian ‘hurrah patriotism’ and emphasizing the messianic role of Moscow.”

            In short, although the Russian journalist does not use these terms, Muscovy today fears the rise of a new Novgorod just as it did five centuries ago, an alternative Russia that is more dangerous to the Kremlin’s imperial aspirations than any foreign enemy because it strikes at the heart of Moscow project from the inside.

            The case of Crimean Tatar poetess Alie Kenzhaliyeva is instructive.  “In her verses, she writes about how the pathos and militarist ideology and cult of war propagandized in contemporary Russia desecrates the real tragedy and memory of those who died,” an attack that Moscow propagandists cannot tolerate.

            “It is possible,” Kirillova writes, “that had this history not attracted attention, a criminal case would have been launched against her.  Kenzhaliyeva’s case thus shows something important: “the potential for destroying” Moscow’s pretensions by undermining its claimed monopoly on culture, history and language.”

            There are, of course, real risks to such an approach by Kyiv. As some analysts have noted, Kirillova continues, there is the danger of playing on the Russian cultural field in this way because Moscow can more easily work against it and will be inclined to do so because of the greater threat it poses than that posed by Poroshenko’s approach. 

            In the wake of Zelensky’s election, Putin has taken steps that suggest he has concluded that the incoming Ukrainian leader is not “a serious opponent” and that the Kremlin can work against him far more effectively than it has against Poroshenko, viewing the new man not as “absolute evil” but as “a parody” of that.

            And some in Ukraine are now worried, Kirillova concludes, that Zelensky’s “attempts to compete with Russian propaganda on the same field will succeed only in undermining the measures of information security that Petro Poroshenko introduced.” That may be true, but clearly a new battle line has been drawn – and one potentially more dangerous to Moscow. 

 

 

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43 minutes ago, SaintsInDome2006 said:

Very interesting read, Saints.  I'm blanking on who, in one of the first hearings on Russian interference, recommended starting up USIA again.  This is reminiscent. Using propaganda to counter propaganda isn't my favorite idea....but it's something.

Edited by Slapdash
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Philippine midterm elections deliver a resounding vote of confidence for Duterte

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MANILA — A dictator’s daughter and the commander of President Rodrigo Duterte’s bloody drug war were among the winners of the Philippines’ midterm elections, a resounding endorsement for the strongman leader’s policies.  

Winners of Monday’s vote will allow Duterte to consolidate power and push through some of his most controversial policies — allowing children as young as 12 to be tried as adults and continuing a brutal war on drug peddlers and users — despite international condemnation. The president himself was not running, but he had made his picks clear. Twelve senate seats, 200 seats in the lower house and thousands of other positions were up for grabs. 

Early unofficial results showed a landslide defeat for the opposition. Liberal candidates who ran on platforms of justice and inclusion lost to former police chief Ronald “Bato” Dela Rosa, who oversaw the drug war, and Imee Marcos, the daughter of deposed president Ferdinand Marcos. The two were among the senatorial candidates who received the most votes, and they will almost certainly be among 12 senators elected Monday. 

Imee Marcos will be the second from her family in the legislature, after her brother Ferdinand Marcos Jr.

Another poll-topper is Bong Go, a former special assistant to the president who rose to viral fame as a meme after his selfies with world leaders. An independent investigative report found that Go spent more than 30 times his net worth on the campaign, and he has been accused of using government resources to his advantage.

The early results trickled out after a roughly seven-hour lag in tallying the votes by the Philippine Commission on Elections. While the elections were generally perceived to have proceeded without major issue, there were reports of vote-buying, faulty counting machines and at least 20 cases of election-related violence

Earlier polls had indicated that Duterte allies would dominate the elections. The populist leader enjoys a roughly 80 percent approval rating, in sharp contrast to the international shock surrounding his rhetoric and policies, ranging from the drug war to his pivot toward China and away from the Philippines’ long-term ally, the United States. 

Human rights watchdogs estimate that the war on drugs has left at least 25,000 people dead, prompting an International Criminal Court preliminary inquiry into the killings.

The Senate was seen as the last institutional resistance to looming authoritarian rule. Administration allies dominate the House of Representatives, and a chief justice critical of Duterte was ousted last year.

The victory could mean the passage of key policies under Duterte that he was unable to realize during his first three years in office. Apart from lowering the minimum age of criminal liability to 12, these could include the reinstatement of the death penalty and a shift to federalism that would further empower the political dynasties in the countryside....

 

 

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2 minutes ago, Don Quixote said:

Early unofficial results showed a landslide defeat for the opposition. Liberal candidates who ran on platforms of justice and inclusion lost to former police chief Ronald “Bato” Dela Rosa, who oversaw the drug war, and Imee Marcos, the daughter of deposed president Ferdinand Marcos. The two were among the senatorial candidates who received the most votes, and they will almost certainly be among 12 senators elected Monday. 

Good lord, they voted for the Marcoses.

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>>Austrian Vice-Chancellor Hans-Christian Strache, of the right-wing populist Freedom Party, resigned Saturday following the release of a video showing him attempting to strike corrupt deals with a woman who pretended to be a representative of a Russian oligarch. <<

Austria’s far right coalition is in trouble after Chancellor resigns.

- Well that didn’t take long.

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24 minutes ago, SaintsInDome2006 said:

>>Austrian Vice-Chancellor Hans-Christian Strache, of the right-wing populist Freedom Party, resigned Saturday following the release of a video showing him attempting to strike corrupt deals with a woman who pretended to be a representative of a Russian oligarch. <<

Austria’s far right coalition is in trouble after Chancellor resigns.

- Well that didn’t take long.

It's amazing how quickly these guys are corrupted

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On 5/14/2019 at 6:48 PM, SaintsInDome2006 said:

Good lord, they voted for the Marcoses.

"At least the Marcoses did't kill random people..."

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39 minutes ago, SaintsInDome2006 said:

>>Austrian Vice-Chancellor Hans-Christian Strache, of the right-wing populist Freedom Party, resigned Saturday following the release of a video showing him attempting to strike corrupt deals with a woman who pretended to be a representative of a Russian oligarch. <<

Austria’s far right coalition is in trouble after Chancellor resigns.

- Well that didn’t take long.

This was just the (first) moment caught on camera

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‘Complete shock’: Australia’s prime minister holds onto power, defying election predictions
 

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SYDNEY — The center-right government of Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison held onto power Saturday after a surprise surge in national elections that left some pundits making comparisons to President Trump’s poll-defying win in 2016.

The apparent upset victory was the latest election to trample predictions by polling firms, which all showed Morrison’s political bloc trailing the opposition Labor Party.

It also carried other uncanny parallels with Trump’s rise.

In Australia’s coal country, Morrison was seen as an ally to protect jobs against a push for more renewable energy and greater efforts to battle climate change. Morrison drew further support with promises of tax cuts and a tough line on immigration, contrasting with Labor’s call for more social programs and less-stringent migrant policies.

The Labor leader, Bill Shorten, conceded defeat as election returns tipped the scales against him.

Morrison’s Liberal-National coalition was two seats short of a parliamentary majority after about 70 percent of the vote had been counted, according to election officials. But political analysts said the pattern of voting made it likely that the coalition would emerge Sunday with more than half the seats in parliament.

Confidence was so high in a Labor victory that one betting agency, Sportsbet, said about 70 percent of the wagers were for Labor to regain control after six years in opposition.

“This is a complete shock,” said Zareh Ghazarian, a political science lecturer at Monash University in Melbourne. “We have completely expected an opposite thing for two years. Voters rejected the big picture. They have endorsed a government that has run on a very presidential campaign and on its management of the economy.”

The reelection of Morrison’s government will mean that Australia will set much less ambitious goals in cutting emissions of greenhouse gases. It will also be firmly supportive of U.S.-led efforts to contain the influence of China and block Chinese technology giant Huawei from government contracts.

Morrison was one of the architects of Australia’s tough approach on asylum seekers, which has confined thousands to Pacific Island camps, and is expected to continue with the approach that has been condemned by human rights groups around the world.

In the end, Morrison’s regular-guy political persona — he was the first Australian prime minister to campaign in baseball caps — and promises to cut taxes proved unexpectedly effective.

Not long after Shorten’s concession speech, Morrison appeared on a stage in Sydney with his grade-school-aged daughters, Lily and Abbey, and wife Jenny.

An evangelical Christian, Morrison said: “I have always believed in miracles. I am standing with the three biggest miracles in my life and tonight we have been delivered another one.”...

 

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Voters going to the polls in Malawi today

Malawi election: Voters weigh up choice in close race

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Malawians are going to the polls to elect a new president in what has been described as one of the country's most unpredictable elections.

There are seven candidates, but three are seen as having a realistic chance.

President Peter Mutharika is running for a second term, but he is being challenged by his own vice-president, Saulos Chilima, and Lazarus Chakwera.

The southern African country returned to multi-party elections in 1994 after 30 years of authoritarian rule.

The winning candidate just needs to get the largest share of the votes cast rather than more than 50%. Mr Mutharika won the last election in 2014 with 36.4%.

The nearly seven million registered voters are also electing a new parliament and local councillors.

More than half of those who have registered are under the age of 34 and the youth vote may become a significant factor.

There have been long queues at polling stations across the country.

Many of the voters turned up before dawn, hoping to vote early and go back to work. Voting day is not a public holiday in Malawi.

At the tax office polling station in the commercial capital, Blantyre, voting started nearly half an hour late, angering hundreds who had come early.

When I arrived 20 minutes before polls opened, electoral officials were scrambling to set up the voting stations.

People voiced their frustration at the electoral commission chairperson, who was at the centre to oversee the start of voting.

She managed to calm the crowd, and voting has been going on smoothly, albeit slowly.

Delays have also been reported in other polling stations in the country.

Mr Chilima, who is 46, left the president's Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) last year after he fell out with Mr Mutharika after his fitness to run for office, at the age of 78, was questioned.

He has tried to appeal to young people in the promises he has made about addressing unemployment. Critics have said he will not be able to create one million jobs in his first year in office as he promised.

On election day, Mr Chilima was initially unable to vote at his polling station in Lilongwe, the Malawian capital, as his name was not on the register.

According to the electoral commission, Mr Chilima's name had been transferred to Chizumulu Island in Likoma district. He was eventually able to cast his ballot after contacting officials.

Mr Chakwera, 64, is the candidate for the resurgent Malawi Congress Party (MCP) - the official opposition.

The MCP led Malawi to independence in 1964 and governed the country as the sole legitimate party for three decades. But it has been out of power since multi-party politics returned 25 years ago.

Violet Moyo, a businesswoman waiting to vote in Lilongwe, told AFP news agency that she was "super excited" to be casting her ballot.

"We have been disappointed so many times before but now we want something different," she said.

With high levels of poverty the economy, and in particular the state of agriculture, has been a big issue.

The government has been praised for the farm-input subsidy programme to help poor farmers but opposition parties say it has been fraught with corruption, another major issue on the campaign trail.

Polls opened at 06:00 local time (04:00 GMT) and close 12 hours later. The electoral commission has eight days to announce the result, but correspondents say it could be known as early as Wednesday evening.

 

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And Zelensky has officially assumed office in Ukraine.

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KIEV, Ukraine — Volodymyr Zelensky, a television comedian turned populist firebrand, took office as Ukraine’s president on Monday and immediately began to battle the political establishment. 

Speaking to members of parliament in his inaugural address, Zelensky demanded that they approve the removal of top security officials and lift their own right to immunity from prosecution — all before he planned to dissolve the body and call early elections.

And, channeling the morally upright schoolteacher-turned-president he played on a popular TV show, Zelensky portrayed himself as a more down-to-earth leader than his predecessors. 

“I really want you not to hang my image in your offices,” Zelensky said. “Hang photos of your children there, and before every decision, look them in the eye.”

Many members of the country’s political and economic elite, however, are poised to test the depth of public support for Zelensky as parliamentary elections loom. And his own commitment to the anti-corruption agenda he espoused as a candidate remains to be seen. 

More broadly, Zelensky, an entertainer who has never held elected office, faces the daunting task of navigating both European geopolitics and U.S. domestic politics. A five-year-old war with Russian-backed separatists still simmers in eastern Ukraine, and Russia continues to control the Ukrainian peninsula of Crimea. 

Although the United States has backed Ukraine in its conflict with Russia, allies of President Trump have lashed out at Zelensky in recent weeks. Rudolph W. Giuliani, Trump’s personal attorney, has urged Ukrainian authorities to investigate the activities of former vice president Joe Biden in Ukraine. There is no evidence of improper conduct by Biden.

Zelensky’s team, however, has hesitated to get involved in what some advisers view as a U.S. domestic political battle. Giuliani referred to those Zelensky advisers as “enemies” of Trump in a Twitter posting on Saturday. 

Zelensky, who won with close to 75 percent of the vote over incumbent Petro Poroshenko, took the oath of office during a ceremony in parliament, in front of an audience that included U.S. Energy Secretary Rick Perry. 

He called on parliament to remove the head of the security services, the defense minister and the prosecutor general from their posts.

Zelensky said ending the war in eastern Ukraine was his top priority, but he insisted that he would not give up any territory to do so. He said that he was ready “for dialogue” — presumably with Russia — but that Moscow needed to return imprisoned Ukrainians. 

“So that our heroes don’t die anymore, I’m ready to do anything,” Zelensky said in his speech. “I’m ready to lose my ratings, my popularity, my post for peace to come — without losing our territories.”

Russian President Vladi­mir Putin pointedly did not congratulate Zelensky on Monday and gave no sign that he was ready to compromise. Putin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said that Crimea was “a region of Russia” and that the war in eastern Ukraine was Kiev’s to solve.

“President Putin will congratulate Zelensky with his first successes in resolving the internal conflict in southeastern Ukraine, as well as with his first successes in normalizing Russian-Ukrainian relations,” Peskov told reporters. As part of Ukrainian political tradition, Zelensky was sworn in using a 16th-century religious manuscript. He then assumed the symbols of the Ukrainian state, including a large mace. 

The 41-year-old added his own populist touches, in keeping with the image of an anti-establishment outsider from his unconventional campaign. Before entering parliament, Zelensky strode past his supporters, slapping high-fives, shaking hands, giving occasional kisses and, at one point, sharing a selfie with a woman.

His outsider image was largely based on the role that Zelensky played on his popular television series, “Servant of the People”: Vasyl Holoborodko, an unknown schoolteacher who is unexpectedly elected president after he delivers a scathing anti-corruption rant.

In reality, Zelensky runs a multimillion-dollar entertainment company centered on his popular comedy troupe, Kvartal 95. He ran a sophisticated, social-media-friendly campaign.

Zelensky in his address urged government ministers to resign and said he would dissolve parliament to clear the way for early parliamentary elections in two months. He is hoping to secure a strong showing for his new party on the heels of his landslide presidential election win.

Hours after the speech, Prime Minister Volodymyr Groysman said he would step down. 

The makeup of Zelensky’s administration is also uncertain. Analysts will be waiting to see whether any allies of one of Ukraine’s richest men, Ihor Kolomoisky, get official posts. 

Kolomoisky owns the TV channel that broadcasts Zelensky’s shows, and he returned to Ukraine last week after two years of self-imposed exile. He left the country after Poroshenko’s government accused him of embezzling more than $5 billion from his bank, PrivatBank, which was then nationalized.

Both Kolomoisky and Zelensky insist that their relationship excludes any political influence, but the ties between them appear to go beyond the merely commercial. For example, one of Kolomoisky’s attorneys is a key adviser to Zelensky.

Still, many hold out hope that Zelensky will be a transformative president.

“While not that much is known about Zelensky’s policy program, the consensus from those that have had any interaction with the president elect is that he is clever, business-savvy, a quick learner and that he genuinely has the good of the country at heart and does want to deliver change which is really what his electorate voted for,” wrote Timothy Ash, an analyst for BlueBay Asset Management in London. “He is a joker, but certainly no fool.”

 

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