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30 minutes ago, Don Quixote said:

https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/the_americas/venezuelas-last-democratic-institution-falls-as-maduro-stages-de-facto-takeover-of-national-assembly/2020/01/05/8ba496fe-2d8f-11ea-bffe-020c88b3f120_story.html

Venezuela’s last democratic institution falls as Maduro stages de facto takeover of National Assembly

By Rachelle Krygier and Anthony Faiola

January 5 at 1:56 PM ET

CARACAS, Venezuela — The government of President Nicolás Maduro staged a de facto takeover of Venezuela's legislature on Sunday, swearing in its own candidate as head of the National Assembly in a move apparently orchestrated to rob international credibility from Juan Guaidó, who had led the body and has staked a rival claim as head of state.

The dramatic events marked a sharp escalation in Maduro’s gambit to end Guaidó’s quest to unseat him and stoked immediate outrage in Washington — which has strongly backed Guaidó and condemned Sunday’s action. Opposition officials declared the move an effective “parliamentary coup” meant to consolidate Maduro’s near-dictatorial powers.

“Parliamentary coup by the Maduro dictatorship against the National Assembly,” Guaidó’s communications team said in a tweet. “Without a vote or quorum, ruling-party lawmakers and corrupt lawmakers swear in a false leader.”

The replacement of Guaidó amounted to a bait and switch. On Sunday, he began the day anticipating his reelection as head of the National Assembly, viewed internationally as the last democratic institution left in the authoritarian South American state. Guaidó’s claim as the nation’s true president — recognized by nearly 60 countries, including the United States — has been based on his status as the assembly’s chief.

But security forces loyal to Maduro formed a cordon around the assembly building in central Caracas, blocking opposition lawmakers — who control the chamber — from entering. Lawmakers who back Maduro — including several allegedly involved in a government plot to buy votes — were allowed to pass. At one point, Guaidó sought to scale the spiked wrought-iron fence surrounding the assembly, trying to force his way in.

[[Guaidó promised to save Venezuela. Now the flame he lit is petering out, and his U.S. backers are weighing their options.]]

At the same time, Luis Parra — a former opposition politician who was one of several lawmakers accused last month of accepting government bribes — announced his surprise candidacy against Guaidó on Twitter on Sunday morning. Hours later, his swearing-in was suddenly shown on state television.

Parra is thought to have had the support of at least 40 lawmakers from Maduro’s party and an unknown number of others who the opposition claims to have been bribed. But there was no evidence that an actual vote had taken place. The opposition insisted that the vote was illegal because there was no quorum of lawmakers in the chamber.

“Today we want to open the doors to the future of this parliament,” Parra said in televised remarks after his swearing-in. “To the people that today expected a different message, we will continue to seek reconciliation”

Opposition officials said Guaidó would seek to counter Sunday’s move by gathering as many lawmakers as possible in an undisclosed location to hold their own vote on the chamber’s leadership.

The government’s action appeared designed to complicate Guaidó’s international recognition and provide some nations that might be considering pulling its support additional legal cover to do so. No longer being the technical head of the chamber could put his constitutional claim to the presidency in question for some nations.

But his strongest backers — particularly in Washington — are likely to continue and perhaps even redouble their support for Guaidó. The move comes as the United States — which has slapped tough sanctions on Maduro’s government, including an oil embargo — is weighing more confrontational steps, including a possible naval blockade of Venezuelan oil being shipped to Cuba, the Maduro government’s chief regional ally.

“What the regime is doing now at the National Assembly goes completely against the will of the people and the laws that govern the process,” the U.S. mission to Venezuela, based in Colombia since the severing of diplomatic ties last year, said in a tweet. “Democracy can’t be intimidated.”

Totally not a dictatorship if you ask ren

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Kind of.  Canada voted 65% for parties on the left and 35% for parties on the right. There are 4 parties on the left and 1 on the right.  Under the current first past the post system, the Li

In Blow to Beijing, Taiwan Re-elects Tsai Ing-wen as President The victory was a remarkable comeback for Ms. Tsai and suggested that Beijing’s pressure campaign had backfired. - Defeat for

I thought I would set up a thread to talk about foreign elections, as I don't think there's really a good thread here to talk about these.  Here are ten identified by the Council of Foreign Relations

In Blow to Beijing, Taiwan Re-elects Tsai Ing-wen as President

The victory was a remarkable comeback for Ms. Tsai and suggested that Beijing’s pressure campaign had backfired.

Quote

 

TAIPEI, Taiwan — Taiwan’s voters delivered a stinging rebuke of China’s rising authoritarianism on Saturday by re-electing President Tsai Ing-wen, who vowed to preserve the island’s sovereignty in the face of Beijing’s intensifying efforts to bring it under its control.

Ms. Tsai’s victory highlighted how successfully her campaign had tapped into an electorate that is increasingly wary of China’s intentions. It also found momentum from months of protests in Hong Kong against Beijing’s encroachment on the semiautonomous Chinese territory’s freedoms.

For China’s ruling Communist Party, the outcome is a dramatic display of the power of Hong Kong’s antigovernment protest movement to influence attitudes toward the mainland in other regions the party deems critical to its interests.

China’s authoritarian leader, Xi Jinping, has warned Taiwan that unification between the sides was inevitable. His party has sought to court Taiwanese with opportunities to work in the mainland while isolating Ms. Tsai’s administration and said that China would use force, if necessary, to prevent the island from taking steps toward formal independence.

The vote, which was a reversal of Ms. Tsai’s political fortunes, suggested that Beijing’s pressure campaign had backfired. It could widen the political and cultural gulf across the Taiwan Strait and might raise the specter of armed conflict, which could have implications for the United States.

In her victory speech, Ms. Tsai called for unity as she pledged to work to defend the island’s sovereignty and improve the economy.

“With each presidential election, Taiwan is showing the world how much we cherish our democratic way of life,” she said at a news conference in Taipei. “We must work to keep our country safe and defend our sovereignty.”

The vote drew a large turnout including thousands who flew home from abroad. Lines of voters snaked through schools and other public spaces. Willie Yu, 23, who cast his ballot at the Taipei Municipal Jinhua Junior High School, said he had come out to vote because “I hope Taiwan can preserve its democracy and freedom.”

 

- Defeat for populist authoritarianism in the west Pacific.

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On 1/11/2020 at 11:17 AM, SaintsInDome2006 said:

In Blow to Beijing, Taiwan Re-elects Tsai Ing-wen as President

The victory was a remarkable comeback for Ms. Tsai and suggested that Beijing’s pressure campaign had backfired.

- Defeat for populist authoritarianism in the west Pacific.

How would it have been populist for a pro-China govt to take the reins in Taiwan?  Isn't a pro-Taiwan sovereignty candidate winning over a pro-China candidate populist in effect? 

I think it's a misuse of the term populist to apply it to a foreign govt trying to assert power in another country's elections.  

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Election in Peru tomorrow for new Congress.

Peru’s Vote for a New Congress Could Shape the President’s Legacy

After suspending the country’s Congress last fall, new legislative elections could give Martín Vizcarra the support he needs to confront corruption—or lead to renewed political gridlock. 

BY JOE PARKIN DANIELS | JANUARY 24, 2020, 5:12 PM

LIMA, Peru—Peru spent the last few months of 2019 facing a constitutional crisis, but some in the Andean nation remain optimistic that the turbulence in the halls of power could ultimately provide a shot in the arm for the president’s anti-corruption efforts. Following months of steadfast opposition from the unicameral Congress and an effort to unseat him, President Martín Vizcarra dissolved the legislative body altogether at the end of September, which then turned around and suspended him. Vizcarra, who with public and military backing remained the country’s de facto leader, called legislative elections, to be held on Jan. 26, to solve the impasse. Meanwhile, Peru’s top court ruled last week that Vizcarra’s closure of Congress was legal.

At the time, much of the public applauded Vizcarra’s move, and Peruvians have been consistently in favor of the president’s anti-corruption efforts. Unlike a number of protests that emerged in other Latin American countries late last year, including Chile and Colombia, protests after the closure ended quickly.

Since he assumed office in 2018, many of Vizcarra’s popular reforms have been blocked by the hard-line Popular Force party, which held a majority in Congress until its dissolution. “What happened in Congress underscores the shamelessness to which the legislative majority has fallen,” Vizcarra said at the time, taking particular umbrage at the opposition’s attempts to install judges to the court that would ultimately decide how the impasse is settled. “Peruvian people, we have done all we could.”

Much has changed since Congress was dissolved last fall, and the outcome of the upcoming election is anything but certain. Twenty-one parties are running in the election, and all are polling badly.

However, much has changed since Congress was dissolved last fall, and the outcome of the upcoming election is anything but certain. Twenty-one parties are running in the election, and all are polling badly. Furthermore, a significant number of voters have signaled their intent to submit blank ballots. Yet the consensus of observers is that centrists seem likely to come out best, and if enough legislators continue to support Vizcarra’s anti-corruption drive, the president could make a significant impact before the next election in 2021....

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Also, a key regional election in Italy tomorrow.

Salvini’s return? A regional vote in Italy risks further chaos in Rome

The face of anti-immigration politics in Italy could be about to make a comeback amid an election in the northeast region of Emilia-Romagna.

Matteo Salvini, head of the right-leaning Lega party, left the Italian government abruptly in the summer of 2019 after clashing with his coalition partner – the Five Star Movement (M5S), a party supportive of more social benefits. Salvini decided to put forward a motion of no confidence on the then prime minister Giuseppe Conte. His move, dubbed by critics as an attempt to govern Italy alone, led M5S to join forces with Partito Democratico (PD) – a pro-European social democratic party, averting the need for a snap election and thus stopping Salvini from potentially forming a government.

However, with regional elections due later this month, analysts are wondering whether Salvini could return to government soon.

“The regional election in Emilia-Romagna on 26 January is by far the most important political event that could determine the shelf life of the government,” Wolfango Piccoli, co-president of the research firm Teneo, said in a note Friday.

The region of Emilia Romagna, which includes the emblematic city of Bologna, has traditionally supported left-leaning parties. However, polls suggest that the candidate for the anti-immigration Lega party could win the vote and give the party its ninth consecutive win in regional ballots since the last national election in 2018, according to Reuters.

“Salvini has been campaigning in the region since November, pledging to ‘liberate’ it from the left. A PD (Partito Democratico) defeat at the hands of Salvini’s Lega would strip the center-left party of its symbolic heartland, and likely trigger an internal confrontation,” Piccoli added.

If the upcoming regional vote ends up seeing a victory for the Lega party, both the PD and the M5S would be under pressure – potentially leading their current government to an end.

“The (election) risks are significant because a loss could not only encourage the PD to leave its coalition with the M5S as it looks for a new identity, but it could also trigger an implosion of the M5S,” Erik Jones, professor of European Studies at Johns Hopkins University in Italy, told CNBC Monday.

“The M5S does not typically do well in regional elections and is currently polling only at about 8% in the region. But this region is also where M5S started, and where it first entered into local government. So, a devastating loss here will fuel ammunition for those who don’t like (Luigi) Di Maio (M5S’ leader) and who worry that the Movement has lost its way.”

Furthermore, a Lega victory in Emilia Romagna could resurface concerns about the Italian economy.

“The (regional) election will not bring back Salvini itself. But it will reveal the popularity of Salvini and the Lega, respectively,” Marc Wagner, senior economist at Commerzbank, told CNBC Monday via email.

Salvini’s Lega party is currently above all other political parties in nationwide polls, with 31% of support, followed by the PD with 19%.

“The risks coming with Salvini are clear-cut: with his strict anti-immigration policy, anti-austerity, anti-EU and pro-Russia stance there will be again stress with the EU. But Salvini will also be harmful for the Italian economy: his socialist policy of redistribution will not bring Italy’s economy forward and set it on a higher growth path,” Wagner from Commerzbank also said.

Italy is the European country with the second highest public debt pile at around 130% of GDP (gross domestic product). On top of that, its economy is barely growing. According to the Italian statistics office, Istat, the economy grew at a pace of 0.1% in the third quarter of 2019 from the previous three-month period.

The regional vote is adding pressure to the M5S-PD coalition at a time when they are also discussing plans to change the constitution, in a way that it reduces the number of lawmakers. M5S has pushed for the change, arguing that there are too many parliamentarians and thus a drag on taxpayers’ money. However, some members of the coalition partner, PD, are against the reform.

“Given the government’s divide in major political issues, I suppose the government may not… last beyond 2020,” Wagner from Commerzbank also said.

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Salvini beat back in Italy....

Italy’s Center-Left Incumbents Hold Off Salvini to Win Crucial Election


The contest in a stronghold of Italy’s left became the most closely watched Italian regional election in years

ROME—Italy’s wobbly government coalition breathed a sigh of relief after the center-left Democratic Party won a crucial regional election on Sunday, seeing off a strong challenge by Matteo Salvini’s far-right League.

With most of the votes counted, Stefano Bonaccini, the Democratic incumbent president of Emilia-Romagna, was re-elected with 51% of the vote. The League’s candidate, Lucia Borgonzoni, won 44% of the vote.

The contest in the affluent northern region of Emilia-Romagna became the most closely watched Italian regional election in years as Mr. Salvini campaigned there relentlessly to oust the incumbent Democrats.

Emilia-Romagna has been a stronghold of Italy’s left throughout the post-World War II era. But as in much of Europe, mainstream left-of-center parties are struggling to hold on to their traditional working-class voters, opening up new opportunities for nationalist, anti-immigration politicians such as Mr. Salvini.

Despite the Democrats’ win in their own historic heartland, the foundations on which Italy’s coalition government between the Democrats and the antiestablishment 5 Star Movement rests remain fragile. Democrats are struggling to increase their popularity and win back disillusioned voters who in recent years have turned to other parties including the League.

The 5 Star Movement, meanwhile, is in steep decline. Its candidate won only 3% of votes in Emilia-Romagna, and just 7% in another regional election Sunday in the southern region of Calabria, where 5 Star was popular until recently. The presidency of Calabria went to a center-right candidate backed by the League.

After becoming one of Europe’s strongest antiestablishment parties and coming first in 2018 national elections with 33% of the vote, 5 Star lost its way and most of their popular support, after leading members struggled to transition from opposition to governing. The movement’s leader Luigi Di Maio resigned last week, following a string of defections among his lawmakers.

Mr. Salvini remains Italy’s rising political force, despite the League failing to win Emilia-Romagna. Opinion polls suggest the League would win national elections if held soon. Mr. Salvini’s problem is that although he is calling for snap elections, he can’t force them: He needs the Democrat-5 Star coalition to break down.

The Democrats’ win in Emilia-Romagna somewhat reduces the likelihood that the party will call time on their unhappy coalition with the 5 Star just yet.

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On 1/25/2020 at 3:12 PM, Don Quixote said:

Election in Peru tomorrow for new Congress.

Peru’s Vote for a New Congress Could Shape the President’s Legacy

After suspending the country’s Congress last fall, new legislative elections could give Martín Vizcarra the support he needs to confront corruption—or lead to renewed political gridlock. 

BY JOE PARKIN DANIELS | JANUARY 24, 2020, 5:12 PM

LIMA, Peru—Peru spent the last few months of 2019 facing a constitutional crisis, but some in the Andean nation remain optimistic that the turbulence in the halls of power could ultimately provide a shot in the arm for the president’s anti-corruption efforts. Following months of steadfast opposition from the unicameral Congress and an effort to unseat him, President Martín Vizcarra dissolved the legislative body altogether at the end of September, which then turned around and suspended him. Vizcarra, who with public and military backing remained the country’s de facto leader, called legislative elections, to be held on Jan. 26, to solve the impasse. Meanwhile, Peru’s top court ruled last week that Vizcarra’s closure of Congress was legal.

At the time, much of the public applauded Vizcarra’s move, and Peruvians have been consistently in favor of the president’s anti-corruption efforts. Unlike a number of protests that emerged in other Latin American countries late last year, including Chile and Colombia, protests after the closure ended quickly.

Since he assumed office in 2018, many of Vizcarra’s popular reforms have been blocked by the hard-line Popular Force party, which held a majority in Congress until its dissolution. “What happened in Congress underscores the shamelessness to which the legislative majority has fallen,” Vizcarra said at the time, taking particular umbrage at the opposition’s attempts to install judges to the court that would ultimately decide how the impasse is settled. “Peruvian people, we have done all we could.”

Much has changed since Congress was dissolved last fall, and the outcome of the upcoming election is anything but certain. Twenty-one parties are running in the election, and all are polling badly.

However, much has changed since Congress was dissolved last fall, and the outcome of the upcoming election is anything but certain. Twenty-one parties are running in the election, and all are polling badly. Furthermore, a significant number of voters have signaled their intent to submit blank ballots. Yet the consensus of observers is that centrists seem likely to come out best, and if enough legislators continue to support Vizcarra’s anti-corruption drive, the president could make a significant impact before the next election in 2021....

Peru is a head scratcher. The Fujimori years led to them changing the constitution to have a term limit of one in a row for president (before they had two, but the Fujimori went for three...). This has essentially killed off/transformed idealogical political parties to become one man/woman vehicles of more or less populist nature.

I can't think of any president in the post Fujimori years whose party wasn\t demolished the next election, usually followed by a congressional inquiry of corruption.

Vizcarra may be different as he came up as number two in PKK's party.

Anyway, the Fujimoris have a strong grip on the congress the past two elections, leading to a lot of issues, not least Alberto Fujimori's release and subsequent re imprisonment (which ultimately felled PKK)

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And the Fujimoris lost the election

Quote

A quick count carried out by Ipsos research firm suggests Popular Force has dropped from the 36.3% it won in the 2016 election to 7%, putting it into sixth place.

If confirmed, the figures mean that the party will lose many of the 73 out of 130 seats in Congress it held until September.

According to the quick count, the centrist Popular Action party will emerge as the strongest party with 10.1% of the vote.

An evangelical party, the Agricultural People's Front of Peru, known by its initials in Spanish as FREPAP, came second in the quick count with 8.9%. The party has not had any representatives elected to Congress since 2000 and its last-minute surge has surprised political analysts.

It is followed by the right-wing Podemos Peru (We can, Peru) party with 8.2%, and the centre-right Progress Alliance with 8%.

In another unexpected result, the nationalist Union for Peru (UPP) also passed the 5% threshold necessary to enter Congress.

What does it mean?

They argue that if he manages to get enough small parties on his side he will be able to push through the anti-corruption reforms Popular Force blocked.

The losses suffered by Popular Force are a big blow to its leader, Keiko Fujimori.

The daughter of former president Alberto Fujimori has been a divisive figure in Peruvian politics. She is accused of accepting $1.2m in illegal campaign financing from Brazilian construction giant Odebrecht and a judge is due to decide on Tuesday whether she should be sent to jail to await trial.

Her father is serving a sentence for corruption and human rights abuses.

Despite their legal woes, the Fujimori family has retained the backing of hardcore supporters. But political commentators say the election result suggests that Fujimorismo, the political movement named after them, may have finally collapsed.

Keiko has been returned to jail (not because of the vote but because an appelate judge issueda ruling), but there is little other clarity in the result.
It will be interesting to see if Vizcarra can swing a working alliance out of the centrist parties now in congress

Edited by msommer
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Issues at the heart of the Irish election

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All politicians agree the main issues are housing, homelessness and health.

But the last week has seen another issue unexpectedly, if only temporarily, take centre stage - pensions.

Like the UK, the Republic of Ireland has been extending the pension age from 65 towards 68 because people are living longer and there are fears about the future financial implications.

But with some companies insisting on workers leaving at 65, that has created cash shortfalls for many older people - a demographic that votes in large numbers.

It was an issue highlighted by Sinn Féin - a republican party which is in favour of a united Ireland - which said it believes the pension age should revert to 65 and the two bigger parties have had to scramble to satisfy older voters.

Since the economic crash, wages have increased, but rents and house prices have risen by a bigger margin.

...

Polls suggest that Sinn Féin, led by Mary Lou McDonald, is doing well.

One suggested it was on 21%, about double what it got in last year's local and European elections.

But history also suggests that polls over estimate how well the party will do because young, working class urban men, a demographic the party appeals to, often do not vote.

Both main parties insist they will not go into coalition with Sinn Féin because of concerns about the influence behind the scenes of what they call "shadowy figures", often former IRA prisoners.

But most observers agree it is only a matter of time until Sinn Féin will be in government north and south of the Irish border.

 

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Irish elections - three way tie predicted

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The earliest indications from the poll suggest there is little difference between Fine Gael, Sinn Féin and Fianna Fáil.

Polling closed in the general election at 22:00 GMT.

Counting to elect the 33rd Dáil (Irish parliament) will begin on Sunday in all 39 constituencies.

There will be coverage of the election results on the BBC News NI website from 12:00 GMT on Sunday.

The poll was commissioned jointly by RTÉ, The Irish Times, TG4 and UCD and included sampling of 5,000 respondents at 250 polling stations.

RTÉ says voting appears to have been "solid".

However, there is no expectation of a spike in voting compared to 2016 despite it being the first ever Saturday general election vote.

Factors that may have affected turnout include the poor weather and international rugby.

 

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Sinn Féin tops first preference poll

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What kind of government could be formed?

Once the final number of seats for each party is known, leaders will try to form a coalition government in order to avoid another general election.

Before the election both Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil said they would not enter coalition with Sinn Féin.

Arriving at the RDS count centre in Dublin on Sunday afternoon, Sinn Féin leader Mary Lou McDonald said she was exploring options to see if it would be possible to form a government without either Fine Gael or Fianna Fáil.

On Sunday evening taoiseach (Irish PM) and Fine Gael leader Leo Varadkar said it would be "challenging" to form a government.

He said his party has consistently ruled out forming a coalition with Sinn Féin "in large part because of their policies in relation to crime, tax and the way the economy and society should be run and also our deep concerns about their democratic structures.

"We don't believe a coalition between Sinn Féin and Fine Gael is a viable option," he said.

He said a "forced marriage would not result in a good government."

Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin did not rule out working with Sinn Féin, but said "significant incompatibilities" still existed.

He said reports suggested that his party "would be the largest". He added that he was a "democrat" and respected the vote of the people.

:popcorn:

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Irish general election: Sinn Féin celebrate historic result

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Fianna Fáil has won the most seats in the Irish general election just one ahead of Sinn Féin, who recorded a historic result.

Sinn Féin's haul of 37 seats is an increase of 14 on the 2016 election.

Fine Gael, whose party leader Leo Varadkar led the outgoing government as taoiseach (Irish prime minister), finished with 35 seats, down 15 from four years ago.

The tight numbers could lead to lengthy negotiations to form a government.

The election results were confirmed shortly after midnight when two Fianna Fáil candidates, Brendan Smith and Niamh Smyth, won the last two seats in Cavan-Monaghan.

The final results showed that:

Sinn Féin had won 37 seats, an increase of 14 on the 2016 election

Fianna Fáil had lost six seats since 2016 but became the largest party by one seat

Fine Gael lost 15 seats from 2016

The Green Party recorded their best ever election result, winning 12 seats - an improvement of 10 from 2016

 

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While we wait to see what government comes out of Ireland, an upcoming one in Iran, but, unfortunately, not going to be much to watch there.

With Most Reformists Barred, Iran's Parliamentary Elections Offer Little Choice

Quote

Iran’s reformists will mostly stay out of the parliamentary elections on February 21, leaving little incentive for voters to go to polls, as no alternative is offered except hardliners to choose from.

Although twelve small reformist parties have decided to participate in the upcoming parliamentary elections for seats in the capital, few see this as reason enough to take the elections a bit more seriously.

Prominent reformists in dozens were barred by the hardliner election watchdog controlled by Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei from running in the elections.

The decision of smaller groups announced on Friday February 7 by Mohammad Reza Rahchamani, the leader of National Unity and Cooperation Party, defied a resolution by an umbrella organization that decided reformists will not field candidates in Tehran in reaction to widespread disqualification of reformists.

Several reformist figures have said during the past week that no prominent reformist candidate has been qualified by the Guardian Council to run for the parliament (Majles).

However, Rahchamani added that "around 12 reformist parties have qualified candidates and they want to take part in the elections in Tehran. They are going to form something like a coalition that would be named as 'Reformists in the Capital' after a meeting which is to be held on Saturday."

The meeting of the representatives of the 12 parties will also discuss the combination of the list. These are small low-key, low-impact parties not to be compared to major parties such as the Participation Party and National Party in the 2000s, which no longer operate as their status and structure has been badly damaged after the disputed 2009 election. Part of the government believes the former is outlawed and the latter has been weakened due to divides and separations.

Hardline newspaper Kayhan has often mockingly said about the small reformist parties that "all of their members can fit into a Volkswagen."

All this is happening while public interest in the upcoming elections has been diminishing.

A poll conducted by the state-run News Network on the Telegram app showed over 78 percent of viewers said they won't take part in the elections. The posts were deleted and the poll was repeated with similar results.

On Friday the posts were deleted again, and a News Network presenter announced that the channel was fake.

In the murky social media environment, it is difficult to ascertain who is fake and who is real, anyway.

Violent suppression of protests in November and the killing of hundreds of protesters have left many Iranians deeply disillusioned with the whole political system of the Islamic Republic. They do not see this election as an opportunity to perhaps choose politicians who can make a difference.

Many Iranians on social media and 164 foreign-based activists have called for boycotting the elections. The 164 signatories called the February 21 election a stage-managed event and called for civil disobedience asking the people to defend their citizenship rights by not taking part in the elections, in which only candidates who have been endorsed by the hardliner-dominated Guardian Council can run at the expense of thousands of others.

The hardliners led by Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei know that in the absence of at least a semblance of competitive elections the turnout will be low and are trying to urge people to vote.

Khamenei himself this week addressed the people saying that even if they do not like him, they should vote if they love their country. Many mocked him for this statement on social media, after deep anger with recent events.

One his most staunch hardliner supporters, the ultraconservative cleric Ahmad Alamolhoda announced that "Those who do not take part in the elections will go to hell."

 

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Ghani Is Named Afghan Election Winner. His Opponent Also Claims Victory.
After a five-month dispute, President Ashraf Ghani was announced as the winner. But a parallel declaration by his main rival threatens another crisis ahead of a potential U.S.-Taliban peace deal.

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KABUL, Afghanistan — President Ashraf Ghani on Tuesday was declared the winner of Afghanistan’s presidential vote after months of delayed results and bitter dispute. But the announcement threatened to tip the country into a full-blown political crisis on the cusp of a U.S. peace deal with the Taliban.

Just hours after the announcement, Mr. Ghani’s leading challenger, Abdullah Abdullah — who accuses Afghanistan’s election commission of favoring the incumbent — also declared himself the winner and said that he would form a government of his own.

The vote, held in September amid a record number of Taliban attacks intended to destabilize the election, had itself been repeatedly delayed and marred by uncertainty as a peace deal between the U.S. and the Taliban over the future of Afghanistan was nearing finalization. But President Trump snubbed the talks just weeks before the election was expected, opening the way for the vote to proceed.

Now, with those negotiations resumed and a conditional date announced for the signing of an agreement between the United States and the Taliban, the fresh political crisis risks derailing that fragile process, which was expected to open the way for negotiations between the Afghan government and the Taliban over the country’s political future.

Mr. Abdullah and several other candidates have disputed roughly 300,000 votes from a low turnout of about 1.8 million. Among those were 100,000 ballots registered in the system either before or after voting hours — in some cases by weeks or months.

Mr. Abdullah’s supporters say those were fraudulent votes cast in favor of Mr. Ghani. The election commission has attributed the irregularities to human error in setting the time and date of devices that recorded the votes.

In a news conference announcing the result after an audit of about 15 percent of the total vote, the election commission’s chief said that Mr. Ghani had won with the narrowest of margins — 50.64 percent of the vote, just surpassing the 50 percent minimum required for a win. Mr. Abdullah received 39.5 percent, according to the commission.

The win puts Mr. Ghani in position for another five-year term as president.

“This is not just an election victory,” he said, flanked by his running mates, after the result was announced. “This is the victory of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan. This is the victory of the people’s wishes.”

Hours later, however, Mr. Abdullah appeared in a televised address surrounded by his own supporters.

“I asked those who believe in democracy, in a healthy future for this country, in citizens’ rights to stand up to fraud and to not accept this fraudulent result,” Mr. Abdullah said. “We are the winners based on clean votes, and we declare our victory. We will form the inclusive government.”

In the days leading up to the announcement, Mr. Abdullah’s strongmen supporters had already threatened the formation of a parallel government if their grievances — which Mr. Ghani’s team sees as obstructionism so that the opposition can get a share of the power — were not taken into account.

Abdul Rashid Dostum, one of Mr. Abdullah’s main supporters and a powerful strongman who was previously Mr. Ghani’s vice president, said at a recent gathering: “Even if they put a knife on my throat, even if they hang me, I will not accept an announcement based on fraud.”

 

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Dictators are using the coronavirus to strengthen their grip on power

Authoritarians hate to squander an emergency. In the pandemic, they’ve found the perfect one.

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By Joshua Kurlantzick 

Joshua Kurlantzick is a senior fellow for Southeast Asia at the Council on Foreign Relations.

April 3, 2020 at 6:00 a.m. EDT

Azerbaijan’s dictator, Ilham Aliyev, is a wily survivor. He woos European democracies with gas exports, hosts the Eurovision song contest and wins $100 million offers of military aid from the United States. Those laurels are all the more remarkable considering he regularly tosses politicians and reporters in prison. Now, he sees a new opportunity to consolidate his rule. In recent weeks, Aliyev has used the threat of the novel coronavirus to crack down on opposition groups and independent media: Last month, for instance, he closed a dissident group’s office, saying people could not “gather en masse.” There were four people present.

Aliyev is hardly alone. As the coronavirus sweeps across the world, most countries are taking dramatic steps to slow the rate of infection and keep hospitals and medical workers from being inundated. Many, including liberal democracies, have enacted lockdowns. Some of the countries with the most success in combating the coronavirus, such as South Korea and Singapore, are closely tracking the personal interactions of infected people, using a range of data about citizens. In many such places, citizens accept that they must temporarily surrender certain freedoms to their democratic governments, confident that their leaders will act in good faith to grapple with this extreme threat.

But authoritarians often take advantage of emergencies — wars, terrorist attacks, high-profile arsons, natural disasters — to consolidate power. These catastrophes spark fear, bolster the public desire for a strong governing hand and lead people to rally around their leaders. Russia experts say Vladimir Putin used the war in Chechnya to grab greater power, while the Indonesian despot Suharto capitalized on massive killings and civil unrest in 1965-66, encouraged by the armed forces, to take control of the country and oust his predecessor. In the most infamous example, Adolf Hitler seized supreme dictatorial power after the 1933 Reichstag fire, an arson that probably involved the Nazis.

A contagion on the scale of the coronavirus, however, may offer authoritarians a greater opportunity than any event short of war. It has no borders, and the sense of panic it creates is broader than that after a terrorist attack, which is designed to scare but usually targets one locale — and which has nowhere near the same economic impact. In a war or a natural disaster, average people can have some agency: They can volunteer to fight in a war or assist on the home front, or provide aid to an area slammed by a hurricane. But the virus leaves citizens powerless; to help others, all they can do is stay home, leaving them dependent on experts and officials to guide them — and unable to congregate publicly to protest a power grab. And while a war, a terrorist attack or a natural disaster may cause some areas to shutter, it does not usually close down an entire country, a shift that gives a leader the widest latitude. Finally, as autocrats like Cambodia’s Hun Sen have shown, a contagion provides an authoritarian a chance to stigmatize certain marginalized populations, scapegoating them for the disease.

Indeed, from the Philippines to Hungary, autocratic leaders in many nations are using the coronavirus to enhance their powers — to put in place new rules that will be hard to overturn even if the coronavirus is defeated. Many of the new powers have no clear end date. The pandemic will have entrenched these strongmen indefinitely.

Rodrigo Duterte, the brash, illiberal president of the Philippines, has waged a brutal drug war propelled by perhaps tens of thousands of extrajudicial killings. He also has battled the media and opposition politicians. Last month, he got the legislature, controlled by his loyalists, to grant him broad emergency powers to confront the coronavirus. Some are reasonable, like the ability to order public transport to serve health-care workers. But rights activists believe that Duterte will use his emergency powers to punish opponents and get more control of state funds. The legislature also made it a crime to spread “false information,” the definition of which is disturbingly vague, as Human Rights Watch notes. And given Duterte’s record of silencing the press, he could use the broad provisions to punish reporters who criticize him or his government’s coronavirus response.

In nearby Thailand, the military-dominated but technically civilian government also has invoked emergency powers, supposedly to fight the virus. These allow the government — which put journalists in de facto reeducation camps after a 2014 coup — to “censor or shut down media if deemed necessary,” according to the decree. Late last year, opponents of the government regularly gathered in Bangkok to protest its oppressive style; with the country now on lockdown, they basically can’t demonstrate, making it easier for officials to cast these changes as uncontroversial.

Fellow traveler Viktor Orban, who in the past decade has shifted Hungary from a democracy to an authoritarian regime with a democratic facade, is taking advantage of the coronavirus as well. This past week, Orban’s rubber-stamp parliament approved a law that gives the Hungarian leader emergency powers — indefinitely. He can rule by decree for as long as he wants, making him a dictator inside the European Union. Orban no longer maintains even the illusion of democracy: He can unilaterally change any existing Hungarian law and has effectively dissolved the legislature. Now people can be put in jail for spreading false information, which, as in the Philippines, is not well-defined. It’s unclear what, if anything, these changes have to do with battling the coronavirus.

In Poland, leaders of the ruling Law and Justice party — which also has hollowed out democracy — have refused to cancel the early May presidential election. The party put the country on lockdown, meaning the opposition candidate cannot campaign. But Law and Justice’s candidate, Andrzej Duda, is campaigning widely on state-dominated television. (Surveys show that if the election were delayed and more people could vote, Duda would face a real fight, but in a May election with low turnout, he would dominate.) The party also stuffed new electoral laws into emergency legislation to deal with the coronavirus, passed during a chaos-filled parliamentary session. These shift the election procedures in ways that further favor Law and Justice by making it easier for the party’s older core of supporters to cast ballots, but not for opposition supporters to vote.

Israel’s Benjamin Netanyahu has tried to utilize the virus for political reasons as well. Facing criminal charges that had already been filed against him, he cited the pandemic as a reason to close the courts, paralyze the Knesset and operate, for a time, without parliamentary oversight. His moves helped end a political stalemate in which his opposition fragmented; then a portion of it joined his governing coalition — leaving Netanyahu in power just as he looked to be at the end of his rope. Netanyahu’s moves angered many Israelis, but, as in Thailand, the coronavirus ban on sizable public gatherings meant they could not go into the streets to protest. Some held an online, live-streamed protest, but a virtual rally does not pack the same visceral effect as a massive street demonstration.

In Russia, meanwhile, Putin’s government has used the virus to bolster its surveillance systems in Moscow, installing more facial-recognition tools to maintain quarantines — tools that could also be deployed to anticipate public rallies. And Putin got his compliant legislature to end term limits, possibly allowing him to serve into the 2030s, as most of Russia was distracted by the spreading virus.

In Turkey, strongman Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s government has detained people who dared criticize its response to the crisis. And the authoritarian government of Turkmenistan, which claims, implausibly, that the country has no coronavirus cases, banned the use of the word “coronavirus” this past week.

In other parts of Asia, too, strongmen see an opportunity in the virus. Cambodian autocrat Hun Sen has cited the outbreak to arrest at least 17 critics of his regime since late January, according to Human Rights Watch — mostly people who shared information about the spread of the coronavirus in the country and the government’s response. Several of those arrested were members of the leading (and banned) opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party. And Hun Sen has used the virus to smear minority groups like Khmer Muslims. The Health Ministry is insinuating on its official Facebook page that Muslims were somehow responsible for introducing the contagion to Cambodia.

This kind of attack has a history. Over the centuries, rulers often have blamed outsiders for pandemics. During the Black Death of the early 14th century, for instance, officials in Strasbourg claimed that Jews caused the outbreak, as Elizabeth Kolbert noted in the New Yorker this past week. Jews were given a choice: Convert or die. Half converted, and the rest were put to death. People blamed Jews in other European cities for the Black Death, too, and slaughtered them.

Autocrats’ seizure of emergency powers is often difficult to undo. History suggests that in many cases, after a crisis is over, authoritarian leaders keep those powers and make them a normal part of governing. Putin has only become stronger since he used the Chechnya war to amass more authority, and now he is gunning to rule Russia into his 70s. After seizing control in Indonesia, Suharto ruled dictatorially for 30 more years. What happened in the years after the Reichstag fire is well known.

But perhaps the coronavirus will play out differently. Unlike wars, in which presidents and prime ministers do not actually fight, the bosses are not immune to a pandemic. Already, world leaders like British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, Australian Home Minister Peter Dutton and Britain’s Prince Charles (none of whom are autocrats, to be sure) have contracted the coronavirus. Two senior Iranian ministers, leaders of an autocratic and opaque regime, have it. In previous pandemics — as when a plague hit the Eastern Roman Empire — infected autocrats saw their power wane. And if scientists devise a coronavirus vaccine or treatment, it would provide a clear, obvious endpoint to the panic and fear, a signal that a leader’s powers should be curtailed. In the meantime, the maneuvers by men like Hun Sen, Orban and Duterte will keep their countries backsliding further from democracy.

 

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Josh Kurlantzick, the author of the article, is the son of my old law professor, Lewis Kurlantzick, all-around brilliant and very cool guy. He teaches Copyright and Sports Law, along with core staples like Contracts and other requirements at UConn Law.

Great guy, Lewis. Helped me out a bunch in law school. He's actually responsible for your mp3 player that Congress had tried to block from existing but upon lawsuit, succumbed to his "device-shifting" argument as an end-around the DMCA, a paper and argument that can be found here, though I think the link might be broken

https://www.semanticscholar.org/paper/The-Audio-Home-Recording-Act-of-1992-and-the-of-Kurlantzick/e7bef3f2b7f2d1ff39b5995fe695c3b71ef050db

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As for the article itself, there is no doubt that once power has been granted and centralized, the hopes of the people ever getting it back decreases greatly in countries that have less restraint among their leaders and/or have nascent democratic institutions. It takes a leap of faith to determine that rights should be given over to men and women for our own good; the political capital of trust must remain at all-time highs for it to work. Corona obviously provides an opportunity for leaders to cynically seize power in front of the eyes of the world seemingly without the usual reproach. That said, the world and the people always know, the divorce of government from the individual already felt and known by the populace usually before the centralization even begins.

Thus we come to a unique time in America. It would seem that contrary to easy analysis, the President has decided to back off and let the states that comprise the union decide and fend for themselves. In a way, it is odd, this non-consolidation of power at the federal level. Often the executive would seize a chance to broaden its scope of power for either itself or its bureaucracies, and for all the howls against this particular President, we see the devolution of power from the federal government to the states. Gavin Newsom keeps referring to California as a "republic" and a "nation-state." The language is no accident. The question so far, then, becomes not whether the federal government will overreach tyrannically, but whether there is a vacuum of power that the states will or even can fill. Interesting times, sad ones, and certainly a zeitgeist that reflects the political upheaval and surprise that 2016 promised.

Anyway, dudes, that's my take.

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Polish president, battling for reelection, headed to runoff with Warsaw mayor

By Loveday Morris 

June 28, 2020 at 5:37 p.m. EDT

Polish President Andrzej Duda failed to win enough of the vote in Sunday's election to avoid a runoff, according to exit polls, forcing him into what is expected to be a tightly fought contest with the liberal mayor of Warsaw next month.

Duda, the candidate of the governing populist Law and Justice party, was on track to win 41.8 percent of the vote, according to the polls, while Warsaw Mayor Rafal Trzaskowski is expected to win 30.4 percent. He needed a majority to win outright. Turnout was high, at 62.9 percent.

Although Duda came out comfortably ahead on Sunday, analysts expect that to change in the runoff election in two weeks, as opposition voters whose support was split in the first round unite around Trzaskowski.

"It will be close," said Malgorzata Bonikowska, president of the Warsaw-based Center for International Relations. "People are voting for two different Polands. They are like fire and water."

The vote could reshape Poland's relationship with Europe. Duda has been a figurehead for the Law and Justice political program that has put it on a collision course with the European Union. Brussels accuses the government of threatening the rule of law and the independence of the judiciary.

His reelection uncertain, Polish president seeks a boost from Trump

Trzaskowski, a former member of the European Parliament who speaks seven languages, is known to have more amicable relations with Brussels.

Speaking at a jubilant election night event, Trzaskowski said the choice for voters would be between an "open Poland" and one that is "looking for an enemy," with a president who is trying to divide.

Duda, at his event, maintained that his advantage was “enormous” and said the choice was between “development” and a deterioration of the lives of normal Poles under the opposition. Social benefits for families have been a major pillar of Law and Justice policy.

The vote had been slated for May. Law and Justice wanted to keep to that schedule despite the country’s coronavirus outbreak. Poland has reported more than 33,900 cases and 1,438 deaths. The party was concerned that a delay could hurt its chances amid the resulting economic crisis and mounting scrutiny over how the government has responded to the virus. But its coalition partners insisted on pushing the vote back.

As polls tightened before the vote Sunday, Duda fell back on anti-LGBT rhetoric, branding gay and transgender rights as an “ideology” akin to communism, in an apparent effort to galvanize his base. But his comments caused a backlash even in staunchly Catholic Poland.

Members of Law and Justice had said they hoped Duda’s visit to Washington last week would boost his chances of reelection. But the trip fell short of initial expectations on the Polish side, with no firm details announced on the movement of U.S. troops to Poland.

Warsaw has been lobbying for the United States to increase its security presence in Poland, which its officials say is even more important following President Trump’s order this month to withdraw 9,500 troops from Germany.

Trump said Wednesday that he would send “some” of the troops he planned to pull out of Germany to Poland, but he made no new commitment to increase the number permanently based in the country.

Speaking during Duda’s visit to Washington, Trump said he believed the incumbent would be “very successful.”

Duda has worked to strengthen relations with Washington to counter Poland’s growing isolation within Europe as his government has become increasingly autocratic.

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1 hour ago, Don Quixote said:

The vote could reshape Poland's relationship with Europe. Duda has been a figurehead for the Law and Justice political program that has put it on a collision course with the European Union. Brussels accuses the government of threatening the rule of law and the independence of the judiciary.

His reelection uncertain, Polish president seeks a boost from Trump

Trzaskowski, a former member of the European Parliament who speaks seven languages, is known to have more amicable relations with Brussels.

Speaking at a jubilant election night event, Trzaskowski said the choice for voters would be between an "open Poland" and one that is "looking for an enemy," with a president who is trying to divide.

I think pro-western democracy folks are pulling for the challenger here.

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From Politico Europe. Going to be close.

“BREAKING: Exit poll shows a very close Polish presidential election — incumbent Andrzej Duda at 50.4 percent and Rafał Trzaskowski at 49.6 percent. Story to come”

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Unfortunately, a bit predictable...

Turkey’s crackdown on political opposition finds a favored target: Elected Kurdish mayors

To serve as a mayor from Turkey’s pro-Kurdish political party these days is to fear arrest at any moment and govern in circumstances that hover between stifling and absurd, said Ayhan Bilgen, one of the few who has kept his office during an unrelenting government purge.

His party’s mayoral candidates captured 65 Turkish municipalities when local elections were held in March 2019. During a subsequent crackdown by the government of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the authorities have effectively taken over all but 10 of the municipalities, while detaining at least 20 mayors....

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On 7/22/2020 at 12:57 AM, SaintsInDome2006 said:

Washington Post had a good article on Belarus yesterday too.

 

Quote

MOSCOW — President Alexander Lukashenko had three main rivals in the presidential election next month. Two were jailed. One was denied registration as a candidate. The top challenger now is a woman — so, to Belarus’s longtime leader, she didn’t really count as a threat.

A female president “would collapse, poor thing,” Lukashenko said on May 29 as he met workers at a tractor factory. The country, he added, “has not matured enough” to vote for a woman.

But the campaign for the Aug. 9 vote may be remembered as the time when Lukashenko’s authoritarian grip — and his out-of-touch attitudes on everything from female leadership to fighting the coronavirus pandemic — began to slip.

Opposition groups have united behind his main challenger, Svetlana Tikhanovskaya, a shy, 37-year-old language teacher. She took up the presidential bid only after her husband, popular vlogger Sergei Tikhanovsky, was arrested two days after announcing he planned to run for president...

 

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*bump* for the Belarus election today. Link

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MINSK -- Belarusians formed long lines to cast ballots in the country’s August 9 presidential election amid a heavy troop presence in the capital and Internet disruptions that have raised further concerns over the authenticity of the vote.

The election follows a campaign marked by the arrest of more than 1,000 opposition supporters, the barring of opposition candidates, restrictions on election observers, and claims of a Russian plot to sow instability. But it also witnessed the rise of an unheralded candidate who analysts say poses the greatest challenge to incumbent President Alyaksandr Lukashenka’s 26-year rule.

Despite the repressive environment, RFE/RL's Belarus Service reports there have been long lines of voters outside of polling stations, with people wearing white bracelets to show solidarity with opposition candidate Svyatlana Tsikhanouskaya -- who had told her supporters to wear the bracelets as a symbol of "honesty and purity."

As she cast her ballot, Tsikhanouskaya demanded that the official election results be "honest" and free of fraud that boosts the support for Lukashenka.

"I really want the election to be honest, because if the authorities have nothing to fear, if all the people are for [Lukashenka], then we will agree with [the results]," Tsikhanouskaya said.

 

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https://twitter.com/franakviacorka/status/1292606289839824897?s=21

“It was the darkest day in Belarus modern history. Government waged a war against his people, brought army in cities, and targeted unarmed people with pepper spray, water cannons, guns and stun grenades.

“And same time - I am proud of my people. After 26 six years of humiliation, I see my nation awakening. They dream about freedom and independence, and they are ready to fight for it.”

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Bolivia’s election is a test for Latin American socialism — and democracy

LA PAZ, Bolivia — Half a century after the execution of leftist firebrand Ernesto "Che" Guevara in the Bolivian jungle, the forces of the political right and left are once again waging ideological war in this impoverished Andean nation.

Bolivia is heading toward a bitterly disputed presidential vote on Sunday, the outcome of which could spark violence regardless of the winner. The vote pits the socialists of Evo Morales, who ran the country for 13 years before he fled it last year, against rivals who are laboring to thwart their return to power. Each side claims that the other is planning to cheat to win, setting up a tense day of voting that could serve as the start of a prolonged struggle for the presidential sash....

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New Zealand’s Jacinda Ardern was returned with a massive swing of over 12% for her left wing government.

Her go hard and go early lockdown measures were among the toughest in the world and highly successful. In a proportional representational government she holds well over half the seats in her own right, with the Greens also holding a high percentage. The right wing National party lost heavily.

https://www.cbsnews.com/news/jacinda-ardern-new-zealand-prime-minister-wins-second-term-in-election-landslide/

Edited by John Maddens Lunchbox
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Socialists claim massive victory in Bolivia, one year after being ousted



LA PAZ, Bolivia — Exit polls issued early Monday showed Bolivia's socialists taking a seemingly insurmountable lead in the country's bitterly fought presidential election, a result that, if confirmed by the official tally, would amount to a massive popular rebuke of the right-wing forces that drove the left from power a year ago.

Sunday’s much-delayed election was a do-over of last year’s contest. That vote ended with longtime socialist President Evo Morales fleeing into exile as opponents alleged electoral fraud and supporters decried a “coup.”

Morales, banned from running this time, watched from Argentina as his former finance minister, front-runner Luis Arce, 57, faced two main competitors who sought to stop a socialist comeback: centrist former president Carlos Mesa, 67, and right-wing nationalist Luis Camacho, 41.

Bolivia’s election is a test for Latin American socialism — and democracy

The exit poll by the firm Ciesmori, with margin of error of less than 2 percentage points, indicated that Arce, the candidate of the Movement Toward Socialism (MAS) party, had claimed 52.4 percent of the vote, compared to Mesa’s 31.5 percent and Camacho’s 14.1 percent. A second exit poll by a group of universities and Catholic institutions showed similar figures, giving Arce 53 percent and Mesa 30.8 percent.

In a tweet, the right-wing, U.S.-backed interim president, Jeanine Áñez Chavez, noted that the official tally was still being counted. But she nevertheless recognized Arce’s apparent victory.

“We do not yet have an official count, but from the data we have, Mr. Arce and [his vice-presidential candidate] Mr. [David] Choquehuanca have won the election. I congratulate the winners and ask them to govern with Bolivia and democracy in mind.”

 If the exit poll numbers are confirmed by the official count, which was being tabulated slowly late Sunday, it would be more than enough to avoid a November runoff and claim outright victory.

“We have recovered democracy,” Arce said in a public speech early Monday. “We promise to respond to our pledge to work and bring our program to fruition. We are going to govern for all Bolivians and construct a government of national unity.”

Experts cautioned that the exit polls are not the same as the official count, of which less than 5 percent was tallied by midnight. But they offered what many observers called a fairly precise snapshot of a huge wave of support for the socialists, who had ruled the country since 2006 before being forced out last year following claims of fraud.

One of Arce’s successful tactics appeared to be a major distancing of his candidacy from Morales. But the polarizing former president nevertheless seemed to portray the election as a vindication.

“Bolivia is an example to the world,” Morales told reporters in Buenos Aires. “Very soon our country will begin a new stage of great challenges. We must put aside differences and sectoral and regional interests to achieve a great national agreement."

In a surprise decision Saturday, Bolivia’s electoral tribunal announced it would not release the traditional quick-count projection of the outcome as initially expected Sunday. The tribunal said it would instead wait to release results until all ballots were counted or tallies showed an indisputable trend, something that could take at least a day or two, and potentially up to a week.

Late Sunday, Salvador Romero, head of the electoral council, would not confirm a timeline for releasing the definitive results.

“This process, at this stage, can be slower and accelerate progressively,” he told reporters in La Paz. “We ask the people for patience. We need to be certain about the results.”

An outright win for the socialists would amount to a major reversal of fortune for the powers that be in this impoverished Andean nation and mark a major victory for the Latin American left. It would also mark a stunning defeat for the right, which sought to sell its actions to purge the socialists in Bolivia as a “liberation” of the country — a liberation its people seemed not to want.

Áñez, a right-wing firebrand who took over after Morales’s exile, dropped out of the race due to low poll numbers. She has been blamed for haphazard handling of the coronavirus pandemic, as well as presiding over a wave of repression against leftists during her year in power. Observers say officials in her government as well as senior members of the military brass could potentially face charges from a new socialist government — although Arce told The Washington Post in an interview last week that he would not seek to influence the justice system.

 “It’s an end to the politics of persecution and an opening for thorough, credible investigations of human rights violations, corruption and other irregularities,” said Kathryn Ledebur, director of the Andean Information Network. “Justice for these issues is the first crucial step toward reconciliation.”
Going into Sunday, opinion polls showed Arce close to the threshold needed for a first-round victory. To avoid a runoff, a candidate had to win more than 50 percent of the vote, or at least 40 percent with a 10-point margin of victory.

Analysts say Mesa, running second in the polls, would become the favorite in a second round of voting next month, assuming the opposition to the socialists coalesced around him. Camacho trailed both men in the polls by significant margins.
Carla Nina Martínez, a 30-year-old nurse voting in a rural area just south of La Paz, described herself as a longtime supporter of the left. But she said she was changing her vote this year to support Mesa.

“I value some things that President Evo Morales did. Everything was going very well,” she said. “But in the end, as always, politics end up being corrupt.”

 A survivor of covid-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus, she said she blamed the Áñez government for a poorly executed coronavirus plan.

“During the high points of the pandemic, we were never provided with personal protective equipment, and health personnel ended up being infected,” she said.

Santos Vallejo, 52, said the country’s bad economy in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic led him to vote for the socialists.

During Morales’s three terms, the socialists were credited with a successful drive to turn Bolivia into a leader in the effort to fight poverty in Latin America. At the same time, they embraced a “Socialist lite” approach that maintained relatively business-friendly policies — especially as compared to the more far more repressive and severe socialist government in Venezuela.

Under socialist governments, “we had jobs,” Vallejo said outside a polling station in El Alto, a socialist stronghold near La Paz. “I believe MAS will win because we, the poor, are with them.”

More than 10,000 troops were called to keep the peace. In a message clearly aimed at the socialists, Áñez’s influential interior minister, Arturo Murillo, led a show of force Saturday with soldiers and armored vehicles on the streets of La Paz. Murillo said the effort was meant to prevent “the return of dictators” — a clear reference to Morales, who was democratically elected three times before his controversial bid for a fourth term last year.

Arce has sought to distance himself from Morales. In an interview last week with The Post, Arce said Morales would need to face the justice system to defend himself against “numerous” charges if he returned.

“We think that our comrade Evo has every right, if he so wishes, to return to the country and defend himself,” Arce said.

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Italy's coalition government on brink of collapse...

Silvia Sciorilli Borrelli
@silvia_sb_
#Breaking: former PM Renzi announces resignation of his party from the govt he effectively created less than 18 months ago. 

And there goes another government crisis in Italy. This time, right in the middle of a pandemic.
12:19 PM · Jan 13, 2021·Twitter for iPhone

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Ugandan opposition reels from widespread repression ahead of Thursday’s election

Quote

By 
Max Bearak
Jan. 12, 2021 at 2:08 p.m. EST

KAMPALA, Uganda — When Sharon Kemigisha and her husband joined a political movement growing out of this city's sprawling ghettos, they knew it might cost them their lives.

The National Unity Party, led by the reggae singer and lawmaker Robert Kyagulanyi — better known by his stage name Bobi Wine — was quickly evolving into the most popular challenger that Uganda’s president, Yoweri Museveni, had faced in 35 years in power.

Thursday’s elections will bring them head to head, but the government has unleashed a wave of intimidation and repression against the opposition party and its supporters, extinguishing any hope many had in a fair vote.

Kemigisha’s husband, a close aide of Wine’s, has spent the past two weeks locked up in a military barracks on what she says are preposterous charges of illegal possession of ammunition. Kemigisha, 28, is weeks from giving birth to their second child.

“I just thank God he is alive,” she said in an interview from the back seat of a car, where she felt safe talking to a journalist — another group that Uganda’s military has cracked down on. She sleeps at different friends’ houses most nights, fearing her own arrest. “We’ve lost friends, colleagues. We’ve buried them.”

At least 54 protesters were killed in November after Wine was arrested at a campaign rally, the second of three times he was arrested ahead of the election. Wine’s prominence has likely protected his life, analysts said. Another opposition candidate, Patrick Oboi Amuriat, was arrested on Monday for the ninth time since declaring his candidacy — this time over a traffic law barring people from sticking their heads out of sunroofs.

Uganda’s election shapes up as a contest of young vs. old

Wine has said all 23 members of his campaign team had been arrested, and the majority were still in jail....

 

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  • Don Quixote changed the title to Foreign Elections Thread - Currently: Italy Gov't Close to Collapse / Elections in Uganda
  • 3 weeks later...

Myanmar military takes control of country after detaining Aung San Suu Kyi

Myanmar's military has confirmed it has taken control of the country after Aung San Suu Kyi and other political leaders were arrested in the early hours.

The coup comes after tensions rose between the civilian government and the military following a disputed election.

Hours after the arrests, military TV confirmed a state of emergency had been declared for one year.

Myanmar, also known as Burma, was ruled by the military until democratic reforms began in 2011. 

In November's election, Ms Suu Kyi's National League for Democracy (NLD) won enough seats to form a government. The army says the vote was fraudulent. 

On Monday, the military said it was handing power to commander-in-chief Min Aung Hlaing. Soldiers are on the streets of the capital, Naypyitaw, and the main city, Yangon....

Edited by Don Quixote
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  • Don Quixote changed the title to Foreign Elections Thread - Currently: Myanmar Military Takes Control of Country
7 hours ago, Don Quixote said:

Myanmar military takes control of country after detaining Aung San Suu Kyi

Myanmar's military has confirmed it has taken control of the country after Aung San Suu Kyi and other political leaders were arrested in the early hours.

The coup comes after tensions rose between the civilian government and the military following a disputed election.

Hours after the arrests, military TV confirmed a state of emergency had been declared for one year.

Myanmar, also known as Burma, was ruled by the military until democratic reforms began in 2011. 

In November's election, Ms Suu Kyi's National League for Democracy (NLD) won enough seats to form a government. The army says the vote was fraudulent. 

On Monday, the military said it was handing power to commander-in-chief Min Aung Hlaing. Soldiers are on the streets of the capital, Naypyitaw, and the main city, Yangon....

Why don’t we refer to this country simply as Myanmar? It hasn’t been Burma for 25 years at least, we know this thanks to J. Peterman. Every article I read has something about it being Burma. 
 

After some short reflection, I suppose there’s probably a good part of the population that probably thinks Myanmar and Burma are both countries that exist today.

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4 hours ago, Snorkelson said:

Why don’t we refer to this country simply as Myanmar? It hasn’t been Burma for 25 years at least, we know this thanks to J. Peterman. Every article I read has something about it being Burma. 
 

After some short reflection, I suppose there’s probably a good part of the population that probably thinks Myanmar and Burma are both countries that exist today.

When I visited several years back, the people I met still all called it Burma and were adamant about it.  I’m not sure why, though.  They were pro-democracy supporters.

Such a sad situation on every front.

Edited by krista4
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12 minutes ago, krista4 said:

When I visited several years back, the people I met still all called it Burma and were adamant about it.  I’m not sure why, though.

Such a sad situation on every front.

Yeah, it is pretty sad. I know Aung San Suu Kyi's reputation was hit by the Rohingya genocide, but she may have been a bit limited in what she could by the military (and it is not like the military is going to be any better than her on that front).  Her government still seemed popular based on the election returns. It feels like the military just decided time to show they still wield the power.

Edited by Don Quixote
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