The Salon II

Monday, April 10, 2006

World election roundup

Why it is that the United States, where I live, do not have elections on Sunday like most of the World, will always buggle my mind. I mean it makes sense: it's a holiday, everybody has no excuse not to go vote, and they have the time to stand in line longer, so their vote is counted... but then again, some here don't want those votes counted, do they... but that is not our topic today. No. This is: since it was a Sunday, yesterday, I thought it a good idea, to do a little round-up of the major elections that took place last Sunday.

The two most dramatic ones were in Peru (for the radical views of the front front-runner), and in Italy (due to the abrasive and insulting tone of the electoral campaign). In Peru, it seems front-runner Ollanta Humala is assured a spot in the run-off elections. The other two candidates seem tied for the second spot in that elections:
BBC NEWS | World | Americas | Peru faces presidential run-off

"A nationalist ex-army officer has a narrow lead in the first round of Peru's presidential election but the race looks set for a run-off vote.

With 59% of the votes counted, Ollanta Humala leads with 28% of the vote, with conservative Lourdes Flores in second place with 26%.

Former President Alan Garcia is close behind with 25% of the vote so far."
Ollanta Humala seems to be akin to Hugo Chavez, in terms of ideology and policies: a radical turn to the left, with redistribution of wealth, and limitations to the power of multi-nationals on the Peruvian territory. Latin America has been taking a turn to varying degrees of the centre-left/left, in recent elections, with the moderates Lula da Silva in Brasil, Michele Bachelet in Chile, Nestor Kirchner in Argentina, Tabari Vasquez in Uruguay, the more radical Hugo Chavez in Venezuela, and Evo Morales in Bolivia. Although this trend has not strongly affected the economic relationship with the very capitalist United States (at least not yet), the United States has been dramatizing the change as a catastrophe for Latin America. The United States simply has a bit of a difficulty seeing its "hegemony" challenged in their own backyard - especially when this implies an increasing support for embattled communist Cuba, and its leader, the US nemesis Fidel Castro. There is a - IMHO, positive - change, and challenge, in Latin America. The people seem to be eager to find a third way, that allies revenues from natural resources, international trade, social empowerment and a more equitable income distribution. Sounds very good to me. But the Chavez of this world need to be careful not to drift towards authoritarianism, because the same people-power that put them there, may take them down just as fast... but that is another story.

In Italy, we have another story. PM Silvio Berlusconi has been around for a long time. In fact he has the longest-running government of Italy since Mussolini! But he is also a - alleged - crook, a media-mogul, and a billionaire, who controls most of the Italian media, and is said to run Italy like a mafia boss. He has spent this campaign vilifying his mild-mannered, centre-left opponent, former EU commission president Romano Prodi, and calling all left-wing voters "communist", in a ploy to divert the attention from his own abismal government record. On the other hand, Mr Prodi has been calling Berlusconi a drunkard, and the two have had very uncivil electoral debates on national TV. It seems the two were out to confirm evert stereotype of the restless, passionate Italian, even Mr Prodi who is more known for his calm, and his moderation. The result? Well, it's a tie so far:
BBC NEWS | Europe | Election cliffhanger grips Italy:

"Italy's general election is turning into an extremely close race, with early results pointing to a slender lead for PM Silvio Berlusconi.

Mr Berlusconi's centre-right coalition may narrowly retain control of both houses of parliament, according to projections from the Nexus pollsters.

Earlier, exit polls pointed to a narrow lead for his centre-left challenger, Romano Prodi.

Polling stations closed at 1500 (1300 GMT), after two days of voting."


There was also an election in Hungary, the first-round of the Parliamentary elections, and the Socialists seem well under way to maintain their ruling position in the parliament as well:
EuroNews : Hungary's ruling Socialists lead in election first-round:

"In Hungary, the stage is set for a fierce second round in the country's parliamentary election. With 99 percent of papers counted after weekend polls, the ruling Socialists of Prime Minister Ferenc Gyurcsany are ahead with about 43.3 percent of the vote.

Former Prime Minister Viktor Orban's opposition conservative Fidesz party edged ahead initially due to increased support in rural areas, but is now trailing behind on 42 percent. Smaller parties the Free Democrats and the Hungarian Democratic Forum have crossed the five percent threshold needed to secure seats in parliament.

The presence of the Democratic Forum in any future parliament could complicate negotiations about forming a ruling coalition. The party has recently distanced itself from Orban's Fidesz. The new government will have to grapple with a growing budget deficit, rising unemployment and much needed reforms of the health and education sectors. The second round is scheduled for April 23."
That's it for today's round-up, see you next Monday!

2 Comments:

  • I think it goes back to the time when Christians believed that it was a sin to do anything on a Sunday besides go to church. There are still some that belive that. However, we could still hold elections on Saturdays. Either that or hold it on a Tuesday but make it a federal holiday and give everyone the day off.

    By Blogger Brian, at 7:41 AM  

  • When I say that Religion and Politics should not mix...

    By Blogger TheMalau, at 3:09 AM  

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