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Global_18

Inbox ELECTION WATCH Key polls around the world Bangladesh In January, heavily contested parliamentary elections in Bangladesh were boycotted by the main opposition party, the centre-left Bangladesh Nationalist Party. As a result, just 146 of the 300 seats were contested, with 154 members elected without opposition. Voting was suspended in eight constituencies due to violence. Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s centre-left Awami League secured 231 seats, of which 127 seats were uncontested, while the centre-right Jatiya Party secured 33 seats, of which 20 were uncontested. Voter turnout was 50 per cent. Chile Presidential elections in Chile went to a second round in November, after no candidate emerged with an overall majority. Former President and left-wing Socialist Party of Chile candidate Michelle Bachelet secured just shy of the required 50 per cent with 46.7 per cent of the vote, while Evelyn Matthei of the right-wing Independent Democratic Union secured 25 per cent. Bachelet fi rst served as President from 2006-2010, but was prevented from standing for a second term under the constitution. In December’s presidential run-off, Bachelet emerged as the clear winner with 62.2 per cent of the vote. Voter turnout was 41 per cent. Bachelet replaced President Sebastián Piñera Echenique in March. El Salvador In March, following earlier contested elections, an electoral court declared the Farabundo Martí National Liberation Front candidate Salvador Sánchez Cerén the next President. The election was initially litigated when Norman Quijano of the right-wing Nationalist Republican Alliance demanded the results be annulled under claims of fraud. The motion was rejected by the Supreme Electoral Tribunal. The presidential elections went to a second round, following a fi rst round in February when no clear winner emerged. A run-off between Cerén and runner-up Quijano held in March saw success for Cerén, who secured a narrow victory with 50.1 per cent to Quijano’s 48.9 per cent. Voter turnout was 60 per cent. Honduras November’s presidential elections in Honduras saw the election of Juan Orlando Hernández of the right-wing National Party as the new President after he secured 36.8 per cent of the total. Xiomara Castro of the newly formed left-wing Liberty and Refoundation Party, and wife of former President Manuel Zelaya, came in second with 28.8 per cent of the vote. Mauricio Villeda of the Liberal Party and Salvador Nasralla of the Anti- Corruption Party secured 20.3 per cent and 13.5 per cent respectively. Voter turnout was 58 per cent. Castro initially contested the results, claiming fraudulent elections had cost her the victory, but a recount was refused. Hernández was subsequently sworn into offi ce in January. Madagascar Hery Rajaonarimampianina was sworn in as President of Madagascar in January. At 19 letters, his is the longest surname of a Head of State anywhere in the world. His election follows a peaceful ballot in the fi nal quarter of 2013. The election marked the fi rst in Madagascar since the 2009 coup d’état and has been viewed as crucial for the reinstatement of democracy. The elections went through to a second round after no clear winner emerged from the fi rst round. In the presidential run-off, Rajaonarimampianina, of the New Forces for Madagascar party, secured 53.5 per cent of the vote and Jean- Louis Robinson, of the Avana party, 46.5 per cent. Voter turnout was 50.8 per cent, down from 61.8 per cent turnout in the fi rst round. Slovakia Slovakia’s March presidential elections saw victory for independent candidate Andrej Kiska. Kiska defeated current Prime Minister Robert Fico in the second round of voting despite having no previous experience in politics. He secured 59.3 per cent of the vote. Kiska will replace current president Ivan Gašparovič, who was unable to run for a third term under the constitution, in June. Voter turnout was 50 per cent. Bangladesh’s ‘clash of the titans’ For the past two decades Bangladesh has been governed on and off by two women with confl icting interests. Sheikh Hasina, 64, leader of the Awami League party has served as the Prime Minister since 2009, having previously stood from 1996 to 2001, while the leader of the opposing Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP), Begum Khaleda Zia, 67, was Prime Minister from 1991-96 and from 2001-06. The two women have effectively reduced Bangladesh to one of the world’s most unstable countries, as many view their leadership as being more about pursuing personal vendettas than good governance. The relationship between the two women has been described as more of a personality clash than political rivalry. The elections in January only served to intensify Bangladesh’s political unrest, as the Awami League’s refusal to bring in a caretaker government to oversee the election period sparked nationwide protests and resulted in a total boycott of the polls by the BNP. Mohammed Tawsif Salam CC Neutral caretaker governments were introduced in Bangladesh to ensure fair elections in 1991 and were used up until 2010, when the Awami League used its two-thirds majority in parliament to overrule the system, a move that the BNP has insisted was made to enable vote rigging. The weeks leading up to the elections were marred by violence, with more than 100 people left dead after demonstrations. Protests continued up to election day, when protestors swarmed the streets, setting light to polling booths. The results were a forgone conclusion, with hundreds of uncontested seats making for an empty victory for the Awami League. global second quar ter 2014 www.global -br ief ing.org l 11


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