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Inbox ELECTION WATCH Key polls around the world Costa Rica Luis Guillermo Solís Rivera of the centre-left Citizen’s Action Party took offi ce as the new President of Costa Rica in May, after winning a run-off against Johnny Araya Monge of the former President’s centreleft National Liberation Party. Solís is the fi rst member of the Citizens’ Action Party to serve as President of Costa Rica; the party’s main focus is on reducing corruption in Costa Rica. Voting went to a second round after no candidate received the 40 per cent needed to avoid an election run-off. Solís received the most votes with 30.64 per cent in the fi rst round of the election, while Araya secured just 29.71 per cent. In the run-off, held in April, Solís was declared the winner after receiving 77.81 per cent of the votes, to 22.19 per cent held by Araya. Araya offi cially ended campaigning for the elections in March, after a poll from Seminario Universidad showed him trailing by 43 percentage points; however he was constitutionally prohibited from dropping out. Voter turnout was 56 per cent, marking the highest level of voter abstinence in 60 years. Guinea-Bissau Guinea-Bissau held presidential elections this year, following two years of rule by a national unity government (a broad coalition of all main parties). The new President, José Mario Vaz, took offi ce in June. Initial elections, held in April, went to a second round after no candidate received an absolute majority. A run-off between Vaz of the left-wing African Party for the Independence of Guinea and Cape Verde, and independent candidate and former head of civil aviation Nuno Gomes Nambiam was held in May. Vaz was the clear winner with 61.92 per cent, while Nabiam received just 38.08 per cent. Voter turnout was 76 per cent. The country previously held presidential elections in January 2012 following the death of former President Malam Bacai Sanhá, however, a coup d’état ensued following the fi rst round, leading to the arrest of both presidential candidates and the installation of the national unity government. Planned elections in November 2013 did not go ahead due to funding problems. Algeria April elections in Algeria saw the re-election of President Abdelaziz Boutefl ika of the left-wing National Liberation Front, despite concerns about his health. The 77-year-old premier has rarely appeared in public since suffering a stroke last year. Due to his ill health, Boutefl ika did not personally campaign in the run up to the elections, but still secured a landslide victory with 81.53 per cent of the votes. Independent candidate Ali Benfl is came a distant second with 12.18 per cent of the votes. Voter turnout was 49.42 per cent. The elections were highly contested by the Movement of Society for Peace and the Islamic Renaissance Movement of Islamists, which boycotted the polls claiming that Boutefl ika was unfi t to run for presidency. A further three presidential candidates pulled out of the running, saying that the results were a foregone conclusion. Macedonia In the elections for the Macedonian Assembly, held in April, the opposition Social Democratic Union of Macedonia declared that the party would not recognise the election results. The elections saw success for the ruling right-wing Internal Macedonian Revolutionary Organization/Democratic Party for Macedonian National Unity/ Democratic Alternative, which came out on top with 42.21 per cent of the votes. The social democrats secured just 24.9 per cent. Voter turnout was 61 per cent. Leader of the opposition Zoran Zaev has denounced the administration as a dictatorship, calling for the formation of an interim government. Zaev suggests that results, which show stronger support for Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski than the previous elections in 2011, cannot be trusted. Presidential elections in Macedonia were also held in April and saw the re-election of Gjorge Ivanov of the centre-to-right-wing Internal Macedonian Revolutionary Organization – Democratic Party for Macedonian National Unity. He received 51.67 per cent of the votes in a run-off after turnout for the initial poll fell short of the 50 per cent necessary to avoid a run-off. Panama Presidential elections in Panama in May saw the appointment of Juan Carlos Varela of the centre-right Panameñista Party. Varela’s campaign focused on combating corruption and inequality, while devolving the highly concentrated executive power preferred by former President Ricardo Martinelli of the centre-right Democratic Change party. Varela is said to have fallen out of favour with Martinelli after standing down as Minister of Foreign Relations in 2011. Martinelli was prohibited from running for a consecutive term by the country’s constitution and will be unable to run for re-election for a further two terms. He has come under widespread criticism with many seeing him as having a strong infl uence over his party’s presidential candidate, José Domingo Arias. Results for the election were close, with Varela, who stood as Vice-President of Panama, securing 39.09 per cent of the votes. The former ruling party’s candidate Arias fi nished second in the election with 31.4 per cent, while Juan Carlos Navarro of the centre-left Democratic Revolutionary Party fi nished third with 28.14 per cent. Voter turnout was 76.78 per cent, with Varela sworn in as president in July. Lithuania Lithuanian President Dalia Grybauskaitė was re-elected for a second term in May, making her the fi rst Lithuanian president in history to run two consecutive terms. Grybauskaitė attributes her popularity in part to her reputation for plain speaking, leading to the nickname ‘the Iron Lady’, formerly given to one of Grybauskaitė’s political role models, Margaret Thatcher. The elections went to a second round when President Grybauskaitė failed to secure the overall majority needed to avoid a run-off despite fi nishing fi rst with 46.61 per cent. In the fi rst round, former Acting Prime Minister Zigmantas Balčytis of the centre-left Social Democratic Party of Lithuania won 13.84 per cent of the votes. Turnout was 52.14 per cent. The second round of presidential elections was held at the end of May, concurrently with elections for the 11 Lithuanian members of the European Parliament. Grybauskaitė claimed the victory with 59.05 per cent. four 10 l www.global -br ief ing.org th quar ter 2014 global


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