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Global Issue 15

Inbox ELECTION WATCH Key polls around the world Iran Iran’s June elections were seen by some as a missed opportunity for democracy, with only ‘regime-friendly’ candidates allowed to run in the race. The eight contenders were handpicked by the Guardian Council from a pool of 680 registered candidates, in direct violation of the Islamic Republic’s constitution. As such, the election became a contest between two wings of the clerical oligarchy – the conservatives and the moderates. Two days before the vote candidate Mohammad Reza Aref withdrew from the race in order to unite the reformist vote in favour of Hassan Rouhani of the Combatant Clergy Association (CCA). The result saw Rouhani take 50.7 per cent of the fi nal vote, the minimum fi gure required to settle the election in its fi rst round, while Mohammad Baqer Qalibaf of the right-wing Islamic Society of Engineers (ISE) trailed behind with 16.6 per cent, followed by Saeed Jalili with 11.4 per cent, Mohsen Rezai 10.6 per cent and Ali Akbar Velayati 6.2 per cent. Voter turnout was 72.2 per cent, around 10 per cent lower than the previous election. Venezuela Chávez’s protégé Nicolás Maduro won a narrow victory over Henrique Capriles Radonski in April’s presidential elections, gaining 50.8 per cent of the vote to the opposition’s 49 per cent. Representing the United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV), the largest left-wing party in the western hemisphere, Maduro has promised to deepen Chávez’s “21st-century socialism”. Capriles of the centre-right Justice First Movement (PJ) demanded a recount of all votes saying that his team had found thousands of irregularities during voting. A full audit of the results is underway, although the 54 per cent of votes checked immediately following the election showed no discrepancies. Venezuela’s Attorney General recorded several cases of violence since the conclusion of the election, with at least seven people dead, 60 injured and more than 200 detained. Maduro has named his cabinet, with Nelson Merentes as Finance Minister, Miguel Rodríguez Torres as Interior Minister, Elías Jaua as Foreign Minister and Diego Molero as Defence Minister. Voter turnout was 79.69 per cent. Pakistan Former Prime Minister Nawaz ‘Lion of the Punjab’ Sharif won 122 seats for the centreright Pakistan Muslim League (PML-N) in the May general elections, beating the centre-left Pakistan People’s Party (PPP). The PPP won 31 seats, led by Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, and the centrally aligned Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) won only 26 seats, despite being led by popular cricket star-turned-politician Imran Khan. The result was nonetheless a victory for the PTI which had previously only ever won a single seat in parliament. Around 600,000 security personnel were installed at polling stations to protect voters, but by the end of election day, the death toll had surpassed 150, with many others injured following a string of bombings and shootings by the Taliban. More than 100 complaints of rigging and irregularities further marred the event, with recounts ordered in nine constituencies. Bulgaria Months of mass protests and allegations of fraud surrounded the May elections, which resulted in a hung parliament with no party winning a majority. Protests erupted in early February due to surging energy prices, forcing Citizens for European Development of Bulgaria (GERB) and leader Boyko Borisov to resign from offi ce, and bringing scheduled elections forward by two months. Allegations of fraud and political manipulation arose when 350,000 unregistered ballots were found in a printing house owned by a local GERB politician on the eve of the election. While centre-right GERB remained the largest party, taking 97 of the 240 seats (30.5 per cent of the vote), it fell 23 seats short of a majority. The centre-left Bulgarian Socialist Party, led by Sergei Stanishev, won 26.6 per cent of the vote, while centrist party Movement for Rights and Freedoms (DSP) won 11.3 per cent of the vote. Plamen Oresharski, who is free of party affi liations, was named Prime Minister in May after GERB failed to form a coalition with any other party, putting an end to months of political impasse. Voter turnout was at the lowest on record at 51.3 per cent. Japan Prime Minister Shinzo Abe celebrated his party’s landslide victory in parliamentary elections in July. The conservative Liberal Democrats, however, fell short of winning the two-thirds majority required to revise the constitution and voter turnout was low at 52 per cent, suggesting some popular disinterest. Abe, known as an outspoken nationalist, is expected to become an agent of change within the country and bring a stability that Japan’s leadership has lacked in recent years. ‘Abenomics’, an intrepid plan conceived by the Prime Minister to stimulate the country’s economy (see pages 30-35), has contributed greatly to the Liberal Democrat’s popularity, although the party’s other ambitions, such as plans to rewrite the constitution and replace Japan’s self-defence forces with a full-grown military, have caused some apprehension. Cayman Islands Alden McLaughlin has been appointed premier of the Cayman Islands, following the May parliamentary elections in which the People’s Progressive Movement (PPM) took 36.1 per cent of the vote, winning nine of the 18 seats. The United Democratic Party (UDP) came second with 27.8 per cent (three seats), followed by the Coalition for Cayman with 18.6 per cent (three seats), independents took 11.9 per cent (two seats), and the People’s National Alliance took 5.7 per cent (one seat). George Town, the capital of the country and McLaughlin’s home constituency, witnessed the most competitive election in its history with 21 candidates vying for six seats and positions separated by as few as 15 votes. The new cabinet was sworn in at the end of May with McLaughlin as Home Affairs minister and Marco Archer as Finance Minister. Voter turnout was 79.8 per cent. Malaysia May general elections ensured the continuation of Barisan Nasional (BN) coalition’s 56-year unbroken rule in Malaysia. BN won 47.4 per cent of the vote and 133 out of 222 seats, which are 10 l www.global -br ief ing.org thi rd quar ter 2013 global


Global Issue 15
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