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Global Issue 15

Inbox allocated on the constituency level, while the Pakatan Rakyat (PR) coalition won 50.9 per cent of the vote, but only 89 seats. The conservative BN, historically known as the National Front, has nevertheless fallen short of the two-thirds majority required to pass amendments to the Federal Constitution. Anwar Ibrahim, the leader of the opposition, has demanded that the elections commission look into ‘irregularities’ surrounding the campaign. BN is dominated by the United Malays National Organisation (UMNO), Malaysia’s biggest party, which is led by Prime Minister Najib Razak, while PR, or People’s Pact, is a coalition of just three parties: the Pan-Malaysian Islamic Party (PAS), Democratic Action Party (DAP) and People’s Justice Party (PKR). Overall PR has slightly increased its representation in parliament while BN has endured the worst result since 1969. Voter turnout was at a record high of 84.8 per cent. Iceland The April parliamentary elections were won by Iceland’s two centre-right opposition parties, the Independence Party (IP) and Progressive Party (PP), which took 51 per cent of the vote between them and won 19 seats each in the 63-seat Althingi parliament. The parties, which had governed Iceland for decades prior to the 2008 economic crash, have since re-established their former coalition and have promised to rebuild the economy through tax-cuts and debt-relief. Both parties are Eurosceptic and it is expected that discussions about Iceland joining the EU will come to a halt under the new leadership. Altogether, 15 parties contested the election, with the Social Democratic Alliance (SDA) winning nine seats (12.85 per cent of the vote), Left-Green Movement (LGM) seven seats (10.87 per cent), Bright Future six seats (8.25 per cent) and quirkily named Pirate Party of Iceland three seats (5.1 per cent). Sigmundur David Gunnlaugsson of the PP was named Prime Minister while Bjarni Benediktsson of the IP became minister of fi nance and economics. Italy In April Giorgio Napolitano became the fi rst Italian President to be re-elected to serve a second term after party leaders failed to agree on his successor. The widely respected 87-year-old former communist had been planning to retire this year, but was convinced to stay for “the higher interests of the country”, with cross-party backing that included Silvio Berlusconi’s People of Freedom Party. Napolitano effortlessly gained the majority needed with 738 votes and smashed the political stalemate that Italy had endured since the February elections, which failed to produce an outright majority. The re-election was met with standing ovation from most MPs while protestors, spurred on by Five Star Movement’s Beppe Grillo, have claimed that the event is a sign of Italy’s political stagnation and back-room politics. Violence breaks out as Chávez’s protégé takes up mantle Following a victory by a margin of less than 1.5 per cent, Nicolás Maduro and the United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV), the largest left-wing party in the western hemisphere, faced allegations of fi xing the vote. The government agreed to carry out an audit of the election following demands by the candidate for the Democratic Unity (MUD) coalition Henrique Capriles, but soon backtracked on the decision. Instead, members of MUD in the National Assembly were barred from speaking out and their salaries were blocked for refusing to recognise Maduro’s victory. Violence erupted when protesting politicians unfurled a banner reading “legislative coup”. Mobile phones recorded the fi ghting while offi cial cameras turned their lenses to the ceiling. More than 200 protestors were detained and dozens injured in the turmoil that followed, according to human-rights groups. Among these was María Corina Machado, an independent MP, who sustained facial injuries that warranted a three-hour operation. Maduro’s government has since instigated an audit of the election results but the opposition has dismissed this saying that it would not dig deep enough to expose double-voting and rigging. “The fi ght continues!” Maduro had told supporters in a post-victory address. He wasn’t wrong. In brief Montenegro Incumbent President Filip Vujanovi´c of the centre-left Democratic Party of Socialists of Montenegro (DPS) took 51.2 per cent of the vote and the presidency, while opponent Miodrag Leki´c took 48.8 per cent. Voter turnout was 63.9 per cent. Paraguay The right-wing Colorado Party returned to power with leader Horacio Cartes winning 45.8 per cent of the vote. Efraín Alegre of the Paraguay Alegre alliance took 36.94 per cent. The elections were described as calm, orderly and exemplary by international observers. Voter turnout was 68.57 per cent. Bangladesh Abdul Hamid, speaker of the National Assembly, was elected President in April following the death of President Mohammed Zillur Rahman. Nauru Unruly behaviour on the part of MPs led to the dissolution of Nauru’s parliament earlier this year. The resulting election saw Fisheries Minister Baron Waqa sworn in as President, while Charmaine Scotty became Home Affairs Minister and the second woman in the country’s history to be elected to parliament. Bhutan A landslide victory saw Bhutan’s main opposition party, the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), take power from the ruling Peace and Prosperity Party (DPT) in the country’s second ever general elections. Togo Elections fi nally took place in July following months of protests and postponements, with the Union for the Republic party winning a landslide victory. global thi rd quar ter 2013 www.global -br ief ing.org l 11


Global Issue 15
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