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And the Spanish also seem about to finally, sorta, kinda, form a government after the last election.

 

January 2, 2020 / 8:04 PM / Updated 12 hours ago

 

Catalan separatists to break Spain's political deadlock
MADRID (Reuters) - A Catalan separatist party said on Thursday it would abstain during the Spanish parliament’s upcoming vote to confirm Socialist leader Pedro Sanchez as prime minister, potentially ending the prolonged national political deadlock.

Spain was without proper government for most of 2019 after two inconclusive elections and Sanchez’s Socialist Party needs the pro-independence Esquerra Republicana de Catalunya (ERC) to at least abstain to secure his confirmation in office.

 

The investiture vote is due between Jan. 4 and 7.

 

The ERC said it would refrain from voting after the Socialists committed to an open dialogue on secessionists’ wishes for Catalonia, which would then be submitted to a citizens’ vote in the wealthy northern region.

 

At a news conference, ERC official Pere Aragones also said his party told the leader of Catalonia’s regional government it would push for a new independence referendum in conversations with central government.

 

Spain has struggled to maintain stable governments since 2015 when a slew of smaller parties sprung up in the wake of the financial crisis, leading to four elections in as many years.

 

To avoid forcing Spaniards to return to the polls, Sanchez has been scrambling to drum up support for a proposed coalition with left-wing party Unidas Podemos.

 

Sanchez and Podemos´s leader Pablo Iglesias said on Monday that their coalition, if confirmed, would push for tax hikes and a rollback of a labour reform by a previous conservative government.

 

The most recent election in November left the two parties with a combined 155 seats, short of a majority in Spain’s 350-member lower house, and thrusting ERC and its 13 representatives into the role of kingmaker.

 

Sanchez’s Socialist Party confirmed it had reached an agreement with the ERC for a dialogue over Catalonia, but did not mention their potential abstention at the investiture vote.

 

Spain’s constitution prohibits regions from breaking away and the Catalan independence drive in recent years, which included a banned referendum in 2017, has caused the country’s worst political furore in decades.

 

https://www.reuters.com/article/us-spain-politics-catalonia/catalan-separatists-to-break-spains-political-deadlock-idUSKBN1Z11CC

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And there goes Bolivia again.

 

January 4, 2020 / 1:18 AM / Updated 7 hours ago

 

Bolivia's electoral court sets election rerun for May 3

LA PAZ (Reuters) - A rerun of Bolivia’s election has been set for Sunday May 3, the president of the country’s Supreme Electoral Tribunal said on Friday.

 

Salvador Romero said both presidential and parliamentary elections would be held on the same day.

 

“When we announce the electoral calendar over the next few days, together with the formal call for the election, all the deadlines that both political organizations and citizens must meet will be specified,” he told reporters in La Paz.

 

The vote will be held almost seven months after the results of elections that handed a fourth term to Bolivia’s former President Evo Morales but were then discredited.

 

An audit of last October’s election found serious irregularities, prompting Morales’ resignation and clashes between protesters and security forces that resulted in more than 30 deaths.

 

Morales, who had been in power for nearly 14 years, resigned following the election dispute and fled to Mexico, and later Argentina. He later said he had been toppled in a coup.

 

In an interview with Reuters last week, he ruled out standing as a candidate for his Movement for Socialism (MAS) coalition in the next election, but said that he would return to Bolivia by next Christmas.

 

He has identified Luis Arce Catacora, his former economy minister, and Andronico Rodriguez, a coca farmer union boss, as potential MAS presidential candidates.

 

Prosecutors have issued an arrest warrant for Morales on charges of sedition, terrorism and terrorist financing. The allegations have been pushed by the government of interim President Jeanine Anez, a former senator and political opponent of Morales.

 

https://www.reuters.com/article/us-bolivia-elections/bolivias-electoral-court-sets-election-rerun-for-may-3-report-idUSKBN1Z300F

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  • 4 weeks later...

Peru Congress vote: Election follows September dissolution

5 hours ago

Peruvians will go to the polls on Sunday to elect a new Congress after the previous one was dissolved by President Martín Vizcarra.

 

Mr Vizcarra took the drastic step in September, arguing that lawmakers were obstructing his anti-corruption agenda.

 

Polls suggest that half of the voters are undecided, making the election for the 130-seat chamber unpredictable.

 

Twenty-one parties are running and polls suggest centrist politicians could win a majority.

 

Fragmentation ahead?

 

The right-wing Popular Force, which was the dominant party in the last Congress, is expected to lose seats but to still emerge with a sizeable number of lawmakers.

 

The party is led by Keiko Fujimori, the daughter of disgraced former President Alberto Fujimori. Mr Fujimori was found guilty of human rights abuses and corruption.

 

Ms Fujimori is awaiting trial on charges of corruption, which she denies.

 

Under Peru's electoral laws, parties need to achieve at least 5% of the popular vote or seven elected legislators to gain representation. The high number of undecided voters could result in a fragmented assembly.

 

President Vizcarra had made the fight against corruption his main priority when he took power in March 2018 after then-President Pedro Pablo Kuczynski resigned over a vote-buying scandal. When parties, including the Popular Force, blocked his efforts, he dissolved Congress.

 

His tough anti-corruption stance endeared him to Peruvians tired of the endless scandals that have tainted not only Mr Kuczynski but also the three previous Peruvian presidents.

 

Voting is mandatory in Peru, Latin America's fifth-largest economy, and some 25 million people are eligible to vote. The new Congress will finish the current legislative term, which ends in July 2021.

 

Earlier this month, the constitutional court said President Vizcarra, a centrist politician, had not exceeded his powers when he dissolved the chamber.

 

Opposition lawmakers had denounced the dissolution of Congress as a coup but the heads of the armed forces and the police backed the president. Supporters of Mr Vizcarra turned out to show their approval of the move.

 

https://www.bbc.com/news/world-latin-america-51208274

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  • 2 weeks later...

Following up on the last:

 

Peru election: Crushing blow for president's opponents Popular Force


27 January 2020

Peru's once influential conservative Popular Force party has suffered a crushing defeat in congressional elections.

 

The party dominated Congress before the body was dissolved by President Martín Vizcarra in September.

 

Mr Vizcarra took the drastic step arguing that lawmakers were obstructing his anti-corruption agenda.

 

No party won an overall majority but centrist parties have made gains, which could ease the passage of reforms.

 

The new Congress will be short-lived - it will be replaced in next year's general elections.

 

What are the results?

A quick count carried out by Ipsos research firm suggests Popular Force has dropped from the 36.3% it won in the 2016 election to 7%, putting it into sixth place.

 

If confirmed, the figures mean that the party will lose many of the 73 out of 130 seats in Congress it held until September.

 

According to the quick count, the centrist Popular Action party will emerge as the strongest party with 10.1% of the vote.

 

An evangelical party, the Agricultural People's Front of Peru, known by its initials in Spanish as FREPAP, came second in the quick count with 8.9%. The party has not had any representatives elected to Congress since 2000 and its last-minute surge has surprised political analysts.

 

It is followed by the right-wing Podemos Peru (We can, Peru) party with 8.2%, and the centre-right Progress Alliance with 8%.

 

In another unexpected result, the nationalist Union for Peru (UPP) also passed the 5% threshold necessary to enter Congress.

 

What does it mean?

The new Congress will be fragmented but analysts think the gains made by centrist parties could work in President Vizcarra's favour.

 

They argue that if he manages to get enough small parties on his side he will be able to push through the anti-corruption reforms Popular Force blocked.

 

The losses suffered by Popular Force are a big blow to its leader, Keiko Fujimori.

 

The daughter of former president Alberto Fujimori has been a divisive figure in Peruvian politics. She is accused of accepting $1.2m in illegal campaign financing from Brazilian construction giant Odebrecht and a judge is due to decide on Tuesday whether she should be sent to jail to await trial.

 

Her father is serving a sentence for corruption and human rights abuses.

 

Despite their legal woes, the Fujimori family has retained the backing of hardcore supporters. But political commentators say the election result suggests that Fujimorismo, the political movement named after them, may have finally collapsed.

 

What's the back story?

Normally, congressional elections are held at the same time as presidential polls but Sunday's elections were brought forward after President Vizcarra took the drastic step of dissolving Congress in September.

 

President Vizcarra made the fight against corruption his main priority when he took power in March 2018 after then-President Pedro Pablo Kuczynski resigned over a vote-buying scandal. When parties, led by Keiko Fujimori's Popular Force, blocked his efforts, he simply dissolved the legislative body.

 

Opposition lawmakers denounced the move as a coup but the heads of the armed forces and the police backed the president. Supporters of Mr Vizcarra turned out to show their approval of the move and Peru's top court later ruled that it had been constitutional.

 

https://www.bbc.com/news/world-latin-america-51208274

 

Also:

 

Irish general election: Polls open for first-ever Saturday general election vote

3 hours ago

Voters are going to the polls in the Republic of Ireland's general election.

 

Polls opened at 07:00 local time and will close at 22:00.

 

Counting will begin on Sunday in all 39 constituencies. Newly elected TDs will gather on 20 February for the 33rd Dáil (Irish parliament).

 

A total of 160 representatives will be returned to the Dáil. The ceann comhairle, or speaker, is automatically re-elected.

 

In most situations, the speaker does not vote, so a government will need 80 TDs to hold a majority.

 

It is unlikely that any party will reach that number, so another coalition government is probable.

 

The election uses proportional representation with a single transferrable vote.

 

Voters write "1" opposite their first choice candidate, "2" opposite their second choice, "3" opposite their third choice and so on.

 

[...]

 

https://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-51416540

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Seems everybody is having coalition problems these days.

 

Irish general election: Who will be the next prime minister?

 

By Jayne McCormack

BBC News NI Political Reporter

 

11 February 2020

 

The date 10 February now represents two equally important moments for Mary Lou McDonald.

 

In 2018, it marked the day she took over from Gerry Adams as Sinn Féin president.

 

Two years later, it marked the beginning of a new era for the party under her leadership, as it consolidated its best-ever election result.

 

The party's success surprised pundits, senior Sinn Féin strategists and even some of its candidates: one of them, Patricia Ryan, had gone on holiday during the campaign so slim were her chances of winning a seat.

 

We now know Sinn Féin topped the poll in the majority of constituencies and increased its number of seats by 14 - a remarkable result.

 

However, given how the overall vote has broken down, Sinn Féin may not necessarily end up in government despite its swathe of victories.

 

The magic number for winning a majority government in the Republic of Ireland is 80 seats.

 

None of the three big parties - Fine Gael, Fianna Fáil and now Sinn Féin - came anywhere close to that figure.

 

So what happens next?

 

Attempts to form a new coalition-of-sorts are already getting under way, although this will be complex.

 

Previous administrations in the Republic of Ireland have been forged this way too, but it's taken a while to get there.

 

In 2016, it took 70 days for a government to be formed after the parties agreed a confidence-and-supply agreement, which saw a cabinet of Fine Gael members and independents being propped up by Fianna Fáil votes on key policy areas.

 

With all 160 seats in the Dáil (Irish parliament) declared, the parties are expected to reconvene in the chamber on 20 February.

 

But it seems unlikely that an agreement on who enters government will emerge in the next eight days.

 

Why is that?

 

Unlike the last Irish election, which was dominated by the other two parties, the Sinn Féin breakthrough means there are more potential ways for a government to take shape.

 

Mrs McDonald has begun reaching out to some of the smaller parties - the Greens, Labour, Solidarity People Before Profit and the Social Democrats - to see if their numbers combined could be enough.

 

She said "the worst outcome" would be a government again featuring Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil.

 

But Sinn Féin may very well end up working with one of them, given that an entire coalition made up of left-wing parties doesn't add up to a working majority.

 

Then there is the bigger head-scratcher of what Fianna Fáil - the party that now has the most seats - does.

 

Leader Micheál Martin repeatedly said during the campaign he would not work with Sinn Féin, because of its historic links to the IRA.

 

As the results began rolling in, Mr Martin gave interviews appearing to hold the door open to the prospect of a new government with Sinn Féin.

 

Who will be the next taoiseach (Irish PM)?

It could still be Micheál Martin - but at what political price?

 

There is speculation that if Fianna Fáil and Sinn Féin agreed to enter government together, the position could be rotated between them.

 

On Monday, Mary Lou McDonald said she believed she "may well be the next taoiseach".

 

Fine Gael, now the third biggest party, has so far repeated its pledge that it will not enter government with Sinn Féin.

 

It has been in government for nine years and, given a poor election result, is likely to go into opposition.

 

The thinking from Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil appears to be leaving it to Sinn Féin, regarded as having 'won' the election, to hit the ground running on the formation of the next government.

 

And then consider how stable any new coalition government will be.

 

In short, there are lots of concerns for the three big parties but no precedent as to how it might unfold.

 

[...]

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-northern-ireland-51448739

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February 22, 2020 / 8:01 AM / Updated 2 hours ago
Hardline Guards make early gains in restricted Iran election

Parisa Hafezi

DUBAI (Reuters) - Candidates affiliated with Iran’s Revolutionary Guards looked on course to win a parliamentary majority on Saturday, reportedly leading in the race in Tehran and towns and villages elsewhere, after a vote stacked in favour of the anti-American hardliners.

An Interior Ministry official said a list of candidates affiliated with the Guards led in the capital. Lists linked to hardliners captured 83 seats in towns and villages across the country following Friday’s vote, according to a Reuters tally.

A clean sweep for hardliners would confirm the political demise of the country’s pragmatist politicians, weakened by Washington’s decision to quit a 2015 nuclear deal and reimpose sanctions in a move that stifled rapprochement with the West.

 

However, Iranian authorities have yet to announce the turnout in the race for the 290-seat legislature — a litmus test of the popularity of hardliners closely associated with Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

 

Iran’s rulers, under intense U.S. pressure over the country’s nuclear programme, need a high turnout to boost their legitimacy, damaged after nationwide protests in November.

 

Such a result would help the Guards, already omnipresent in Iranians’ daily lives, to increase their substantial influence in political, social and economic affairs.

 

The demonstrations, which called for regime change, were met with a violent crackdown overseen by the Guards which killed hundreds and led to the arrest of thousands, according to human rights organizations.

 

Iranians long for stability after a succession of political and economic crises.

 

[...]

 

https://www.reuters.com/article/us-iran-election/hardline-guards-make-early-gains-in-restricted-iran-election-idUSKCN20G08A

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Reference the European corruption thread for this.

 

Date 29.02.2020

 

Slovakian election overshadowed by journalist's murder

 

Slovakian voters are widely expected to remove the center-left Smer party in Saturday's election. The election has been overshadowed by corruption allegations and the 2018 murder of a journalist.

 

Slovakians went to the polls on Saturday in an election that may oust the center-left Smer party that has dominated the political landscape for more than a decade.

 

The election has been defined by anger over alleged corruption at high levels, leading to the rapid rise of the anti-corruption movement Ordinary People (OLANO).

 

Opinion polls indicate there is a chance OLANO may aim to form a center-right coalition with smaller conservative and liberal parties.

 

"We can get rid of the government that used its power to make itself and connected people rich," said OLANO leader Igor Matovic.

 

"Poor people were paying for that, sick people were dying unnecessarily, and young people were leaving Slovakia. Let's turn that around."

 

Prime Minister Peter Pellegrini of the Smer party currently leads a three-party coalition.

 

Case of murdered journalist haunts election

 

The political shift of the EU member began following the 2018 murder of journalist Jan Kuciak and his fiancee.

 

Kuciak reported on high-level corruption within the Slovakian government before being murdered in a "gang-land" attack.

 

An investigation unearthed communications between a businessman now on trial for ordering the hit and politicians and judicial officials. He has denied the charges.

 

The controversy following Kuciak's murder is expected to have an impact on election results, which are expected after voting closes.

 

https://www.dw.com/en/slovakian-election-overshadowed-by-journalists-murder/a-52581868

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Date 01.03.2020

 

Slovakia opposition party wins parliamentary election

 

Outgoing Prime Minister Peter Pellegrini has conceded defeat. The populist OLANO party, with nearly 25% of votes, will seek to form a government with other conservative parties.

 

The center-right Ordinary People party emerged victorious in the Slovak general election on Saturday, with voters responding to the party's pledge to push anti-corruption reform following the death of murdered journalist Jan Kuciak.

 

The party is expected to secure 24.96% of the votes, according to preliminary results, and form a coalition government with other smaller conservative parties. The governing center-left Smer-SD party won 18.39%, with over 96% of the districts reporting results.

 

Current Prime Minister Peter Pellegrini conceded defeat, and congratulated the winning party, OLANO.

 

The discourse during these elections was dominated by the 2018 double murder of journalist Jan Kuciak and his fiancee. Kuciak has reported on high level corruption within the government.

 

The murder led to nationwide street protests, forcing Smer leader Robert Fico to resign. However, the Smer coalition remained in power, under the leadership of Pellegrini.

[...]

 

https://www.dw.com/en/slovakia-opposition-party-wins-parliamentary-election/a-52593514

 

Meanwhile, no new elections in Malaysia. Or maybe there will, who knows. Well, Simon maybe.

 

March 1, 2020 / 7:33 AM / Updated 3 hours ago

Newsmaker: Bypassed no more - Malaysia's 'Malay first' PM takes over

KUALA LUMPUR (Reuters) - Long overshadowed by colorful contemporaries, the man who emerged from a week of turmoil as Malaysia’s new prime minister on Sunday is a publicity-shy picture of conservatism.

 

When Muhyiddin Yassin, 72, heard news on Saturday that the king had picked him over 94-year-old Mahathir Mohamad, the outspoken leader who has dominated Malaysian politics for decades, he immediately dropped to the carpet in tears to give thanks to Allah.

 

“He is a very serious, boring man,” said one person who has worked with him for years and did not want to be identified because he was not authorized to speak to the media.

 

“Probably that is what Malaysia needs now rather than a camera-hunting, publicity-stunt type of man.”

 

A conservative Muslim from the majority Malay community, Muhyiddin staked his claim to the premiership when Mahathir failed to rally support for a unity government after his shock resignation as prime minister last Monday.

 

Muhyiddin is a Malay nationalist and he drew support from the former ruling United Malays National Organisation (UMNO) and Islamist party PAS, who were defeated in 2018 by a multi-ethnic coalition under Mahathir that promised to fight corruption.

 

“I am a Malay first, I want to say that,” Muhyiddin said in 2010. “But being Malay does not mean that you are not Malaysian.”

 

Such sentiment struck a chord at a time of disaffection within the Malay majority over a perceived loss of privileges under Mahathir’s government.

 

“Like a good striker he saw the opening he did not expect, and took advantage to score,” well-known Malaysian lawyer Zaid Ibrahim said about the low-profile Muhyiddin, who was interior minister under Mahathir.

 

MAHATHIR SAYS BETRAYED

 

Mahathir and Muhyiddin were from the same Bersatu party and the former prime minister said he felt betrayed by a man he accused of plotting with UMNO to bring it back despite the corruption charges now facing some of its top officials.

 

“Muhyiddin is willing to accept anything. He says politics is more important than principles,” Mahathir said, vowing to call for a session of parliament to test whether Muhyiddin had a majority.

 

Muhyiddin did not immediately respond to the accusations.Born to a well-known cleric in the southern state of Johor when Malaysia was still under British colonial rule, Muhyiddin became a civil servant before entering politics with UNMO at a time when Mahathir was already prominent in the party.

 

[...]

 

He is the same age as Anwar Ibrahim, who rose more quickly within UMNO to become the favored successor of Mahathir during an earlier stint as prime minister before the two men fell out and began a two decade-old rivalry.

 

[...]

 

https://www.reuters.com/article/us-malaysia-politics-profile-newsmaker-idUSKBN20O1DN

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  • 7 months later...
Quote

New Zealand election: Jacinda Ardern's Labour Party scores landslide win

2 hours ago

 

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has won a landslide victory in the country's general election.

With most ballots tallied, Ms Ardern's centre-left Labour Party has won 49% of the vote and she is projected to win a rare outright parliamentary majority.

The opposition centre-right National Party, currently on 27%, has admitted defeat in Saturday's poll.

The vote was originally due to be in September, but was postponed by a month after a renewed Covid-19 outbreak.

[...]

Could Ardern win an outright majority?

According to the Electoral Commission, the Labour Party are on 49% of the vote, followed by the National Party on 27%, and the ACT New Zealand and Green parties on 8%.

"New Zealand has shown the Labour Party its greatest support in almost 50 years," Ms Ardern told her supporters after the victory. "We will not take your support for granted. And I can promise you we will be a party that governs for every New Zealander."

National Party leader Judith Collins has congratulated Ms Ardern and promised her party would be a "robust opposition".

"Three years will be gone in the blink of an eye," she said, referring to the next scheduled election. "We will be back."

Ms Ardern's Labour Party is projected to win 64 seats - enough for an outright majority. No party has managed to do so in New Zealand since it introduced a voting system known as Mixed Member Proportional representation (MMP) in 1996.

Ms Ardern pledged to instil more climate-friendly policies, boost funding for disadvantaged schools and raise income taxes on top earners.

[...]

https://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-54519628

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As the line goes in Evito, "Don't cry for me, Bolivia (I'll be back)". 

Quote

Bolivia election: Exit polls suggest win for Luis Arce

  • 19 October 2020

Exit polls suggest socialist candidate Luis Arce is set to win Bolivia's presidential election.

The polls indicate that Mr Arce, who is an ally of exiled former President Evo Morales, has won enough votes to stave off a second round.

Mr Arce has said he will form a "government of national unity".

There are deep divisions in Bolivia after last year's controversial election which ended in allegations of fraud and the exile of Mr Morales.

In order to win outright in the first round, a candidate needs to obtain 40% of the vote and have a 10-percentage-point lead over his nearest rival.

What do the polls say?

Exit polls carried out by the Jubileo research institution gave Luis Arce of the Mas party 53% of the votes, followed by centrist candidate Carlos Mesa of the Citizens' Community alliance with 30.8%.

A quick-count by pollsters Ciesmori suggested Mr Arce had won with 52.4%, trailed by Mr Mesa with 31.5%.

If the polls are confirmed, Mr Arce will be the next president of Bolivia without the need for a second round of voting in November.

What has the reaction been?

Mr Arce, who has already claimed victory, said Bolivia had "recovered democracy", in a reference to last year's controversial election which was annulled after allegations of fraud.

Jeanine Áñez, who became interim president after the annulment, has congratulated Mr Arce and his running mate, David Choquehuanca.

Mr Áñez, who bowed out of the presidential race last month, wrote on Twitter: "We still do not have an official count, but from the data we have, Mr Arce and Mr Choquehuanca have won the election."

She added: "I congratulate the winners and ask them to govern with Bolivia and democracy in mind."

Why is the country so divided?

The divisions date back to 2016 when then-President Evo Morales held a referendum asking Bolivians whether the presidents should continue to be limited in the number of times they can run for office.

The result was a "no" to abolishing term limits. But Mr Morales's party took the issue to the constitutional court, which annulled the result of the referendum and scrapped the term limits, thereby allowing him to run for president in last year's election.

He was officially declared the winner, but protests erupted when the vote count was halted for 24 hours, prompting allegations of vote-rigging.

The protests continued for weeks and both the head of the army and of the police joined calls for Mr Morales to step down. He resigned on 10 November and shortly afterwards left for Mexico, from where he later moved to Argentina.

Ms Áñez, a right-wing senator, stepped in as interim leader but many supporters of Mr Morales accused her of seizing power illegally and have described the aftermath of the election as a right-wing coup.

The fact that the re-run of the 2019 election was postponed twice due to the coronavirus pandemic further fuelled suspicions among supporters of Mr Morales that Ms Áñez was trying to cling on to power.

But in September, Ms Áñez announced that she was bowing out of the presidential election, saying she did not want to split the vote and see Mr Morales and Mr Arce's Mas party return to power.

[...] 

What about Evo Morales?

This is the first presidential election since 2002 in which Mr Morales has not been on the ballot.

The 60-year-old former leader of the coca growers' union still commands considerable support in Bolivia among its indigenous population and unions.

He has been supporting Mr Arce from exile in Argentina.

In late September Mr Morales said that, if Mr Arce won, he would return to the country "the next day".

Speaking on Sunday as exit polls indicated a win for his protegee, Mr Morales said that Mr Arce would "return our country to the path of economic growth."

https://www.bbc.com/news/world-latin-america-54591963

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Lithuania votes: Centre-right opposition wins second round of legislative elections

By Euronews and AFP  •  last updated: 26/10/2020 - 11:46

The Lithuanian centre-right opposition has won the second round of legislative elections.

With the pandemic and social inequalities as the main issues at stake, the Homeland Union party (TS–LKD) and its allies were well-placed to prevail over the current centre-left government after a strong showing in the first round of parliamentary elections which took place on October 11.

With one seat left to be declared, the conservative TS–LKD party, which got 25 per cent of the vote in the first round, took 49 seats in the new parliament, while prime minister Saulius Skvernelis' Union of Farmers and Greens (LVŽS), which had received 17 per cent in the first round, won only 32 seats overall.

With a combined 73 seats out of 141, the centre-right parties have enough support to start coalition talks to replace the outgoing centre-left government. With one seat undergoing a recount, it is possible the haul of seats will rise to 74.

Skvernelis lost his constituency seat but will be returned to parliament in one of the party's list seats.

During the campaign, the rival political camps focused on fighting the epidemic and reducing economic and educational disparities between urban and rural areas in Lithuania, a country of 2.8 million people.

For the first time, voting by car was allowed, as part of the security measures against the pandemic. Masks and social distancing were compulsory in polling stations.

Despite the record number of new infections, the number of deaths in Lithuania remains well below the EU average.

On the economic side, Lithuania's gross domestic product (GDP) is expected to contract by only 1.8 per cent this year, the best result in the eurozone, according to the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

The former Finance Minister, Ingrida Šimonytė, who is expected to become head of government after her faction's win, has pledged to accelerate the modernisation of the economy from the current cheap labour model to higher value-added production.

Šimonytė criticised her rival Skvernelis for failing to prepare the country for the second wave of the pandemic.

Popular among young urban dwellers, the 45-year-old woman is expected to seek a coalition with two liberal parties, both also led by women, after her party received the most seats in the election.

[...]

All the major parties share the same pro-EU and pro-NATO views, and support Vilnius's desire to rally EU countries' support for Belarus's democratic opposition after a disputed presidential election in the neighbouring country.

"Only minor adjustments are likely in the EU and in foreign policy, as there is a broad and strong consensus on the main directions," Vilnius University professor Kestutis Girnius told AFP.

https://www.euronews.com/2020/10/25/lithuania-votes-centre-right-eyes-government-as-voters-head-back-to-polls-for-second-round

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Date 28.10.2020

Tanzania votes in election marred by fraud accusations

Opposition figures have cast doubts over Wednesday's election with complains of ballot box-stuffing. President John Maguful is seeking a second term.

Tanzanians went to the polls for a presidential election on Wednesday, amid opposition complaints of ballot box-stuffing.

President John Magufuli, who heads the Chama Cha Mapinduzi (CCM) party, was seeking a second term in office. CCM has ruled the country since 1961.

Opposition figures and rights groups have accused President Magufuli of stifling democracy in a country that has long been seen as a bastion of stability in East Africa.

"Voting reports indicate widespread irregularities in the form of preventing our polling agents from accessing polling stations," presidential candidate Tundu Lissu of the Chadema party said on Twitter.

"If this continues, mass democratic action will be the only option to protect the integrity of the election," said Lissu, who survived being shot 16 times in an assassination attempt three years ago.

He later shared video footage of what he said was evidence of ballot fraud, with a man allegedly intercepted outside a polling station with a bag full of pre-filled ballots.

Chadema secretary-general John Mnyika told AFP news agency that one of their lawmakers in Dar es Salaam was briefly arrested after protesting the discovery of pre-filled ballot boxes.

In Zanzibar, party official Muhene Said Rashid also claimed that pre-filled ballots had been seized from CCM "zealots" and that party agents had been kicked out of some polling stations.

There were multiple reports of internet outages, with social media access problems and reported clampdowns on VPNs.

The president of Tanzania's electoral commission, Semistocles Kaijage, said there had been no official complaints about rigged ballots. 

Any results declared by the electoral commission cannot be challenged in court. 

https://www.dw.com/en/tanzania-votes-in-election-marred-by-fraud-accusations/a-55424333

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Tanzania elections: President Magufuli in landslide win amid fraud claims

Published 11 hours ago

Tanzania's President John Magufuli has won re-election with a landslide victory in a poll that the opposition has described as fraudulent.

Mr Magufuli's main rival, Tundu Lissu, has said his party's agents were prevented from entering polling stations during Wednesday's election.

The National Electoral Commission (NEC) has dismissed the claims of fraud.

In its final results, the NEC said the president took 84% of the vote, while Mr Lissu received 13%.

An observer mission from the East African Community said on Friday that the election was "conducted in a regular manner".

On Thursday, Mr Lissu, who was the candidate for Chadema, said he would not accept the results saying the vote was "was not an election by both Tanzanian and international laws. It was just a gang of people who have just decided to misuse state machinery to cling to power."

He alleged that ballot boxes were tampered with while his party representatives were not present.

The US embassy in Dar es Salaam said that "irregularities and the overwhelming margins of victory raise serious doubts about the credibility of the results... as well as concerns about the government of Tanzania's commitment to democratic values".

The head of the National Electoral Commission, Semistocles Kaijage, said allegations of fake ballot papers were unsubstantiated.

As well as taking part in the Tanzanian elections, voters on the semi-autonomous archipelago of Zanzibar were also electing their own president, and the CCM candidate Hussein Mwinyi has been declared the winner with 76% of the votes.

His main rival, Maalim Seif Sharif of ACT-Wazalendo, got 19% - his biggest defeat in any presidential election he has taken part in.

On Thursday, Mr Seif Sharif was arrested shortly after saying that the polls had been rigged and calling for mass protests. He was later released on bail.

https://www.bbc.com/news/world-africa-54748332

 

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Ivory Coast elections: Voters go to the polls amid opposition boycott

Published 3 hours ago

Polls are set to open in Ivory Coast's controversial presidential election.

At least 14 people have been killed since riots broke out in August after President Alassane Ouattara said he would run again following the sudden death of his preferred successor.

The main opposition candidates, Pascal Affi N'Guessan and Henri Konan Bédié, say it is illegal for Mr Ouattara to stand for a third term.

They are boycotting the vote and have called for civil disobedience.

What is it so controversial?

According to the constitution, Ivory Coast has a two-term presidential limit. Mr Ouattara - who has been elected twice - initially said he would stand down.

But, in July, the ruling party's previous presidential nominee, Prime Minister Amadou Gon Coulibaly, died of a heart attack.

Mr Ouattara subsequently announced that he would run for president after all.

His supporters argued that a constitutional change in 2016 reset the clock and that his first term did not count.

His opponents do not share that view, arguing instead that it is illegal for Mr Ouattara to run for a third term.

What's the background to the tension?

There has been a decades-long quarrel between some of the country's leading political figures.

In 2010, Laurent Gbagbo, who was president at the time, refused to concede to Mr Ouattara following the election in that year and this sparked a bitter civil war.

More than 3,000 people were killed in the five months of violence.

Mr Gbagbo also put himself forward to stand in this year's election but the electoral commission blocked him because he had been convicted in the Ivorian courts.

He was one of nearly 40 potential candidates who were turned down by the commission.

[...]

https://www.bbc.com/news/world-africa-54733425

 

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October 31, 2020 00:19 GMT

By RFE/RL

Georgian Reforms Debut In Parliamentary Elections

Georgians vote in parliamentary elections on October 31 in the first test of electoral reforms intended to provide a broader range of political representation in the legislature.

Voters in the South Caucasus nation are deciding whether a ruling party will run the government on its own for an unprecedented third-consecutive time. They are also weighing in on the current legislature's handling of a struggling economy, the coronavirus outbreak, and foreign relations.

Under electoral reforms passed in June, the format for electing Georgia's 150-member unicameral parliament was restructured to give more weight to proportional representation.

Under the new system, 120 seats -- as opposed to the previous 77 -- will be determined based on party lists. Thirty individual candidates -- as opposed to the previous 73 -- will be elected to represent single-mandate districts.

Overall, 66 parties are registered to run for parliamentary seats, with 490 candidates running for individual mandates.

The reforms were aimed at ending the consolidation of power by a single political grouping, which to this point has been the Georgian Dream coalition, formed by the country's richest man, billionaire Bidzina Ivanishvili, in 2012.

“One gets the feeling that Georgian society has finally matured and emerged from the post-Soviet one-party system and the thirst for a leader/chief, who will settle all issues for the people,” according to George Mchedlishvili, an associate professor at European University in Tbilisi.

Georgian Dream defeated the now-opposition United National Movement (UNM) in the 2012 parliamentary elections and has been the ruling party ever since.

However, the party lost its constitutional majority in 2019 after some lawmakers defected amid protests alleging it had failed to follow through on electoral promises, including electoral reforms.

Georgian Dream also faces a challenge in maintaining its ruling status due to a new rule adopted under the reforms requiring political parties to win 40 percent of the vote to rule the government on its own. Anything less than 40 percent will require a coalition to form the government, which would be a first for post-Soviet Georgia.

[...]

Georgian Dream faces competition from UNM, which nominated former President Mikheil Saakashvili to be its candidate for the post of prime minister.

Saakashvili rode the wave of the pro-Western Rose Revolution to the presidency in 2004, and served two terms in office marked by antigovernment demonstrations as well as a failed war against Russia over the breakaway Georgian territories of Abkhazia and South Ossetia in 2008.

Following Georgian Dream's parliamentary victory in 2012 and the subsequent arrest of some former high-ranking members of his cabinet on charges of abuse of power, Saakashvili left the country in 2013.

A Georgian court in January 2018 convicted the former president of hiding evidence in the killing of a banker and was sentenced to three years in prison. In June of that year he was also convicted of abuse of power and sentenced in absentia to six years in prison.

The 52-year-old has been campaigning by video link from his self-exile in Ukraine, where he served during his time there as governor of Odesa Oblast from 2015-2016.

[...]

https://www.rferl.org/a/georgian-reforms-debut-in-parliamentary-elections/30922281.html

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Date 01.11.2020

Georgia election: Ruling party claims victory, opposition protests

A coalition of opposition groups united to try and oust the ruling Georgian Dream party, led by a billionaire. They have rejected his party's claim to have won the election.

The preliminary results of Georgia's parliamentary election were contested by an alliance of opposition groups on Sunday.

With votes from more than 72% of precincts counted, the ruling Georgian Dream party led the opposition by 48.5% to 45% in a proportional ballot that will decide 120 of the 150 seats in the legislature.

Many other opposition parties cleared the 1% threshold for representation in the parliament, according to the central election commission.

The ruling party — founded by Georgia's richest man, Bidzina Ivanishvili — declared victory soon after polls closed. However, opposition parties have rejected the results and called for protests.

"We won't accept this result and call on people to come to Rustaveli Avenue (in the capital Tbilisi) at 4 p.m." (1200 GMT) on Sunday, Nika Melia, one of the UNM leaders, told reporters after meeting with other opposition figures.

Opposition parties said they had enough votes to form a coalition government.

International election observers said they would hold a press conference before the planned protest.

Police were deployed to the area around the election commission's building.

Georgian Dream has enjoyed a strong majority in parliament for the past eight years, but its popularity has sunk due to economic problems in the South Caucasian nation. The coronavirus pandemic has further hit the economy, which is expected to shrink 5% this year.

[...]

https://www.dw.com/en/georgia-election-ruling-party-claims-victory-opposition-protests/a-55461978

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Date 02.11.2020

Moldova election heads for runoff, opposition secures narrow lead

Opposition leader Maia Sandu secured a surprise lead against Moldova's current president Igor Dodon. A second round between the pro-European challenger and the pro-Russia incumbent is set to take place later this month.

Moldova's presidential election is heading for a runoff between President Igor Dodon and Maia Sandu, with the pro-European challenger coming from behind to pull ahead of the incumbent after the first round of voting on Sunday.

The electoral commission's data showed Dodon's main challenger, former Prime Minister Sandu, securing a narrow lead with 36.1% of the vote.

Dodon won 32.66% of the vote with over 99% of the ballots counted.

Moldova's 3.2 million eligible voters had a choice between eight candidates. An outright win would require at least half of the votes, otherwise the race would continue to a run-off in two weeks.

Moldovans divided — East or West?

The impoverished country of 3.5 million has long been divided between those favoring closer ties with the European Union while many are still clinging to Soviet-era relations with Moscow.

The pair vying for victory in the nationwide election have very different views on where they see Moldova's future.

President Dodon, who is seeking a second term, is keen on maintaining a close relationship with the Kremlin while his main rival Sandu is in favor of improving relations with the West, and in particular the EU.

Possible electoral violations

Sandu said she had "voted for a state that fights corruption" and called on Moldovans to "believe in the power of voting" after casting her vote on Sunday. Sandu also called on voters to report violations in the electoral process, following reports of inconsistencies.

Moldova's election commission said in a statement it was investigating a number of complaints.

However, the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), which observed the process, said in a run-up to the election that Moldova's diverse landscape had provided equitable conditions for the candidates. 

https://www.dw.com/en/moldova-election-heads-for-runoff-opposition-secures-narrow-lead/a-55468282

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Date 03.11.2020

Ivory Coast election: Ouattara wins third term, opposition cries foul

Ivory Coast's electoral commission says President Alassane Ouattara has overwhelmingly won another term in office. His two main rivals had boycotted the vote and urged opposition supporters to stay home on election day.

Ivory Coast President Alassane Ouattara has been reelected to a third term after securing 94.27% of the vote, the electoral commission announced Tuesday.

The president's victory in the October 31 election had been widely expected after two leading opposition figures called on their supporters to boycott the vote.

The commission said the final voter turnout was 53.90%, but the opposition claimed that only 10% of Ivorians took part.

The elections results must still be validated by the country's constitutional council.

Clashes surrounding the vote have claimed at least 30 lives in the West African country. There are also fears of a repeat of the election-related unrest that killed more than 3,000 people in 2010-2011, when then-President Laurent Gbagbo refused to concede defeat to Ouattara.

[...]

Opposition announces rival government

The two opposition candidates who boycotted the vote — former President Henri Konan Bedie and ex-Prime Minister Pascal Affi N'Guessan — have said they will not recognize Ouattara's victory.

They also vowed to create a rival "transitional government" that will work to hold "a fair, transparent and inclusive presidential election."

Ouattara, who has been in power for nearly a decade, initially announced he would not seek a third term in order to make way for a new generation. But he reversed that decision after his party's candidate died in July.

The opposition called the 78-year-old's reelection bid an illegal attempt to stay in power, given that the Ivorian constitution limits presidents to two terms. However, Ouattara maintains the two-term cap doesn't apply to him because of a constitutional amendment passed in 2016 that allowed him to restart his mandate.

An African Union observer mission said on Monday that the election was "generally satisfactory."

Meanwhile, a mission from the US watchdog Carter Center said the political and security situation made it difficult to organize a credible vote.

"The electoral process excluded a large number of Ivorian political forces and was boycotted by part of the population in a volatile security environment," it said in a statement.

https://www.dw.com/en/ivory-coast-election-ouattara-wins-third-term-opposition-cries-foul/a-55480568

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Date 08.11.2020

Myanmar: Suu Kyi favored to win general election

While the Nobel laureate's party is expected to win a second term, there are concerns the election could lead to renewed violence. One minority rights group called the vote an "apartheid election."

Polls opened across Myanmar on Sunday for general elections that were expected to deliver the government of Aung San Suu Kyi another term. 

Suu Kyi's National League for Democracy (NLD) won a landslide victory in the last election in 2015 — the first polls after the nation emerged from nearly five decades of junta rule in 2011.

The Nobel Peace Prize laureate remains the country's most popular politician, but her government has been hampered by a clause in the 2008 army-drafted constitution that gives the military 25% of the seats in Parliament, allowing it to block constitutional reforms.

More than 37 million people are eligible to cast ballots in the polls, although there were concerns the coronavirus pandemic could impact voter turnout. The Election Commission said it would begin to announce results early Monday.

Safety Concerns

The UN has raised concerns about the chance of violence during the election. UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric said Secretary-General Antonio Guterres believed "the holding of peaceful, orderly and credible elections is an important opportunity to help advance inclusive sustainable development, humanitarian action, human rights and democratic reforms."

Myanmar and Suu Kyi's international reputation has been rocked by allegations of genocide after several hundred thousand Rohingya Muslims fled the country following a military crackdown in 2017. Myanmar says it was carrying out operations against militants who attacked police posts, but the UN said there was genocidal intent behind the army's actions.

The Southeast Asian nation is gripped by several other conflicts with ethnic minorities and many of these groups, disadvantaged by the electoral system, have little chance of voting.

[...]

https://www.dw.com/en/myanmar-suu-kyi-favored-to-win-general-election/a-55533665

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