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euralmanac:

Ukrainian politics: Viktor Yanukovych’s party claims victory
Ukraine’s ruling Party of the Regions looks set for victory in national elections on October 28th. With almost 70% of the vote counted, the party of president Viktor Yanukovych (pictured above) was on 33.51% of the vote, the opposition Fatherland party was on 22.97%, and the Communists received 14.51%. A party led by world champion boxer Vitali Klitschko had garnered 13.13% of the vote and Svoboda, a far-right nationalist party, was on 8.95%.
In Ukraine’s 450-seat parliament half of the seats are allotted according to a proportional representation system while the other half are first past the post seats. So far the Party of the Regions looks set to take 116 of the latter and Fatherland 38. Another 39 may have gone to independents most of whom will almost certainly support a new government of the Party of the Regions
The Party of the Regions and its allies are unlikely to win two thirds of the seats in parliament. It wanted this in order to change the constitution to abolish direct elections to the presidency. This would lower the risk for the unpopular Mr Yanukovych of losing the presidential race in 2015. If direct elections were abolished the president would be elected by parliament.
Alleging widespread vote rigging opposition parties are crying foul. The Organization of Security and Cooperation (OSCE) in Europe has declared the poll flawed “considering the abuse of power and excessive role of money in this elections,” said Walburga Habsburg Douglas, who is heading the OSCE mission. “Democratic progress seems to have been reversed in Ukraine.” (via The Economist)

euralmanac:

Ukrainian politics: Viktor Yanukovych’s party claims victory

Ukraine’s ruling Party of the Regions looks set for victory in national elections on October 28th. With almost 70% of the vote counted, the party of president Viktor Yanukovych (pictured above) was on 33.51% of the vote, the opposition Fatherland party was on 22.97%, and the Communists received 14.51%. A party led by world champion boxer Vitali Klitschko had garnered 13.13% of the vote and Svoboda, a far-right nationalist party, was on 8.95%.

In Ukraine’s 450-seat parliament half of the seats are allotted according to a proportional representation system while the other half are first past the post seats. So far the Party of the Regions looks set to take 116 of the latter and Fatherland 38. Another 39 may have gone to independents most of whom will almost certainly support a new government of the Party of the Regions

The Party of the Regions and its allies are unlikely to win two thirds of the seats in parliament. It wanted this in order to change the constitution to abolish direct elections to the presidency. This would lower the risk for the unpopular Mr Yanukovych of losing the presidential race in 2015. If direct elections were abolished the president would be elected by parliament.

Alleging widespread vote rigging opposition parties are crying foul. The Organization of Security and Cooperation (OSCE) in Europe has declared the poll flawed “considering the abuse of power and excessive role of money in this elections,” said Walburga Habsburg Douglas, who is heading the OSCE mission. “Democratic progress seems to have been reversed in Ukraine.” (via The Economist)

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Mohammed el-Megarif elected as Libya’s interim president
Former opposition leader lived as a fugitive overseas for many years under late dictator Muammar Gaddafi’s rule
Libya's newly formed national assembly elected former opposition leader Mohammed el-Megarif as the country's interim president on Friday, the latest move to establish a democratically based leadership after decades of rule by deposed late dictator Muammar Gaddafi.
El-Megarif won 113 votes to defeat another opposition leader and human rights lawyer, Ali Zidan, who won 85 votes from the 200-member General National Congress, an assembly created in the first nationwide election since Gaddafi was ousted and killed last year. Both men had been diplomats who defected and fought Gaddafi’s regime while living in exile since the 1980s.
"This is a historic moment and no one is a loser," said Hussein al-Ansari, who was elected to the assembly as an independent candidate.
El-Megarif, who wrote a series of books on Gaddafi’s repressive policies, lived as a wanted fugitive for years, and was the leader of the country’s oldest armed opposition movement, the National Front for the Salvation of Libya. The movement made several attempts to end Gaddafi’s 42-year rule, sometimes by plotting assassination attacks including a well-known and daring 1984 raid on Bab al-Aziziyah, the late dictator’s fortified compound in Tripoli.
The regime cracked down on the group, executing and arresting many of its members. Many fled abroad where they worked as political activists. El-Megarif’s movement organised the first Libyan opposition conference in London in 2005 and called for the overthrow of Gaddafi’s regime at a time when other groups, including the Muslim Brotherhood, accepted Gaddafi.
Upon his return to Libya after last year’s armed revolution, he formed a new party, the National Front, which sees Islam as a broad guideline to the state’s affairs, but does not mention the implementation of sharia law.

El-Megarif will hold the office until a new constitution is in place sometime next year. He replaces Mustafa Abdul-Jalil, head of the outgoing transitional council, which was disbanded on Wednesday when Abdul-Jalil handed power to the new assembly.

 Pictured. A woman casts her vote at a polling station during the national assembly election in Benghazi. Photograph: Esam Omran Al-Fetori/Reuters

Mohammed el-Megarif elected as Libya’s interim president

Former opposition leader lived as a fugitive overseas for many years under late dictator Muammar Gaddafi’s rule

Libya's newly formed national assembly elected former opposition leader Mohammed el-Megarif as the country's interim president on Friday, the latest move to establish a democratically based leadership after decades of rule by deposed late dictator Muammar Gaddafi.

El-Megarif won 113 votes to defeat another opposition leader and human rights lawyer, Ali Zidan, who won 85 votes from the 200-member General National Congress, an assembly created in the first nationwide election since Gaddafi was ousted and killed last year. Both men had been diplomats who defected and fought Gaddafi’s regime while living in exile since the 1980s.

"This is a historic moment and no one is a loser," said Hussein al-Ansari, who was elected to the assembly as an independent candidate.

El-Megarif, who wrote a series of books on Gaddafi’s repressive policies, lived as a wanted fugitive for years, and was the leader of the country’s oldest armed opposition movement, the National Front for the Salvation of Libya. The movement made several attempts to end Gaddafi’s 42-year rule, sometimes by plotting assassination attacks including a well-known and daring 1984 raid on Bab al-Aziziyah, the late dictator’s fortified compound in Tripoli.

The regime cracked down on the group, executing and arresting many of its members. Many fled abroad where they worked as political activists. El-Megarif’s movement organised the first Libyan opposition conference in London in 2005 and called for the overthrow of Gaddafi’s regime at a time when other groups, including the Muslim Brotherhood, accepted Gaddafi.

Upon his return to Libya after last year’s armed revolution, he formed a new party, the National Front, which sees Islam as a broad guideline to the state’s affairs, but does not mention the implementation of sharia law.

El-Megarif will hold the office until a new constitution is in place sometime next year. He replaces Mustafa Abdul-Jalil, head of the outgoing transitional council, which was disbanded on Wednesday when Abdul-Jalil handed power to the new assembly.
Pictured. A woman casts her vote at a polling station during the national assembly election in Benghazi. Photograph: Esam Omran Al-Fetori/Reuters

Filed under libya africa middle east elections

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In Libya, diverse coalition has edge over Islamists in elections

Libya’s National Forces Alliance appears headed for a landslide win. The coalition’s wide-ranging views and a lack of Islamist-liberal polarization are factors.
TRIPOLI, Libya — The main street in Misurata remains shot to pieces. In Tripoli’s Janzour suburb, displacement camps dot the landscape.

Yet Libya, site of the Arab world’s most violent revolution last year, staged largely peaceful national elections over the weekend, with victory appearing likely for a coalition appealing to a wide range of ideological views that is led by one of the main figures in the war that ousted longtime strongmanMoammar Kadafi.Preliminary vote counts suggest a landslide triumph for the National Forces Alliance, or NFA, led by former Transitional National Council Prime Minister Mahmoud Jibril, a Western-educated political scientist.The alliance, a coalition of about 60 political parties and 200 civil society groups, is seen as somewhat more progressive than its main Islamist rivals. In that regard, the Libyan vote played out differently than the one in Tunisia, where a moderate Islamist party captured a plurality in parliament, and Egypt, where voters chose the Muslim Brotherhood’s candidate in a polarizing runoff against a candidate strongly identified with that nation’s deposed secular leadership."There are some key differences between Libya and its neighbors," said Shadi Hamid, research director at the Brookings Doha Center. "Egypt and Tunisia feature high levels of polarization along Islamist-liberal lines. Libya lacked such a dynamic. This helped neutralize the Islam issue, so the [Muslim Brotherhood’s] Justice and Construction Party could not distinguish itself from the competition as easily."About 1.8 million of 2.8 million registered voters, a turnout of nearly 65%, cast ballots in Libya for a temporary national assembly, a vote that United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon described as “well-conducted and transparent.”In Janzour, the NFA won about 26,000 votes, compared with the 2,000 garnered by the Justice and Construction Party, or JCP, according to early results. Similar figures emerged in Zlitan, east of the capital, Tripoli.The NFA is likely to serve “as a bridge between the old and new Libya,” said Frederic Wehrey, a senior associate at the Washington-based Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.Besides casting a wide ideological net, the NFA may have been helped by tribal factors.

Pictured: Mahmoud Jibril leads the National Forces Alliance in Libya. The coalition is likely to serve “as a bridge between the old and new Libya,” one analyst said. (James Lawler Duggan / MCT / July 8, 2012)

In Libya, diverse coalition has edge over Islamists in elections


Libya’s National Forces Alliance appears headed for a landslide win. The coalition’s wide-ranging views and a lack of Islamist-liberal polarization are factors.

TRIPOLI, Libya — The main street in Misurata remains shot to pieces. In Tripoli’s Janzour suburb, displacement camps dot the landscape.

Yet Libya, site of the Arab world’s most violent revolution last year, staged largely peaceful national elections over the weekend, with victory appearing likely for a coalition appealing to a wide range of ideological views that is led by one of the main figures in the war that ousted longtime strongmanMoammar Kadafi.

Preliminary vote counts suggest a landslide triumph for the National Forces Alliance, or NFA, led by former Transitional National Council Prime Minister Mahmoud Jibril, a Western-educated political scientist.

The alliance, a coalition of about 60 political parties and 200 civil society groups, is seen as somewhat more progressive than its main Islamist rivals. In that regard, the Libyan vote played out differently than the one in Tunisia, where a moderate Islamist party captured a plurality in parliament, and Egypt, where voters chose the Muslim Brotherhood’s candidate in a polarizing runoff against a candidate strongly identified with that nation’s deposed secular leadership.

"There are some key differences between Libya and its neighbors," said Shadi Hamid, research director at the Brookings Doha Center. "Egypt and Tunisia feature high levels of polarization along Islamist-liberal lines. Libya lacked such a dynamic. This helped neutralize the Islam issue, so the [Muslim Brotherhood’s] Justice and Construction Party could not distinguish itself from the competition as easily."

About 1.8 million of 2.8 million registered voters, a turnout of nearly 65%, cast ballots in Libya for a temporary national assembly, a vote that United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon described as “well-conducted and transparent.”

In Janzour, the NFA won about 26,000 votes, compared with the 2,000 garnered by the Justice and Construction Party, or JCP, according to early results. Similar figures emerged in Zlitan, east of the capital, Tripoli.

The NFA is likely to serve “as a bridge between the old and new Libya,” said Frederic Wehrey, a senior associate at the Washington-based Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.

Besides casting a wide ideological net, the NFA may have been helped by tribal factors.

Pictured: Mahmoud Jibril leads the National Forces Alliance in Libya. The coalition is likely to serve “as a bridge between the old and new Libya,” one analyst said. (James Lawler Duggan / MCT / July 8, 2012)

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Antonis Samaras begins urgent Greece coalition talks
The leader of the party that narrowly won Greece’s election has begun urgent talks to form a coalition, saying he wants to forge a “national consensus”.
New Democracy’s Antonis Samaras met leaders of the other two largest parties, but no deal on a coalition has yet been announced.
Mr Samaras says he will seek changes in the terms of a bailout agreement reached with the EU and IMF.
Market responses to the poll result were mixed and bank stocks plummeted.
Mr Samaras called for a “national understanding” as he met President Karolos Papoulias earlier to be given a formal mandate.
Under the constitution, Mr Papoulias has given Mr Samaras three days to form a government.
Mr Samaras said he believed he could form a working coalition.
Initial market rallies quickly reversed, suggesting that the election had not been enough to persuade markets that the euro problem was under control.
Germany’s Commerzbank was down 3.6% and France’s BNP down 3.3%, with analysts saying much uncertainty remained.
Spanish government borrowing costs rose to a euro-era high, with 10-year bonds reaching 7.144%.
The BBC’s Mark Lowen in Athens says Mr Samaras will push for a lightening of the bailout terms from Brussels, arguing that Greeks have accepted more pain by electing a pro-bailout party and that Europe should now cut Greece some slack.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel urged the future government to live up to its obligations, and said any weakening of reform pledges previously made by Greece would be unacceptable.
Pictured: Mr Samaras wants a “national salvation” government but Mr Tsipras says he will play no part in it

Antonis Samaras begins urgent Greece coalition talks

The leader of the party that narrowly won Greece’s election has begun urgent talks to form a coalition, saying he wants to forge a “national consensus”.

New Democracy’s Antonis Samaras met leaders of the other two largest parties, but no deal on a coalition has yet been announced.

Mr Samaras says he will seek changes in the terms of a bailout agreement reached with the EU and IMF.

Market responses to the poll result were mixed and bank stocks plummeted.

Mr Samaras called for a “national understanding” as he met President Karolos Papoulias earlier to be given a formal mandate.

Under the constitution, Mr Papoulias has given Mr Samaras three days to form a government.

Mr Samaras said he believed he could form a working coalition.

Initial market rallies quickly reversed, suggesting that the election had not been enough to persuade markets that the euro problem was under control.

Germany’s Commerzbank was down 3.6% and France’s BNP down 3.3%, with analysts saying much uncertainty remained.

Spanish government borrowing costs rose to a euro-era high, with 10-year bonds reaching 7.144%.

The BBC’s Mark Lowen in Athens says Mr Samaras will push for a lightening of the bailout terms from Brussels, arguing that Greeks have accepted more pain by electing a pro-bailout party and that Europe should now cut Greece some slack.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel urged the future government to live up to its obligations, and said any weakening of reform pledges previously made by Greece would be unacceptable.

Pictured: Mr Samaras wants a “national salvation” government but Mr Tsipras says he will play no part in it

Filed under greece europe elections Eurozone economic crisis

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Next up to take on Europe’s debt crisis: Democracy
Sunday’s elections in France and Greece give voters, largely omitted from the process so far, a chance to weigh in on the European financial crisis. The results could recast the debate.
LONDON — For more than two years now, they have all imposed their will on Europe’s raging debt crisis: German leaders. Panicked governments. Jittery financial markets. Bossy international agencies.
The people? Not so much.
Across the continent, officials have forced through brutal budget cuts despite mass protests from Paris to Prague. In Greece and Italy, technocratic prime ministers have been installed without a single citizen going to the polls. Of the 25 European nations that have agreed to a new treaty limiting public spending, only Ireland is bothering to let voters rule on it.
But on Sunday, the people of France and Greece will have their say, in elections that have the potential to recast the debate over how to solve an economic unraveling that shows little signs of abating.
"Democracy is on its way into the euro crisis," said Hugo Brady of the Brussels office of the London-based Center for European Reform. "While we don’t know what that means, it does mean the end of a solely technocratic response to it."
Sunday’s elections are likely to see new leaders brought to power on pledges to revisit their countries’ strict adherence to the austerity and fiscal discipline prescribed by Germany as the cure for Europe’s ills. That the challenges come from these two countries is significant: France has been Germany’s most important ally, while Greece sits at the epicenter of Europe’s debt problems.
But changes to the current game plan could also unsettle investors allergic to the slightest whiff of uncertainty.
When they open Monday, the markets could greet a possible shift in strategy as welcome recognition that new ideas are needed to pull Europe out of its economic and financial tailspin. Or they could view it as a worrisome relaxation of fiscal stringency and push up borrowing costs for nations such as Spain and Italy, causing another escalation of the crisis.
Pictured: A protester dressed as a Hussite, recalling the popular Czech movement established in the 15th century, takes part in a demonstration in Prague against the Czech government’s austerity policies. (AFP/Getty Images / May 5, 2012)

Next up to take on Europe’s debt crisis: Democracy

Sunday’s elections in France and Greece give voters, largely omitted from the process so far, a chance to weigh in on the European financial crisis. The results could recast the debate.

LONDON — For more than two years now, they have all imposed their will on Europe’s raging debt crisis: German leaders. Panicked governments. Jittery financial markets. Bossy international agencies.

The people? Not so much.

Across the continent, officials have forced through brutal budget cuts despite mass protests from Paris to Prague. In Greece and Italy, technocratic prime ministers have been installed without a single citizen going to the polls. Of the 25 European nations that have agreed to a new treaty limiting public spending, only Ireland is bothering to let voters rule on it.

But on Sunday, the people of France and Greece will have their say, in elections that have the potential to recast the debate over how to solve an economic unraveling that shows little signs of abating.

"Democracy is on its way into the euro crisis," said Hugo Brady of the Brussels office of the London-based Center for European Reform. "While we don’t know what that means, it does mean the end of a solely technocratic response to it."

Sunday’s elections are likely to see new leaders brought to power on pledges to revisit their countries’ strict adherence to the austerity and fiscal discipline prescribed by Germany as the cure for Europe’s ills. That the challenges come from these two countries is significant: France has been Germany’s most important ally, while Greece sits at the epicenter of Europe’s debt problems.

But changes to the current game plan could also unsettle investors allergic to the slightest whiff of uncertainty.

When they open Monday, the markets could greet a possible shift in strategy as welcome recognition that new ideas are needed to pull Europe out of its economic and financial tailspin. Or they could view it as a worrisome relaxation of fiscal stringency and push up borrowing costs for nations such as Spain and Italy, causing another escalation of the crisis.

Pictured: A protester dressed as a Hussite, recalling the popular Czech movement established in the 15th century, takes part in a demonstration in Prague against the Czech government’s austerity policies. (AFP/Getty Images / May 5, 2012)

Filed under europe Eurozone economic crisis austerity measures elections

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In Greek Election Campaign, Anger Trumps Civility
Greeks will vote Sunday in what is expected to be the most fractious parliamentary election in decades.
People are so divided that no party is expected to get enough votes to form a government. Voters blame politicians for bankrupting the country and then selling it out to international lenders, who forced the government to impose painful austerity measures in exchange for billions of euros in bailout loans.
This election is an early one; the economic crisis forced out the previous elected government led by George Papandreou.
In 2009, when Papandreou’s center-left PASOK party won in a landslide, politicians held big, music-filled campaign rallies. Now, most candidates are holding small events and hiring bodyguards. That’s because some voters are so angry they’re attacking lawmakers with eggs, yogurt and obscenities.
Open Season On Incumbents
On the Aegean island of Rhodes recently, a few national and local politicians attended a parade. In better times, the dignitaries waved at smiling schoolchildren singing the national anthem.
But this year they ran from an angry mob pelting them with cartons of yogurt and water bottles. Local TV footage shows the crowd breaking through security barriers and screaming, “Traitors!”
In Athens, the epicenter of anti-austerity protests, demonstrators surrounded Parliament, shouting, “Thieves!” They are especially angry at PASOK and the center-right New Democracy, the two parties which have run Greece for the past 30 years.
But Greeks are even angry at politicians who opposed the bailout. Protesters recently shouted down longtime Communist Party of Greece leader Aleka Papariga at a campaign event at the Acropolis.
It seems to be open season on all incumbents, says Kyriakos Mitsotakis, a parliamentary deputy for New Democracy. He represents Athens and is running for re-election.
"It’s extremely different from the last campaign I had to run two years ago," Mitsotakis says. "People are very angry, and I think rightly so. They feel let down by politicians, especially those who represent the two major parties. At the same time, there is also a lot of concern about the future of the country”.
Pictured: Communist Party of Greece lawmaker Liana Kanelli enters her car after protesters threw yogurt at her as she tried to reach the Greek Parliament on June 29, during a 48-hour general strike in Athens. Such attacks are not uncommon in Greece, where ordinary Greeks’ anger over the debt crisis and austerity measures is boiling over. AFP/Getty Images

In Greek Election Campaign, Anger Trumps Civility

Greeks will vote Sunday in what is expected to be the most fractious parliamentary election in decades.

People are so divided that no party is expected to get enough votes to form a government. Voters blame politicians for bankrupting the country and then selling it out to international lenders, who forced the government to impose painful austerity measures in exchange for billions of euros in bailout loans.

This election is an early one; the economic crisis forced out the previous elected government led by George Papandreou.

In 2009, when Papandreou’s center-left PASOK party won in a landslide, politicians held big, music-filled campaign rallies. Now, most candidates are holding small events and hiring bodyguards. That’s because some voters are so angry they’re attacking lawmakers with eggs, yogurt and obscenities.

Open Season On Incumbents

On the Aegean island of Rhodes recently, a few national and local politicians attended a parade. In better times, the dignitaries waved at smiling schoolchildren singing the national anthem.

But this year they ran from an angry mob pelting them with cartons of yogurt and water bottles. Local TV footage shows the crowd breaking through security barriers and screaming, “Traitors!”

In Athens, the epicenter of anti-austerity protests, demonstrators surrounded Parliament, shouting, “Thieves!” They are especially angry at PASOK and the center-right New Democracy, the two parties which have run Greece for the past 30 years.

But Greeks are even angry at politicians who opposed the bailout. Protesters recently shouted down longtime Communist Party of Greece leader Aleka Papariga at a campaign event at the Acropolis.

It seems to be open season on all incumbents, says Kyriakos Mitsotakis, a parliamentary deputy for New Democracy. He represents Athens and is running for re-election.

"It’s extremely different from the last campaign I had to run two years ago," Mitsotakis says. "People are very angry, and I think rightly so. They feel let down by politicians, especially those who represent the two major parties. At the same time, there is also a lot of concern about the future of the country”.

Pictured: Communist Party of Greece lawmaker Liana Kanelli enters her car after protesters threw yogurt at her as she tried to reach the Greek Parliament on June 29, during a 48-hour general strike in Athens. Such attacks are not uncommon in Greece, where ordinary Greeks’ anger over the debt crisis and austerity measures is boiling over. AFP/Getty Images

Filed under greece europe Eurozone economic crisis elections

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Libya bans religious political parties
Libyan authorities have banned the formation of political parties based on religious principles ahead of elections scheduled to take place in June.
Parties based on faith, tribe or ethnicity will not be eligible to take part, a government spokesman said.
The National Transitional Council said the law, passed on Tuesday, was designed to preserve “national unity”.
But analysts say it is likely to infuriate religious parties such as the Muslim Brotherhood.
"Parties are not allowed to be based on religion or ethnicity or tribe," National Transitional Council spokesman Mohammed al-Harizy told Reuters.
He did not clarify how this would affect a political party formed in March by Libya’s Muslim Brotherhood and other Islamists.
The party is Libya’s most organised political group and was expected to emerge as an influential player in the country where Islamists, like all dissidents, were harshly suppressed for 42 years.
The head of the Brotherhood’s Freedom and Development Party said the NTC needed to make it clearer what it meant by banning religious parties.
"This kind of clause is only useful in countries where there exists many religions, not in Libya where most people are religious Muslims," Mohammed Sawan told Reuters.
He said the law needed to be reviewed, “and if it’s not changed, we would have to protest [against] it”.
Pictured: The Muslim Brotherhood held its first public meeting for decades in November

Libya bans religious political parties

Libyan authorities have banned the formation of political parties based on religious principles ahead of elections scheduled to take place in June.

Parties based on faith, tribe or ethnicity will not be eligible to take part, a government spokesman said.

The National Transitional Council said the law, passed on Tuesday, was designed to preserve “national unity”.

But analysts say it is likely to infuriate religious parties such as the Muslim Brotherhood.

"Parties are not allowed to be based on religion or ethnicity or tribe," National Transitional Council spokesman Mohammed al-Harizy told Reuters.

He did not clarify how this would affect a political party formed in March by Libya’s Muslim Brotherhood and other Islamists.

The party is Libya’s most organised political group and was expected to emerge as an influential player in the country where Islamists, like all dissidents, were harshly suppressed for 42 years.

The head of the Brotherhood’s Freedom and Development Party said the NTC needed to make it clearer what it meant by banning religious parties.

"This kind of clause is only useful in countries where there exists many religions, not in Libya where most people are religious Muslims," Mohammed Sawan told Reuters.

He said the law needed to be reviewed, “and if it’s not changed, we would have to protest [against] it”.

Pictured: The Muslim Brotherhood held its first public meeting for decades in November

Filed under libya africa elections politics political parties

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What now for Burma after election landslide?
There was never any doubt that Aung San Suu Kyi would win her seat in Sunday’s by-elections in Burma, but few predicted the scale of her party’s landslide victory.
The National League for Democracy (NLD) looks to have won all but one of the seats it contested, though the results have yet to be ratified.

But if the margin of success was a welcome surprise to Burma’s pro-democracy movement, it will also have been an unsettling shock to the military establishment and its proxy party, the USDP, which received a drubbing at the polls.
The NLD even took seats in the nation’s capital, Nay Pyi Taw, a city created by military generals and largely populated by government civil servants.
Amid the mood of celebration in the aftermath of the vote, there were notes of caution and a slight undercurrent of anxiety.
The caution comes from the realisation that these by-elections represent only a toe-hold in a parliament still dominated by the military’s proxy party and the block of seats reserved for unelected members of the armed forces.
"We don’t believe that Daw Aung San Suu Kyi alone can bring about the changes and development for our country," said one young man waiting outside the NLD’s cramped offices in Rangoon.
"We can’t say we are on the democratic path yet… but over the next few years, under the leadership of Aung San Suu Kyi, I think there will be more changes."
There are huge expectations resting on the shoulders of the 66-year-old national icon. Aung San Suu Kyi has won admiration at home and abroad for her dedication and sacrifice as a democracy activist and former political prisoner.
But now she must chart a course as an elected politician in a system still packed with men who served under the former autocratic regime against which she fought for so long.
The anxiety stems from the knowledge that there are still reactionary forces in Burma, those who fear reform in general and the current pace of change in particular.
Pictured: Aung San Suu Kyi has called on her supporters to be magnanimous in victory

What now for Burma after election landslide?

There was never any doubt that Aung San Suu Kyi would win her seat in Sunday’s by-elections in Burma, but few predicted the scale of her party’s landslide victory.

The National League for Democracy (NLD) looks to have won all but one of the seats it contested, though the results have yet to be ratified.

But if the margin of success was a welcome surprise to Burma’s pro-democracy movement, it will also have been an unsettling shock to the military establishment and its proxy party, the USDP, which received a drubbing at the polls.

The NLD even took seats in the nation’s capital, Nay Pyi Taw, a city created by military generals and largely populated by government civil servants.

Amid the mood of celebration in the aftermath of the vote, there were notes of caution and a slight undercurrent of anxiety.

The caution comes from the realisation that these by-elections represent only a toe-hold in a parliament still dominated by the military’s proxy party and the block of seats reserved for unelected members of the armed forces.

"We don’t believe that Daw Aung San Suu Kyi alone can bring about the changes and development for our country," said one young man waiting outside the NLD’s cramped offices in Rangoon.

"We can’t say we are on the democratic path yet… but over the next few years, under the leadership of Aung San Suu Kyi, I think there will be more changes."

There are huge expectations resting on the shoulders of the 66-year-old national icon. Aung San Suu Kyi has won admiration at home and abroad for her dedication and sacrifice as a democracy activist and former political prisoner.

But now she must chart a course as an elected politician in a system still packed with men who served under the former autocratic regime against which she fought for so long.

The anxiety stems from the knowledge that there are still reactionary forces in Burma, those who fear reform in general and the current pace of change in particular.

Pictured: Aung San Suu Kyi has called on her supporters to be magnanimous in victory

Filed under burma asia elections

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'Mission impossible' for Spain's PM – another €40bn in cuts
Mariano Rajoy expected to win Andalucia regional elections, then order further austerity measures
Spain’s prime minister, Mariano Rajoy, faces the toughest week of his three months in office as he is forced to announce up to €40bn (£33.45bn) in spending cuts and taxes in a budget on 30 March, the day after a general strike.
As Rajoy’s conservative People’s party looked set for victory in key regional elections in southern Andalucia on Sunday, other European leaders and the markets were signalling Spain as now being the biggest single threat to the stability of the eurozone.
A win in Andalucia would give Rajoy unprecedented control over troublesome regional governments whose inability to reduce deficits has helped to put Spain centre-stage in the eurozone crisis. Asturias, a much smaller northern region, was also voting.
Rajoy was recently forced to backtrack by fellow EU leaders who refused to accept the deficit target of 5.8% of GDP Spain set unilaterally for this year. They told him to cut to 5.3%.
The EU economic affairs commissioner, Olli Rehn, has blamed attempts by Spain, the eurozone’s fourth largest economy and a more potent threat than bailed-out Greece, Portugal or Ireland, to ease up on deficit-cutting for renewed pressure on sovereign debt.
"Because there was a perception Spain was relaxing its fiscal targets for this year, there has already been a market reaction of several dozen basis points on yields of Spanish bonds," he told reporters. "That shows how fragile the situation still is. To return to sustainable growth, it is a necessary condition to ensure sustainability of public finances."
Spanish economists described the deficit target as “mission impossible” for a country sinking back into recession and with 24% unemployment. They have warned of devastating consequences if Rajoy, who has already imposed cuts and tax increases worth €15bn, is obliged to find a further €40bn over nine months.
Pictured: People’s party supporters wave flags as Mariano Rajoy arrives at a campaign rally in Seville. Expected election victory in Andalucia on Sunday will be followed by further austerity. Photograph: Marcelo Del Pozo/Reuters

'Mission impossible' for Spain's PM – another €40bn in cuts

Mariano Rajoy expected to win Andalucia regional elections, then order further austerity measures

Spain’s prime minister, Mariano Rajoy, faces the toughest week of his three months in office as he is forced to announce up to €40bn (£33.45bn) in spending cuts and taxes in a budget on 30 March, the day after a general strike.

As Rajoy’s conservative People’s party looked set for victory in key regional elections in southern Andalucia on Sunday, other European leaders and the markets were signalling Spain as now being the biggest single threat to the stability of the eurozone.

A win in Andalucia would give Rajoy unprecedented control over troublesome regional governments whose inability to reduce deficits has helped to put Spain centre-stage in the eurozone crisis. Asturias, a much smaller northern region, was also voting.

Rajoy was recently forced to backtrack by fellow EU leaders who refused to accept the deficit target of 5.8% of GDP Spain set unilaterally for this year. They told him to cut to 5.3%.

The EU economic affairs commissioner, Olli Rehn, has blamed attempts by Spain, the eurozone’s fourth largest economy and a more potent threat than bailed-out Greece, Portugal or Ireland, to ease up on deficit-cutting for renewed pressure on sovereign debt.

"Because there was a perception Spain was relaxing its fiscal targets for this year, there has already been a market reaction of several dozen basis points on yields of Spanish bonds," he told reporters. "That shows how fragile the situation still is. To return to sustainable growth, it is a necessary condition to ensure sustainability of public finances."

Spanish economists described the deficit target as “mission impossible” for a country sinking back into recession and with 24% unemployment. They have warned of devastating consequences if Rajoy, who has already imposed cuts and tax increases worth €15bn, is obliged to find a further €40bn over nine months.

Pictured: People’s party supporters wave flags as Mariano Rajoy arrives at a campaign rally in Seville. Expected election victory in Andalucia on Sunday will be followed by further austerity. Photograph: Marcelo Del Pozo/Reuters

Filed under spain europe Eurozone economic crisis austerity measures elections

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Kumba Yala boycotts Guinea-Bissau presidential run-off
The runner-up in Sunday’s presidential election in Guinea-Bissau has said he will not participate in a run-off vote.
Former president Kumba Yala has claimed the first round of voting was unfair.
Provisional results from Sunday’s poll gave ex-prime minister Carlos Gomez 49% of the vote out of nine candidates. Kumba Yala came in second with 23%.
As Mr Gomez did not win a majority there must now be a run-off vote, but Mr Yala says new voter registration must be done before he will take part.
He told the BBC’s Focus on Africa programme: “This election wasn’t fair - the numbers were fabricated. We have evidence that [Carlos Gomes] rigged the vote… and we will show them to the authorities.”
Foreign electoral observer missions have said Sunday’s vote - held to find a successor to president Malam Bacai Sanha who died in January after a long illness - was largely free and fair.
Mr Yala was overthrown as president in a 2003 coup, one in a long line of military coups in the west African state.
The country has also been destabilised by the booming illegal drugs trade from Latin America, which uses it as a staging post for the European market.
Pictured: Monitors said Sunday’s vote was largely free and fair

Kumba Yala boycotts Guinea-Bissau presidential run-off

The runner-up in Sunday’s presidential election in Guinea-Bissau has said he will not participate in a run-off vote.

Former president Kumba Yala has claimed the first round of voting was unfair.

Provisional results from Sunday’s poll gave ex-prime minister Carlos Gomez 49% of the vote out of nine candidates. Kumba Yala came in second with 23%.

As Mr Gomez did not win a majority there must now be a run-off vote, but Mr Yala says new voter registration must be done before he will take part.

He told the BBC’s Focus on Africa programme: “This election wasn’t fair - the numbers were fabricated. We have evidence that [Carlos Gomes] rigged the vote… and we will show them to the authorities.”

Foreign electoral observer missions have said Sunday’s vote - held to find a successor to president Malam Bacai Sanha who died in January after a long illness - was largely free and fair.

Mr Yala was overthrown as president in a 2003 coup, one in a long line of military coups in the west African state.

The country has also been destabilised by the booming illegal drugs trade from Latin America, which uses it as a staging post for the European market.

Pictured: Monitors said Sunday’s vote was largely free and fair

Filed under guinea-bissau africa elections

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Hong Kong election: all bets off after frontrunner’s calamitous campaign
China’s candidate, Henry Tang Ying-yen, stumbles after cheating on his wife and leaking secret government discussions
It is supposed to be one of the world’s more crafty exercises in choreographed democracy, when Hong Kong’s elite comes together to choose the person that Beijing wants to run the territory for the next five years.
But Sunday’s “election”, in which 1,200 hand-picked business and community leaders select the new leader, has turned into a startling exercise in almost open politics. A former top civil servant, Henry Tang Ying-yen, was the shoo-in candidate, Beijing’s choice for the top job of chief executive. But the result has been thrown into doubt by the frontrunner’s inability to avoid putting his foot in it.
Clumsy admissions of adultery and illegal construction have raised questions about governance in Hong Kong. His latest effort to attack his opponent was based on the leaking of secret government discussions – perhaps the worst sin of all for his mainland backers.
With just a few days to go, some election committee members said they were being told by Beijing to drop Tang in favour of property surveyor Leung Chun-ying, who had been considered a makeweight candidate, there just to provide a veneer of competition.
Now the outcome is considered wildly unpredictable, after the unprecedented intrusion of public opinion into a process that Beijing used to control.
Although the Beijing officials overseeing Hong Kong have long nurtured its corporate titans as their closest allies, a growing awareness that there is more to Hong Kong society has prompted signs of a shift. China’s premier, Wen Jiabao, said recently in Beijing that Hong Kong “can elect a chief executive who is supported by the majority of the people”.
But Asia’s richest man, Li Ka-shing, known locally as Superman for his huge wealth and influence, unexpectedly commented on the election to the local media, restating his preference for Tang.
Many in the pro-democracy camp want a Tang win partly to show how manipulated the whole process is, but also because they believe Leung belongs to the Chinese Communist party.
"None of them have the kind of charisma, momentum or energy that a chief executive should have," said Prof Cheng Kai-ming, a member of the election committee.
Hong Kong’s seven million people do not vote for the leader. An independent referendum gauging public opinion was subverted on Friday by what organisers called “high-level cyber attacks”. However, despite its inability to vote, the public has been unexpectedly riveted by the contest. Vigorous satire and news coverage, coupled with the candidates’ unfamiliarity with the rough and tumble of real politics, has turned a staid selection into soap opera.
Pictured: Henry Tang Ying-yen (right) and his opponent Leung Chun-ying. The new chief executive of Hong Kong will be chosen by 1,200 nominated voters on Sunday. Photograph: Bobby Yip/Reuters

Hong Kong election: all bets off after frontrunner’s calamitous campaign

China’s candidate, Henry Tang Ying-yen, stumbles after cheating on his wife and leaking secret government discussions

It is supposed to be one of the world’s more crafty exercises in choreographed democracy, when Hong Kong’s elite comes together to choose the person that Beijing wants to run the territory for the next five years.

But Sunday’s “election”, in which 1,200 hand-picked business and community leaders select the new leader, has turned into a startling exercise in almost open politics. A former top civil servant, Henry Tang Ying-yen, was the shoo-in candidate, Beijing’s choice for the top job of chief executive. But the result has been thrown into doubt by the frontrunner’s inability to avoid putting his foot in it.

Clumsy admissions of adultery and illegal construction have raised questions about governance in Hong Kong. His latest effort to attack his opponent was based on the leaking of secret government discussions – perhaps the worst sin of all for his mainland backers.

With just a few days to go, some election committee members said they were being told by Beijing to drop Tang in favour of property surveyor Leung Chun-ying, who had been considered a makeweight candidate, there just to provide a veneer of competition.

Now the outcome is considered wildly unpredictable, after the unprecedented intrusion of public opinion into a process that Beijing used to control.

Although the Beijing officials overseeing Hong Kong have long nurtured its corporate titans as their closest allies, a growing awareness that there is more to Hong Kong society has prompted signs of a shift. China’s premier, Wen Jiabao, said recently in Beijing that Hong Kong “can elect a chief executive who is supported by the majority of the people”.

But Asia’s richest man, Li Ka-shing, known locally as Superman for his huge wealth and influence, unexpectedly commented on the election to the local media, restating his preference for Tang.

Many in the pro-democracy camp want a Tang win partly to show how manipulated the whole process is, but also because they believe Leung belongs to the Chinese Communist party.

"None of them have the kind of charisma, momentum or energy that a chief executive should have," said Prof Cheng Kai-ming, a member of the election committee.

Hong Kong’s seven million people do not vote for the leader. An independent referendum gauging public opinion was subverted on Friday by what organisers called “high-level cyber attacks”. However, despite its inability to vote, the public has been unexpectedly riveted by the contest. Vigorous satire and news coverage, coupled with the candidates’ unfamiliarity with the rough and tumble of real politics, has turned a staid selection into soap opera.

Pictured: Henry Tang Ying-yen (right) and his opponent Leung Chun-ying. The new chief executive of Hong Kong will be chosen by 1,200 nominated voters on Sunday. Photograph: Bobby Yip/Reuters

Filed under china Hong Kong asia elections

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The president of Timor-Leste and 1996 Nobel peace prize laureate, José Ramos-Horta, has conceded election defeat, after coming third in the first round of voting. Ramos-Horta, who led the country’s fight for independence from Indonesia for decades, says he will be available to help the new government

(Source: Guardian)

Filed under timor-leste asia elections