In his inaugural address on January 20, President Joe Biden invoked the words of the great theologian of the Roman Catholic Church, Saint Augustine.
‘Many centuries … Read the rest
Currently riding high in the polls, Emmanuel Macron, the self-styled “beyond left and right” candidate for the French election, has been tipped to become the next president in May.
But if he does, will he actually run the country? This question might sound odd but the nuances of the French political system put Macron in a spot of bother. The president derives their power from the support of a majority in the lower house of parliament, the National Assembly. Macron was a minister for the Socialist Party government but quit in 2016 to form his own political movement. Now he doesn’t even have a party, let alone a majority.
Written by Paul Smith.
For much of the morning of March 1, the French media was buzzing with the news that François Fillon might be about to drop out of the 2017 presidential race. The rumours started flying the moment it was revealed, a little before 8am, that Fillon was postponing his trip to the Salon de l’Agriculture event in Paris, and would instead be holding a press conference at his campaign HQ. The announcement could not have been more last minute. Members of Fillon’s own team, waiting outside the exhibition centre, only found out by phone.
Written by Paul Smith.
Never one to miss a bandwagon when it passes, Marine Le Pen, leader of France’s far-right Front National, was one of the first European politicians to congratulate Donald Trump on his election victory.
For the demagogic populist Le Pen, Trump’s win, like the Brexit vote, is the victory of the “people” against the “elites”.
Setting aside the ludicrous nature of anyone claiming the victory of a billionaire who inherited his riches as a blow against the established order, Le Pen’s intervention is important. France is facing its own presidential election in April and May of 2017 and Le Pen aims to win it.
Written by Fernando Casal Bértoa.
Who hasn’t heard that democracy is in crisis? Election after election, we see people participate less and extremist political parties on the rise. The most recent example is in Georgia, where during this month’s legislative elections half of the country’s electorate decide to stay at home and a far-right pro-Russian Eurosceptic party (The Alliance of Patriots of Georgia) managed to gain its first seats in parliament.
Meanwhile, traditionally stable party systems are collapsing. Traditional parties are challenged and in many cases displaced by totally new political formations, making the polity more fragmented, volatility and unstable. Spain and Greece constitute, perhaps, the clearest examples. And political parties themselves are in crisis. It is not only that parties have lost members and voters, but – more importantly – they are considered to be among the most corrupt and untrustworthy institutions.
Written by Paul Kennedy.
There appears to be little chance of Spain’s political stalemate being broken any time soon. Just listen to the divisive tone of parliamentary debates held in the first week of March – two-and-a-half-months after a national election failed to deliver a government.
Pedro Sánchez, leader of the Spanish Socialist Workers’ Party (PSOE) had sought to form a coalition government with the centre-right Ciudadanos (Citizens) Party. He secured the backing of his own party and his proposed coalition partner but failed to get enough support from other MPs following heated debate in the chamber.
Written by Marie Lall.
On Sunday 8th November 2015 Myanmar went to the polls. More than 90 parties contested seats for the two houses of parliament as well as the 14 state and regional assemblies. Despite the large number of parties, all eyes were on the opposition NLD and the regime USDP. The official declaration is still outstanding, however the Union Election Commission has to date awarded the NLD 348 seats in the bicameral parliament, giving the party an outright majority. In order to control the government the NLD needed 67% of the seats (or 329 seats), as 25% are held by appointed military MPs. Crossing this threshold means that Myanmar can become a very different country. The losing USDP has been bitterly disappointed with the result. Nevertheless the outgoing MPs have congratulated the NLD and the regime party has shown great dignity.
Myanmar has taken a potentially momentous step away from dictatorship and towards democracy. More than 6,000 candidates from 91 political parties competed for the votes of 33m registered voters on November 8 in the country’s first credible elections since 1960.
The precise outcome won’t be known for days, but Aung San Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy (NLD) is claiming to have gained at least 70% of the votes cast. Senior figures in the ruling party are conceding defeat.
No one should underestimate the significance of power changing hands in Myanmar via the ballot box. However, this will only finally occur in March 2016, when the newly-elected MPs vote for a new president and a new government will be formed.
Written by Paul Kennedy.
Although the pro-independence alliance Junts pel Sí (Together for Yes) fell six seats short of the 68 needed for a majority in the 135-seat parliament, it will secure an overall majority with the addition of the ten seats won by the far-left pro-independence Popular Unity Candidacy (CUP).
Artur Mas, the regional president and key figure behind Catalonia’s shift towards independence, indicated that the result vindicated his strategy. But even though they can now assemble a parliamentary majority, the two parties just failed to win a combined 50% of the vote, and those opposed to independence are nevertheless likely to argue that their opponents don’t have a mandate to press on with their secessionist plans.