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Myanmar: Carter Center frets over election credibility | Myanmar Times

As the third week of election campaigning kicks off, an international monitoring group is already raising alarm over the credibility of the elections. In a statement, the U.S.-based Carter Center questioned the legitimacy of the candidate scrutiny process that scrubbed more than 100 election hopefuls from the final list. Though the Union Election Commission reinstated 11 Muslim nominees just before the Carter Center released its findings on September 25, 75 candidates continue to be barred from the polls, largely due to the alleged citizenship status of their parents. “Although the number of disqualified candidates is relatively small, restrictive requirements, selective enforcement, and a lack of procedural safeguards call into question the credibility of the process,” the report stated.

Full Article: Carter Center frets over election credibility.

Myanmar: International alarm over Myanmar religious tension ahead of key polls | AsiaOne

The United States, Japan and other major powers on Tuesday raised fears that rising religious tensions in Myanmar could spark “division and conflict” as campaigning begins for historic elections. Myanmar goes to the polls on November 8 in what many hope will be its freest vote in generations after decades of army rule, with Aung San Suu Kyi’s opposition party widely tipped to make huge gains. But religious tensions are spiking in the Buddhist-majority country, which has seen sporadic outbursts of often deadly religious unrest in recent years, with minority Muslims facing increasing political exclusion as the influence of nationalist monks grows.

Full Article: International alarm over Myanmar religious tension ahead of key polls, AsiaOne Asia News.

United Kingdom: EU referendum: David Cameron suffers defeat in parliament over ‘purdah’ rules | The Guardian

David Cameron has suffered a humiliating defeat over the EU referendum as Tory rebels and Labour put aside their differences to oppose changes to the rules that restrict government campaigning before an election. The government lost by 27 votes as a group of Tory backbenchers argued that Downing Street was trying to unduly influence the result in favour of staying in the EU. The rebels, led by Eurosceptics including Bernard Jenkin, Bill Cash and Steve Baker, said it was wrong of the government to seek changes to purdah, which is the month-long period before a poll when government announcements and spending are restricted.

Full Article: EU referendum: David Cameron suffers defeat in parliament over 'purdah' rules | Politics | The Guardian.

Canada: An election campaign is a massive human investment | Ottawa Citizen

Many people have written about the financial cost of the 78-day campaign, but I haven’t seen anybody look at the human cost. What this is costing candidates, leaders, staff, and volunteers? To start figuring out the human cost we have to rewind back to 2013 when most political parties opened up nominations, the process by which candidates are selected to run in each of 338 ridings. Tens of thousands of hopefuls applied to the various parties to run in the 2015 election, starting in 2013, and were vetted by the internal parties and either accepted or rejected. Imagine that many people in each party who applied were told, after many weeks or months, that they were not suitable candidates for any number of reasons. Some prospective candidates signed up party members as they were told to do in anticipation of a nomination in their riding. Friends, family members, colleagues and acquaintances were asked to sign membership forms; usually a small fee is also involved. Dozens, hundreds, perhaps thousands of people signed and paid the fee, and their candidate was not even allowed to test themselves against other same party candidates in that riding. Of the lucky few who were accepted after the vetting process, still many thousands of potential candidates, they then had to compete against other hopefuls to win their party nomination. Although the spending limits for nominations are strict during the nomination process, many would spend untold fortunes in advance of the nomination on promotion, a campaign in itself involving handfuls of volunteers and in some cases dozens or hundreds of people. Many months can go by awaiting the official call of a nomination, and those lucky enough to be accepted sign up new members to vote for them. Nobody knows when the date will be called; there is no defined finish line for nominations.

Full Article: Quito Maggi: An election campaign is a massive human investment | Ottawa Citizen.

Myanmar: As elections near, a struggle to get the word out | UCA News

Long Tway village is a long way from anywhere. The nearest city, Taunggyi, is a rough three-hour drive to the west of this small settlement of about 30 households, sitting high in a steep valley amid the vast Shan Hills in eastern Myanmar. In lowland areas of the country and the urban centers, anticipation is rising ahead of elections scheduled for Nov. 8. More than 6,000 candidates have applied to take part in the elections, and campaigning is likely to involve large-scale rallies and poster campaigns. But here in the hills, people have only a vague knowledge of the polls. “No one came here to tell us about the election,” local woman Nan Yon, 44, told ucanews.com recently. She had heard an election was coming, she said, but was surprised to learn that the vote was only months away.

Full Article: As Myanmar elections near, a struggle to get the word out ucanews.com.

Mississippi: Trucker wins Democratic gubernatorial primary after spending $0 | The Guardian

A Mississippi truck driver who claims to have spent no money on his campaign won a nomination to be governor early Wednesday morning. Robert Gray, 46, reported spending zero dollars on his campaign to become the Democratic party’s nominee for governor, and defeated two rivals with 51% of the vote. He told the Associated Press that he did not vote on Tuesday “because he was busy”. In contrast, trial attorney Vicki Slater, reported spending $68,000 in the last month alone, and almost $200,000 this calendar year. Gray won with 146,333 votes, meaning Slater lost by almost 60,000 votes.

Full Article: Mississippi trucker wins Democratic gubernatorial primary after spending $0 | US news | The Guardian.

Canada: Canada braced for US-style attack ads | Financial Times

Derek Demers is not looking forward to more attack ads before Canada’s federal election this autumn. “I find them unbelievable down in the states, what they throw at each other,” says the retired software salesman in Calgary, who has mostly voted Conservative but for this election is considering other parties. “It’s pretty tiring. They can be creative, but they can be demeaning.” Canada’s election is four months away, yet voters are already getting their share of such US-style ads through third-party campaigns by political action committees that show a similar US influence.

Full Article: Canada braced for US-style attack ads - FT.com.

Canada: Fixed-date election comes with concerns, observers say | Montreal Gazette

The first fixed-date election in Canadian history is just around the corner, but some observers are raising concerns about overspending because of a law they say is flawed. When the Conservatives introduced a fixed election date nine years ago, political financing rules were not adjusted accordingly, says Elections Canada boss Marc Mayrand. “We must not be blind,” said Mayrand. “As much as it is easier for Elections Canada to plan for the election, it’s just as easy for political parties and third parties” to plan their spending before the election. Those expenses generally go “beyond the rules outlined in the electoral law,” he added.

Full Article: Fixed-date election comes with concerns, observers say | Montreal Gazette.

Uganda: Electoral Body Warns Against Early Campaigning | VoA News

Uganda’s Electoral Commission is warning all political parties and civil society groups that they would be flouting the country’s laws if they engage in early political campaigns before an official declaration. “We released a road map clearly ahead of the elections, [and] we indicated activities and their time frame,” said Jotham Taremwa, commission spokesman. Because nominations have not yet been made, “whoever is posing as a candidate is out of order.”

Full Article: Uganda Electoral Body Warns Against Early Campaigning.

Denmark: Candidate bares all in bid to be prime minister | The Guardian

Conversations tail off mid-sentence; students stop to take selfies and parents shield young children’s eyes. The cause of their embarrassment: giant posters of a man wearing nothing but a cowboy hat, a gun holster and a knowing smile. This is John Erik Wagner, and he wants to be Denmark’s next prime minister. It may not be a conventional political billboard but, in this time of frenetic campaigning before the Danish general election this month, every available tree or lamppost is plastered with images of politicians and wannabes, and a relatively unknown candidate needs to work hard to make an impression. For Wagner, a 51-year-old Copenhagener, the way to do that was to bare all.

Full Article: Danish cowboy bares all in bid to be prime minister | World news | The Guardian.

Guyana: Soldiers, Police Vote Early in General Elections | Latin American Herald Tribune

Thousands of soldiers, police, prison guards and fire rescue personnel will cast ballots this weekend ahead of Guyana’s May 11 general elections. Some 7,540 people will be eligible for Saturday’s early voting at 84 polling stations across the country, elections chief Keith Lowenfield said in a statement. Political parties have been campaigning hard to win votes among the security forces and emergency services, though they represent a small percentage of Guyana’s electorate.

Full Article: Latin American Herald Tribune - Soldiers, Police Vote Early in Guyana General Elections.

Japan: Right-wing candidate’s nude campaign poster skirts election law | The Japan Times

Campaigning for Sunday’s second wave of quadrennial unified local elections has highlighted a legal loophole that allows candidates to go to extremes — including nudity — to gain votes. In contrast with the ubiquitous portrait shots preferred by most candidates, the campaign poster for Teruki Goto, an independent running for the Chiyoda Ward Assembly in Tokyo, went viral after it showed him posing nude against a Rising Sun flag motif while raising a katana over the Imperial Seal, his genitals covered by his name.

Full Article: Right-wing candidate's nude campaign poster skirts election law | The Japan Times.

Uganda: Electoral commission lays out road map | East African Business Week

Uganda’s Electoral Commission (EC) has announced its preparations for the 2015-2016 elections that will be held early next year. The acting EC Chairman, Joseph Biribonwa, told a recent news conference recently between April 7th and 30th an update of all registers will take place. EC officials will capture unregistered youth, elderly and disabled persons and armed forces personnel. This also includes other people who were not qualified during the last election but are now eligible to vote. Between June 2and 22, the final registers will be displayed at the relevant polling stations and the general public is encouraged to check for their names and details to avoid any later inconveniences.

Full Article: Uganda electoral commission lays out road map.

Nigeria: How new technology drove Buhari’s campaign | The News

Technology played a decisive role in helping Muhammadu Buhari become the first Nigerian to oust a sitting president at the ballot box, from social media campaigning to biometric machines preventing the widespread rigging that marred past polls. Three decades after seizing power in a military coup, part of the 72-year-old former general’s appeal to the electorate in Africa’s biggest economy lay in his successful rebranding as a man who embraced democracy. A good deal of that rebranding happened online, where campaigning from smartphones can build momentum at low cost.

Full Article: How new technology drove Buhari’s campaign | The NEWS.

Zambia: Electoral Commission Says Ready to Administer Poll | VoA News

A senior official of the Electoral Commission of Zambia says the organization is ready to supervise a credible presidential by-election on Tuesday. Official campaigning ends on Monday ahead of the poll. The commission’s director of elections, Priscilla Isaac, says both sensitive and non-sensitive materials have been dispatched to ensure all polling centers across the country can open on time for the vote. “We have really tried to be on top of things and we will be ready to open polling station on time on the 20th,” says Isaac. “We dispatched the last set of ballot papers to the districts – that was Thursday. So all the ballot papers are all in the districts and now just waiting for the deployment to the respective polling stations with the polling staff … We know that everybody will be in place by the 19th at all their respective polling stations, in readiness for the polls on Tuesday.”

Full Article: Zambia Electoral Commission Says Ready to Administer Poll.

Editorials: A Chance to Close Sri Lanka’s One-Family Show | Razeen Sally/Wall Street Journal

When President Mahinda Rajapaksa called a snap election last month in Sri Lanka, it appeared he would cruise to a third term. But a hitherto feeble and divided opposition has since rallied behind a common presidential candidate for the Jan. 8 vote. Only a month ago, Maithripala Sirisena was a cabinet minister and general-secretary of the ruling party. Now suddenly Sri Lanka could be at a turning point after almost a decade of Rajapaksa rule. The president is campaigning on his economic record after comprehensively defeating the Tamil Tigers in 2009. And on the surface, Sri Lanka looks a lot better off for his leadership. After a quarter-century of civil war, people can go about their daily lives without fear. Roads, bridges, railways and power projects have come to fruition. Colombo and many other towns have been beautified. Tourism has bounced back, with postwar arrivals hitting all-time highs. But this surface reality is deceptive. Things have gone terribly wrong with Sri Lanka’s politics, ethnic relations, economy and foreign policy.

Full Article: Razeen Sally: A Chance to Close Sri Lanka’s One-Family Show - WSJ.

Japan: Animated Communists Back in Action for Election Campaign | Wall Street Journal

The Japanese Communist Party is gearing up for what could be its biggest election win in more than a decade with more of the same: cartoons, puns and breakdancing. The 92-year-old party has revived a rowdy bunch of animated mascots–the Proliferation Bureau–to spread the gospel ahead of Sunday’s lower house election. This year, armed with a bigger budget, they’re out to stop Prime Minister Shinzo Abe from letting the sales tax rise again, restarting nuclear reactors and revising the nation’s constitution. The Proliferation Bureau debuted during the 2013 upper house election after restrictions on Internet campaigning were lifted for the first time. The eight characters were meant to appeal to net-savvy youth who might otherwise associate Communism with bloody revolutions. “This time the theme is us against the Liberal Democratic Party,” Kazushi Tamura, deputy head of the publicity department, told JRT, referring to Mr. Abe’s ruling party. The party wasn’t sure the Proliferation Bureau would return after the last election, but positive feedback on social media made the difference, he said.

Full Article: Animated Communists Back in Action for Election Campaign - Japan Real Time - WSJ.

Croatia: Current president, opposition’s presidential candidate on campaign trail | Dalje

With the formal start of electioneering at midnight Monday for the Croatian presidential election set for 28 December, the presidential candidate of the strongest opposition Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ), Kolinda Grabar Kitarovic, began her whistle-stop tour in her hometown of Drazice, where she promised that if she won the election she would complete the job which the first president, Franjo Tudjman, had started steering the country towards prosperity, while the incumbent head of state, Ivo Josipovic, embarked on his hustings tour at noon Tuesday in downtown Zagreb where he boarded a bus that will transport him and his team through Croatia in the next 18 days of campaigning. Josipovic, who was seen off by Prime Minister and Social Democratic Party (SDP) leader Zoran Milanovic, said he was starting the tour from the same place, the square outside the law school and the Croatian National Theatre, from where he started the campaigning for his first term five years ago. 

Full Article: Current president, opposition's presidential candidate on campaign trail - Current Events - Croatia - Dalje.com.

Bahrain: Little hope of end to Bahrain political deadlock after poll | Middle East Eye

Tiny Gulf monarchy Bahrain holds elections on Saturday but with the opposition boycotting there seems little hope of an end to political deadlock in the key US ally. Bahrain remains divided nearly four years after security forces in the kingdom clamped down on protests led by demonstrators taking their cue from the Arab Spring uprisings. The opposition is demanding a “real” constitutional monarchy with an elected prime minister who is independent from the ruling royal family. But the Al-Khalifa dynasty has refused to yield. Bahrain is home to the US Fifth Fleet and is one of several Arab states supporting US-led airstrikes against the Islamic State group in Iraq and Syria, making it a vital Western ally. Turnout on Saturday is likely to be low as the main opposition party has already called for a boycott.

Full Article: Little hope of end to Bahrain political deadlock after poll | Middle East Eye.

Uruguay: Uruguay gears up for ‘unpredictable’ election | Buenos Aires Herald

One of Uruguay’s most prominent pollsters Cifra is reluctant to guess who will win next week’s presidential elections. Cifra said that former president Tabaré Vázquez, running for a second time, is more vulnerable than when current President José Mujica was campaigning for the top seat in 2009. Vázquez is backed by Mujica to be his succesor. Their Broad Front leads all the polls but the election is most likely to go to a runoff on November 30 to determine whether or not it will win a third succesive term in power. Vázquez and his running partner Raúl Sendic have around 40 percent of voting intentions according to the country’s four main pollsters: Cifra, Equipos, Factum and Radar. It is also in doubt whether Broad Front will maintain its majority in Congress if it were to win. Vázquez (2005-2010) and then Mujica were both able to pass laws with relative ease due to their government’s majority. This may not be the case if Vázquez is elected for a second time.

Full Article: Uruguay gears up for ‘unpredictable’ election - BuenosAiresHerald.com.