A far-right group campaigning for a change in Croatian election laws said Thursday it has collected enough signatures to call a nationwide referendum that could curb significantly the rights of ethnic minorities. The “People Decide” group said it has collected nearly 400,000 signatures for a vote on a proposal to reduce the number of lawmakers in Croatia’s parliament from 150 to a maximum 120, curb the number of MPs representing ethnic minorities and ban them from voting on crucial issues such as forming Croatia’s government and the national budget.
International: Study reveals remarkably high proportion of national elections are not free and fair | phys.org
Researchers from the University of Birmingham and the London School of Economics have found that the number of elections across the world has reached an all-time high, but that this has done little to increase the quality of democracy in the world. The findings published today by Yale Books in ‘How to rig an election’ demonstrate that a remarkably high proportion of national elections are not free and fair – enabling authoritarian leaders to remain in power – with the emergence of new technology playing a part in the process of manipulation. Based on more than 500 interviews, and their own experience of watching elections on the ground in countries including; Belarus, Kenya, Madagascar, Nigeria, Thailand and Tunisia, Professor Nic Cheeseman and Dr. Brian Klaas reveal the extent of the democratic decay that has benefitted dictators around the world.
Hong Kong’s pro-democracy lawmakers have lost two seats in the territory’s legislature, another setback for the bloc whose members were previously disqualified after modifying their oaths of office to defy Beijing. While the pro-democracy camp widely anticipated losing one of the four vacated seats up for a vote in Sunday’s by-election, a second loss, by a margin of just over 1 percent after a recount, was a less expected and more painful blow. The vote came on the same day that China’s Communist Party-controlled legislature approved a measure to drop term limits for president, clearing the way for President Xi Jinping to rule indefinitely. Hong Kong’s democracy advocates framed the vote in the semiautonomous territory as a way to stand up to the authoritarianism of China’s central government. What they were left with, however, was a further erosion of their already limited power.
Hong Kong residents voted Sunday in by-elections that give opposition supporters the chance to recapture lost ground in a contest measuring voters’ appetite for democracy in the semiautonomous Chinese city. The vote pitted pro-Beijing loyalists against opposition candidates competing for four seats in the city’s semi-democratic legislature. They’re among six seats left empty when a group of lawmakers were expelled following a 2016 controversy over their oaths, which they used to defy China. The ejected members included two advocating Hong Kong’s independence, something Chinese President Xi Jinping has called a “red line.”
Joshua Wong and two other leading Hong Kong democracy activists won an appeal against their jail terms at the city’s highest court Tuesday in a case seen as a test for the independence of the city’s judiciary, which some fear is under pressure from Beijing. But the trio warned it was not a time for celebration because the city still faced threats to its freedoms. Wong, Nathan Law and Alex Chow were jailed in August last year for their role in the mass pro-democracy Umbrella Movement protests of 2014 after Hong Kong’s government pushed for more severe sentences. A lower court had originally given Wong and Law community service orders and Chow a suspended sentence. But after the government’s intervention they were jailed for between six and eight months by the Court of Appeal. All three activists were later bailed pending their appeal.
China: Why Joshua, Nathan, Alex and the Umbrella Movement would be an excellent choice for the Nobel Peace Prize | Hong Kong Free Press
It is very heartening that twelve United States lawmakers nominated Joshua Wong, Nathan Law, Alex Chow and the Umbrella Movement for the Nobel Peace Prize. The nomination comes at a time when the pro-democracy movement is under sustained attack by the Chinese Communist Party and Hong Kong government. Their primary means of attack are criminal prosecutions of pro-democracy leaders and activists and disqualifications from candidacy and elected office. Through these means, they have barred all groups which grew out of the Umbrella Movement from participating in the formal political system and are attempting to destroy the groups they find the most threatening. They intend especially to intimidate young people against getting involved in politics, in the classic Communist ploy of “killing the chicken to scare the monkeys.”
Hong Kong activists Joshua Wong, Nathan Law and Alex Chow Friday said they were honoured to be nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize by a group of US lawmakers at a time when the city’s freedoms are “under serious attack by China”. A bipartisan group of four senators and eight members of the House announced Thursday that they had nominated the activists “in recognition of their peaceful efforts to bring political reform and self-determination to Hong Kong.” Wong, Law and Chow — who shot to prominence as leaders of the 2014 pro-democracy Umbrella Movement — said they were honoured by the nomination, but warned that Beijing was targeting the freedoms enjoyed by residents of Hong Kong as a semi-autonomous part of China.
When it comes to securing a second term in power, Egypt’s president is leaving little to chance. Potential rivals in the March election have been sidelined, jailed or threatened with prosecution. The news media is largely in his pocket. On polling day, Egyptians will have a choice between President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi and one of his most ardent supporters — an obscure politician drafted at the 11th hour to avoid the embarrassment of a one-horse race. As he cruises toward victory, Mr. Sisi need not worry either about foreign censure: President Trump has hailed the Egyptian leader as a “fantastic guy,” and most other Western leaders have been largely silent. Across the world, autocratic leaders are engaging in increasingly brazen behavior — rigging votes, muzzling the press and persecuting opponents — as they dispense with even a fig leaf of democratic practice once offered to placate the United States or gain international legitimacy. The global tide is driven by a bewildering range of factors, including the surge of populism in Europe, waves of migration, and economic inequality. And leaders of countries like Egypt, which had long been sensitive to Washington’s influence, know they run little risk of rebuke from an American president who has largely abandoned the promotion of human rights and democracy in favor of his narrow “America First” agenda.
China: What Agnes Chow’s election ban means for Joshua Wong and youth politics in Hong Kong | South China Morning Post
Beneath her dewy, fresh-faced look and somewhat bashful smile, Agnes Chow Ting, 21, is a battle-hardened political savant as far as young Hongkongers go. The pro-democracy activist was active in a campaign six years ago to force the government to retract a plan to introduce compulsory national education in schools. In 2014, she was at the front lines of the Occupy protests seeking greater democracy. Recently, she renounced her UK citizenship and put her studies at Baptist University on hold – all in the name of becoming the city’s youngest-ever lawmaker. Chow was gunning to win the Hong Kong Island seat in the upcoming Legislative Council by-election, where four seats need to be filled. But last Saturday, she faced her biggest setback yet.
Macau voters have elected a young pro-democracy activist to the Chinese casino capital’s legislature, as opposition lawmakers expanded their presence at the expense of candidates linked to the gambling industry. The results released early Monday are a surprising sign of faith in young people with progressive ideas among Macau’s notoriously apathetic electorate. Official results showed that 26-year-old Sulu Sou won a seat in Sunday’s election for the city’s semi-democratic legislature, making him the city’s youngest-ever lawmaker, according to local news reports.