Serbian opposition parties said on Monday they had started to boycott parliamentary sessions in protest against what they see as the increasingly authoritarian rule of President Aleksandar Vucic and his ruling Serbian Progressive Party (SNS). Opposition parties and their backers accuse Vucic and the SNS of stifling media freedoms and carrying out attacks on political opponents and journalists in Serbia, a country seeking to join the European Union. They deny the accusations. The boycott move comes amid weekly protests by thousands of people that began in December and have spread from the capital Belgrade to a dozen other towns and cities. The protesters and opposition are also demanding Vucic’s resignation and snap elections.
Spain looks set for a snap general election — or slow agony for Pedro Sánchez. The Socialist prime minister had his 2019 budget plans rejected by parliament on Wednesday, prompting his office to say that on Friday he’ll announce if there will be an early ballot — which could be as soon as April. Catalan pro-independence lawmakers joined forces with the right-of-center opposition to defeat the budget proposal — paving the way for an electoral test that polls predict Sánchez will win but fall short of being able to put together a coalition. The news follows days of speculation about election dates, ranging from April 14 and 28 to May 26. The latter has already been dubbed “Super Sunday” because it would coincide with European, regional and local ballots.
Spain’s minority Socialist government plans to announce an early general election after its expected defeat in a budget vote on Wednesday following its refusal to negotiate Catalan self-determination, political sources said on Tuesday. Two small Catalan pro-independence parties, on whose votes the government has been relying to pass legislation, have so far maintained their blanket rejection of the budget. They said they were open to negotiate until the budget vote if the government promised them a dialogue on the right to self-determination, but that right is prohibited by the Spanish constitution.
Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez’s budget plans are threatening to unravel amid reports that he’s considering calling a snap election for April. After his conservative rivals staged a show of strength by bringing tens of thousands of demonstrators onto the streets of Madrid, Efe news agency reported that Sanchez is considering calling elections for April 14. A press officer for the premier said the government is focused on getting its budget passed this week. Protesters in the heart of the Spanish capital on Sunday were demanding an election and accused the prime minister of being soft in talks with Catalan separatists. They waved Spanish flags and shouted “Long Live the Constitution, Long Live Spain.”
Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev on Tuesday dismissed reports that he was planning a snap election after he sought clarification on a clause in the constitution covering the length of his term. In a video address published online, Nazarbayev said his request to the Constitutional Court on Monday had been a routine one meant to clarify gaps in sections covering the replacement of a president, an incumbent’s resignation and other areas. “Of course, everyone is interested… in the elections, (political) transition,” he said.
Sajid Javid has said “the last thing we want is a general election”, emphasising that the government is still hoping to secure a time limit or unilateral exit mechanism for the Irish border backstop. The home secretary dismissed newspaper reports that Downing Street strategists were considering holding a snap general election on 6 June, if Theresa May cannot get her Brexit deal through parliament before the 29 March deadline. “The last thing we want is a general election, the people will never forgive us for it,” Javid told the BBC’s The Andrew Marr Show. “They want politicians to get on with the job. They have been given a very clear mandate, now it’s our job to get on with it.”
Jeremy Corbyn has called for a snap general election during a meeting of anti-poverty charities in Glasgow. He said people who have experienced “the brunt of nine years of austerity” must be allowed a new vote. The Labour leader met with voluntary organisations and charities working to tackle poverty in south-west Glasgow on Saturday, where he criticised “Tory cuts” while pointing to double-digit yearly increases in food bank use and falling life expectancy in Scotland’s most populated city. “People are suffering under austerity as a direct result of Tory cuts in Westminster passed down by the SNP in Holyrood,” he said. “The people who are bearing the brunt of nine years of austerity cannot wait years for a general election. They need a general election now.”
Italian Deputy Prime Minister Matteo Salvini is facing pressure to force an early election this year from lieutenants frustrated by dealing with an unruly coalition partner. Several senior members of Salvini’s League are urging their chief to capitalize on a growing lead in opinion polls to ditch the anti-establishment Five Star Movement which is hampering their efforts to deliver on election promises, according to a League government member and a senior party official who asked not to be named discussing confidential deliberations. Cabinet Undersecretary Giancarlo Giorgetti, a party strategist who is close to Salvini, has repeatedly voiced his frustration, the party official said.
Could a general election be looming? It might seem unlikely. Last time Theresa May dissolved parliament, she had a 24-point lead and higher personal ratings than Margaret Thatcher or Tony Blair in their pomp. Labour had suffered one of its worst postwar defeats just two years earlier. And yet the Conservatives lost their majority. This time round, Labour are ahead in several polls. Jeremy Corbyn’s team, though tired after their journey from the political wilderness to the epicentre of the greatest political upheaval since the war, will begin an election with far more experience than last time. As senior Conservative officials have pointed out to the Sun, 40 Tory seats are held by a margin of less than 5%, with Labour in second place in 35 of them. How would voters view the fourth national vote in five years (the fifth for Scottish voters)? Brenda from Bristol would be considerably more irate this time. Would Tory MPs really let May take their party into an election, just weeks after 117 of them voted against her leadership? Are they not uniquely fearful of a Corbyn government, which they rightly judge to be a totally different prospect to a “normal” Labour administration? And yet. May’s Brexit deal has suffered the biggest defeat in the history of British democracy.
United Kingdom: Labour Party wants a general election — but a second referendum is more likely, lawmaker says | CNBC
As the world awaits U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May’s next move after her Brexit deal failed to obtain parliamentary approval, some politicians from the country’s biggest opposition party believe a second referendum is now increasingly likely. “The critical issue is now that she’s been defeated in the House of Commons, what does Theresa May do and I think, there’s only one way she can really go now — and that’s towards a referendum to give the people a chance to sort out this crisis,” Andrew Adonis, a Labour member of the upper house who previously served as U.K. transport minister and education minister, told CNBC on Wednesday.
Swedish election authorities have proposed that a potential snap election if the country fails to form a government be held on April 7th at an expected cost of 346 million kronor. The Election Authority’s administrative head Anna Nyqvist met parliamentary speaker Andreas Norlén on Thursday to discuss the practical details of a new election – if one goes ahead. “It is my hope that we will soon have a new government in place, but if the parties do not act in a way that allows for a prime minister to be elected, it is important to me to be prepared to set a date for an extra election,” said speaker Norlén in a written statement.
Jeremy Corbyn is to reiterate his call for the Brexit impasse to be put to the people in a general election, as Labour edged closer to pledging to call a no-confidence vote in Theresa May’s government if her departure plan is voted down in the Commons. At a speech in Wakefield on Thursday, the Labour leader is to argue that if May is unable to get her flagship piece of legislation past MPs next week then her government will have lost all authority, meaning an election is urgently needed. “So I say to Theresa May: if you are so confident in your deal, call that election, and let the people decide,” he will say, according to extracts from the speech released in advance. “To break the deadlock an election is not only the most practical option, it is also the most democratic option. It would give the winning party a renewed mandate to negotiate a better deal for Britain and secure support for it in parliament and across the country.”
Leo Varadkar, Ireland’s prime minister, has received a timely boost after the opposition party that keeps his minority government in power pledged not to force an election because of the turmoil over Brexit. The move by Fianna Fáil will bolster Mr Varadkar in talks over a “backstop” on the Irish border, one of the most contentious elements of the EU withdrawal agreement that UK prime minister Theresa May is fighting to get through the British parliament. It underscores the depth of anxiety in Dublin about the threat of damage to the country’s economy and Northern Ireland’s peace settlement from a disorderly no-deal Brexit. Mrs May was forced to cancel emergency talks with Mr Varadkar planned for Wednesday as she battled a confidence motion from her own Conservative party.
The footsteps of a snap election have been getting louder in Spain amid the country’s socialist minority government’s unrequited efforts to find necessary support from other political parties in Parliament for the government’s 2019 budget. Jose Luis Abalos, the minister of public works in Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez’s administration, said in a meeting Monday in Madrid that early general elections cannot be ruled out as “one of their options” and may be held on the same day as municipal, regional and European elections on May 26, 2019. “You can’t venture anything, between now and May there is a lot of time,” he said.
Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar said on Saturday he has no plans to call an election before Christmas and that uncertainty over Brexit must take precedence over the outcome of talks to extend an expiring government cooperation deal. Varadkar’s Fine Gael party and the main opposition group backing his minority government began talks on whether to renew their “confidence and supply” deal three weeks ago. His deputy leader said on Friday the agreement had a few more weeks to run. Varadkar insists that he wants to extend the pact until mid-2020, rather than capitalize on his Fine Gael party’s increased popularity by calling an immediate snap election.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu fought to save his tottering government after his defense minister’s resignation, pinning his hopes on a crucial meeting Sunday with a wavering coalition ally. Netanyahu is set to meet with Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon, who has urged the prime minister to go for early elections after Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman’s departure last week left the government in control of just 61 out of 120 parliamentary seats. It’s not possible to govern with such a narrow coalition, which will be subject to constant pressures from its partners, Kahlon said in an interview Saturday on Hadashot News. Still, he said he would keep an open mind for Sunday’s meeting with Netanyahu. “Maybe he’ll pull a rabbit out of his hat,” Kahlon said. “Although for a long time it seems there has been no rabbit and no hat.”
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu faced calls on Thursday from his coalition partners to hold an early election, a day after the defense minister’s resignation left the government with a razor-thin majority. Avigdor Lieberman quit on Wednesday over what he described as the government’s too-soft policy on cross-border violence with Palestinian militants in the Gaza Strip. The loss of the five seats of Lieberman’s Israel Beitenu faction leaves Netanyahu with control of just 61 of the 120 seats in parliament, raising the prospect that a scheduled November 2019 election would be brought forward. Lieberman’s resignation takes effect 48 hours after being handed in, which he did early on Thursday. Each coalition partner will then have the power to bring down the government.
Sri Lanka’s top court suspended an order by President Maithripala Sirisena to dissolve the island nation’s parliament and call a snap general election after Ranil Wickremesinghe mounted a legal challenge against his ouster as prime minister. The Supreme Court granted interim relief until Dec. 7, staying the Presidential notice suspending parliament and halting preparations for the poll. The court’s order on Tuesday means that Sri Lanka’s parliament will reconvene on Nov. 14 as earlier decided by the president. He was acting in response to mounting pressure to resolve the political crisis since his surprise dismissal of Wickremesinghe on Oct. 26. “We will be in parliament tomorrow and we will show the majority, that we are the legitimate government in Sri Lanka,” Wickremesinghe told reporters in Colombo following the court’s decision.
United Kingdom: General Election? The three routes which could lead to a snap vote | London Evening Standard
Britain could be facing another general election as soon as January if Theresa May fails to get her Brexit deal through parliament, a leading academic has said. The prime minister is set to put her Brexit deal in front of the House of Commons within a month if she wins the backing of her Cabinet and after it has been agreed with the other 27 EU member states at an emergency summit in November. If she fails to gain the support of MPs, the government could choose to simply stop negotiations with the EU and opt for “no deal” or try to get the deal passed a second time. If the prime minister completely fails to get parliament’s support, there are three possible routes which could lead to a general election being called, according to Dr Alan Wager from the UK in a Changing EU thinktank.
Supporters of Sri Lanka’s sacked prime minister and a top election official on Monday challenged in court the president’s dissolving of parliament, upping the ante in a political crisis that has sparked international alarm. Late on Friday, President Maithripala Sirisena called snap elections and dissolved the legislature, two weeks after sacking the prime minister and installing the divisive Mahinda Rajapaksa in his place. The United States has led a chorus of international concern over events in the Indian Ocean island nation of 21 million people. Three political parties holding an absolute majority in parliament and an election commissioner, one of three officials tasked with conducting polls, on Monday asked the Supreme Court to declare the president’s actions illegal.
Maithripala Sirisena, Sri Lanka’s president, abruptly dissolved parliament on November 9th and called a snap general election. The move capped several weeks of political drama in the Indian Ocean republic as the president has tested—many would say has greatly exceeded—the constitutional limits of his power. The action began on October 26th, when Mr Sirisena abruptly sacked Ranil Wickremesinghe, the elected prime minister and also his ostensible political ally in the ruling coalition. He replaced him with Mahinda Rajapaksa (pictured), a former strongman president whose regime Mr Sirisena had loudly accused of corruption and even of having plotted to kill him. The flip-flopping president also suspended parliament for three weeks to avoid a debate on his actions, and began to swear in new ministers. The suspension of parliament was widely seen as an indication that the new prime minister did not have the support of majority of MPs.
Australia: Government rules out dual election option, says poll will be ‘next year’ | Sydney Morning Herald
The Morrison government has ruled out a “dual election” scenario where Australian voters would go to two federal elections next year, after talks about the option emerged in the media. Special Minister of State Alex Hawke dismissed the idea and insisted on the standard timetable for an election next year. “The government has no plans for a dual election. The election is due next year, as required,” Mr Hawke tweeted. Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s office also rejected the option, saying “the government has no plans for a dual election” and also stipulating the election would be next year, as Mr Morrison continues a bus tour in regional Queensland to listen to voters.
Lawmakers in Armenia triggered an early parliamentary election on Thursday after failing to elect a prime minister, a move sought by acting Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan who quit as premier last month in order to force a new vote. Pashinyan, a former opposition leader who took power in May after a popular uprising, has long sought a new vote for parliament, which is still made up of members elected before demonstrators pushed the former ruling party out of power. By quitting and leaving parliament unable to find a successor, he forced parliament to dissolve and hold a new vote.
Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian vowed late on October 2 to tender his resignation in an effort to force early parliamentary elections before the end of the year. Rallying tens of thousands of supporters in Yerevan, he also announced the firing of six government ministers representing the Prosperous Armenia (BHK) and Dashnaktsutyun parties who he accused of hampering his drive for early elections. Pashinian called on supporters to rally outside the parliament building in central Yerevan immediately after lawmakers from the BHK and Dashnaktsutyun joined the former ruling Republican Party (HHK) in passing a bill that would make it harder for him to dissolve the current parliament.
A standoff over Italy’s future in the eurozone has forced the resignation of the populist prime minister-in-waiting, Giuseppe Conte, after the country’s president refused to accept Conte’s controversial choice for finance minister. Sergio Mattarella, the Italian president who was installed by a previous pro-EU government, refused to accept the nomination for finance minister of Paolo Savona, an 81-year-old former industry minister who has called Italy’s entry into the euro a “historic mistake”. “I have given up my mandate to form the government of change,” Conte told reporters after leaving failed talks with Mattarella. Italy has been without a government since elections on 4 March ended in a hung parliament.
Horacio Cartes resigned from the presidency of Paraguay on Monday — a long-expected step that paves the way for him to take a Senate seat. The recently approved Vice President Alicia Pucheta will take over as leader. The Senate now must vote on whether to accept the resignation, but approval seems likely. Cartes’ five-year term ends in August and Paraguay’s constitution says former presidents automatically become senators for life, with a voice but without a vote. But Cartes, 61, won a full Senate seat during last month’s elections, a post that would help him extend his political influence into the future, and the Supreme Court ruled that it was constitutional. He has to resign before his term ends so that he can be sworn in as senator for the coming sessions.
Armenia’s opposition secured another victory on Thursday as the country’s parliament said it would hold a special session and new leader elections after weeks of protests and the resignation of its prime minster. The elections, set for 1 May, are part of a three-step opposition plan for a transition of power that includes electing a “people’s prime minister” and then holding snap parliamentary elections. Nikol Pashinyan, the charismatic leader of the opposition who has called for the country to root out corruption and voter fraud, appeared the favourite to be elected prime minister.
President Tayyip Erdogan on Wednesday called snap elections for June 24, saying economic challenges and the war in Syria meant Turkey must switch quickly to the powerful executive presidency that goes into effect after the vote. The presidential and parliamentary elections will take place under a state of emergency that has been in place since an attempted coup in July 2016. It was extended by parliament on Wednesday for another three months. In 15 years of rule as prime minister and then president, Erdogan has transformed a poor, sprawling country at the eastern edge of Europe into a major emerging market. But Turkey’s rapid growth has come been accompanied by increased authoritarianism, with a security crackdown since the failed coup leading to the arrest of tens of thousands.
Malaysia’s Prime Minister Najib Razak announced the dissolution of parliament on Friday, paving the way for a tough election where the embattled leader will face off against his old mentor and the country’s most seasoned campaigner Mahathir Mohamad. Najib, 64, burdened by a multi-billion dollar scandal linked to a state fund, is under pressure to deliver an emphatic win for his Barisan Nasional (BN) coalition as he struggles to appease Malaysians unhappy with rising costs and blunt the challenge from the charismatic 92-year-old Mahathir.
In a setback to President Nicolas Maduro, the CNE announced it would not be able to organize all the elections on one day. The OAS and the US have criticized the vote, set to take place in April. The National Electoral Council (CNE) of Venezuela has ruled out the possibility of carrying out legislative, state and municipal elections, in conjunction with the scheduled presidential elections on April 22, as President Maduro had proposed. Tibisay Lucena, the president of the CNE, announced the decision on Friday, saying that the electoral authority would not be capable of preparing such a range of elections so soon. “We are now not prepared to make a presidential election coincide with other elections that are technically more complex,” Lucena said.