The leader of Sweden’s Social Democrats, Stefan Lofven, on Monday abandoned efforts to form a government, extending a political deadlock that has gripped the country since an inconclusive national election seven weeks ago. The failed attempt brought the prospect of a snap election closer, though the speaker of parliament said he would try to avoid that at all costs. The Sept. 9 vote gave the anti-immigrant Sweden Democrats hold the balance of power, but neither Lofven’s center-left bloc nor the center-right group of parties has been willing to give them a say in policy due to their white supremacist roots. “In light of the responses I have had so far … the possibility does not exist for me to build a government that can be accepted by parliament,” Lofven told reporters.
Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega is rejecting calls for early elections as a solution to a political crisis in which more than 250 people have been killed amid a heavy-handed crackdown on protests. Ortega said late Saturday that the Central American country’s constitution sets the rules and they “cannot be changed overnight.” He said protesters who are demanding he leave office are “coup mongers” and said they should “seek the vote of the people” if they want to govern.
The ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) has signaled the bringing of local elections forward to November 2018 instead of March 2019, on the condition that opposition parties agree as the process requires a constitutional amendment. “I think holding local elections on the first or second Sunday of November, which corresponds to a date between Nov. 1 and 8, would be appropriate,” AKP Deputy Parliamentary Group Chair Mustafa Elitaş told the Demirören News Agency on July 2. “But three parties have to agree on that,” he added, in reference to the need to amend the constitution in order to change election dates. Elitaş’s statement followed comments from Food, Agriculture and Livestock Minister Ahmet Eşref Fakıbaba, who fueled discussions by saying that the first year after a local election is usually “wasted” on preparations and orientation, and it would be better to spend the last months of the year on such preparations.
Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez dropped his pledge to call an early election in Spain less than three weeks after taking office. In his first interview since ousting Mariano Rajoy with a no-confidence vote on June 1, 46-year-old Sanchez said he aims to see out the final two years of the parliamentary term. “I plan to call elections in 2020, and so to see out the legislature,” Sanchez told state television broadcaster TVE Monday. “After the confidence motion, we need a period of time to get back to normal before calling an election.”
Germany moved a step closer to a snap election after Chancellor Angela Merkel’s efforts to form a government with smaller parties fell apart and the Social Democrats refused to step into the breach. Europe’s biggest economy and pre-eminent political power was plunged into deep political uncertainty late Sunday night after the collapse of exploratory talks involving Merkel’s Christian Democrats and their Bavarian sister party, the Christian Social Union, plus the liberal Free Democrats and the Greens. That left the Social Democrats (SPD) as the only viable junior partners who could give Merkel a parliamentary majority. But SPD leaders voted unanimously Monday not to reprise the “grand coalition” of the last four years with Merkel’s conservatives, having recorded the worst result in their history in September’s general election. An extended period of political limbo in Germany means a range of decisions on the national and EU level will be on hold — most notably on French President Emmanuel Macron’s proposals to overhaul the eurozone.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel announced on Monday that she was ready to take her Christian Democratic (CDU) party into fresh elections after coalition talks with the Green party and pro-business Free Democrats (FDP) failed over the weekend. “I’m very skeptical,” about leading a minority government, Merkel told public broadcaster ZDF. The center-right politician said she was ready to lead Germany for four more years, but that she felt a majority government was necessary for stability in her country and Europe. Merkel’s statement does not necessarily mean Germany is headed for snap elections. First, President Frank-Walter Steinmeier will approach other parties to see if a last-ditch coalition can be cobbled together.
Albania’s president has decreed that a parliamentary election that was postponed as part of compromise among political parties will be held on June 25. The election had been scheduled for June 18, but was pushed back as part of the agreement mediated by U.S. and European Union officials. President Bujar Nishani moved the election back one week on Sunday to account for the compromise between the governing Socialist Party and the opposition-led Democratic Party.
Pilot Nadiya Savchenko on Friday called for early parliamentary elections to “infuse fresh blood” into Ukraine’s politics, a call that could send shock waves across the volatile nation. Savchenko, 35, who has become a national icon in Ukraine after spending two years in a Russian prison, told The Associated Press that the “Ukrainian people deserve a better government that they now have.” She said that the Ukrainian government has failed public expectations raised by the ouster of the country’s former Moscow-friendly president, Viktor Yanukovych, who was driven from power in February 2014 after months of massive street protests on Kiev’s main square, the Maidan.
Iceland’s government named a new prime minister and called for early elections in the autumn on Wednesday, a day after Prime Minister Sigmundur David Gunnlaugsson quit to become the first global politician brought down by the “Panama Papers” leaks. It was unclear whether the naming of Fisheries Minister Sigurdur Ingi Johannsson to head the government or the call for early elections would satisfy the thousands of Icelanders who in street protests this week demanded the government resign immediately for early elections. Gunnlaugsson quit as prime minister on Tuesday after leaked documents from a Panamanian law firm showed his wife owned an offshore company that held millions of dollars in debt from failed Icelandic banks. The government said the decision to hold elections in autumn would give it time to follow through on one of the biggest economic policy changes in decades – the ending of capital controls introduced to rescue the economy from the 2008 financial crisis.
Early elections in Greece are “imperative” to maintain the country’s political stability as it begins to implement an unpopular third debt bailout, a minister said Monday. “Elections are imperative for purposes of political stability. Given the problems in the government’s (parliamentary) majority, the situation can be called anything but stable,” Energy Minister Panos Skourletis told Skai TV. A third of MPs from the ruling radical left party Syriza last week rebelled against Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras in a vote on the three-year, 86-billion-euro ($96-billion) package, forcing him to rely on opposition parties to ratify it. “Such a major numeric loss of parliamentary majority is unprecedented,” said Skourletis, a former spokesman for Tsipras.
Russia’s Constitutional Court has upheld the legality of early parliamentary elections, clearing the way for lawmakers to vote on bringing forward next year’s State Duma elections by three months. The court said the initiative was constitutional so long as election dates were not regularly shifted. The effort to bring forward the 2016 elections, from December to September 18, is expected to come to a vote on July 3. The bill has strong backing from deputies for the United Russia, A Just Russia, and ultranationalist Liberal Democratic parties.
In what has become a common political tactic in modern Russia, the next round of State Duma elections may be moved up to an earlier date than originally planned. On Monday, a bill proposing that the elections to Russia’s lower house of parliament scheduled for December 2016 be pushed forward to September was submitted for consideration. Russian parliamentary elections have been held in December since 1993. However, Duma speaker Sergei Naryshkin recently said that lawmakers should now be elected before budgets are passed later in the fall. Some commentators have noted that the new timing would place campaigning in the middle of the Russian vacation season. Others have suggested that incumbent legislators may favor earlier elections to stay ahead of rising discontent over the recent economic downturn in Russia.
Sweden’s government on Saturday announced a deal with the opposition that will avert the country’s first snap elections in more than half a century and counter the rising influence of the anti-immigrant far right. The deal announced by Prime Minister Stefan Loefven, in office for less than three months, will see the minority center-left government remain in power. The far right has however threatened a no-confidence vote. Loefven had called early elections this month after the populist and anti-immigrant Sweden Democrats torpedoed his fledgling government’s budget. The crisis had dealt a severe blow to Sweden’s self-image as a tolerant nation and illustrated the rising political fortunes of anti-immigrant parties in much of Europe.
Ukraine: Election commission: Crimea, Donetsk and Luhansk to vote in parliamentary elections | Kyiv Post
Mykhaylo Okhendovsky, head of Ukraine’s Central Election Commission, says it’s important to provide an opportunity to vote for Ukrainian citizens living in Crimea, as well as in war-torn Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts, during the Oct. 26 parliamentary election. These troubled regions are home to 20 percent of Ukraine’s 45 million people. “These elections are the first of its kind in our history,” Okhendovsky said during an Aug. 26 news briefing. “Previous early elections happened in 2007 under a proportional system, whereas currently we have a mixed system whereby 225 lawmakers will be elected according to the party lists and another 213 MPs – from their constituencies. Once the president signs a decree that officially dissolves the parliament, there will be 60 days for the election campaign.” Ukraine used to have 225 deputies from the constituencies, but since Crimea and Sevastopol had as many as 12, the figure has been changed. However, this year’s elections will not happen there due to the peculiar status of the region outlined in the law “on the temporarily occupied territories” that came into effect on May 14.
Voters in Luxembourg are going to the polls as Prime Minister Jean-Claude Juncker, Europe’s longest-serving leader, faces his toughest election yet after 18 years at the helm. The snap legislative elections in the European Union’s wealthiest nation per capita follow a scandal over misconduct by the secret service that fractured the coalition government headed by Juncker’s Christian Social People’s Party (CSV). Its junior Socialist Party (LSAP) partners withheld support when opponents accused the prime minister of having been too busy steering the euro currency through crisis – in his capacity as head of the Eurogroup – to get his dysfunctional intelligence service back on track. Misdemeanours by the SREL secret service, which the Juncker is supposed to oversee, included illegal phone taps, corruption and even dodgy dealings in luxury cars.
Early elections for mayor of Russia’s capital will be held on Sept. 8. This will be the opposition’s zero-hour: The key electorate for opponents of the regime is represented most widely in Moscow. If the opposition does not win on its own turf, the protest movement may be forgotten for a long time to come. Last year’s elections in the Moscow suburb of Khimki were seen by many as a dress rehearsal for the upcoming battle for Moscow. Consequently, the voting there was closely followed by all of Russia’s political observers—as was the opposition’s defeat. Yet protest leaders have been offered the chance to take their revenge far sooner than they expected: The next mayoral elections in Moscow were scheduled to take place only in 2015. The opposition’s plans have been thrown into disarray by Moscow Mayor Sergei Sobyanin’s sudden resignation.
Zimbabwe’s highest court has received an application from Robert Mugabe’s party to delay crucial elections by at least two weeks following pressure from regional leaders. The president has insisted he is merely abiding by a previous court order in holding general elections on 31 July. The prime minister, Morgan Tsvangirai, a longtime opponent of Mugabe and opposition leader, wants the vote to be held in September. Zimbabwe’s last elections in 2008 were plagued by violence and ultimately forced Mugabe to join a power-sharing government with the opposition. Officials at the constitutional court said the papers submitted by Mugabe’s party asked the court to review the earlier ruling that called for a vote before the end of July.
The process of Bulgaria’s Central Election Commission accepting applications by political parties to register to stand in the May 12 ahead-of-term parliamentary elections continued on March 25, with those filing documents including the Bulgarian Socialist Party (BSP) and Volen Siderov’s ultra-nationalists Ataka. “Today is the Annunciation, a nice and bright Christian holiday that always brings hope, so I express hope for our society in the upcoming election,” BSP leader Sergei Stanishev said. He said that the BSP had submitted more than 21 000 signatures in support of its registration, more than three times the number required by statute.
For an American living in Israel, there are many similarities, but a great many differences and even oddities, about Israel’s democratic process that leave one scratching one’s head. As the only true democracy in the Middle East, Americans are right to have an affinity for and kinship with Israel, but the democratic system is very different. One might say that Israel is a democracy on steroids. With Israelis set to go to the polls on January 22, it’s useful to understand about how Israelis vote, and how the process works. While in the US, one typically votes for a candidate affiliated with a specific political party, in Israel’s parliamentary democracy, one votes for a political party, each with its’ own internal process of selecting a slate of candidates to represent it. Some of these parties have democratic processes to select their slate of candidates, and others hand pick who they want in a less than democratic way, analogous to picking an all-star sports team, selecting players who (they think) will help them win.
The Presidency of the ruling Democratic Party of Socialists, DPS, on Monday said it had decided to initiate a shortening of parliament’s term in order to pave the way for early elections. The party had also reached a broad agreement with its Social Democrat coalition partners on their joint participation in the election, it added. Caslav Vesovic, DPS spokesperson, said early elections were needed for the next steps in the EU accession process, which must be dealt with by a new government over a full term in office. Montenegro started membership talks with the EU at the end of June.
The president of the Maldives ruled out early elections during an official visit to India on Monday, citing the constitution, and declared that the soonest that a vote could take place was July 2013. Mohamed Waheed Hassan replaced Mohamed Nasheed, the first democratically elected president of the Maldives, in February after Mr. Nasheed resigned, but the former president has said that he was forced to step down in what he called a coup. “I am all for free and fair elections in the Maldives as early as the constitution of the Maldives allows,” said Mr. Hassan at a news conference following official meetings in New Delhi. “There is no provision in the Maldives constitution to hold elections earlier than July next year.”
In less than 40 days, Libya is set to witness the first elections since the ouster of the late Moammar Gahdafi. But are the elections coming too early? Post-conflict elections should mark the pinnacle point in the recovery and reconstruction of Libya. Libyans and the international community look at the election on June 19 as a milestone toward peace and democracy. But some studies show history can paint a gloomy picture of elections held soon after bloody armed struggles, when political institutions may be weak or non-existent. Many believe elections soon after the armed conflict that ended Moammar Gadhafi’s regime would foster the promise of peace and democracy. It would show a democratic transition and effective recontruction, which in turn would assure the international community about the stability of Libya. Elections would also help post-conflict Libya attract much needed foreign assistance and investment to help rebuild the country.
Israel: Centrifuges, Palestinians, army service and cottage cheese — an Israeli election primer | The Times of Israel
According to recent polls, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is cruising to reelection. His Likud party is expected to win 30 or 31 Knesset mandates, up from 27 three years ago and way ahead of second-place Labor, which the polls predict may gain about four or five seats to 17-18. Much has changed in the political landscape since 2009 — parties splintering, leaders ousted, new parties created — but despite Labor’s resurgence under new chairwoman Shelly Yachimovich and the creation of a new populist party by former TV personality Yair Lapid, Netanyahu’s right-wing bloc can reasonably expect to stay in power. Likud, Yisrael Beytenu and Shas alone could get about 55 seats; add to that the seats of the United Torah Judaism and Jewish Home parties, and Netanyahu has a comfortable majority. But Lapid — whose new Yesh Atid (There is a Future) party is expected to win up to a dozen seats — is not the only wild card. Ousted Shas member Haim Amsellem hopes to enter the Knesset with his newly founded Am Shalem (A Complete Nation) party, and ex-minister (and ex-con) Aryeh Deri is still considering whether to field his own faction. That could cost Shas important mandates, which might force Netanyahu to look for another coalition partner — perhaps the far-right National Union. And that, in turn, could push him even further to the right and toward a collision course with the US.
Israel was on Sunday buzzing with the possibility of an early election after a key partner in the ruling right-wing coalition threatened to pull out, and the opposition called for an autumn vote. Fresh speculation about an early general election came as Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu fought off sharp criticism from a former top security chief over his policies on Iran’s nuclear programme and on peace with the Palestinians. Talk of an early vote, which has been in the air for several months, was revived by Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman who on Saturday said his Yisrael Beitenu party had exhausted its commitment to the coalition in a dispute over the issue of drafting Orthodox Jews into the army.
A new government in the Maldives has won two by-elections, according to results on Sunday, defeating the party of former President Mohamed Nasheed who was unseated in February and, his party said, bolstering its call for an early presidential poll. The ouster of Nasheed, the islands’ first democratically elected president, dented the Indian Ocean archipelago’s reputation as a laid-back luxury tourist paradise. Nasheed and his party say the new government of President Mohamed Waheed Hassan Manik is illegitimate and they have been demanding an early presidential election.
Sudan’s ruling National Congress Party (NCP) denied Tuesday calling for early elections in the country and reiterated that it is sticking to maintaining the president of the republic and the parliament until the end of the term of their mandate in 2015. The NCP was reacting to statements made by presidential advisor and former Sudanese foreign minister Mustafa Osman Ismail who stated last week that his party is willing to hold new elections if opposition parties accepted the proposal. The Sudanese opposition have already rejected the idea saying basic rights and freedoms should be restored before such elections, saying that the purpose of the early poll would be to reinstall the NCP for more five years and renew its legitimacy.
Germany: Most populous state to hold new elections as government stumbles over budget | The Washington Post
Germany’s most populous state will hold early elections after its minority government narrowly failed to get a budget passed Wednesday — a prospect that could boost the country’s center-left opposition. All 181 members of the state legislature in North Rhine-Westphalia voted to dissolve it. That means a new regional election must be held within 60 days, although no date was immediately set. North Rhine-Westphalia, a western region of some 18 million people that includes Cologne and the Ruhr industrial region, is governed by the center-left Social Democrats and Greens. The vote Wednesday came hours after a budget proposal from the state government fell one vote short of a majority. Center-right opponents have accused it of poor financial management and demanded more belt-tightening.