An amendment that would have given long term British expats the ability to vote in the UK’s referendum on the country’s future in the European Union has been defeated. Currently expats who have lived abroad for more than 15 years cannot vote in British elections, but there has been a major campaign for them to vote in the referendum based on the argument that it affects expats as well as those living in the country. A number of members of the House of Lords, the upper house in the British parliament, presented an amendment to allow them to vote but it has been defeated by 214 to 116 votes and there is currently no other move to change the voting system. The upcoming Votes for Life bill will overturn the law that bans those who have lived abroad for longer than 15 years from voting, but it will not be passed before the referendum, which must take part by 2017.
Croatia’s conservative opposition won the country’s first election since it joined the European Union in 2013, according to preliminary results on Sunday, but its narrow victory mean lengthy coalition talks are likely to follow in the next days or weeks. The new government will have to nurture a tentative economic recovery after six years of recession and deal with thousands of migrants from the Middle East streaming through the tiny Adriatic state on their way to western and northern Europe. “We estimate we will have around 10 seats more than the SDP. We will talk to all those who want changes in Croatia,” said Gordan Jandrokovic, Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ) senior official and former foreign minister
Croatians vote in a general election Sunday as the nation faces an ongoing influx of refugees — a crisis that rival political camps have tried to exploit, while lacking concrete policy pledges to kickstart the sluggish economy. After four years of a centre-left coalition government and six years of recession, the right-wing opposition is bidding to return to power in the country’s first general elections since joining the European Union in 2013. Polls show the conservative Patriotic Coalition led by the HDZ party just ahead, but its comfortable lead has been erased in recent months by the ruling Croatia Is Growing alliance led by the Social Democrats (SDP) and Prime Minister Zoran Milanovic. Some say the arrival since mid-September of more than 300,000 migrants headed for northern Europe has provided a welcome diversion for Milanovic after a disappointing term in which he failed to implement much hoped-for reforms.
Jezowe, a five-hour bus ride from Warsaw, is officially designated an agricultural village. But it is one where the agriculture now tends to take place elsewhere. Jezowe’s fields lie mostly fallow; its workers now seek higher-paid jobs in wealthier European Union countries, harvesting grapes in France and cabbages in Germany. Among the village’s weathered wooden houses stand gaudy villas, paid for with euros earned abroad. “Disneyland,” says one resident, pointing to the turrets and gilded fences. The town’s public buildings, too, have been spruced up, mainly with injections of EU cash. A grant of 525,000 zloty ($140,000) paid for the renovation of the old parsonage, which now houses a museum devoted to carved figurines of Christ. In short, Jezowe has done well by the EU. Yet the village has long backed the right-wing Law and Justice party (PiS), a mildly Eurosceptic and socially conservative party that has been in opposition since 2007. The PiS candidate for president, Andrzej Duda, took a startling 92% of the vote here in an election in May; nationwide, he won with a more modest 52%.
Róbert Berény in the background. That particular painting had been missing since 1928 and was worth ar
Swiss voters will go to the polls on Sunday in a parliamentary election dominated by immigration and asylum concerns that could eventually lead to a shakeup of the multi-party government. In the wake of a controversial 2014 referendum to clamp down on newcomers from the neighboring European Union and with the continent now facing its biggest refugee crisis since the end of World War II, voters are likely to reward parties to the “right,” according to a poll for Swiss broadcaster SRG. Migration concerns are set to even dwarf worries about the economy, which has narrowly skirted a recession brought on by the strong currency.
Guinea started counting votes in Sunday’s presidential election, which the opposition has said was marred by irregularities. European Union observers said there were some delays opening polling stations. Overall, though, the voting progressed in a credible way, Frank Engel, the European Union’s chief observer, told reporters on Sunday. The opposition said on Saturday it would probably refuse to accept the results. The first tally of votes will be released as early as Thursday, the electoral commission said. Voting was extended by two hours to accommodate voters at precincts that opened late. Guinea is the world’s largest exporter of bauxite. “The electoral commission probably was less ready than what it asserted,” Engel said. “I have the impression at this moment that what we saw, observed and which was indicated to us does not smear the regularity of the vote.”
The European Union has deployed 30 long-term election observers to join its core team already in Myanmar to monitor the country’s upcoming general election scheduled for Nov. 8, an official report said Monday. The long-term observers will cover all regions, states and territories in both urban and rural areas and will observe the entire electoral process prior, during and after the election. They will be also joined by another 62 short-term observers and a delegation of the European Parliament shortly before the election, so that a total of 150 observers from all the 28 EU member states as well as Norway, Switzerland and Canada will be deployed on the election day along with EU diplomats.
Europe: Voting ban on prisoners convicted of serious crimes is lawful, EU court rules | The Guardian
The European Union’s most senior court has ruled that it is lawful for countries such as Britain to impose a voting ban on prisoners convicted of serious crimes. The unexpected ruling by the European court of justice upholds a ban on a French convicted murderer who was serving a sentence of more than five years from taking part in the European elections. The European judges ruled that the ban on him voting did represent a breach of the EU charter of fundamental rights but that it was proportionate “in so far as it takes into account the nature and gravity of the criminal offence committed and the duration of the penalty”. The ruling, which has clear implications for Britain’s blanket ban on prisoner voting, went on: “The court concludes that it is possible to maintain a ban which, by operation of law, precludes persons convicted of a serious crime from voting in elections to the European parliament.”
A decision by pro-Russian separatists to postpone local elections that Ukraine had said were illegitimate was welcomed on Tuesday by Kiev, the European Union, Washington and Moscow – the rebels’ patron – as a sign of progress in the faltering peace process. The separatists said the elections, which they had set for Oct. 18 and Nov. 1 in two regions they control, would take place next February, potentially giving time for a compromise that would suit all sides. The concession by the separatists comes at a time when Russia has adopted a more constructive tone in talks over Ukraine, according to diplomats involved in the discussion who say Russia has influence over the rebels.
As the Guinean presidential election draws closer, the population is growing increasingly nervous. Many fear a repetition of the 2010 unrest and violent clashes in the capital Conakry. On October 11 some six million Guineans, about half the population of the West African nation, will elect a new president. There are eight candidates, including incumbent president Alpha Conde and his two main rivals, opposition leader Cellou Dalein Diallo, of the Union of Democratric Forces in Guinea (UFDG), and Sydia Toure of the Union of Republican Forces (UFR), a former prime minister. However, the opposition lacks a clear position. First there was a boycott threat, then the demand for a postponement, then the threats were withdrawn. A little over a week before the election, the seven candidates running against Conde called for the poll to be postponed by a week, claiming there were mistakes in the electoral register. Vincente Foucher, a Guinea expert at the International Crisis Group, says the idea is not unreasonable “when you see for how many months this election has provoked controversy, demonstrations, violence and arrests.”
Croatia’s president on Monday called a parliamentary election for November 8, a vote expected to be a tight race as the EU member grapples with a migrant influx and a weak economy. The polls will pit the current centre-left government, led by the Social Democrats (SDP), against the conservative Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ) party. The announcement comes as the former Yugoslav republic struggles to cope with the arrival of tens of thousands of migrants, who have been travelling through the country since mid-September in the hope of reaching western Europe. “I have decided that parliamentary elections will be held on Sunday, November 8,” said a statement from President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic, who was elected Croatia’s first female president in January.
The EU said Tuesday it will for the first time deploy observers in Myanmar’s upcoming elections when the opposition led by Aung San Suu Kyi is expected to make significant gains against the military-dominated government. National League for Democracy chairwoman Aung San Suu Kyi delivers a speech during a voter education campaign in Shan State on Sept 5, 2015. “The mission confirms the European Union’s continued commitment to the democratic transition of Myanmar,” EU foreign affairs head Federica Mogherini said in a statement. “Elections held in a peaceful and inclusive environment will help to consolidate irreversible reforms in the country,” Mogherini said.
The European Union is ready to impose sanctions on Burundians failing to help end the Central African nation’s crisis, the EU’s foreign policy chief said on Thursday, following elections that Brussels and Washington say were not credible. Facing its worst political crisis since the end of civil war in 2005, Burundi is awaiting the results of Tuesday’s vote in which President Pierre Nkurunziza ran for a third term, breaking the two-term limit agreed in a peace deal a decade ago. “The European Union is preparing … to adopt, if necessary, targeted restrictive measures against those whose actions led to acts of violence, repression and serious human rights abuses or hinder the search for a political solution,” Mogherini said in a statement.
Myanmar has started a campaign to recruit 40,000 temporary workers to help police provide security for elections scheduled for November. Police Force Colonel Maung Maung Soe said locals would be given preference to provide security for each polling station in the country. “We will train them for enough knowledge and guidelines of what a policeman should know or follow,” he said. “They must follow or act under the supervision of the Myanmar police force. We are now preparing for the two-week course in which what they should or shouldn’t do and job description for them will be included.”
The resounding rejection of an international bailout deal by voters in Greece raised fears Sunday of the collapse of the country’s banking system, a catastrophic government default, an eventual exit from the euro and potential social unrest. In a surprising 61% to 39% result, Greeks said “no” in a referendum on a rescue package that would have kept their debt-ridden country afloat but subjected it to additional austerity measures. The landslide delivered a sharp rebuke to European Union leaders who had warned that the plebiscite was, in effect, a vote on whether Greece wanted to remain a member of the Eurozone, the group of 19 nations that share the euro currency. The EU is now confronted with one of the gravest challenges to its mission of “ever closer union” between member states.
Greeks began voting in a referendum on Sunday that presents the biggest challenge to the running of the euro since its adoption and risks sending shock waves through the world’s financial markets. The nationwide ballot was taking place at the end of a week of unending drama that saw Greece close its banks, ration cash, fail to repay the IMF and lose billions of euros when its bailout programme expired. The vote is on the last terms offered to Greece before its prime minister, Alexis Tsipras, abandoned talks with his country’s lenders last weekend, saying their conditions would only exacerbate the plight of a country whose economy has already shrunk by a quarter. At a rally in the centre of Athens on Friday night, Tsipras urged his compatriots to cast a no ballot, assuring them it would not be a vote for leaving the euro, but for remaining in Europe “with dignity”. Greece’s creditors and most of the opposition parties have claimed that, on the contrary, it could lead to exit from the single market (“Grexit”) and even the European Union.
Burundians are voting Monday in parliamentary elections marked by an opposition boycott and violence as police battle anti-government protesters in the capital. In the Musaga neighborhood, which has seen violent protests against President Pierre Nkurunziza’s bid for a third term, few civilians were seen at the polls as mostly police and soldiers lined up to vote. The voting is taking place despite calls by the international community for a postponement until there is a peaceful environment for credible elections. The African Union said on Sunday that it would not observe the polls because the necessary conditions have not been met for free and fair elections. The European Union said Burundi’s decision to ignore U.N. and other international demands to delay voting further was a “serious matter” and could lead to withholding more aid.
As Friday night became Saturday morning, with sidewalk cafes still bustling in central Athens, Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras abruptly appeared on national television. Mr. Tsipras, only 40, had spent his five months in office locked in increasingly acrimonious negotiations with Greece’s creditors. Belittled by critics, and facing the prospect of default, he was under intense pressure to sign a deal. Instead, Mr. Tsipras tossed a grenade. With much of Europe sound asleep, Mr. Tsipras stared into the camera and shattered the careful decorum of European Union diplomacy. Declaring that creditors were demanding “strict and humiliating austerity,” Mr. Tsipras announced a national referendum on July 5, so voters could decide for themselves.
When European Parliament member Bernd Posselt failed to get reelected last year, he simply decided to ignore the election results. One week after his defeat, the 59-year-old entered the European Union’s legislative building in Strasbourg as if nothing had happened — and has done so, ever since. The member of Germany’s CSU party, a powerful local party which is aligned with Angela Merkel’s governing CDU, still participates in parliamentary debates and refuses to lay off his bureau chief. Back at home in German Bavaria, he holds weekly roundtables with citizens to discuss their concerns. Posselt says that he pays privately for nearly all of his expenses.
United Kingdom: UK lawmakers back Cameron’s EU referendum plans but debate highlights risks | Reuters
Lawmakers on Tuesday backed Prime Minister David Cameron’s plan for a referendum on Britain’s EU membership, but a heated debate highlighted passions that could split his Conservative Party and re-open Scotland’s bid for independence. Cameron, seeking to put an end to a decades-old rift within his party over Britain’s place in Europe, has promised to negotiate a new settlement with Brussels and hold a referendum by the end of 2017. Voters will be asked: “Should the United Kingdom remain a member of the European Union?”, a choice of wording which allows the “in” campaign to brand itself as “Yes”.
Latvia’s parliament on Wednesday elected Defence Minister Raimonds Vejonis as the Baltic state’s new president, making him the 28-member European Union’s first Green Party head of state. His victory comes as the small NATO and eurozone member of two million people is grappling with security concerns amid heightened tensions with Russia, and Vejonis acknowledged the troubled ties with the former Soviet-era master in his first speech after being named to the post. “I would like to improve relations with Russia… but while Russian rockets and heavy weapons remain in Ukraine, that’s not really possible,” the 48-year-old Vejonis said after winning the secret ballot in which 55 out of 100 legislators backed him.
The Catholic Church in Burundi has criticized upcoming elections, while the European Union’s election observers are downing tools until the situation improves. Fair elections are “impossible,” the opposition claims. The European Union suspended its observer mission in Burundi on Thursday because of the crackdown on the opposition and the media, EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini said on Thursday. The team, which the EU sent to Burundi over a month ago, can no longer fulfill its role of helping with “peaceful, credible and fair” elections, according to the EU’s top diplomat. “The election process continues to be seriously marred by restrictions on independent media, excessive use of force against demonstrators, a climate of intimidation for opposition parties and civil society and lack of confidence in the election authorities,” Mogherini said in a statement.
Polish voters have sent a strong signal that they are unhappy with the country’s direction, apparently unseating the president despite years of fast economic growth and unprecedented stability. According to an exit poll, challenger Andrzej Duda, a rightwing member of the European parliament, won the presidential election on Sunday with 52% of the vote to 48% for the incumbent, Bronisław Komorowski. Official results are expected late on Monday. If Duda’s win is confirmed, it could herald a political shift in the European Union’s sixth largest economy, a nation that has been able to punch above its weight in Europe without belonging to the 19-nation eurozone. Poland’s influence is underlined by the fact that one of its own, Donald Tusk, now heads the European Council in Brussels. The changing political mood could signal a return to power of Duda’s conservative Law and Justice party in parliamentary elections this autumn. That would cement Poland’s turn to the right, create a new dynamic with other European countries and possibly usher in a less welcoming climate for foreign investors.
The EU is withholding €2m ($2.3m) of aid to Burundi amid increasing concern over the government’s violent crackdown on protesters opposed to President Pierre Nkurunziza’s attempts to secure a third term in office. The president’s decision to try to extend his decade-long rule has prompted weeks of unrest that have killed at least 19 people and forced tens of thousands to flee to neighbouring countries. His opponents argue the move is a clear violation of the constitution, which limits a president to two terms in office. The EU envoy to Africa’s Great Lakes region, Koen Vervaeke, said that although the union had disbursed €6m ($6.7m) of the €8m designated for elections, it had decided to withhold the rest until Nkurunziza heeded calls for a transparent poll.
Burundian President Pierre Nkurunziza has rejected an appeal from the European Union and the United States to delay the June 26 presidential election. Nkurunziza reportedly told the BBC that postponing the vote would worsen the situation. Willy Nyamitwe, senior advisor to President Nkurunziza on media and communication, said delaying the election is a technical matter that must be managed by the electoral commission. In addition, he said the election is a constitutional mandate and Burundi must be careful not to create an institutional vacuum.
Poland: Opposition Candidate Wins First Round of Poland Presidential Elections | Wall Street Journal
A conservative opposition candidate won the first round of voting in Poland’s presidential election, a victory that could herald a change of guard in the European Union’s largest emerging economy. A contentious battle for the country’s presidency is likely in two weeks if the final tally, expected Tuesday, confirms no candidate won more than 50% of the vote. Andrzej Duda, supported by the main opposition party in Poland, the conservative Law and Justice, won 34.8% on Sunday. President Bronislaw Komorowski, supported by the center-right camp that has ruled Poland for nearly eight years, won 32.2% of the vote, according to pollster Ipsos for broadcasters TVP and TVN. A surprise third-strongest candidate, former rock star Pawel Kukiz, won 20.3%, according to the exit poll.
Buoyed by his strong defense background and Poles’ renewed fear of Russia stoked by the Ukraine crisis, Bronislaw Komorowski looks likely to win the first round of Poland’s presidential election on Sunday. How to ensure the security of Poland in the face of events in Ukraine was the paramount question presidential hopefuls had to answer when they gathered in a TV studio this week for a pre-election debate. That issue has preoccupied Poles since Russia’s intervention in neighboring Ukraine last year. While Poland is now a member of the European Union and a staunch NATO ally of the United States, it was under Soviet domination for decades after World War Two and so remains deeply sensitive to any Russian actions in the region.
Amid widespread public apathy and calls for a boycott from opposition groups, polling stations in Sudan opened on Monday for an election that many believe is guaranteed to give President Omar Hassan al-Bashir another five years in office. “It’s a comedy,” said Abdulhafeez Abdullah, 35, a law school graduate. “The president is certainly going to win.” Mr. Abdullah has a big poster of Mr. Bashir in the back window of his minibus, but he said he was not going to vote. “The poster just helps with traffic police,” he said.
The EU said Thursday that next week’s Sudan elections, widely expected to see President Omar al-Bashir extend his 25-year rule, cannot produce a “credible” result. Bashir faces 15 little-known challengers while the main opposition parties are boycotting the vote in an impoverished country riven by deep political, religious and tribal divisions. EU foreign affairs head Federica Mogherini said Bashir’s failure to establish a genuine national dialogue, which he announced early last year, was a real setback and effectively undercut the polls.