On Nov. 6, Puerto Rico is holding a referendum on the territory’s tricky political status with the United States. Puerto Rican support for formal statehood has been growing steadily in recent years, with polls showing 41 per cent want the island to become the 51st state. Yet on the mainland, the issue makes for toxic politics. The status of Spanish—which is spoken by 95 per cent of Puerto Ricans—as an official language is unpopular with conservative Republicans. And recession-weary Americans are unlikely to be enthused about any extension of national entitlement programs such as medicare and social security to an island plagued by poverty and joblessness.
At its extraordinary meeting on Monday, the Ukrainian Parliament refused to cancel the law granting the Russian language official status in a number of the countrys regions. The opposition earlier submitted four draft resolutions to the Verkhovna Rada on cancelling the results of the vote for the draft law, claiming that the regulations and the Ukrainian Constitution were violated during the consideration of the law. None of the oppositions four draft resolutions received over 50 votes, while the minimum necessary is 226 votes. The Ukrainian opposition is against the law, claiming that it will only aggravate tension between Ukrainian-speaking and Russian-speaking citizens. The oppositionists believe that the government is trying to expand the use of the Russian language as a pre-election tactic – the next parliamentary elections are set for the autumn of 2012.
Ukrainian PResident Viktor Yanukovich has threatened to call snap elections after his allies sparked a political crisis by rushing through a new law boosting the status of the Russian language. More than 1,000 protesters clashed with police in central Kiev yesterday, parliamentary speaker Volodymyr Lytvyn and one of his deputies announced their resignations, and seven politicians went on hunger strike over the law, which was passed on Tuesday evening. The vote took place amid chaotic scenes in parliament after an unexpected proposal by a pro-Yanukovich deputy. The speed of events prevented opposition parties debating the legislation or gathering all their deputies in the chamber for the vote. “I was cheated, Ukraine was cheated, the people were cheated,” Mr Lytvyn said. He was not present for the vote, and accused a deputy who presided over Tuesday’s session of betrayal.