Romania’s foreign minister Titus Corlatean said on November 10 that he submitted his resignation after renewed protests in Romania and abroad demanding his resignation and the opening of more voting stations outside the country for the presidential election run-off on November 16. The first round of the election on November 2 was marred by accusations that the foreign ministry failed to ensure a smooth voting process and that voting stations outside Romania did not have enough booths, staff and voting stamps. Several hundred people gathered for a protest outside the ministry’s building on the evening of November 2, while reports claimed that at some voting stations abroad, scuffles broke out between staff and people waiting to cast a ballot at closing time. New protests against the ministry’s decision not to open new polling stations were held on November 9. Some reports in Romanian media even accused the ministry of sabotaging the process by closing stations in areas with large immigrant communities while offering voting locations elsewhere in order to keep the number of voting stations unchanged, at 294, from the 2009 elections.
“President Dilma Rousseff emerged on Sunday as the front-runner in one of the most tightly contested presidential elections since democracy was re-established in Brazil in the 1980s,” reports Simon Romero for The New York Times. However, “she failed to win a majority of the vote, opening the way for a runoff with Aécio Neves, the pro-business scion of a powerful political family.” What’s so special about this election? Well, whoever wins will be running what was, until recently, “Latin America’s colossus,” according to David Biller of Bloomberg View. “Brazil’s economic growth has slowed to its weakest three-year pace in a decade, advancing just 2.1 percent on average from 2011 through 2013,” he explains. “In the first half of 2014, it entered technical recession. The currency has fallen 33 percent since President Dilma Rousseff rose to power in 2011. Business confidence in July reached the lowest level in more than a decade. Sovereign debt was downgraded on March 24 for the first time in that period.”
Twenty-seven candidates including officials who served under former dictator Zine El Abidine Ben Ali have signed up as candidates for Tunisia’s November 23 presidential election, the organising body said Tuesday. No fewer than 70 people originally filed applications to the Isie, which is organising the first presidential election since the January 2011 revolt forced Ben Ali to flee. “Of the 70, 27 complied with all of the conditions and were accepted, while 41 were rejected,” Isie chairman Chafik Sarsar told a news conference, adding that two other candidates withdrew.
Rania Jasmine has no plans to vote in Tunisia’s upcoming parliamentary and first-ever presidential elections. “I don’t want to vote because I don’t trust any political party,” the 24-year-old university student, studying English literature and linguistics, told Al Jazeera. While she voted for the moderate Islamist party Ennahda in the previous elections, she said she was disappointed by the party’s performance. “[Ennahda] really disappointed me before as they were not the ones who were actually running the country,” Jasmine said. “They were [too] afraid of the opposition. So I prefer not to regret my choice again like the first time I voted.” After Tunisians toppled the 23-year presidency of strongman Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, the country held its first democratic elections in October 2011 to form the Constituent Assembly, a temporary government put in place to run the country until this year’s elections.
Tunisia’s electoral commission on Monday proposed holding long-planned parliamentary elections in October and a presidential poll in November after the political parties agreed a deal following months of negotiations. “The draft timetable that we have presented (proposes) legislative elections on 26 October, the first round of the presidential election on 23 November, and the second round on 28 December,” the commission’s chairman, Chafik Sarsar, told journalists. He was speaking after meeting National Assembly speaker Mustapha Ben Jaafar.
The upcoming May 25 presidential election is classified as “dangerous.” Today, all eyes are glued to the separatist attacks in the east, the number of Russian soldiers at Ukraine’s borders and the courteous exchanges between diplomats of Ukraine, Russia, America and the European Union. Uncertainty about the ability of Ukraine to organize the election process only increases the tension, and is compounded by the irresponsible attitude of some candidates, public anxiety and expectations of what tomorrow will bring. The National Security and Defense Council and the Foreign Ministry have stated that Russia is bent on disrupting the election process, or to completely de-legitimize it. Throughout its post-Soviet history, Ukraine has had no practical experience in dealing with such a high level of security and foreign invasion threats. However, there is enough time for all citizens to adopt the right behavior tactics and security measures to be able to vote.
Afghans are excited about the upcoming presidential poll. For the first time in history the war-torn country will see the transfer of power from one elected president to another. But for Afghan refugees living in Pakistan, the April 5 election will just be another ordinary day as they have been officially disenfranchised. The Afghan election commission says it does not have sufficient resources to make proper polling arrangements for the Pakistani Afghans, most of whom dwell in the refugee camps along the Pakistani-Afghan border. According to the United Nations Refugee Agency, UNHCR, there are around 2.6 million registered Afghans in Pakistan, most of whom had migrated to the neighboring Islamic republic during the 1980s Afghan war against the Soviet forces. After the US invasion of Afghanistan and the subsequent toppling of the Islamist Taliban government in 2001, many Afghans moved back to their homeland. A large number, however, preferred to stay back in Pakistan. Afghanistan allowed its citizens in Pakistan to vote in the 2004 presidential vote, but in the 2009 election, they were excluded due to security risks. Incumbent Afghan President Hamid Karzai was successful in both elections.
The coverage on the impending Afghan presidential elections has been filled with death and chaos — the tragic shooting at the Serena hotel where an international election monitor was killed, the shocking attack on the Afghan Election Commission’s headquarters, the killing of a provincial council candidate and the news that several international monitoring groups are pulling out. These tragedies, however, shift the focus from the major news in Afghanistan this week: Election fever has gripped the nation. I hear from Afghans as well as many foreigners now working in Afghanistan that the excitement about the coming April 5 presidential election is palpable and encouraging. If this election goes relatively smoothly, it will mark the first democratic handover of power in Afghan history. Potential large-scale fraud and violence will be substantial obstacles to overcome, but there are also some positive signs. Voters, observers and security personnel are gearing up with a mixture of enthusiasm and trepidation. Why be optimistic?
Egypt’s presidential election will be held in late May, the electoral commission announced on Sunday, finally setting dates for the crucial vote widely expected to be won by the country’s former military chief who ousted an elected president last year. The election commission said the results are expected by June 5, and if a second round is necessary it will be held by mid-month with results announced no later than June 26. The country’s powerful former military chief Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi, who led the overthrow of Islamist President Mohammed Morsi last summer, has announced his bid for office and is widely expected to win. His victory would restore a tradition of presidents from military background that Egypt had for all but one year since 1952.
Slovaks will choose a new head of state in the direct presidential election, the fourth since its introduction in 1999, from among the record number of 14 candidates in the first election round March 15. The two most promising candidates are the incumbent Prime Minister and Smer-Social Democracy Chairman Robert Fico, and entrepreneur Andrej Kiska (unaffiliated). It is expected that none of the candidates will be elected in the first round. To be elected, the candidate would have to be supported by an absolute majority of all eligible voters, including those who do not take part in the election. The new head of state, who will replace outgoing President Ivan Gašparovič, will probably emerge from the second election round March 29, in which the first round’s two most successful candidates will clash. According to public opinion polls, the election favorite is Fico, the country’s most popular politician, who might gain about 35 percent of the vote in the first round.
Egypt’s interim president on Saturday issued a much-anticipated decree governing an upcoming presidential election that clears the way for a vote many expect will be won by the country’s military chief. Field Marshal Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi has not yet officially announced he will run for president, but it is a widely expected move. After the Interim President Adly Mansour’s legal adviser, Ali Awad, announced the move on state television, the election commission is expected to set the date for the vote in April, opening the door for candidates to run. The election is a key step in a transition plan laid out by interim authorities in July after the army ousted President Mohammed Morsi.
The posters are printed. The rallies are organized. A televised debate is planned. Campaign season for Afghanistan’s presidential election kicks off Sunday, and the stakes are high for the 11 candidates vying to succeed President Hamid Karzai and oversee the final chapter in a NATO-led combat mission. The April 5 vote is a pivotal moment in Afghanistan’s history, its outcome seen as make-or-break for the country’s future and key to the level of foreign involvement here after nearly 13 years of war. Billions of dollars in funds are tied to the government’s holding a free and fair election — the first independent vote organized by Afghanistan without direct foreign assistance. Amid a surge in violence from the Taliban ahead of the NATO combat troop withdrawal at the end of the year, the poll also will be a crucial test of whether Afghanistan can ensure a stable transition. And the West will be watching the vote as means of gauging the success of its efforts to foster democracy and bolster security over the past 12 years.
Egypt’s military-backed government reversed field, saying it would conduct presidential elections before a parliamentary vote, officials said. The next leader looks increasingly likely to be the military’s chief, Gen. Abdel Fattah al-Sisi who was promoted to field marshal Monday and has indicated he was mulling a bid, several media outlets reported. The decision Sunday to flip the elections and parliamentary vote changes the electoral schedule set by the military after it ousted President Mohammed Morsi in July, putting the nation’s next leader in a position to sway voters toward parliamentary candidates he supports, the Wall Street Journal reported.
Egypt’s interim president, Adly Mansour has announced that Egypt will hold a presidential election before parliamentary polls, changing a political “road map” laid down after the army overthrew Mohamed Morsi last summer. The long-expected change could pave the way for the swift election of General Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, the popular defence minister who many expect will run for the presidency. The “road map” had called for parliamentary elections first, but many of Egypt’s political parties said they would not be ready for a legislative vote this spring. “Most of the political forces demanded presidential elections first,” Mansour said in a televised address, “and I have amended the road map to meet their demands.”
With the announcement of the results of Egypt’s 2014 constitutional referendum, the curtains were brought down on the first stage of the July 3 roadmap. According to the consensus on the roadmap, Egyptians should now be readying for parliamentary elections. However, all indicators point to a change in the agreed upon sequence of events, in which presidential elections will most likely come next. As a matter of principle, I have many concerns regarding amendments or changes to the roadmap. This is not due to personal convictions regarding staging parliamentary elections before electing a president, and neither is it due to inflexibility or persistence. Ultimately, the roadmap, which is the result of human decisions, is not immune to changes or amendments. Rather, there is the concern that if the door for change is opened once, it can’t be closed again.
Egypt’s government is likely to call a presidential election before parliamentary polls, officials said on Monday, rearranging the political timetable in a way that could see army chief General Abdel Fattah al-Sisi elected head of state by April. Parliamentary elections were supposed to happen first under the roadmap unveiled after the army deposed Islamist President Mohamed Mursi in July after mass protests against his rule. But critics have campaigned for a change, saying the country needs an elected leader to direct government at a time of economic and political crisis and to forge a political alliance before a potentially divisive parliamentary election.
Michelle Bachelet’s landslide victory was the largest in 80 years and yet, at the same time was the lowest voter turnout since the nation of Chile returned to democracy. According to some political pundits, this suggests that Bachelet will not get a mandate to push for any type of change when she begins her second term in 2014. A moderate advocate of socialist government, Bachelet ended her first term in 2010 with an approval rating of 84 percent in spite of the fact that she was unwilling to enact any type of major change. However, with this victory, political leftists in Chile are expected to hold Bachelet accountable to make good on her promises. Some of these include improving health care, closing the gap between the rich and the poor, and pushing a $15 billion program for the purposes of educational overhaul. Economically, Chile is the pride of Latin America. It is the top exporter of chrome worldwide and boasts a rapidly growing economy, a stable democracy and low unemployment rates. However, in the country itself, there has been much unrest as many have believed that there should be more of the nations wealth used for reform of the educational system and income disparity.
Maldives President Mohamed Waheed says he will remain an independent observer of the upcoming presidential election but expressed doubts over its credibility, Xinhua reported Wednesday citing local media. Speaking to the media on Eid-al Adha, Waheed, who earlier this week withdrew from running for a second term, insisted that he would not back any of the three candidates still in the fray. They include former president Mohammad Nasheed, who bagged 45.45 percent of the vote in the first round that was later annulled. The other two contenders are tycoon Gasim Ibrahim and autocratic former president Abdul Gayoom’s half-brother and MP, Abdulla Yamin. Both candidates polled nearly equally with only some 3,000 votes giving Yamin a slight edge. During the now defunct presidential poll held Sep 7, President Waheed obtained 5.13 percent of the popular vote, finishing last among the four candidates.
Sayed Gul walked into a small mud brick room in eastern Afghanistan, a bundle wrapped in a shawl on his back. With a flick, he plonked the package onto a threadbare carpet and hundreds of voter cards spilled out. “How many do you want to buy?” he asked with a grin. Like many others, Gul left a routine job – in his case, repairing cars in Marco, a small town in the east – to join a thriving industry selling the outcome of next year’s presidential elections. Gul, who had a long, black beard and was dressed in the traditional loose salwar kameez, said he was able to buy voter cards for 200 Pakistani rupees ($1.89) each from villagers and sell them on for 500 rupees ($4.73) to campaign managers, who can use them in connivance with poll officials to cast seemingly legitimate votes. From each card, Gul said, he made enough money to pay for a hearty meal like kebabs with rice, and maybe even a soda.
Under pressure from France and other Western powers, Mali held a presidential election on Sunday that some observers said the country was not ready for and that risked excluding thousands of its citizens. Voting went off peacefully, nonetheless, in an election that Mali’s numerous donors deemed crucial to restoring the country’s stability after more than a year of turmoil: an Islamist takeover in the desert north in the spring of 2012; a military coup in the capital; French military intervention to forestall Islamist advances in January; and the flight of nearly 200,000 inhabitants beyond Mali’s borders. Mali, a poor West African desert nation, has been ruled by a makeshift, unelected government since March 2012, with no parliament, few functioning state institutions and a weak, military junta-approved president. Billions of dollars in aid have been promised by international donors but only if the country has at least the appearance of democracy. That meant proceeding to a hasty election that some of the country’s politicians, research institutes like International Crisis Group, and even the country’s electoral commission warned might be premature.
Afghanistan’s election commission on Tuesday set the country’s next presidential election for April 5, 2014, kicking off a race that would choose Hamid Karzai’s successor and unfold as U.S.-led forces leave the country. Mr. Karzai, who is prohibited by the constitution from running for a third term, is widely expected to name a preferred candidate in the polls, possibly his older brother Qayum or a trusted ally. But with 18 months until the poll date set by the Independent Election Commission, some observers were skeptical that a new voting system and electoral law will be completed in time to guide elections and stave off fraud.
Earlier this year, voting rights advocates foresaw a cloud over this year’s election because new voting laws in Republican-led states tightened the rules for casting ballots and reduced the time for early voting. But with the election less than a month away, it’s now clear those laws will have little impact. A series of rulings has blocked or weakened the laws as judges — both Republicans and Democrats — stopped measures that threatened to bar legally registered voters from polling places in the November election. “Courts see their role as the protectors of the core right to vote,” said Ned Foley, an election law expert at Ohio State University. The laws were the product of a Republican sweep in the 2010 election. The GOP took full control in such states as Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, Ohio and Florida, and soon adopted changes in their election laws. Some states told registered voters they must show a current photo identification, such as a driver’s license, even if they did not drive. Others, including Florida and Ohio, reduced the time for early voting or made it harder for college students to switch their registrations.
More than one in five of Britain’s largest corporations are channelling political donations to favoured candidates ahead of next month’s elections in the US – though these sums may be only the tip of a new campaign-financing iceberg, according to leading politicians, judges and pro-transparency watchdogs. As election year reaches its climax, America is forecast to experience the most extensively corporate-influenced race for the White House, and for control of Capitol Hill, in living memory. Among the industries already well versed in bankrolling US politics are finance, pharmaceuticals, energy and defence. British multinationals such as HSBC, Barclays, Experian, Prudential, GlaxoSmithKline, AstraZeneca, BP, Shell and BAE all have political action committees (PACs) that channel donations from employees to US politicians.
On September 12th a queue of stationary vehicles kilometres long blocked the coastal highway that leads out of Puerto Cabello. “Politics,” said a resident, wearily, by way of explanation. The politics in question were taking place beside the entrance to the port city’s weed-infested airstrip. A small group of supporters was waiting to escort Henrique Capriles Radonski, the opposition candidate in Venezuela’s presidential election, to a rally in town. A couple of hundred red-shirted supporters of President Hugo Chávez were throwing stones at them from across the highway as a sound system blasted out campaign songs. A pickup truck had been set on fire. “The opposition has no right to come here and deceive working people,” said Luis Rojas, one of the stone-throwers and also an employee of the city’s chavista mayor. Mr Chávez, a former lieutenant-colonel who preaches radical socialism and rails against American imperialism, is seeking to be elected president for the fourth time on October 7th. But after nearly 14 years in power, he faces an unprecedented electoral challenge to his autocratic regime. A previously weak and divided opposition, prone to political miscalculation, has set aside its differences to form a seemingly solid coalition of parties from the left and right, under the banner of the Democratic Unity coalition (MUD).
Iran will hold presidential elections on June 14 next year, the Interior Ministry said on Friday, the first such vote since a violent crackdown on protests over Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s disputed re-election in 2009. The 2013 presidential vote is expected to be a contest between candidates representing Ahmadinejad’s allies and his more conservative opponents. Ahmadinejad himself cannot run for a third term due to a constitutional limit.
The election of a new Somali president will not take place Monday as scheduled, newly appointed lawmakers said, but added they expected to convene the parliament for the first time later in the day. “The presidential elections will not be held today,” said lawmaker Aweys Qarni. “The election committee must still be convened…. There is still work to go before the presidential elections.” War-torn Somalia’s Western-backed transitional government ends its mandate on Monday after eight years of political infighting and rampant corruption. It is being replaced by new lawmakers selected by a group of 135 traditional elders in a United Nations-backed process, the latest bid to bring stability to the Horn of Africa country.
The Iranian political arena has never before witnessed such an early start to the campaign season. Campaigns for the presidential election, which will take place in June 2013, got off to an early start this year for reasons related to both domestic issues and regional developments. Iranian political forces and parties are actively preparing for election campaigns, trying to avoid any mishaps that could affect their electoral future. With increasing frequency, various parties have started to deny reports regarding the candidacy of a certain figure or the holding of an electoral consultative meeting. This indicates that these parties and figures want to test the waters within political circles [regarding the viability of a given candidate] and scrutinize the reactions. These reactions usually provide indicators relating to the nature of [a candidate’s] electoral mobility.
Electoral authorities in Mexico have initiated a recount of roughly half of the votes cast in the presidential election upon finding inconsistencies in the final results. The initial tally, accounting for 99 percent of the votes, was released Sunday, the day of the election, showing Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) candidate Enrique Peña Nieto in the lead with roughly 38 percent of the votes, about six points ahead of runner-up and Democratic Revolution Party (PRD) candidate Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador. Votes from about 78,000 of the 143,000 polling stations used in the election will be recounted. The results of the recount are expected to be ready by Sunday, Mexico’s Federal Electoral Institute (IFE) spokeswoman Ana Fuentes told the Associated Press.
About one-third of the ballots cast in Mexico’s general elections last weekend, according to estimates, will have to be recounted for a variety of reasons specified by the law, election officials said Tuesday. The recount is a normal procedure under election rules, with the ballots cast at one-third of polling places being tallied a second time after the 2009 legislative elections. Recounts can be executed for a number of reasons, including when there is a difference equal to or less than 1 percent separating the winner and the second-place finisher, when there are errors on ballots or when the number of void ballots is greater than the difference between the victor and the candidate who came in second.
Conservative megadonors Sheldon Adelson, the Koch brothers and Donald Trump aren’t stopping with their efforts to swing the presidential election. Now, they’re shoveling cash into down-ticket races. Their big checks have helped state-focused GOP groups more than double the cash haul of their Democratic counterparts and open up another front that could help Mitt Romney beat President Barack Obama.Many of the hottest gubernatorial and legislative races are in key presidential election states, including North Carolina, Missouri, Pennsylvania, Michigan, Ohio and Wisconsin, and the increased activity could add attention to conservative policies on critical issues like government spending, labor rights, voter access, gay rights and immigration, and could help tip the scales in Romney’s favor. Negative ads against the Democrats won’t hurt either.