The president of Zanzibar said on Tuesday that a re-run of the vote for a new leader of the islands, a semi-autonomous region of Tanzania, would go ahead despite calls by the opposition to scrap the plan. Zanzibar’s leader Ali Mohammed Shein did not announce a date, which will be set by the election commission. It is expected to take place in February. Tanzania has been one of Africa’s most politically stable nations but Zanzibar has been a hotbed of opposition to central government, with strong secessionist and Islamist voices. Votes on the islands are usually closely fought and often disputed.
In the days after Mahinda Rajapaksa, the Sri Lankan president, was betrayed by a group of his longtime aides, comparisons were made to Judas Iscariot and the serpent in the Garden of Eden, but nothing expressed the depth of the president’s hurt and bewilderment like the fact that the desertion had occurred just after a shared meal of hoppers. As he watched his old allies begin to stage an unexpected campaign last month to block his re-election, Mr. Rajapaksa could not help but dwell bitterly on the hoppers, pancakes made of fermented rice flour that are one of Sri Lanka’s most beloved comfort foods. He praised his new health minister, who replaced the most prominent defector, by saying he was not “someone who eats hoppers in the night and then stabs you in the back in the morning.” Mr. Rajapaksa is a famously sure-footed campaigner, so confident that he scheduled elections for Jan. 8, two years before the end of his second term. But the defections caught him unaware, and he is so jittery that he has begun promising concessions — like constitutional reforms and an investigation into possible war crimes committed during the government’s campaign against northern separatists — should he win a third six-year term.
On 3 June, Syrians will go to the polls to vote in presidential elections that are expected to see Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad clinch yet another term. With two seven-year terms already under his belt, the strongman, who has managed to remain in power in despite a three-year war with rebel groups, is sure to win a third victory in the widely criticised elections. With media, state, and security apparatuses working for Al-Assad’s win, the elections are viewed by many as sham, tainted with undemocratic electoral procedures and continued human rights violations. “The state is clearly biased towards Al-Assad,” says Syrian journalist Bassel Oudat, who argues that state institutions have thrown their weight and resources indiscriminately behind the ruler in lieu of his two opponents: former minister Hassan Al-Nouri and parliamentarian Maher Hajjar.
A bill allowing Kentucky GOP Sen. Rand Paul to simultaneously run for the presidency and re-election to his U.S. Senate seat in 2016 died earlier this week when the Kentucky legislature adjourned for the year. The bill had passed the Republican-controlled state Senate, but stalled in the Democratic-controlled state House of Representatives. “In Kentucky, you ought to run for one office at a time,” Brian Wilkerson, a spokesman for Kentucky House Speaker Greg Stumbo, told CNN on Thursday. “The speaker’s thoughts haven’t changed on that.” The state’s Democratic governor, Steve Beshear, is highly unlikely to call the legislature into special session to consider the measure. And that means if Paul’s allies in the state legislature want to try again, they’re going to have to wait until the legislature reconvenes next January. By that time, a number of 2016 White House contenders may already be officially in the race.
Kentucky: Senate passes bill to let Rand Paul run for re-election and president in 2016 | Kentucky.com
The Kentucky Senate passed a bill Tuesday that would make clear U.S. Sen. Rand Paul may run for two federal offices at once. Household political names like Lyndon Johnson, Joe Lieberman, Joe Biden and Paul Ryan were bandied about during a brief debate, the heart of which is whether Paul can run for president and for re-election to his Senate seat on the same Kentucky ballot in 2016. Kentucky’s junior senator has said he is considering a run for the White House, but that he will definitely run for his Senate seat the same year, putting him at odds with a state law banning the same candidate from appearing on a ballot twice.
Kentucky: Rand Paul’s allies say State law can’t stop him from running for senator and president | Kentucky.com
Rand Paul from seeking the presidency and his seat in Congress on the same Kentucky ballot in 2016 is unconstitutional, claim supporters who are girding for a fight over the law. Paul certainly wouldn’t be the first federal politician to run for the presidency and re-election to Congress at the same time. U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., Vice President Joe Biden, D-Del., former U.S. Sen. Joseph Lieberman and many others have done it. In Kentucky, though, state law says a candidate can’t appear on the same ballot twice. That would presumably be a problem for Paul, who has said he plans to seek re-election in 2016 regardless of what he decides about running for president the same year. Paul’s allies in Frankfort and Washington contend that Kentucky’s law contradicts the U.S. Constitution. They cite a 1995 decision by the U.S. Supreme Court that nullified an Arkansas law that set congressional term limits and prevented a candidate from being on the ballot if he or she exceeded those limits.
Ecuador’s Congress voted overwhelmingly Wednesday to grant President Rafael Correa a monthlong leave of absence while he campaigns to be the first Ecuadorean leader in more than a century to hold the presidency for more than a single term. The South American nation limited its presidents to single terms in the 20th century until the charter was changed in 2008 to allow re-election, a move that benefited the populist Correa. Correa said handing his job over to Vice President Lenin Moreno starting Jan. 15 shows how far he’s willing to go to support democracy and avoid abusing his presidential powers ahead of the Feb. 17 vote. “I don’t have to do it, but I prefer to avoid any suspicion,” Correa told Congress.
As German Chancellor Angela Merkel prepares to defend her office against what promises to be a tough campaign, Russia – as was the case in recent American presidential elections – has been dragged into the fray. The Kremlin is “perfectly aware” that anti-Russian rhetoric in Germany has been ratcheting up “in the past weeks and even months,” presidential press secretary Dmitry Peskov told journalists prior to Putin’s talks with Merkel on Thursday. With an election season in Germany right around the corner, some politicians see an opportunity to exploit German-Russian relations for their own political interests.
Israel’s Parliament on Tuesday set a January 22 date for a national election and opinion polls predict an easy win for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in balloting expected to focus on his tough policies on Iran’s nuclear program and economics. Lawmakers approved the measure by a vote of 100 to nil after a more than eight-hour debate, dissolving parliament, or ending its term of office, effective immediately and months ahead of schedule. Israeli elections had been expected in October 2013, but it is common for governments to break up before their terms expire over disagreements about budgets, policy on religion or the nation’s conflicts with Arab and other neighbors.
What if President Obama wins re-election and Republicans don’t believe it? The question isn’t far-fetched. For several weeks, we have seen Republicans challenge the veracity of a number of election-related facts, and the outcome of the presidential election may be no different. First, some Republicans claimed that public opinion polls were all skewed to show an Obama lead. As Slate reported, 71 percent of self-identified Republicans and 84 percent of Tea Partiers believe in the skew. Republicans confidently claim that the polls are oversampling Democrats, not realizing that these are self-reported party identifications, which rise and fall with candidates’ support. Distrust of the polls is not a new phenomenon, and it is not confined to Republicans. As Nate Silver pointed out, when Democrats were behind in 2004 they believed the polls were skewed toward Republicans. Fortunately, the Romney debate performance last week apparently was enough to “unskew” the latest numbers.
From Washington D.C. to Wisconsin, betting is strong that newly-minted Republican vice presidential hopeful Paul Ryan will run on Mitt Romney’s ticket while simultaneously seeking re-election to Congress. “It is perfectly legal under state law for Paul Ryan to run for the House and vice president concurrently,” veteran Madison (Wisc.) Republican consultant Scott Becher told Human Events shortly after Ryan was formally tapped as Romney’s running mate Saturday morning. Becher noted that the Badger State will hold its primaries next Tuesday (August 14) and Ryan is already on the ballot for renomination to a seventh term as U.S. Representative from the 1st District. Ryan, who has more than $5 million in his congressional campaign committee, appeared headed for another big re-election. Since winning his first term in 1998 with 57 percent of the vote, the Janesville lawmaker has been re-elected with margins ranging from 63 to 68 percent of the vote.
Cypriot President Demetris Christofias, the European Union’s only Communist head of state, said on Monday he would not seek re-election next year, citing lack of progress towards the island’s reunification. Elected in 2008, Christofias is lagging in opinion polls over a faltering economy and unpopular concessions in peace talks. The presidential election is due in February 2013. “Taking as a fact that the Cyprus problem has not been solved, and it does not appear that there can be definitive progress in the next few months … I will not seek re-election,” he said in a televised address.
Roughly 17 percent of the complaints registered with Russian election officials over the March presidential contest were confirmed, authorities said. Vladimir Putin secured a third non-consecutive term in office during March presidential elections. Sergei Danilenko, a Russian election official, said Friday 268 of the 1,564 complaints registered by the Central Election Commission “were confirmed,” reports Russia’s state-run news service RIA Novosti.
Conservative rivals of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad appeared on course Saturday to gain firm control of parliament after elections that could embolden Iran’s nuclear defiance and give the ruling clerics a clear path to ensure a loyalist succeeds Ahmadinejad next year. Although Iran’s 290-seat parliament has limited sway over key affairs _ including military and nuclear policies _ the elections highlight the political narratives inside the country since Ahmadinejad’s disputed re-election in 2009 and sets the possible tone for his final 18 months in office. Reformists were virtually absent from the ballot, showing the crushing force of crackdowns on the opposition. Instead, Friday’s elections became a referendum on Ahmadinejad’s political stature after he tried to challenge the near-total authority of Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei to decide critical government policies such as intelligence and foreign affairs.
Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf was confirmed the victor of a run-off poll boycotted by the opposition, and vowed to reach out to her opponents and reconcile the divided nation. Sirleaf’s re-election was seen as a foregone conclusion after rival Winston Tubman pulled out of the race and urged his supporters to boycott the polls over fears the process was rigged.
The National Elections Commission announced that with results tallied from 86.6 percent of polling stations, Sirleaf had won 90.8 percent of votes cast and Tubman nine percent. Only 37.4 percent of the country’s 1.8 million registered voters cast their ballots, with many believed to have stayed away due the boycott call and violence on the eve of the poll, when police fired on a group of opposition protesters.
South Africa’s governing ANC has suspended youth leader Julius Malema from the party for five years. He was found guilty of bringing the party into disrepute and asked to step down as youth league president. Once a close ally of President Jacob Zuma, Mr Malema has become one of his strongest critics, accusing him of ignoring poor South Africans who helped bring him to power in 2009. The BBC’s Milton Nkosi says the verdict boosts Mr Zuma’s re-election bid. Mr Malema wants Mr Zuma replaced as party leader ahead of the 2014 elections, but our correspondent says it is now difficult to see how Mr Malema can affect the ANC leadership contest next year.
Mr Malema has said he will appeal against the ANC’s decision to suspend him, reports eTV news. Mr Malema has 14 days to appeal, but was already suspended for his statements on Zimbabwe and so must vacate his position as Youth League leader immediately. After Mr Malema’s suspension, an ANC spokesperson said: “Disciplinary procedures are not meant to end anybody’s political career, they are meant to correct behaviour.”
Liberians are voting in the presidential run-off despite at least one death during opposition protests and a boycott over fraud claims. Opposition candidate Winston Tubman said he was pulling out of the vote, but the election commission urged Liberians to cast their ballots. Nobel Peace laureate Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, Africa’s first elected female president, is now the only candidate.
A BBC reporter says turnout seems much lower than in the first round. The BBC’s Jonathan Paye-Layleh in central Monrovia says at the polling station where he was when voting began, just eight people were waiting to cast their ballots, compared to hundreds last month.
President and one-time Sandinista revolutionary Daniel Ortega appeared to have won easy re-election in Nicaragua, according to results released Monday, overcoming a constitutional limit on re-election and reports of voting problems. Ortega had a roughly 2-1 lead over his nearest challenger, Fabio Gadea, while former President Arnoldo Aleman was a distant third with 6 per cent with about 44 per cent of the votes counted by midday.
Electoral council President Roberto Rivas said shortly after Sunday’s vote that a representative quick count of the results gave Ortega a large advantage as well, but he did not describe how that survey was conducted.