Ireland: Snap Election Avoided, but Ireland’s Leader Is Weakened | The New York Times

Prime Minister Leo Varadkar of Ireland has narrowly averted the collapse of his government, but he emerged from a political crisis badly weakened on Tuesday, just weeks before a crucial European Union meeting about Brexit and the country’s border with Britain. Mr. Varadkar’s deputy prime minister, Frances Fitzgerald, resigned on Tuesday over her role in a policing scandal. Her resignation was announced hours before a no-confidence vote was due in Parliament, averting a snap election. “I believe it is necessary to take this decision to avoid an unwelcome and potentially destabilizing general election at this historically critical time,” Ms. Fitzgerald said in a statement posted on Twitter.

Ireland: As crisis deepens, Ireland on the verge of snap election | Reuters

Ireland was on the verge of a snap election on Monday after the opposition party propping up the minority government said the deputy prime minister’s refusal to quit would force the country to the polls next month. The political crisis that deepened dramatically late on Monday has left the country’s two main parties with less than 24 hours to head off a general election in a dispute that cast a shadow over a key Brexit summit next month. Ireland will play a major role at the meeting, telling EU leaders whether it believes sufficient progress has been made on the future of the border between EU-member Ireland and the British province of Northern Ireland. The pressure on Deputy Prime Minister Frances Fitzgerald of Varadkar’s Fine Gael party mounted on Monday following the release of fresh documents about her disputed handling of a police whistleblower who alleged corruption in the force.

Iceland: Centre-right parties lose majority | The Guardian

Iceland’s ruling centre-right parties have lost their majority after a tight election that could usher in only the second left-of-centre government in the country’s history as an independent nation. With all votes counted after the Nordic island’s second snap poll in a year, the conservative Independence party of the scandal-plagued outgoing prime minister, Bjarni Benediktsson, was on course to remain parliament’s largest. But it lost five of of its 21 seats in the 63-member Althing, potentially paving the way for its main opponent, the Left-Green Movement headed by Katrín Jakobsdóttir, to form a left-leaning coalition with three or more other parties. The make-up of the new government, however, remains uncertain since both left- and rightwing blocs have said they deserve a chance to try to form a coalition and Iceland’s president has yet to designate a party to begin talks.

Iceland: Iceland set for second snap election in a year after series of scandals | The Guardian

Iceland heads into its second snap parliamentary election in less than a year on Saturday with the financial crash that brought the country to its knees nearly a decade ago still playing out in its politics. The island’s economy is thriving again, thanks mainly to an unprecedented tourism boom, but some of its top politicians have been hit by a succession of financial and ethical scandals that have badly dented voters’ trust. The prime minister, Bjarni Benediktsson, called the election last monthafter his three-party government collapsed over an alleged attempt to cover up efforts by his father to help “restore the honour” of a convicted child sex offender. Benediktsson formed his centre-right coalition barely 10 months ago, following early elections triggered by his predecessor’s resignation. Sigmundur Davíð Gunnlaugsson had stepped down amid public fury at revelations in the Panama Papers that his family had sheltered money offshore.

Japan: Shinzo Abe secures strong mandate in Japan’s general election | The Guardian

Japan’s prime minister, Shinzo Abe, has secured a strong mandate for his hard line against North Korea and room to push for revision of the country’s pacifist constitution after his party crushed untested opposition parties in Sunday’s general election. Abe’s Liberal Democratic party (LDP) and its junior coalition partner Komeito were on course to win 311 seats, keeping its two-thirds “supermajority” in the 465-member lower house, an exit poll by TBS television showed. Some other broadcasters had the ruling bloc slightly below the two-thirds mark. A supermajority would allow Abe to propose changes to the constitution, which currently restricts its military to a defensive role. Most voters, however, oppose reform. After a day that saw millions of voters brave driving rain and powerful winds brought on by Typhoon Lan, Abe’s election gamble appeared to have paid off, after he called the vote more than a year earlier than scheduled.

Czech Republic: Parties look to avoid snap election after Prime Minister quits | Reuters

Czech coalition parties sought to avoid a snap election on Wednesday and find a way to steer the country toward a scheduled vote in October after Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka’s shock resignation. Sobotka announced on Tuesday that he and his government would step down, less than six months before its term finishes, to resolve a long-running dispute with billionaire Finance Minister Andrej Babis, his main political rival. The Social Democrat leader, whose party trails Babis’s centrist ANO movement by a double-digit margin in polls, justified the risky and drastic step by saying that simply firing Babis would have turned him into a ‘martyr’.

Malta: Prime Minister calls early elections amid wife′s offshore account scandal | Deutsche Welle

Malta’s Prime Minister Joseph Muscat on Monday announced early elections amid mounting corruption claims and opposition calls for his resignation. Muscat called new elections for June 3, nearly 10 months early, at a May Day rally of his ruling Labor Party supporters.
The 43-year-old prime minister has been under pressure in recent weeks after popular blogger Daphne Caruana Galizia made claims that his wife, Michelle, owned an offshore shell company in Panama. A magisterial inquiry has been launched into the issue. Owning offshore accounts is not illegal in Malta, but the revelations and investigation have created a political backlash.

United Kingdom: Snap election raises concerns for non-party campaigners | BBC

Charities and other campaign groups fear they could be gagged by red tape during the general election campaign.
Groups like Greenpeace like to make their voice heard during elections. But they face strict rules on what they can spend money on for the year before an election. They had been working on the basis that an election would be held in 2020 – but the announcement of a snap election in June has raised concerns they will not be able to comply with the rules. This has meant that they will have to declare their spending retrospectively over the last year if they want to campaign, creating a huge amount of work at short notice.

United Kingdom: Parliament Approves Theresa May’s General Election Call | The New York Times

Less than 12 months after deciding to quit the European Union, Britons will vote on many of the same questions again, after lawmakers on Wednesday agreed to call an early general election, the outcome of which could shape Britain’s relations with its closest neighbors for decades to come. By an overwhelming vote of 522 to 13, British lawmakers agreed to hold elections on June 8 at the request of Prime Minister Theresa May, who hopes to strengthen her parliamentary support and gain a freer hand to negotiate Britain’s withdrawal from the bloc. The outcome of Wednesday’s vote in Parliament was never in doubt, even with the requirement of a two-thirds threshold to call a snap election that, until Tuesday morning, Mrs. May and her aides had insisted would not happen.

United Kingdom: Theresa May calls UK general election for 8 June | The Guardian

Theresa May has called a snap general election to be held on 8 June, despite repeatedly claiming she was against the idea of an early vote. In a surprise statement outside Downing street, the prime minister said: “After the country voted to leave the EU, Britain needed certainty, stability and strong leadership. Since I became prime minister the government has delivered precisely that.” She claimed Labour and the other opposition parties had opposed her. “The country is coming together but Westminster is not.

Bulgaria: Borisov’s pro-EU party beats Socialists in Bulgaria’s snap election | AFP

Boiko Borisov, the comeback specialist of Bulgarian politics, looked to have done it again as exit polls from a snap election put his pro-EU centre-right party in first place. Borisov’s European Development of Bulgaria (GERB) party won about 32%, the exit polls on Sunday showed, ahead of the Socialist party (BSP) on about 28%. Observers had suggested victory for the BSP might see Bulgaria, a Nato member, tilt more towards Russia. Moscow, which has long had close cultural and economic ties with Bulgaria, has been accused of seeking to expand its influence in other Balkan countries in recent months. Borisov said after the exit poll that he was “obliged” by the vote to form a government but whether the burly former firefighter and mayor of Sofia, 57, can form a stable coalition remains to be seen.

Iceland: Panama Papers: Iceland president blocks PM’s snap election call | The Guardian

Iceland’s president has refused a request from the country’s embattled prime minister, Sigmundur Davíð Gunnlaugsson, to dissolve parliament and call snap elections until he has had time to consult all of the country’s political parties. As the island’s political crisis deepened on Tuesday, its president, Ólafur Ragnar Grímsson, flew back early from a US visit to sound out party representatives in parliament, where the leftwing opposition has presented a motion of no confidence in Gunnlaugsson’s centre-right coalition government. Further mass protests were planned in Reykjavik for later on Tuesday as pressure mounted on the prime minister to resign following revelations in the leaked Panama Papers that his wife owned a secretive offshore investment company with multi-million pound claims on Iceland’s failed banks.

Vanuatu: Charlot Salwai elected as Vanuatu leader | AFP

Charlot Salwai was yesterday elected the new prime minister of Vanuatu ­following a snap election sparked by a corruption scandal. Mr Salwai, from the Reunification of Movements for Change party, was announced as leader some three weeks after more than 200,000 voters went to the polls. It followed parliament being dissolved in November by ­President Baldwin Lonsdale when 14 MPs were jailed for ­bribery. There are 52 members of parliament. The political breakdown came after a period of instability, with four changes of prime minister in the past four years.

United Kingdom: Shadow minister tells Corbyn to anticipate snap general election | The Guardian

Jeremy Corbyn has been told to put Labour on an election footing due to concerns a snap general election could be called later this year. Shadow defence minister Toby Perkins said Labour had to be prepared for David Cameron to quit after the EU referendum, even if he is on the winning side. Writing on the LabourList website, Perkins warned: “If Labour is confronted with a general election whilst intellectually and organisationally underprepared, divided and underresourced, we would be hurtling towards catastrophe.” He said that although under the Fixed-term Parliaments Act the next election was not due until 2020, if a new Tory leader called for an early ballot Labour would have to agree. “The prospect of the prime minister standing down in the event of a vote to leave has been often mooted,” he wrote.

Vanuatu: More than 200,000 vote in snap election after bribery scandal | ABC

More than 200,000 voters across Vanuatu have cast their ballots in a snap election that international observers have described as successful despite challenges in the lead-up to the polls. The country’s Parliament was dissolved in November by President Baldwin Lonsdale after 14 MPs, including a former prime minister, were jailed for bribery. The political breakdown in Port Vila followed a period of instability with four changes of prime ministers in the past four years. A total of 264 candidates are vying for 53 seats, with foreign election observers remaining in Vanuatu until Monda

Kazakhstan: Snap poll called as President Nursultan Nazarbayev bids to extend his 27-year rule | The Independent

In an attempt to cling on to power amid discontent at falling oil prices in the ex-Soviet state of Kazakhstan, President Nursultan Nazarbayev has called a snap election. Mr Nazarbayev, whose rule has been marked by allegations of human rights abuses and corruption, dissolved the lower house of parliament, urging the nation to consolidate at a time of economic hardship caused by the crash in oil prices. The election, originally expected at the end of this year or early 2017, will be held on 20 March. Political analysts say the early poll will allow the veteran leader to reaffirm his grip on power before discontent over a slowing economy reaches a peak.

Vanuatu: After half of government MPs jailed for corruption, Vanuatu votes in snap election | ABC

Voters in Vanuatu go to the polls on Friday for a snap general election called after 14 government MPs were jailed for corruption. A total of 264 candidates, standing in 52 seats, have had little more than seven weeks to campaign. Most are members of 36 political parties, many of which have formed in the lead-up to the election. There are still more than 50 independents in the mix. Observers have said one of the issues with the snap poll was that there were thousands of dead people still eligible to vote — some reports claiming as many as 55,000 registered voters were no longer alive.

Serbia: Vučić to resign, Serbia heads for early elections | New Europe

The Prime Minister of Serbia, Aleksandar Vučić, announced on Sunday evening that he would be calling early elections in Serbia, B92 reports. That is only two years since the last legislative elections in March 2014. Following a meeting with his party’s Serbian Progressive Party (SNS) executive committee, Vučić argued that elections were necessary to resolve the current impasse of reforms. In fighting against a political-criminal power conglomerate, Vučić argued, his administration needs a new mandate that is resisting change for over a decade. He vowed to turn Serbia into an EU member state in which rule of law prevails by 2020. In the current parliament, SNS holds 158 seats in Serbia’s 250-seat parliament. SNS began as a junior coalition partner of the Socialist Party, before withdrawing their support and heading for the polls. Since, they have dominated the Serbian political landscape, which was traditionally fragmented.

Vanuatu: New voters to miss out in snap election | AFP

The Pacific island nation of Vanuatu goes to the polls Friday despite thousands of newly eligible voters being unable to cast a ballot in the snap election called after a corruption scandal rocked the government. A lack of time since the vote was called in late November meant the electoral rolls could not be updated, Electoral Commission chairman John Killion Taleo, told AFP Wednesday. Radio New Zealand reported Wednesday more than 3,000 young people were not on the electoral roll. Only the 200,159 people on the electoral roll last July will be allowed to cast a ballot. The 52-member parliament was dissolved in late November by President Baldwin Lonsdale after 14 lawmakers were jailed for bribery in the impoverished Pacific archipelago.

Macedonia: Parliament moves for April election that opposition says will boycott | Reuters

Macedonia’s parliament voted on Monday to dissolve itself as of Feb. 24, clearing the way to an early parliamentary election two months later that the opposition says it will boycott. The ruling VMRO-DPMNE moved ahead with plans to hold the poll on April 24, in line with a deal brokered by the European Union mid-last year to end a bitter standoff over allegations against the conservative government of illegal phone-tapping and widespread abuse of office. But the Social Democrats, the biggest opposition party, said they would not take part, effectively prolonging a political crisis that erupted in January 2015 when party leader Zoran Zaev began releasing a slew of damaging wire-taps.

Serbia: Premier Wins Party Support to Call Early Election | Bloomberg

Serbian Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic won his party’s approval to call elections two years before his term ends to change the make-up of the ruling coalition and carry out unpopular reforms demanded by the International Monetary Fund. Vucic, whose party controls 135 seats in the 250-member parliament, is using early elections as a political tool for the second time since his Progressive Party first rose to power in 2012. The party initiated a snap ballot in 2014, elevating him to the head of the government. “My decision is to have elections,”

Serbia: Premier Seeks Snap Ballot to Lock In Public Support | Bloomberg

Serbian Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic will ask his party to authorize him to call early parliamentary elections two years before his term ends as he maintains a strong lead in opinion polls despite growing criticism of his policies. The ruling Progressive Party’s board is scheduled to meet Jan. 17 to “discuss the political situation,” it said in an e-mailed statement in Belgrade on Wednesday. The prime minister wants approval to initiate elections before his party’s congress on Feb. 13, with the actual ballot to be held later. Vucic’s party, together with some small political groups, controls 135 seats in the 250-member parliament.

Turkey: Erdogan’s party enjoys decisive election victory in Turkey | The Washington Post

Less than half a year after losing its hold on Turkey’s parliament, the country’s ruling Justice and Development Party regained a decisive majority Sunday in a dramatic snap election. It marks a considerable political coup for President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who has been at the helm of the country for 13 years and now looks likely to further entrench his rule. In the buildup to Sunday’s election, a vast majority of pollsters and political analysts predicted a hung parliament and anticipated a tricky process of coalition-building that would have complicated Erdogan’s own designs on power. But by nightfall on Sunday, Erdogan’s ruling party, also known by the Turkish abbreviation AKP, had taken almost 50 percent of the vote and was expected to form a single-party government once more. The result took many experts by surprise.

Editorials: Turkey’s election means turning from democracy towards autocracy | Yavuz Baydar/The Guardian

Turkey’s president Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has once more managed to fight through to victory. With a landslide in Sunday’s elections, he now impose his will more resolutely than ever before, making certain that the ruling Justice and Development party (AKP) extends its writ over the country another four years. He gambled, crossed many lines, and won. He has now the half of the national vote on his side to argue for legitimacy and perhaps even as carte blanche to extend his rule into autocracy. This was a result that a very few had predicted. Most pollsters had tipped the AKP gaining around 44% of the vote, short of being able to form a government on its own. So for the AKP to come away with the scale of the victory it was a shock. The other conundrum was whether the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democracy party (HDP) would fall below the critical 10% threshold (to enter parliament). It managed to score above that the relief of many who had been concerned that the Kurdish movement out of parliament would destabilise Turkey further.

Ukraine: Local Elections: New law, old problems | New Eastern Europe

Since Petro Poroshenko assumed the presidency of Ukraine, the majority of discussions about the future of Ukrainian democracy have been consumed by external factors. This has been for good reason. Russian troops invaded, then annexed Crimea in early 2014; at the same time, Russia initiated another war front in eastern Ukraine, which claimed over 6,000 thousand lives and has displaced over one million Ukrainians. In addition to a severe human cost, the Russian war carried a huge economic cost by bringing to a halt various industrial enterprises in the Donbas region. However, the political fate of the country is equally dependent on internal factors particularly the improvement of procedural democracy. Ukrainian local elections, scheduled for October 25th 2015, are another important step for the development of Ukraine’s democratic politics. First, local elections will be held according to their regular five-year election cycle; the elections are an important step in the decentralisation process being discussed by President Poroshenko. Second, they will be conducted according to a new set of electoral laws that look to increase representativeness and strengthen the role of political parties. However, this latest round of elections is unlikely to introduce higher levels of transparency into the electoral process or bolster the role or function of political parties in Ukraine.

Ukraine: Snap elections ahead? | New Europe

The parties of Ukraine’s President Petro Poreshenko and Kiev’s mayor Vitaly Klitschko’s merged in August, and with local elections upcoming all eyes are on Ukraine as pro democracy parties seek to consolidate their seats against more pro-Russian sentiment. The recent actions by President Poroshenko to grant more autonomy to the separatist regions have angered the nationalists within Parliament, and the far right. Along with the parties merging, this has caused upheaval in Kiev and has raised the possibility of snap elections in which a slew of new candidates could be vying to take over for Poreshenko and Yatsenyuk’s embattled governments. There’s talk that Mikhail Saakashvilli, the current Odessa governor and former President of Georgia, will go for the position.Saakashvilli recently received 26,000 signatures on a petition to President Poreshenko demanding that Saakashvilli become Prime Minister. The petition supporting Saakashvili’s candidacy for the prime minister’s post was officially submitted on September 3. The same day, Ukraine’s Channel 5 television network, which is owned by Poroshenko, aired an interview with Saakashvili, who lambasted current Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk’s reform agenda, Radio Free Europe reports.. While Saakashvilli has said that he will not run for the position, many believe that he is still entertaining at least some notion of running for election, particularly when his popularity has risen of late.

Greece: Greeks fight ballot box fatigue with Internet jokes | AFP

Called to the ballot box for the third time in eight months, some Greeks are responding to election fatigue with a bailout-sized dose of Internet humour. In one hit post on the news site Protagon, comedienne Lila Stabouloglou suggested “electoral tourism” could prove a handy money-spinner for Greece’s cash-strapped authorities in the run-up to the vote in three weeks’ time. “The Greek Tourism Organisation is enthusiastically preparing to promote the idea of electoral tourism ahead of the vote on September 20,” she wrote in the mock news report. Her post was topped with a fake campaign poster, showing a ballot box floating alongside two boats in beautiful turquoise waters. “Live Your Elections in Greece”, it said — a riff on a well-known old tourism campaign, “Live Your Myth in Greece”.

Singapore: Snap election to be held on Sept 11 | Borneo Post

Singapore would hold a snap general election on Sept 11, officials said yesterday, as Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong sought a new mandate from voters worried over immigration and the high cost of living. Despite a slowing economy, the People’s Action Party (PAP), which has ruled for more than 50 years thanks to strict political controls and Singaporeans’ rising affluence, is expected to keep its overwhelming majority in parliament against a fragmented opposition. But the party will be under pressure to improve on its electoral performance in 2011, when it won just 60 percent of votes cast — its lowest-ever share — despite retaining 80 of the 87 seats in a block-voting system. It will be the first election without the prime minister’s hugely influential father, independence leader Lee Kuan Yew, who died in March.

Turkey: Election board proposes snap polls in November | The Guardian

Turkey’s election board has proposed holding a snap legislative poll on 1 November, adding to a security crisis and sending the Turkish lira to a record low. The date for the fresh ballot is sooner than most commentators had expected after efforts to form a coalition ended in failure after inconclusive polls in June. The proposal, presented to political parties before a final decision is made, comes three days before the deadline for forming a new government. The Justice and Development party of the Turkish president, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, lost its overall majority in the June election for the first time since it came to power in 2002.

Greece: Alexis Tsipras steps down to trigger new elections | The Guardian

Seven months after he was elected on a promise to overturn austerity, the Greek prime minister, Alexis Tsipras, has announced he is stepping down to pave the way for snap elections next month. As the debt-crippled country received the first tranche of a punishing new €86bn (£61bn) bailout, Tsipras said on Thursday he felt “a moral obligation to place this deal in front of the people, to allow them to judge … both what I have achieved, and my mistakes”. The 41-year-old Greek leader is still popular with voters for having at least tried to stand up to the country’s creditors and his leftwing Syriza party is likely to be returned to power in the imminent general election, which government officials told Greek media was most likely to take place on 20 September. The prime minister insisted in an address on public television that he was proud of his time in office and had got “a good deal for the country”, despite bringing it “close to the edge”. He added he was “shortly going to submit my resignation, and the resignation of my government, to the president”. The prime minister will be replaced for the duration of the short campaign by the president of Greece’s supreme court, Vassiliki Thanou-Christophilou – a vocal bailout opponent – as head of a caretaker government.