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 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’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 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 month after 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’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 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’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.
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.
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.
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.