View from Japan: South Korea’s Pandemic Elections

By Tadashi Kimiya | The Diplomat

In elections held in South Korea last week, the ruling liberal Democratic Party and its satellite Citizen Party won 180 seats of the 300 seats in the National Assembly. The conservative opposition United Future Party and its satellite Future Korea Party were meanwhile left with just 103 seats.

Credit: (AP Photo/Lee Jin-man)

The resounding win frees the government from the limitations of the National Assembly Advancement Act, so that it is now able to legislate anything other than constitutional amendments. This was a historic election, even more so when taking into consideration that it took place under the extraordinary circumstances of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Some observers have argued that South Korean politics might be transitioning from a conservative/liberal two-party system to a liberal-predominant party system, like the conservative LDP-predominant party system that existed in Japan during the Cold War. However, if we look at voter turnout for candidates in single-seat constituencies, it was 49.9 percent for the liberal ruling party and 41.5 percent for the conservative opposition party, hardly a crushing difference. Moreover, in proportional representation constituencies, the other conservative opposition party actually finished first with 33.8 percent, leading the other liberal with 33.4 percent, a low figure even when accounting for the split in the liberal group.

Given these numbers, it is premature to conclude that we are at the start of an era dominated by a single party. Indeed, it is worth remembering that conservative votes accounted for more than 60 percent of the results in the 2007 presidential election 13 years ago, giving the conservatives a landslide win over their liberal opponents, despite a split between the conservative candidates, and bringing about a change of government.

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Democracy wins over Covid-19 pandemic

Even the Coronavirus disease (Covid)-19 has no match for the South Korean voters when they turned out to vote for the members of their National Assembly. 66.21% of the 43.99 million voters went out to cast their votes despite the ongoing pandemic — the highest turnout since 1992.

The National Assembly elections in the country is a combination of first-past-the-post elections for the 253 constituencies and proportional party list system for the 47 members of the parliament. The liberal Democratic Party bagged 163 of the seats while its satellite party, the Together Citizen’s Party, won 17 seats. Together they occupy 180 or 60% of the 300 National Assembly seats.

Meanwhile, the conservatives made their worst performance since 1960 with the United Future Party and its satellite Future Korea Party gaining only 103 seats.

With the election results, the liberals are seen to have the freehand to legislate anything other than constitutional amendments. Being a mid-term elections, the results also reaffirm the leadership of South Korean President, Moon Jae-In.

Allocation of seats in the new electoral system
Red: 253 constituency seats under first-past-the-post
Blue: 30 proportional seats under the compensatory additional member system
Green: 17 proportional seats under the parallel voting system
Source: King Wither

‘We need to bring the party together’: Yang endorses Biden, calls for Democratic unity against Trump

William Cummings | USA TODAY

Former 2020 Democratic presidential candidate Andrew Yang endorsed former Vice President Joe Biden Tuesday night and called for Democrats to unite behind Biden ahead of the general election. 

Yang, now a CNN contributor, made his endorsement on live TV as the results from six more primary contests showed Biden widening his delegate lead over Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont. 

“I believe that Joe Biden will be the Democratic nominee, and I’ve always said I’m going to support whoever the nominee is. So I hereby am endorsing Joe Biden to be not just the nominee for the Democratic Party, but the next president of the United States,” Yang declared. 

Yang, who supported Sanders in 2016, called the self-described democratic socialist “an inspiration,” but said the delegate math made it clear that he was not going to win the Democratic presidential primary race. And he said it was time for Democrats to focus on their main objective. 

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1 African, 2 Latin American countries elect more women parliamentarians

AM Buita | March 7, 2020

In the world where women are still struggling for equality, three countries went out and voted more women than men at least in terms of legislation. According to the Inter-Parliamentary Union, women occupy 61.25% and 53.08% of the parliamentary seats in the lower chambers of Rwanda and Bolivia, respectively, and 53.22% in the single-chamber legislative branch of Cuba.

United Arab Emirates ranked four as voters awarded to women half of the seats in the single-chamber parliament .

Others that made it to top ten in terms of the percentage of women members in the parliament are Mexico with 48.2%, Nicaragua with 47.25%, Sweden with 46.99%, Grenada with 46.67%, Andorra with 46.43% and South Africa with 46.35%.

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Elizabeth Warren, Once a Front-Runner, Drops Out of Presidential Race

By Shane Goldmacher and Astead W. Herndon | NYTimes.Com | March 5, 2020

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. — Senator Elizabeth Warren entered the 2020 race with expansive plans to use the federal government to remake American society, pressing to strip power and wealth from a moneyed class that she saw as fundamentally corrupting the country’s economic and political order.

She exited on Thursday after her avalanche of progressive policy proposals, which briefly elevated her to front-runner status last fall, failed to attract a broader political coalition in a Democratic Party increasingly, if not singularly, focused on defeating President Trump.

Her departure means that a Democratic field that began as the most diverse in American history — and included six women — is now essentially down to two white men: former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. and Senator Bernie Sanders.

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Michael Bloomberg Ends Presidential Bid, Endorses Joe Biden

By  | Bloomberg.com

Michael Bloomberg endorsed Joe Biden for the Democratic nomination as he ended his presidential campaign on Wednesday and pledged to continue working to defeat President Donald Trump.

Bloomberg said in a New York speech that after the results of the Super Tuesday voting, he no longer had a viable path to the nomination and didn’t want to hurt the party’s chances.

He had spent a record $687 million of his own money on the effort, but Biden dominated the Super Tuesday vote, winning 10 states of 14. Bloomberg earned at least 53 delegates, compared to at least 566 for Biden.

“I entered the race for president to defeat Donald Trump,” Bloomberg said. “And today, I am leaving the race for the same reason – to defeat Donald Trump, because staying in would make it more difficult to achieve that goal.”

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Biden keeps distance from Sanders in Super Tuesday

AM Buita | March 5, 2020 | 11:00 PM GMT

Joe Biden is seen garnering more delegates and keeping his distance from Bernie Sanders based on the latest count of the Super Tuesday votes.

With 9 states completely counted out of the 15 that voted last Tuesday, March 3, completely counted and only 152 delegates to be awarded, Biden kept his distance from the rest of the Democrat aspirants maintaining a lead with 82 delegates on his side.

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Democrats should be wary of backing Joe Biden and his ‘senior moments’: Devine

Miranda Devine | NYPost.com

What Super Tuesday tells us is that a lot of Democrats would rather risk losing to President Trump with Joe Biden than allow a socialist like Bernie Sanders to hijack their party.

That’s good for America, but it’s also a treacherous Hail Mary pass for the party.

The 77-year-old former vice president showed why, moments after taking the stage in Los Angeles on Tuesday night: He mistook his wife for his sister.

“They switched on me,” he tried to explain.

He went on to give a good speech about healing the nation, and dutifully kept to the script on his teleprompter.

But then a protester leaped on stage and Biden’s wife, Jill, 68, instinctively stepped between him and the lunging vegan, grabbed the woman by the wrists and shoved her away.

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Biden and Sanders — neck and neck in Super Tuesday

With 284 delegates still to be awarded, the battle for Democrat nominee is a neck and neck battle between Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders.

Latest results show that Biden secured 512 delegates, Sanders has 441; Michael Bloomberg and Elizabeth Warren got 53 each; and, Tulsi Gabbard got 1.

Biden also led the aspirants in 10 states while Sanders led in four. How the States voted, check the table below.

StateNumber of DelegatesPercent CountedJoseph Biden, Jr. Bernard Sanders Michael Bloomberg Elizabeth Warren Tulsi Gabbard 
Alabama52100.00%63.20%16.60%11.70%5.70%0.20%
Arkansas31100.00%40.50%22.40%16.70%10.00%0.70%
California41589.90%23.70%32.70%15.10%12.10%0.70%
Colorado6779.40%23.20%36.20%20.90%17.20%1.10%
Maine2498.30%33.90%33.10%11.90%16.00%0.90%
Massachusetts9199.90%33.70%26.60%11.70%21.20%0.80%
Minnesotta75100.00%38.60%29.90%8.30%15.40%0.30%
North Carolina110100.00%43.00%24.10%13.00%10.50%0.50%
Oklahoma37100.00%38.70%25.40%13.90%13.40%1.70%
Tennessee64100.00%41.70%25.00%15.50%10.40%0.40%
Texas228100.00%34.50%30.00%14.40%11.40%0.40%
Utah2974.30%17.40%34.60%16.70%15.50%0.80%
Vermont16100.00%22.00%50.70%9.40%12.60%0.80%
Virginia99100.00%53.30%23.10%9.80%10.80%0.90%

Explainer: Presidential Candidates in Bolivia’s 2020 Special Elections

Paola Nagovitch | AS/COA

Jeanine Áñez. (AP)

Updated February 25, 2020—Bolivia’s October 20 elections need no introduction. The Andean country held the news spotlight as a result of the controversial presidential election in which incumbent Evo Morales emerged as the winner after a nearly 24-hour vote count freeze. Amid concerns of election fraud, protests broke out across the country. After a preliminary Organization of American States (OAS) election audit found evidence of voting irregularities and manipulation, Morales and Vice President Álvaro García Linera stepped down on November 10 after the head of Bolivia’s military called for their resignation. 

As Morales zigzagged across Latin America to reach asylum in Mexico, then-vice president of the Senate and opposition leader Jeanine Áñezoriginally fifth in the line of succession— declared herself interim president in the wake of several resignations, a move Bolivia’s Constitutional Court later affirmed. After the country’s legislature passed a law annulling the October results, a date for special do-over elections was set for May 3. A runoff is scheduled for June 14 if no candidate wins at least 50 percent of the vote or secures at least 40 percent with a 10-point margin over the closest competitor. Election proceedings will be monitored by the OAS, the European Union, and the United Nations. 

Bolivians will elect a president, vice president, and all the members of the legislative assembly—36 senators and 130 deputies. There are eight presidential candidates, four running on coalition tickets and four with individual parties. The winning ticket will serve for the 2020–2025 term. Voting is compulsory in Bolivia, and voter turnout hit nearly 90 percent in the October election with over 5.8 million people casting ballots.

Candidates were required to register by February 3. AS/COA Online profiles the candidates.

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