Tag: featured

An Election Brings Abkhazia Back into Focus


Rejeanne Lacroix
 | FairObserver.Com | Aug 23, 2019
Abkhazia news, Abkhazia election, South Ossetia, Russia news, Georgia news, Caucasus news, Russia-Georgia relations, Russia Georgia war, Raul Khajimba Abkhazia, Georgia anti-Russia protests

An old dilapidated building of parliament of Abkhazia in Sukhumi © Gans33

The disputed existence of the breakaway republics of Abkhazia and South Ossetia has come into focus again in the context of the ongoing diplomatic dispute between Russia and Georgia and the August anniversary of the 2008 Russo-Georgian War. Abkhazia remains at the heart of discussions because its upcoming election on August 25 is reflective of the duplicity of post-Soviet electoral spectacle and a hope for positive change that seems to escape citizens. Elections in breakaway republics shift the focus away from geopolitics and toward the idiosyncrasies inherent in political cultures unique to all nations.

A Deterioration of Relations

In June, a series of anti-Russian protests broke out in the Georgian capital Tbilisi and across the country. The appearance of high-ranking Russian politician Sergey Gavrilov at the Interparliamentary Assembly on Orthodoxy and his consequent seating in the speaker’s chair inflamed Georgian sensibilities. But to identify this act as a catalyst for the protests is to oversimply matters, as deeper frustrations with the Georgian Dream ruling party are a factor as well. 

The Georgian Dream attempted to balance relations with the West while at the same time ensuring a mutually beneficial relationship with Russia. Voters within the country are increasingly displeased with internal political affairs. The sight of a Russian politician occupying the chair of the speaker of parliament could easily be construed as Moscow’s long arm reaching toward its southern neighbor, or as an act of occupation. It was viewed through this lens when Georgian commentator Giorgi Gabunia went on a televised expletive-ridden rant labeling Russian President Vladimir Putin a “miserable creature” and “stinking invader.” Further, Gabunia crossed even the lowest of professional lines by mocking Putin’s deceased parents.

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Bolivia’s Evo Morales to face three challengers in the October 2019 elections

President Evo Morales of the Plurinationational State of Bolivia is seeking reelection this October 2019 under the Movement for Socialism (MAS). He is being challenged by Carlos Mesa of The Civic Community, Óscar Ortiz Antelo of the Democrat Social Movement, and Jaime Paz Zamora of the Christian Democratic Party.

Evo Morales
Photo credit: wikipedia.org

The 2019 presidential race is the third reelection bid of Morales. He was first elected in 2006, and reelected in 2009 and 2014.

For this year’s election, the strongest challenger of Morales is Mesa. The two are statistically tied at 32% based on the January 2019 survey of Mercados y Muestras. Mesa’s support, however, declined to 23.6% this July based on the report of Captura Consulting. The case is otherwise with the incumbent whose voting preference surged to 38.4% in the same period.

Continue reading “Bolivia’s Evo Morales to face three challengers in the October 2019 elections”

The Newcomers Shaking Up Uruguay’s Election

BY NICOLÁS SALDÍAS | Americas Quarterly

A host of new faces and parties are adding uncertainty to this year’s presidential race.

Ernesto Talvi
MIGUEL ROJO/AFP/Getty Images

Two men from the same political coalition have governed Uruguay since 2005. But with the Oct. 27 presidential election approaching, the country is seeing a rare shake-up of its usually staid and predictable politics.

In fact, new faces and parties are challenging traditional stalwarts and the established political order. That includes the recent resurgence of the once-dominant Colorado Party with the primary victory of outsider Ernesto Talvi, as well as the emergence of a right-wing nationalist party and the ruling coalition’s choice of a little-known city councilmember as its vice presidential nominee. 

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Will Torres Win the 2019 Guatemala Presidential Elections?

J.A. Carizo

The 2019 Guatemala Presidential Elections is an uphill battle for former First Lady, Sandra Torres. Torres who is running under the National Unity of Hope (UNE) Party generated 33.4% of the votes cast during the first round of the presidential elections last June 16, 2019 but only climbed 7.56% based on the pre-runoff polls conducted by the CID Gallup for Fundación Libertad y Desarrollo.

The pre-runoff polls was conducted last July 9-14 with a sample size of 1,204 and a ± 2.8% margin of error.

Torres’s rival, Alejandro Giammattei of Vamos Por Una Guatemala Diferente (VAMOS), on the other hand, jumped to almost three times of the votes he gathered during the first round. From 13.95% of the total votes cast during the first round of the presidential race, Giammattei got 40.6% in the CID Gallup poll.

Continue reading “Will Torres Win the 2019 Guatemala Presidential Elections?”

Is populism finally coming to Japan?

DAISUKE MINAMI | The Japan Times

WASHINGTON – While populism is rising across the world, Japan has so far been immune to it. There is no Japanese equivalent to French politician Marine Le Pen, U.S. President Donald Trump or Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte. This, however, seems to be changing after the Upper House election on July 21, in which a new left-wing, anti-establishment party made big strides. What is happening to Japan’s “firewall against populism”?

Reiwa Shinsengumi founder Taro Yamamoto is called “Japan’s Bernie Sanders” for his anti-establishment stance. | KYODO

Scholars attribute the firewall to the lack of ethnic or economic cleavages that populist leaders can exploit to build an anti-immigration or class-based platform. Despite measures to increase foreign workers, Japan remains a homogeneous nation, with resident foreigners only accounting for 1.76 percent of its population. Japanese society is also egalitarian, without high income inequality as in the United States and elsewhere. And the country has seen a steady economic recovery since Prime Minister Shinzo Abe took office in 2012, with an unemployment rate at historic low 2.3 percent.

Against this backdrop, the Liberal Democratic Party and its coalition partners won almost a supermajority in the Upper House by touting the success of Abe’s economic policies known as Abenomics.

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Zelenskiy’s party sweeps Ukrainian parliamentary elections: what has changed?

Peter Mikhailenko, 29 July 2019

Last Sunday, Servant of the People, the parliamentary party of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy, swept the elections, gaining 254 out of a possible 424 seats. This represents one of the largest parliamentary majorities ever, but with another record low turnout of less than half of potential voters.

This is not surprising, since no left-wing candidates ran, given the past several years of state repression against them, particularly the Communist Party of Ukraine. Another factor is that many more voters are working overseas due to Ukraine’s weak economic situation, even relative to poor Eastern Europe, among whom Ukraine is now the poorest country, with the GDP per capita now lower than Moldova.

Poroshenko’s bloc – renamed after May’s presidential defeat to “European Solidarity”, based on his promise to get Ukrainian closer to EU membership – won only 26 seats from 132 in 2014 (total votes down from 3.4 million to just over 1 million). This again confirms the hatred the Ukrainian people had for his government, as expressed in opinion polls. Even the majorities in his strongholds in the western districts during the presidentials almost all evaporated, although this is still where he got most of his support.

The sad irony is that Zelenskiy’s programme represents a continuation of Poroshenko’s policy of privatisations and austerity in the interest of Ukrainian oligarchs, while bowing and bending to the pressures of US imperialism. This is a line that he has not really strayed from, before nor after the election. In a recent English-language video aimed at Western capitalists, Zelenskiy highlighted his desire to “deregulate” industry and how the potential investors could “make money both internally and externally” from Ukrainians. The external part is clearly aimed at those EU companies currently looking for more Ukrainian migrant workers they can pay a pittance to work in miserable conditions.

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Political clans take House seats in tandems and trios

Dave Abuel | ABS-CBN Investigative and Research Group

As the 18th Congress opens, at least 20 political families in the House of Representatives will be sitting together as husbands and wives; parents and children; siblings; cousins; uncles; aunts and in-laws.

The political families who will occupy the most number of seats in the lower chamber are the Suarezes of Quezon and the Dys of Isabela. They have 3 seats each.

Dr. Ronald Mendoza, dean of the Ateneo de Manila School of Government, said having relatives sitting together in Congress may lead to the “rapid erosion” of independence and credibility of Congress.

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