Saturday, March 17

Election updates

In case anyone was wondering what happened in the elections I've written about recently...

In Estonia, the right-leaning Reform party won the most seats in parliament. The party favors, among other things, reselling the national freight railway that was recently nationalized and lowering the country's flat income tax from 22 to 18 percent. Reform had been governing with the Center Party (I wonder how they lost with an exciting name like that), but is now in talks to form a coalition with three smaller parties. Meanwhile, discussion continues over whether to move the Soviet monument, as well as dig up the graves of several soldiers buried there, and move them to more subtle locations.

In Northern Ireland, as predicted, the provincial assembly elections were dominated by the Democratic Unionists (DUP) and Sinn Fein, with 30 and 26 percent of the vote, respectively. More moderate parties lost seats. As Henry McDonald writes in The Observer, the Northern Ireland public strongly endorses negotiation and power sharing, but at the same time is increasingly voting for the most polarized hard line parties.

Tony Blair wants the DUP to reach an agreement to share power with Sinn Fein by March 26, threatening to dissolve the provincial assembly if the deadline is not met, though Ireland has suggested that further negotiation may be possible. While DUP leader Ian Paisley seems far more open to such an agreement than he has been in the past, he has so far made no commitment to such action. His acceptance may be more likely if he manages to squeeze a 1 billion pound support package for the new administration out of the British government.

And in Mauritania , the presidential election will go to a second round on March 25, as no candidate received 50 percent of the votes. The second round will pit opposition leader Ahmed Ould Daddah against Sidi Ould Sheikh Abdellahi, who served in the government ousted by the current junta, and who is close to the political establishment. International observers declared the first round to be free and fair.

No comments: