What is most surprising about the Venezuelan opposition’s overwhelming electoral victory on December 6 is that so many people were surprised. In any normal democracy, when a government is responsible for a massive economic recession, runaway inflation, endemic shortages and a collapse of personal safety, voters can be expected to dole out harsh punishment at the ballot boxes.
Venezuela—needless to say—is not a normal democracy. It is a country where checks and balances, military subordination to civilian authority, freedom of the press and the right to dissent have all but vanished. The opposition’s victory is therefore not the ultimate proof of Venezuela’s democratic virtues, as members of the government have argued, but instead an opportunity to rebuild democracy based on tolerance, pluralism, and republican principles, all of which were systematically disdained by chavista governments. Read more
The All Progressives Congress (APC), led by former military leader General Muhammadu Buhari, has won Nigeria’s presidential election, unseating the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) that has dominated the country since its 1999 transition to civilian rule.
The election symbolises the institutional change that made the PDP’s election upset possible. Against considerable odds, INEC, Nigeria’s independent electoral commission, played a key role in delivering credible elections. The implications run deep. This glimpse of institutional strength speaks powerfully about Nigeria’s future as the African economic powerhouse that might yet emerge with continued, sustained reforms. Read more
The streets of Colombo were strangely quiet in the hours after Mahinda Rajapaksa, the former Sri Lankan president, conceded defeat on Friday. The shutters were down at most shops and restaurants, the pavements were empty and the capital’s red tuk-tuks were hurtling around virtually empty streets.
The contrast with the cacophonous celebrations that greeted the result of India’s elections last year could hardly have been starker. There are, however, similarities between the two game-changing polls. Read more
For President Dilma Rousseff of Brazil, the latest poll on her popularity offers from her perspective good news and bad news in equal measure.
The good news from the Pew Research Center is that 51 per cent of Brazilians view her favourably for the presidential elections in October compared with 27 per cent for Aécio Neves, the opposition candidate from the more pro-business PSDB party, and 24 per cent for her other opposition rival Eduardo Campos.
The bad news is that underneath these headline figures, there is a wealth of data showing Brazilians are becoming dissatisfied with their lot. Read more
President Juan Manuel Santos says that if he wins Colombia’s elections he will put an end to the long-standing conflict with the Marxist insurgents of the Farc. He talks to Andres Schipani just days before the vote.
The African National Congress, like other political parties, has a penchant for numbers.
With South Africans preparing to vote tomorrow in the fifth general election since the dawn of democracy 20 years ago, the ruling party’s manifesto is full of them.
Since 1994 – the most historic of all South African numbers – 3.3m houses have been built; 7m households have been added to the electricity grid; nearly 5,000 (white) farms have been transferred to black farmers; 5m more people are working and GDP has grown to more than R3.5tn, the manifesto tells us. Read more
By Dalibor Rohac and Nouh El-Harmouzi
Campaigners for Abdelaziz Bouteflika, the 76-year old Algerian president who is seeking re-election for a fourth consecutive term, promise “broad democracy” if their candidate wins. After decades of oppression and authoritarianism, Algerians have little reason to believe them. Read more
Kiska (left) and Fico: victory of the underdog?
By Tom Nicholson of bne in Bratislava
It’s been over a decade since Slovak Prime Minister Robert Fico has been an underdog in any election. But his assertive campaign to capture the country’s highest office – the presidency – in the March 29 crucial run-off ballot suddenly looks vulnerable to the challenge of a rank political outsider. Read more
The hotly contested Honduran election still hasn’t yielded a final official result. But maybe it’s not too soon to spot some lessons Mexico might offer the Central American state.
They boil down to: “Amlo” vs “Pacto”. Read more
By Clare Nuttall of bne
Unsurprisingly, Emomali Rakhmon, Tajikistan’s president, has been re-elected for a fourth term with an overwhelming majority, preliminary results of this week’s flawed election showed on Thursday.
While Tajikistan may be the poorest country of the former Soviet Union, its importance is set to grow. The region is preparing for the withdrawal of Nato troops from neighbouring Afghanistan in 2014, China is battling with Russia to increase its influence, and the Tajik government is pressing on with plans for a giant dam that could inflame tensions in an already jittery part of the world where water is an increasingly precious resource. Read more
Masked men storming polling stations, assaulting officials and voters and throwing gas bombs; ballot boxes disappearing; international observers fleeing for their safety; an atmosphere of intimidation. Sunday’s local elections in Kosovo were not quite the affirmation of new-found inter-ethnic cooperation and free and fair democracy the European Union had hoped for. Serbia will wish to disassociate itself from the violence swiftly, lest it prove a setback to its budding hopes of EU accession, and the investment related to it. Read more
Nobody seriously doubted that Ilham Aliyev would be re-elected for a third term as president of Azerbaijan in Wednesday’s poll. Indeed, Aliyev was so confident of victory, which he took with a resounding 84.55 per cent of the vote, that he did not even bother to campaign. “The fact that this election was free and transparent is another serious step towards democracy,” he said.
Camil Hasanli, the main opposition leader, cried foul and described the election as an exercise in vote-rigging. Despite representing a coalition of some 20 opposition parties, the 61-year-old historian received only 5.53 percent of the vote. Read more
As Zimbabweans prepare to vote in Wednesday’s fiercely contested election, their neighbours in South Africa will be watching closely. Its outcome will set the scene for the development of trade and investment between the two countries. Read more
By Russell Holden and Randeep Grewal of Taylor Wessing LLP
It has been dubbed the world’s greatest election – a poll staggered over a month involving approximately 780m voters and 250,000 security personnel. In a year’s time, India will have voted for its 16th democratically elected government since independence from Britain. As expected, the main political parties are already jockeying for position among the considerable bank of rural class voters. However, this election campaign is showing early signs of the increased importance of the middle classes in Indian politics. Both the ruling Congress party and its main opposition, the Bharatiya Janata Party or BJP, appear to recognise that the impact of appealing to professionals and entrepreneurs through talk of improving corporate governance and pro-growth policies may be as great as the traditional focus on rural India. Read more
Waiting for Najib Razak, Malaysia’s prime minister, to call a much-anticipated general election is getting to be painful.
First it was to have been called at the beginning of the month. This would have meant polling in the last week of March, a convenient time since schools are out and classrooms are often used as polling stations in Malaysia. Read more
From London’s Boris Johnson to New York’s Michael Bloomberg, city governors and mayors around the world have proven their roles are as much about power politics and money as they are about getting stuff done.
In Thailand, last week’s hard-fought election for Bangkok’s governor was a battle fought on promises of change – most of which cannot be delivered, say analysts. But what really lay behind the fight was the struggle for power in Thailand between the two main political parties. All the votes are in, but it’s not over yet. Read more
By Christian Lewis and Shaun Levine of Eurasia
The government is unlikely to be unseated in Malaysia’s upcoming parliamentary election, which is good news for the business environment. A win by the ruling Barisan Nasional (BN) coalition will eliminate most investors’ concerns about instability that have recently contributed to market volatility.
That said, given the complexities of Malaysian politics, a reduced margin of victory for the incumbent could still impact the speed with which BN’s ambitious reforms are introduced. Read more
A caretaker government in Sofia will do its utmost to steady the tiller before May’s snap elections, following several weeks of street protests that toppled the previous administration and plunged Bulgaria into political uncertainty. But what happens after the poll is anybody’s guess. Many in Sofia’s political elite seem reluctant to grasp the poisoned chalice of leadership and their capacity to satisfy the demands of a restive and inchoate popular movement is limited.
On Wednesday, President Rosen Plevneliev ended weeks of speculation by naming Marin Raykov, Bulgaria’s ambassador to France, as caretaker prime minister until the May 12 elections. Read more
The race for Kenya’s presidency is heading to a nail-biting finish as the front-runner’s lead fades away and the votes counted show the decision going to a run-off for the first time since counting began four days ago.
With around 80 per cent of the constituencies declared, the early lead held by deputy prime minister Uhuru Kenyatta has fallen away, slipping just below the 50 per cent mark needed to secure an outright win. His rival, prime minister Raila Odinga, is trailing with 44 per cent of the vote but results trickling in from Odinga strongholds are closing the gap. With 20 per cent of ballot papers left to count, the outcome could go either way. Read more
A failure of electronic vote counting systems has delayed the announcement of preliminary results for the Kenyan presidential elections and caused a sharp drop in the value of the shilling.
The Kenyan currency had strengthened over the past week and remained steady during the election. But in the face of uncertainty over the outcome of the vote on Wednesday it fell 1.5 per cent against the US dollar, reaching 86.75 by the end of the day. Read more