Foreign Elections

Italian Elections Produce a Hung Parliament

“Italy is on course for a hung parliament after voters backed right-leaning and populist parties, a vote projection released by state TV suggests,” the BBC reports.

CNN: “Based on early vote count, the result looks like a win for the center-right coalition brokered by former Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, which collectively is projected to hold the biggest share of the vote — 35.5%.”

“The result, which is comprised of Berlusconi’s Forza Italia, Matteo Salvini’s far-right League and the neo-fascist Brothers of Italy, means it will have the most seats in parliament, but 4% short of the 40% needed to avoid a hung parliament.”

Why Italy’s Elections Matter

New York Times: “The campaign before Italy’s national elections on Sunday has been self-obsessed and often petty and unedifying. But it has been instructive about one thing: The political forces that have torn at the global order and the European Union have settled into the mainstream.”

“Fascists rallied in large numbers in Italian piazzas. The country experienced its worst political violence in years. Formerly unthinkable suggestions, like the mass deportation of migrants, became virtually routine.”

“The reanimation of Italy’s political ghosts is a worrying harbinger for a European Union already weakened by Britain’s decision to leave the bloc, the electoral setbacks of Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany, the long shadow of Russia and the rise of an illiberal bloc of nations in the eastern part of the Continent.”

China to Drop Presidential Term Limits

“China’s Communist Party (CCP) has proposed amending the country’s constitution to allow President Xi Jinping to serve a third term in office,” CNN reports.

“When it goes into effect, Xi will be free to serve indefinitely as China’s head of state, the strongest indication yet he is intending to maintain power at the top beyond the two 5-year terms served by his predecessors for the past 20 years.”

Washington Post: “If China pushes ahead with the proposal, which seems likely, it could change the country’s political trajectory, securing Xi’s place as the most powerful leader since Mao Zedong, who ruled for more than three decades through 1976.”

Putin Sidelines an Opponent

“Aleksei Navalny, a Russian anti-corruption activist, would have no real chance of defeating President Vladimir V. Putin in an election. The authorities have cast him as an utterly irrelevant showboat,” the New York Times reports.

“But on Monday the Kremlin barred him from running for president in March. Then on Tuesday, threatening legal action, it warned him against organizing a boycott of the election.”

“In one surreal turn after another, the Russian authorities have dismissed Mr. Navalny, a charismatic and canny street politician, as a nonentity — and then have done everything in their power to make sure that is the case.”

Germany’s Merkel Gets a Lifeline

Washington Post: “The impasse that has gripped German politics all week showed signs of breaking Friday as a main center-left party backed down from pledges that it would not consider teaming with Chancellor Angela Merkel to form a government.”

“The shift gives Merkel a potential path out of a crisis that’s been called the worst of her 12-year tenure. It also lessens the chance that Germans will go back to the polls in early 2018 after an inconclusive September election left the country without an obvious formula for a stable government.”

Germany May Face New Elections

“Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany faced the greatest crisis of her political career on Monday, after late-night negotiations to form a new government collapsed, raising the prospect of a snap election,” the New York Times reports.

“The chancellor expressed a preference for a new election, saying that she was doubtful that a government lacking a majority in Parliament could handle the many challenges it faces.”

The BBC runs through the options.

Austria Elects 31-Year Old Leader

“Sebastian Kurz, a 31-year-old conservative, is set to become the next chancellor of Austria and Europe’s youngest leader, though he will likely need to form a coalition to rule, early results from Sunday’s election show,” CNN reports.

BBC: “Immigration was the dominant issue in the run-up to the vote, and Mr Kurz moved his party to the right in the wake of Europe’s 2015 refugee crisis.”

“He appealed to conservative and right-wing voters with pledges to shut down migrant routes to Europe, cap benefit payments to refugees, and bar immigrants from receiving benefits until they have lived in Austria for five years.”

Merkel’s Win Marred By Surge in Far-Right Vote

German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s election to a fourth term was tarnished by a surge in vote for the anti-immigration Alternative for Germany, the Wall Street Journal reports.

“Germany’s election result confirms the overriding trend of European politics in the past year: the crumbling of the Continent’s established parties in the face of voter anxiety over economics and identity.”

“The fragmented vote mirrors this year’s elections in other Continental European countries including France and the Netherlands. Established parties have suffered steep losses, especially on the center left, and voters have turned to upstarts on the nationalist right, the anticapitalist left or the liberal center.”

CNN: “The AfD won 13% of the vote and came a stunning third place behind the main center-right and center-left parties. It becomes the first far-right party to enter the Bundestag since 1961.”

Specter of Coup Haunts Venezuela

“Venezuela appears to be sliding toward a more volatile stage of unrest after anti-government forces looted weapons during a weekend raid on a military base and frustration over what some see as an ineffectual opposition leadership boils over,” Reuters reports.

“Last week’s installation of an all-powerful new legislative body run by leftist President Nicolas Maduro’s Socialist Party loyalists, despite massive protests and a global outcry, has left many Venezuelans feeling there are no more democratic options to oppose the government.”

Netanyahu Says He Won’t Be Toppled

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu “has rejected criminal suspicions leveled against him in recent days, amid speculation that his tenure will end soon,” the Jerusalem Post reports.

“Netanyahu lashed out – in private conversations with Knesset members – at the press, the opposition and members of his own party, whom he accused of conspiring to unseat him.”

Said Netanyahu: “They are trying to get me and attempting to topple the Right. This is not new. They have been trying for many years. I don’t see us going to elections now.”

He added: “I have nothing to fear. I don’t think I have a problem.”

Macron Proposes Overhaul of French Parliament

French President Emmanuel Macron said that the country was ready to embark on a “radically new path” after presidential and parliamentary elections swept him and his new centrist party into power, AFP reports.

“The 39-year-old French leader, elected in May, laid out a series of proposals including a new law that will reduce the number of lawmakers in both houses of parliament by one third. He also proposed that the electoral system be changed to allow more proportional representation ‘so that all tendencies are fairly represented (in parliament).'”