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Monday, May 5, 2008
By Dr. Steven Taylor

Via the BBC: Morales dismisses autonomy vote

Bolivian President Evo Morales has rejected an autonomy vote by the resource-rich Santa Cruz region, saying the unofficial referendum was illegal.

[...]

The poll pitted the region’s mixed-race elite against the president’s indigenous supporters.

An official count of 22% of the ballots showed 82% had voted to give the region more control over its resources, the AFP news agency reported.

And, it should be noted, there are long-standing, deep-seeded tensions (to put it kindly) between the elites and the indigenous majority. Indeed, Morales is the first president to come from that majority. This is also about regional wealth in different sections of the country.

Boz provides us with Five points on Bolivia’s autonomy referendum which all strike me as fair. The only thing I am curious about are the turnout numbers and the issue of whether there was an effective boycott by the opposition or not. Boz has the unofficial turnout at 60%, meaning if there was a boycott, it wasn’t an especially successful one-although I am not certain what would constitute “normal” turnout for a local referendum in Bolivia. Still, even if it is lower than whatever that normal is, it is hard to call 60% a discreditingly low number.

El Mundo has the following:
La votación demostró que Santa Cruz es el crisol de la bolivianidad and Morales desconoce victoria del Estatuto Autonómico.

The NYT plays up the conflict angle: Clashes in Bolivia on Vote Over More Autonomy.

While the vote is non-binding (indeed, not even official in any legal sense), it will spark negotiations between the regional and central governments and is really part of a longer-term evolution of politics and governance in Bolivia.

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Saturday, May 3, 2008
By Dr. Steven Taylor

Yesterday, I noted the poor showing of the Labour Party in local elections in Britain. Not only did they lose a lot of council seats, they lost the mayoralty of London (via the BBC): Johnson wins London mayoral race

Boris Johnson has won the race to become the next mayor of London - ending Ken Livingstone’s eight-year reign at City Hall.

The Conservative candidate won with 1,168,738 first and second preference votes, compared with Mr Livingstone’s 1,028,966 on a record turnout of 45%.

It is worth noting that the office has only been an elected one since 2000, and therefore this is the first transfer of power from one elected mayor to another, as Livingstone won election in 2000 and was re-elected in 2004.

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Friday, May 2, 2008
By Dr. Steven Taylor

Via the BBC: Brown ‘disappointed’ by poll loss

Gordon Brown says it has been a “bad and disappointing” night for Labour, as the party suffers its worst local election results in at least 40 years.

BBC research suggests Labour won 24% of votes cast in England and Wales, behind the Tories on 44% and Lib Dems on 25%.

So far Labour has lost 189 councillors and key councils like Reading. Tory gains include Bury and North Tyneside.

More interesting than the fact the the Tories are at 44% is the fact that, at the moment at least, Labour is third behind the Liberal Democrats:

Lib Dem leader Nick Clegg told BBC Breakfast: “We were 13% a few months ago, we’re now 25%. We’ve over-taken Labour, we’ve taken seats off the Conservatives, we’ve taken seats off Labour.

“If you call that a disappointment then we inhabit different planets. I am actually delighted, we are regaining momentum.”

Of course, Labour didn’t fare too well in previous local elections (in 2004) when they won only 26% of the vote (which was attributed to discontent over the war in Iraq and with then-PM Tony Blair). The numbers don’t exactly scream support for new PM Gordon Brown:

Of 1,005 people who took part in the poll, 68% said Mr Cameron was an asset to his party, compared with 43% for Mr Clegg and 42% for Mr Brown.

One suspects that part of the issue is simply that Labour has been in control of the national government for so long, that whatever discontent that voters may have is aimed at them. Further, there has been an economic downturn across the pond as well, and that is never good news for incumbent parties-especially when the leader of that party (i.e., Brown) main strength is supposed to be the economy:

Mr Brown’s reputation for economic competence has also taken a blow.

At this time last year 48% said that Labour could be trusted to run the country’s economy, little different from the 53% who did so in 2002. But this year the figure has fallen to 32%.

The BBC’s election central can be accessed here.

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Saturday, April 26, 2008
By Dr. Steven Taylor

Via the BBC: Zimbabwe opposition retains gains

None of the original results were overturned, making it difficult for the ruling Zanu-PF party to overturn an opposition majority in the lower house.

Ten opposition-held seats remain to be declared and Zanu-PF now needs to win nine to be sure of regaining control.

There is still no word on the results of the presidential election.

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Friday, April 25, 2008
By Dr. Steven Taylor

Via the BBC: Iran votes in second round poll

Eighty-two seats in which no candidate managed to win 25% of the vote in last month’s first round are being contested on Friday, including 11 in Tehran.

Conservative candidates won around 70% of the seats in the first round vote.

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Thursday, April 24, 2008
ZANU-PF Retains Seat in Recount
By Dr. Steven Taylor

Via the BBC: Mugabe’s party wins first recount

Zimbabwe’s ruling party has been confirmed as the winner of the first of 23 constituencies to complete a recount of votes after March’s election.

The electoral commission said Zanu-PF retained its parliamentary seat in Goromonzi West.

The opposition Movement for Democratic Change has dismissed the recounts as an attempt to rig the election and overturn its parliamentary majority.

Of course, this isn’t that big of a deal, as it doesn’t alter the original count.

The numbers (via the AP):

The first result in a recount of 23 seats in Zimbabwe’s parliamentary elections gave victory to president Robert Mugabe’s ruling party today.

The recount in a Harare suburb was the only one demanded by the opposition MDC party.

The results showed just a one-vote difference from the original count from the poll giving the seat to Mugabe’s ZANU-PF party with 6,194 votes to 5,931 for the MDC.

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Monday, April 21, 2008
By Dr. Steven Taylor

Via the Independent: Zimbabwe opposition pleads for international intervention

Zimbabwe resembles a war zone, with thousands of people displaced, hundreds injured, and 10 killed in postelection violence, an opposition leader said yesterday.

[...]

Human Rights Watch has said that “torture and violence are surging in Zimbabwe”. It warned of “torture camps to systematically target, beat and torture people suspected of having voted for the MDC in last month’s elections”.

Meanwhile, a limited recount of contested legislative seats is underway, and still no official word on the presidential results.

See also the LAT: Zimbabwe opposition allege beatings, threats

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By Dr. Steven Taylor

Via the BBC: Opposition victorious in Paraguay

Former Roman Catholic bishop Fernando Lugo has won Paraguay’s presidential election, ending more than six decades of rule by the Colorado Party.

With results declared in most polling stations, Mr Lugo has 41% of the vote.

His main rival, Blanca Ovelar of the Colorado Party, has 31% and former army chief Lino Oviedo 22%.

All of which is interesting if for no other reason because of the following:

Mr Lugo’s victory brings to an end one of the longest periods of continuous rule by any party in the world - the Colorado Party has been in power since 1947.

Of course, from 1954-1989, the government was controlled by a dictator, General Alfredo Stroessner, so the streak did have some authoritarian help. Still, even the stretch from 1989-now is almost two decades of one party in power under democratic rules.

The AP proclaims: Ex-bishop wins Paraguay vote as democracy matures

Boz has Five points on Lugo, should one be interested.

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Monday, April 14, 2008
Zimbawe’s High Court Refuses to Order Release of Election Results
By Dr. Steven Taylor

Via the Independent: Zimbabwe court rejects bid to release poll result

Zimbabwe’s High Court today refused to order the immediate release of delayed results from the 29 March presidential election, in a major blow to the opposition MDC.

And so the wait continues…

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By Dr. Steven Taylor

Via the BBC: Exit polls place Berlusconi ahead.

Turnout has been estimated at 78%, which is staggeringly high by US standard, but lower than the last elections in 2006.

The estimates are, at this point:

CHAMBER OF DEPUTIES (630 SEATS):
Centre-right bloc 42%;
centre-left bloc 40% (Sky)
Centre-right bloc 40%-44%; centre-left bloc 38%-42% (Rai)
Centre-right bloc 45.5%; centre-left bloc 43% (Sky/Rai)
SENATE (315 SEATS):
Centre-right bloc 42.5%;
centre-left bloc 39.5% (Sky)
Centre-right bloc 40.5%-44.5%;
centre-left bloc 37.5%-41.5% (Rai)
Centre-right bloc 46%;
centre-left bloc 42.5% (Sky/Rai)

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