Kenya is one of the most politically and economically developed countries in Africa and on Tuesday conducted its second presidential election since a political unrest in 2007-8 over disputed election results. Since this instability powers have been devolved away from Nairobi and the country has embarked on some measures of electoral reform in order to tackle corruption and defend the integrity of the country’s elections. The elections were predicted to be a flashpoint for violence but so far there only been a few examples of tensions boiling over into physical confrontations, and nothing on the scale of the 2007-8 political crisis.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel is often lauded in the Western press as an example of a strong national leader that proudly stands up for socially liberal values. This was most notably demonstrated by the approach many organisations took to her decision to welcome hundreds of thousands of refugees into Germany, much to the opposition of other EU states. However for advocates of LGBT equality there has always been a black rain cloud above Mrs Merkel when she is described in such glowingly positive terms as she and her party, the Christian Democratic Union (CDU) have always opposed the legalisation of same-sex marriage. The news yesterday was that the CDU may change this position.
Theresa May is, to quote George Osborne, “a dead woman walking” and today’s Queen’s Speech perfectly exemplified this fact. May had initially intended that the announcement of a date for the speech would be a way of gaining leverage on the DUP but this did not happen and as a result there is not yet a formal arrangement in place to prop up a Tory minority government. Because of this political uncertainty the speech was devoid of serious proposals other than vague statements about Brexit that could be interpreted in different ways depending on one’s views of the EU, and a notable absence of proposals that were in the Conservative manifesto. Continue reading →
The Labour Party is in a strong position after this election but that must not be taken for granted. The party’s support is at its highest level for a number of years and this was in spite of an incredibly hostile print media response to senior Labour figures. Hopefully the influence of The Sun, The Mail and other papers of their ilk is one the decline but in the short-term they shall still be around. Let’s face facts, Labour lost the election because they didn’t win the most seats or get the most votes. But if Labour is to build on the successes that it did have at this election then it needs to understand what happened and think quickly about the future.
The first round of the French presidential election took place a number of weeks ago and the result was that neither candidate from the two main political parties of France- the Socialist Party and Les Républicains- made it into the second round of voting. Instead, former Socialist Party minister and self-declared centrist Emmanuel Macron and Marine Le Pen of the far-right Front National made it into the second round vote. Left-wing populist Jean-Luc Mélenchon narrowly finished fourth with nearly 20% of the vote. Mélenchon was the candidate that I wished to see elected as the French President and but because of the result there have been many questions about who these voters should support. I’m going to argue against some of the nonsense that has been proposed in recent weeks before revealing what I would do.
After the oppressive rule of former President Yahya Jammeh, The Gambia has decided to move on, and this is in part down to the will of the Gambian people. The Gambian government has announced that the country will establish a Truth and Reconciliation Commission, in the mould of that of post-Apartheid South Africa, to investigate the abuses of power during Yahya Jammeh’s rule. The Gambian Justice Minister Abubacarr Tambadou made the announcement in Banjul a few weeks ago adding that Jammeh’s finances would also be subject to investigation. However the new administration has been further bolstered by parliamentary elections that will rekindle a democratic political culture in the country.
The Indian state of Uttar Pradesh recently had an important election. Prime Minister Narendra Modi was on the campaign trail in order to get the BJP elected as the next government of the country’s most populous state. Evidently the BJP’s electoral strategy and message was spot on as the PM’s party 312 seats out of 403. The scale of the party’s victory is best illustrated by comparing the results to the last UP election in 2012. In 2012 the BJP won only 47 seats and garnered 15%. However in the latest election they were the recipient of a 24.7% swing, and thus were swept into power with a significantly higher number of seats than the 202 majority required to single-handedly govern. The results of this will be a the stoking of ethno-religious tensions and the radicalisation of discourse as a consequence.