There are two big elections coming up – Italy on Sunday and Monday, and Kenya a week later. But first let’s check out some other electoral news for this week.
With about 88% of polling places accounted for, results from Sunday’s presidential election have confirmed the early count. Left-wing incumbent Rafael Correa has 56.7%, with his nearest rival, Guillermo Lasso, on 23.0%.
In the legislative election, Correa’s party, PAIS, has 52% of the vote nationwide, unchanged from 2009. But whereas on that occasion it fell just short of an absolute majority, that is unlikely to be the case this time: the voting system has been changed to ensure greater proportionality, and the opposition is more fragmented than it was in 2009. There seems little doubt that Correa will have a friendly legislature.
Interestingly, votes in Ecuador are tabulated separately for men and women. They show that Correa did slightly better among women than among men, while the two leading opposition candidates had a slightly higher male vote, but the differences are all less than 1.5%.
Armenia went to the polls on Monday, in a presidential election that was boycotted by most of the opposition parties. Not surprising then that incumbent Serge Sarkisian was comfortably re-elected, according to the BBC, with nearly 59% of the vote. In second place was Raffi Hovannisian with almost 37%. (Wikipedia says 58.6% to 36.7%.)
Hovannisian has refused to concede defeat and indeed claims to be the legitimate victor; his supporters have held mass protests. The same thing happened (with a different opposition candidate) after the previous election, in 2008. While Armenia clearly falls short of best democratic practice, there’s no evidence that the voting itself was rigged: the US state department comments that the election was “judged by international observers to be generally well-administered and characterized by a respect for fundamental freedoms.”
Armenia has always posed something of a dilemma for right-wing observers in the west. As a Christian country with primarily Muslim enemies (Turkey and Azerbaijan) it would seem to be a prime candidate for their support; however, it’s also a traditional ally of Russia, while Turkey of course is a member of NATO. Since it doesn’t fit any convenient narrative, the country tends to make only rare appearances in our media.
I’ll try to remedy that a bit with a more detailed post next week once the situation there has been clarified.
Grenada, in the West Indies, had its moment of fame in the early 1980s when a series of unfortunate events culminated in the 1983 American invasion. Since then there has rarely been any reason to pay it much notice.
Elections there on Tuesday, however, were interesting in that the opposition scored a clean sweep, winning all 15 seats. The centre-left National Democratic Congress of prime minister Tillman Thomas, who quickly conceded defeat, has been wiped out, and former prime minister Keith Mitchell of the centre-right New National Party will return to power.
Grenada is not a big place; with only about 100,000 people, its electorates typically have only three or four thousand voters (similar to the Northern Territory). Moreover, voting is first-past-the-post, so large swings in terms of seats are quite common. I haven’t been able to find actual voting figures yet, but at the last election, in 2008, the NDC won 11 of the 15 seats with just 51% of the vote.
Finally to Bulgaria, where yesterday prime minister Boiko Borisov announced that he would resign ahead of fresh elections in the wake of violent protests against rising electricity prices – evidently a proxy for public anger about austerity measures in general.
According to Al-Jazeera, “With both Borisov and his opposition Socialists refusing to form a new cabinet under the current parliament, a caretaker government of experts will have to be appointed by the president to organise early elections. The vote will most likely take place in late April.”
Borisov’s centre-right government, in power since 2009, was generally thought to have navigated the European financial crisis fairly well, but it has recently been losing ground in the polls to the Socialist Party. It looks as if this will be another opportunity for the European left to show that it’s on the comeback trail.