Election roundup: Chile and the rest

Chile

Chile’s presidential election has come out very much as expected (see my preview here). With 99.3% of polling places reporting, centre-left candidate and former president Michelle Bachelet has 46.7% of the vote as against 25.0% for her centre-right opponent, Evelyn Matthei.

None of the other candidates posed any threat to the top two. Marco Enríquez-Ominami, of the Progressive Party, is running third with 11.0% (a drop of almost half from his 2009 result), narrowly ahead of independent Franco Parisi on 10.1%. You can follow the official results here.

Bachelet and Matthei will now contest the runoff on 15 December, in which Bachelet will be an unbackable favorite.

Maldives

The Maldives finally completed their election on Saturday, and got the result that the establishment wanted. Abdulla Yaameen, half-brother of the former dictator, won the runoff narrowly with 51.3% of the vote, ahead of former president Mohamed Nasheed.

For once everyone seems to accept that the process was above board. Nasheed conceded defeat, saying “We have the opportunity to show citizens how an opposition party that is loyal to the state works.”

Yaameen was duly sworn in yesterday. His victory brings a long saga to a close, although there are fears it will mean a return to autocracy and a turning away from secular and western influences.

Germany

This week will mark two months since the German election, and coalition negotiations for a new government continue. Slowly. Bloomberg reported last week that talks between the Christian Democrats and Social Democrats were “more than halfway through”, with completion scheduled for 27 November. But that isn’t the end, because the plan that emerges will still have to be put to a vote of the Social Democrats’ 470,000 members, sometime in early December.

The story quotes a German professor of politics saying that “A little bit of speed now on agreeing on coalition policy would be helpful.” Quite.

The stumbling blocks seem to centre on domestic economic policy, with the Social Democrats particularly keen to get a national minimum wage. But there’s no sign of a contingency plan if negotiations fall over. With both sides unwilling to contemplate other alternatives, it seems clear that an agreement will eventually be reached, with only the detail to be worked out.

Czech Republic

There are finally some signs of movement on the process of forming a new Czech government, following elections on 26 October. Seven parties won seats in the new parliament, none of them with more than 20.5% of the vote, so putting together a majority is not a simple task.

The Prague Daily Monitor reports that Czech president Miloš Zeman will on Thursday invite the Social Democrat leader, Bohuslav Sobotka, to try to form a government. The plan is for a coalition of Sobotka’s party with the new centrist force ANO, the second largest party, and the smaller Christian Democrats. The three between them would have 111 seats out of the total of 200.

It’s another example of the leisurely pace of coalition-building in Europe. This stage has only been reached after Sobotka put down a revolt within the Social Democrats headed by his deputy, Michal Hašek, a close ally of Zeman, who wanted to exclude Sobotka from the negotiating process. České Noviny reports that Hašek and two others gave up their posts in the party leadership after strong internal pressure backing Sobotka.

It hasn’t been a good few months for Zeman, whose own party failed to reach the threshold for representation, and who had earlier tried to forestall the election by installing a “technocratic” government of his own choosing. But if the Social Democrats fail to secure a coalition deal this time, he may yet play an important role in determining the shape of a new administration.

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