October electoral roundup

Time for our (more or less) regular monthly roundup of electoral news that you might have missed.

Slovenia

Slovenia went to the polls on Sunday in the first round of its presidential election. Centre-left incumbent Borut Pahor, in office since 2012, is retiring due to term limits, leaving an open contest that will now go to a runoff on 13 November.

Anže Logar led the field with 34.0% of the vote; he was foreign minister in the centre-right to right-wing Slovenian Democratic Party government that was defeated in last April’s parliamentary election. He will face Nataša Pirc Musar, an independent lawyer and activist, who had 26.9%. The centre-left’s Milan Brglez placed third with 15.4%, ahead of another independent, Vladimir Prebilič, on 10.7%.

Since Brglez and Prebilič are both left of centre, their voters are likely to favor Pirc Musar fairly heavily, which should be enough to give her the edge. Logar will do better out of the anti-vaxers and Christian Democrats, but there are not as many votes there: they had only 6.0% and 4.4% respectively.

Vanuatu

Results from Vanuatu’s parliamentary election, held two weeks ago (see preview here), are now available, although they’re not terribly useful. Once again, the 52 seats were spread across a huge number of parties – 18 of them, one fewer than last time. Vanua’aku and the Union of Moderate Parties (UMP) will have the largest delegations, each with seven seats (unchanged and up two, respectively); another five parties won four or five seats.

A coalition government is expected to be formed including the UMP and several other parties; it’s claimed that an agreement to that effect embraces 31 MPs, enough for a clear majority. An opposing pact, which includes Vanua’aku, has fewer members, although some parties appear to have representatives in both.

The country is also congratulating itself on the fact that there is a woman among the 52 MPs, Gloria Julia Kings from the UMP: the last three parliaments were entirely male.

Iraq

Iraq has a new president. Its parliament earlier this month elected Abdul Latif Rashid to the largely ceremonial position, beating incumbent Barham Saleh. Both men are Kurds; a power-sharing convention dictates that the president should be Kurdish, the prime minister a Shi’ite Arab and the speaker a Sunni Arab.

The fact that this has taken so long – the parliamentary election was just over a year ago – reflects division between the two main Shi’ite groups, the bloc led by Muqtada al-Sadr, which won the most seats last year, and the rival pro-Iranian Co-ordination Framework. Rashid was backed by the latter group, and promptly designated Mohammed Shia al-Sudani as prime minister.

Al-Sudani now has thirty days to try to put together a government that will command a majority, which given al-Sadr’s hostility will be a delicate task.

Thailand

Finally to Thailand, where we reported last month on the decision of the constitutional court to suspend the prime minister, General Prayut Chan-o-cha, pending the hearing of a case brought by the opposition on the application of term limits.

Having made that show of independence, the court then reverted to type. At the end of September it ruled, by a six-three majority, that for the purpose of the eight-year limit Prayut’s term was taken to begin in 2017 when the new constitution came into effect, not in 2014 when he actually took power.

That would potentially allow Prayut to remain in power until 2025, but in order to do so he will first have to survive the next election, set for 7 May next year. That looks like an uphill task; his party trails badly in the polls, and even with the various tricks the military and the establishment have up their sleeve, it will be difficult to prevent the opposition from winning a commanding majority.

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