Loose ends for Christmas

I’m still convalescing from a bout of Covid, so apologies for the lack of pre-Christmas blogging. Things should be back to normal soon; in the meantime, here’s a very quick roundup of the more significant things that have been happening in the electoral world. I’ll aim to cover them in more detail in the next couple of weeks.

Victoria. The Victorian state election, held four weeks ago, has been finalised. Good summaries are available from Ben Raue and from Kevin Bonham; Bonham’s analysis of the upper house is also well worth a read. The Liberal opposition has chosen a new leader, revived member for Hawthorn John Pesutto, but it will take some time for his party to come to terms with the disaster that struck it.

Fiji. This month’s big electoral surprise was in Fiji, where in an election held last week the government of military ruler Frank Bainimarama has been defeated by an opposition coalition led by another former coup leader, Sitiveni Rabuka. It’s a somewhat equivocal triumph for democracy, since, as I’ve remarked before, both men really belong in front of a firing squad, but in difficult times we have to take what we can get.

Bulgaria. Following October’s indecisive election, Bulgaria’s fractious politicians have still not agreed on a majority combination. President Rumen Radev earlier this month commissioned the largest party, the centre-right GERB, to form a government; it put forward a cleanskin, neurosurgeon Nikolay Gabrovsky, as prime minister rather than its controversial leader, oligarch Boyko Borisov.

But Gabrovsky failed to convince the opposition, losing a vote of confidence last week by 125 to 113. Two more attempts are allowed, but unless there’s a shift in attitudes a fresh election early in the new year is likely.

Israel. In Israel, on the other hand, a new government is ready to be sworn in, after Benjamin Netanyahu and his far-right allies won a majority in last month’s election. Although this will be Netanyahu’s third turn as prime minister, it is the first time that his government will have no moderating influences: it will be a pure far-right government, committed, at least in principle, to dismantling Israeli democracy.

There’s plenty of commentary around on what this could mean; here’s Tom Friedman in the New York Times, and here’s Naomi Chazan in the Times of Israel. I’ve written a fair bit about Netanyahu in the past – here’s one representative piece from two years ago.

Pakistan. Pakistan’s political crisis continues, with former prime minister Imran Khan, who was ousted in a no-confidence vote in April, wounded last month in an apparent assassination attempt. This week he has promised to force early elections in the two states that his party controls, as part of his campaign for an early national election. The election has to be held next year in any case, so sooner or later the depth of Khan’s popular support will be tested.

Peru. New Peruvian president Dina Boluarte has not been having an easy time of things since the impeachment and removal of her predecessor, Pedro Castillo. She has proposed bringing forward the next election, otherwise not due until 2026, but congress has so far frustrated her plans and sometimes violent protests have demonstrated that Castillo retains some popular support.

Also next week, watch out for my summary of the year’s top elections (here’s the 2021 list for comparison). Michael Hirsch at Foreign Policy and Alan Austin at Independent Australia have also produced good end-of-year reviews.

And very best holiday wishes to all of our readers! For my thoughts on the meaning of the season, you could do worse than go back and read this blog’s first Christmas greeting, just on ten years ago.


3 thoughts on “Loose ends for Christmas

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