Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Winners and losers

Actually, I missed at least two elections last weekend, because there was the first round of presidential election in Slovenia, as the father of the nation Drnovsek is now stepping down after 15 years of service. They'll need another round in November as nobode got more than half of the vote, but Lojze Peterle from centre-right is holding the lead at the moment.

Turkey was also voting with regards to the president, but at this point just trying to figure out what would be the best way to elect one. Currently the parliament elects the president, but in the referendum the majority of the people said they wanted a direct election. There has been a lot of controversy about this lately, as the current holder of the post, Abdullah Gül is from an islamist party which some think is a threat to the separation of state and religion in Turkey.

But, a recap of results. In Switzerland the Swiss People's Party increased their majority with that racist campaign of theirs (which they said wasn't racist), which indicates a further hardening of values in the confederation. I think it is notable that under half of the voters turned out to vote, as people are used to voting for the issues directly in referendums, rather than having all the eggs in one basket when voting for people to govern.

In Åland, the liberal party that had been in the opposition took a landslide victory and will assume power from the social democrats. The issues were "internal", having to do with how they felt the previous administration had governed, rather than being "external" or having much to do with the autonomy. The party promoting full independence failed to increase their share of the votes.

And in Poland, great result. The opposition took a magnificent victory, lead by the new star of the Civic Platform party and probably future prime minister, Donald Tusk. He smashed the arrogant Kaczynski in the final TV-debate and is now leading Poland back to light. The EU-leaders welcomed the change, as did business and many others.

Finally China. Hu Jintao seems to have been successful in his planning, as his candidates have enjoyed good success in the conference. Power is being handed to a younger generation. I wonder if this means that the pace of political change in China is now getting faster, or will it just mean that openness and democracy will now be one generation further away. So far the growing middle class of China has been happy with the growing prosperity and they haven't been too worried about democracy. This might change as more and more people are getting their material needs fulfilled. On the other hand, the middle class is not very likely to revolt, so the change is more likely to be a gradual one. China really is an amazing, and amazingly huge country, and I have to admit I know precious little about it. This needs to change.

(Pic: Donald Tusk; AFP via BBC)

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