The Greek parliament is holding a vote today on a proposal which could lead to the unemployment of 15,000 state employees. The reason for the proposals is to help the country to reduce costs and receive more bailout money, but there have been a series of protests in opposition to the job cuts from trade unions (groups representing those who may lose their job). Adedy, the civil service trade confederation, and the private sector GSEE union called a demonstration outside parliament late on Sunday afternoon against “those politicians who are dismantling the public service and destroying the welfare state”.
Today Iceland held a vote in their elections where a defeat is expected for the current coalition government, who first made it into power after economic difficulties in the country. The two parties who were partly blamed for the economic difficulties are expected to form a coalition to replace the retiring prime minister, Johanna Sigurdardottir. The two centre-right parties are eurosceptic; this could prevent the government’s efforts to secure EU membership.
Who Is Competing?
The Progressive Party, normally thought of as Iceland’s third party, has grown in popularity as a result of its opposition to the government’s to use the people’s money to repay British people/banks for money lost in their banking collapse. Their leader, Sigmundur David Gunnlaugsson, hopes to get approximately 20% of their debt waived by foreign company’s whom they own money too.
In Iraq provincial (regional) elections have been held for the first time since American soldiers left the country in 2011. In the lead up to the election there was violence throughout the country, which has led to the Shia-led government postponing a couple of other provincial elections.
At present, Iraqi troops are ensuring there is stability in the country. Dozens of people have been killed by bombings in the last week alone, as well as two polling stations have been attacked. So far 14 people who have decided to stand for election have been murdered, but the Prime Minister (Nouri al-Maliki) told citizens to continue voting in defiance of “enemies of the political process”.
Who are they?
The New Zealand parliament has passed a bill with a fairly large majority (77:44) in favour of same-sex marriage, the first country in the continent of Oceania to do so. The bill amends the 1955 marriage act and led to celebrations across the country, particularly in the capital, Wellington. One way they expressed their happiness was by singing a New Zealand love song called “Pokarekare Ana”. The Labour MP who introduced the bill (Louisa Wall) said that the bill enabled “declaration of love and commitment to a special person”.
However, according to polls, approximately one-third of citizens opposed the bill – most notably, christian lobby groups. Bob McCoskrie, the founder of one christian lobby group, Family First, said the amendment to the marriage act undermined the traditional concept of marriage. Whilst Colin Craig, the conservative party leader, stated that New Zealand is “seeing the politicians make a decision… that the people of this country wouldn’t make”.
A couple of posts ago we wrote about the lead up to the election, and the tension felt between Nicolas Maduro and Henrique Capriles:
The president of Venezuela has now been confirmed as Maduro after a close election battle. Protests by Capriles, and his party, were made but the National Electoral Council continued to defend Maduro’s narrow victory of 50.7%:49.1%.
What has happened?
Hungary has approved a series of amendments to their constitution that had been deemed unconstitutional in past rulings. As a result, this could mean increased power for the state, increased power for the conservative Fidesz party and remove/weaken a number of checks and balances. The Prime Minister of the country, Viktor Orban has declared that the amendments are necessary if the country is to continue moving away from Hungary’s legacy of communism.
What are the amendments?
One amendment is to weaken the Constitutional Court meaning they will not have the power to remove laws already contained in the constitution. Another amendment, which other critics say weakens the Constitutional Court, is to lower the retirement age of judges in the country. Election campaigning has been restricted to the state-owned media, which has been argued to reduce freedom of expression in Hungary. A number of civil liberties (citizen freedoms) have been restricted and an anti-gay law has been created.
You may remember a couple of posts we made on the Venezuelan Presidential Election in early January:
These posts were about Hugo Chavez’s election as president, but he was unable to be sworn in due to illness and there were outcalls for his swearing in day to be postponed and nominate a temporary president. However, since then, Hugo Chavez has died and Venezuela is now preparing for a vote to elect a new president.
The current, acting president President Nicolas Maduro, who Chavez selected to be his successor, is challenging the governor of Miranda state (Henrique Capriles) for the position. Capriles had narrowly lost to Chavez in the election of October 2012. There are approximately 19 million registered voters in Venezuela for the upcoming election whose votes will be recorded electronically – one machine will confirm their identity and vote and another will identify their fingerprint.
There has already been significant tension between the two candidates. Capriles accused Chavez of breaking the rules of the election by continuing campaigning after the polls had opened and for visiting Chavez’s tomb which he stated was “violating all the electoral norms”.
The winner of the election is to be sworn in on the 19th April to complete Chavez’s six year term which began in January.
Who will win the election? And, what sort of president is Venezuela looking for?
Thanks for reading,
In June 2012 Hosni Mubarak (the previous president of Egypt) was convicted of conspiracy to kill protesters and was given a life sentence, but a retrial is to begin in Cairo. The retrial is being called after his appeal against his life sentence was accepted by the Egyptian court. About 850 protesters were killed in the 18 day protests in 2011 but it is still uncertain whether Mubarak is responisble.
North Korea is a large concern internationally and we want to clear up some questions you may want answered:
Do they have a bomb?
It is fairly certain they do in fact have one, but it is uncertain whether they have a missile that can carry it. In 2006, 2009 and this year North Korea have stated that successful tests have occurred and are prepared to launch – but nothing came of it. There is some satellite data that suggests they have been testing and conducting experiments underground in the East side of the country, and although it is certain they have enough chemicals to produce the bomb it is still unverified whether they have made a bomb small enough to fit on a missile.
North Korea’s Nuclear Programme
In 2008, North Korea said that they would stop operations and even dismantle their facilities, but this year they have stated that they will restart these facilities in opposition to the latest US sanctions (a threatened penalty for disobeying a law). However, it is believed the operations were never actually stopped in 2008 and that North Korea have a number of uranium-enrichment programmes. Furthermore, a number of new facilities are being built in the country which they say are for civilian purposes, but it is very likely that they are in fact facilities which will aid their Nuclear Programme.