April 1, 2014
Ankara, Turkey
Supporters of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan turn on their mobile phones as they celebrate their election victory in front of the party headquarters  (via Telegraph)

Ankara, Turkey

Supporters of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan turn on their mobile phones as they celebrate their election victory in front of the party headquarters  (via Telegraph)

April 1, 2014
Paris, France
Newly-elected mayor Anne Hidalgo and former Mayor Bertrand Delanoe (holding her hand) celebrate in front of the City Hal, after she won the second round of the French municipal elections. Anne Hidalgo, a Spanish-born Socialist, will be the first female mayor of Paris after an unexpectedly comfortable win in municipal elections in the French capital (via Telegraph)

Paris, France

Newly-elected mayor Anne Hidalgo and former Mayor Bertrand Delanoe (holding her hand) celebrate in front of the City Hal, after she won the second round of the French municipal elections. Anne Hidalgo, a Spanish-born Socialist, will be the first female mayor of Paris after an unexpectedly comfortable win in municipal elections in the French capital (via Telegraph)

November 26, 2012
Italy: Beppe Grillo: a comedian to be taken seriously
Nobody quite knows what to make of the “Five Star movement” in Italy which is emerging as the surprise winner of this week’s Sicilian elections. But one thing is for sure: all the traditional parties are terrified of what might happen in the general elections, which will probably be held in spring 2013. This political movement, led by Beppe Grillo – a volcanic comedian with a huge mop of shaggy greying hair – is threatening to tear Italy’s political establishment apart.
The rise of the movement has been sudden. In local elections in May 2012, a Five Star representative was elected mayor of Parma, one of Italy’s richest cities, which until the late 1990s was a centre-left stronghold, and was then governed (badly and dishonestly) by Silvio Berlusconi’s party for more than a decade. And in Sicily, the Five Star movement gained more votes than any other party and had 15 regional councillors elected. In typical exuberant fashion, Grillo had swum across the Straits of Messina (3km) to launch his campaign.
So, who is Grillo and what is the Five Star movement? The first part is easier to answer. Grillo is 64 years old and from Genoa. He was a popular and clever comedian who starred on Italian TV in the 1970s and 1980s. Then he did something unthinkable: he called Bettino Craxi’s Socialist party “thieves” on national television. This led to his banishment for a number of years, and in the meantime Grillo built up a huge audience with a series of ferocious shows across Italy.
For a long time, Grillo was anti-technology: his show would end with him smashing up a computer. But then he embraced the internet. He understood, before almost anyone else in Italy, the political potential of the web and its ability to undercut the country’s stifling and boring media monopolies and party-controlled news outlets. Thus, via his incredibly popular blog, and latterly through Twitter, he began to spread a potent anti-political message. This linked up with both a long-running hatred and distrust of politicians among many Italian voters, and the exacerbation of these deeply rooted tendencies during the Berlusconian era (1994-12), a time of almost obscene levels of corruption, patronage, clientelism and cronyism at all levels. (via guardian.co.uk)

Italy: Beppe Grillo: a comedian to be taken seriously

Nobody quite knows what to make of the “Five Star movement” in Italy which is emerging as the surprise winner of this week’s Sicilian elections. But one thing is for sure: all the traditional parties are terrified of what might happen in the general elections, which will probably be held in spring 2013. This political movement, led by Beppe Grillo – a volcanic comedian with a huge mop of shaggy greying hair – is threatening to tear Italy’s political establishment apart.

The rise of the movement has been sudden. In local elections in May 2012, a Five Star representative was elected mayor of Parma, one of Italy’s richest cities, which until the late 1990s was a centre-left stronghold, and was then governed (badly and dishonestly) by Silvio Berlusconi’s party for more than a decade. And in Sicily, the Five Star movement gained more votes than any other party and had 15 regional councillors elected. In typical exuberant fashion, Grillo had swum across the Straits of Messina (3km) to launch his campaign.

So, who is Grillo and what is the Five Star movement? The first part is easier to answer. Grillo is 64 years old and from Genoa. He was a popular and clever comedian who starred on Italian TV in the 1970s and 1980s. Then he did something unthinkable: he called Bettino Craxi’s Socialist party “thieves” on national television. This led to his banishment for a number of years, and in the meantime Grillo built up a huge audience with a series of ferocious shows across Italy.

For a long time, Grillo was anti-technology: his show would end with him smashing up a computer. But then he embraced the internet. He understood, before almost anyone else in Italy, the political potential of the web and its ability to undercut the country’s stifling and boring media monopolies and party-controlled news outlets. Thus, via his incredibly popular blog, and latterly through Twitter, he began to spread a potent anti-political message. This linked up with both a long-running hatred and distrust of politicians among many Italian voters, and the exacerbation of these deeply rooted tendencies during the Berlusconian era (1994-12), a time of almost obscene levels of corruption, patronage, clientelism and cronyism at all levels. (via guardian.co.uk)

October 30, 2012
Rusaki, Ukraine
An elderly woman casts her ballot in the country’s parliamentary elections (via guardian.co.uk)

Rusaki, Ukraine

An elderly woman casts her ballot in the country’s parliamentary elections (via guardian.co.uk)

October 30, 2012
Ukrainian politics: Viktor Yanukovych’s party claims victory
Ukraine’s ruling Party of the Regions looks set for victory in national elections on October 28th. With almost 70% of the vote counted, the party of president Viktor Yanukovych (pictured above) was on 33.51% of the vote, the opposition Fatherland party was on 22.97%, and the Communists received 14.51%. A party led by world champion boxer Vitali Klitschko had garnered 13.13% of the vote and Svoboda, a far-right nationalist party, was on 8.95%.
In Ukraine’s 450-seat parliament half of the seats are allotted according to a proportional representation system while the other half are first past the post seats. So far the Party of the Regions looks set to take 116 of the latter and Fatherland 38. Another 39 may have gone to independents most of whom will almost certainly support a new government of the Party of the Regions
The Party of the Regions and its allies are unlikely to win two thirds of the seats in parliament. It wanted this in order to change the constitution to abolish direct elections to the presidency. This would lower the risk for the unpopular Mr Yanukovych of losing the presidential race in 2015. If direct elections were abolished the president would be elected by parliament.
Alleging widespread vote rigging opposition parties are crying foul. The Organization of Security and Cooperation (OSCE) in Europe has declared the poll flawed “considering the abuse of power and excessive role of money in this elections,” said Walburga Habsburg Douglas, who is heading the OSCE mission. “Democratic progress seems to have been reversed in Ukraine.” (via The Economist)

Ukrainian politics: Viktor Yanukovych’s party claims victory

Ukraine’s ruling Party of the Regions looks set for victory in national elections on October 28th. With almost 70% of the vote counted, the party of president Viktor Yanukovych (pictured above) was on 33.51% of the vote, the opposition Fatherland party was on 22.97%, and the Communists received 14.51%. A party led by world champion boxer Vitali Klitschko had garnered 13.13% of the vote and Svoboda, a far-right nationalist party, was on 8.95%.

In Ukraine’s 450-seat parliament half of the seats are allotted according to a proportional representation system while the other half are first past the post seats. So far the Party of the Regions looks set to take 116 of the latter and Fatherland 38. Another 39 may have gone to independents most of whom will almost certainly support a new government of the Party of the Regions

The Party of the Regions and its allies are unlikely to win two thirds of the seats in parliament. It wanted this in order to change the constitution to abolish direct elections to the presidency. This would lower the risk for the unpopular Mr Yanukovych of losing the presidential race in 2015. If direct elections were abolished the president would be elected by parliament.

Alleging widespread vote rigging opposition parties are crying foul. The Organization of Security and Cooperation (OSCE) in Europe has declared the poll flawed “considering the abuse of power and excessive role of money in this elections,” said Walburga Habsburg Douglas, who is heading the OSCE mission. “Democratic progress seems to have been reversed in Ukraine.” (via The Economist)

April 21, 2012

Nicolas Sarkozy and François Hollande make last appeals before France’s presidential election

Nicolas Sarkozy and François Hollande, the two leading contenders in the race for the French presidency, make their final appeals to voters ahead of the polls on Sunday. Hollande, tipped in opinion polls to win the two-round election by a comfortable margin, urges his supporters to turn out en masse to vote in the first election round (via guardian.co.uk)

April 20, 2012

France: meet the voters of Henin Beaumont, Front National presidential candidate Marine Le Pen’s stronghold

Front National activists put up Marine Le Pen posters next to the city hall in Henin-BeaumontWith the first round of the French presidential election coming up on Sunday, this week we take a tour of France, to see what the voters are interested in. Today we go to Henin-Beaumont, a small town in the north of France in a region blighted by high unemployment. Far right candidate Marine le Pen calls it her fiefdom. Her protectionist, anti-immigrant policies have found favour with an estimated 30 per cent of voters.

April 19, 2012
Paris, France
Carla Bruni Sarkozy shows a sticker reading ‘Students with Nicolas Sarkozy’ as she leaves an election campaign meeting (via guardian.co.uk)

Paris, France

Carla Bruni Sarkozy shows a sticker reading ‘Students with Nicolas Sarkozy’ as she leaves an election campaign meeting (via guardian.co.uk)

April 19, 2012
Paris, France
Marine Le Pen, the National Front party leader and their candidate for the 2012 French presidential election, sings the national anthem with supporters on stage at the end of a campaign rally (via Reuters.com)

Paris, France

Marine Le Pen, the National Front party leader and their candidate for the 2012 French presidential election, sings the national anthem with supporters on stage at the end of a campaign rally (via Reuters.com)

March 12, 2012
Moscow, Russia
Riot police detain Left Front movement leader Sergei Udaltsov during a demonstration for fair elections. Thousands of people chanting “Time for change” challenged Vladimir Putin’s presidential election victory but far fewer turned out to protest against the Russian leader than in previous weeks. (via Reuters.com)

Moscow, Russia

Riot police detain Left Front movement leader Sergei Udaltsov during a demonstration for fair elections. Thousands of people chanting “Time for change” challenged Vladimir Putin’s presidential election victory but far fewer turned out to protest against the Russian leader than in previous weeks. (via Reuters.com)

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