Sunday news round-up electoral special: October 26th – November 1st

Turkey returns to single-party rule in snap election: Questions about Turkey’s dictatorial politics remain after a snap election in which the ruling AKP regained its majority. The election, which took place amidst a backdrop of tensions along the Syrian border and increased hostility to free press, handed enough seats to the AKP for them to form an absolute majority, paving the way for a further crackdown of free expression under the watchful eye of President Erdoğan, one of Turkey’s most autocratic leaders in its history and who repeatedly ignores the Presidential convention which demands that he remain apolitical and neutral. The left-wing HDP also maintained most of its seats in the election, fielding 10% of its candidates from the LGBT community and 50% from women, and surpassing Turkey’s harsh election laws which only allow a party to take its seats if it gets at least 10% of the vote. The HDP also participates in peace negotiations with the current government on behalf of the Kurdish minority, and the party polls highest in Kurdish areas (the South-East). While the election has mostly been declared free and fair, the repressive government’s actions towards journalism seem to have influenced the results in their favour.

Poland lurches to the far-right as xenophobes take absolute majority: A coalition of far-right xenophobic parties have swept the political scene clear in Poland, ushering in a new era of proto-fascism and extreme social conservatism. The Law and Justice Party, whose chairman is an open admirer of Viktor Orban and who once claimed that refugees carry diseases, has won 235 seats, whilst the newly formed right-wing Kukiz’15 won 42 seats, meaning the way is paved clear for a government composed of xenophobes, aggressive nationalists, Catholic fundamentalists and homophobes. The Law and Justice Party believes that gay people should be barred from becoming teachers, and wants active Polish participation in illegal military interventions in the Middle East as well as stronger ties with NATO. While David Cameron has been a staunch defender of some gay rights back home, he regularly collaborates with members of Law and Justice at the EU. The election is the first time in post-communist Poland that a single party has been able to form a government unaided, and is proof that having a woman in a position of power isn’t a civil rights victory by itself.

Peronist-Kirchnerists maintain grasp on Argentina: Parties following the dominant ideology in Argentinian society have yet again come out on top in the country’s general election, which sees current President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner standing down after her two term limit. The Justicialist Party, which posits itself as having a left-leaning catch-all ideology, received just over nine million votes, allowing it to continue building on the work of its previous heads of state, such as Kirchner and her late husband, which saw the removal of immunities for those involved in the Dirty War, as well as mild opposition to U.S. hegemony and free trade deals in the region. The Falklands was also a considerable issue in the election, with many in Argentinian political society demanding that Argentina be allowed access to the recent oil discovery off the disputed islands, which it refers to as the Islas Malvinas.

Far-right comedian wins Guatemalan Presidential election: By a vote share of 67%, Guatemalans have elected former TV comedian Jimmy Morales to lead their country. Morales, whose real name is James Ernesto Morales Cabrera, is the head of the recently formed National Convergence Front (FCN), which positions itself as a conservative nationalist party, and which until now had barely received 1% of the vote share in elections. Some posit that Morales and the FCN are experiencing popularity due to the rampant fraud and corruption in the political elite in Guatemala, and his success is seen as a reaction to the scandal which forced the outgoing President to step down. Indeed, his slogan of “neither corrupt nor a thief” seems to have appealed to a broad base of voters. Morales describes himself as an Evangelical Christian, and has views in line with that doctrine: He opposes abortion, supports the death penalty, wants to annex neighbouring Belize, and has made statements of genocide denial against the Ixil Maya people, whom he and outgoing President Otto Perez Molina helped to exterminate in the early 1980’s. In short, Guatemala has nominated yet another war criminal to lead their country.

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