A Vulnerable Peace: What’s at Stake in the Upcoming Burundian Elections

Flag of the National Council for the Defense of Democracy–Forces for the Defense of Democracy (CNDD-FDD); a political party and former rebel group in Burundi. Image: MrPenguin20/Wikimedia

This article was originally published by IPI Global Observatory on 20 February, 2015.

Starting in May, Burundians are scheduled to go to the polls for the third time since the Arusha Peace and Reconciliation Agreement and subsequent cease-fire agreements ended the Burundian civil war in 2003. These are important elections with significant consequences for the consolidation of peace and economic recovery in the country, as well as for democracy in the wider Great Lakes region.

The ruling party, the CNDD-FDD, is a former rebel movement that belatedly signed a cease-fire agreement in 2003 and then went on to win the first post-war democratic elections in 2005, and the second ones in 2010. Complex power-sharing provisions were agreed upon during the Arusha peace negotiations and enshrined in the Burundian Constitution, which intended to ensure a certain degree of inclusivity in governance. While the civil war was fought partly over the issue of ethnic exclusion, the Burundian Constitution requires that executive and legislative organs are multiethnic. » More

Why Are European Leaders So Afraid of Greece’s Syriza Party?

Alexis Tzirpas. Thierry Ehrmann/flickr

This article was originally published by The Conversation on 9 January, 2015.

The calling of a snap election in Greece for January 25 has been met with great concern in political circles, prompted direct interventions by top European officials and alarmed markets and credit rating agencies.

This is all because Syriza, the Greek Coalition of the Radical Left, is being tipped to win the election. It is currently the largest opposition party in the Greek parliament and consistently leads the polls as the vote approaches.

According to the latest polls Syriza’s vote share could stretch anywhere between 36% to 40%, with the centre-right New Democracy trailing by at least three percentage points. Anything above 36% gives Syriza not only an electoral victory but an outright governing majority in the Greek parliament because the winning party is automatically handed a 50-seat bonus in the 300-seat parliament.

Opponents claim that Syriza would renege on Greece’s international obligations if it came to power and that efforts to reform the country would be halted. Political instability would ensue and the eurozone would again be plunged into crisis. Talk of Greece leaving the euro has been particularly prominent of late. » More

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Can Afghanistan’s Unity Government Be Built to Govern?

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani with John Kerry. Image: US Dept. of State/Wikimedia

This article was originally published by IPI Global Observatory on 2 October, 2014.

The transfer of power on September 29 from President Hamid Karzai to his successor Ashraf Ghani was momentous but oddly anticlimactic. It was only possible after a highly controversial presidential election between Ghani and former foreign minister Abdullah Abdullah, which brought the country to the brink of chaos. Abdullah refused to recognize the results, which gave Ghani an overwhelming second-round victory. The United States negotiated a power-sharing deal where Ghani would become president, but a “chief executive officer” position would be created for Abdullah. The deal also prescribed an audit of the election supervised by the United Nations to identify and remove fraudulent votes. » More

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Chávez vs UKIP? How Latin America Has Reinvigorated the European Left

Nigel Farage, the leader of UKIP

Nigel Farage, the leader of UKIP

This article was originally published by SPERI on 13 August 2014.

The numbers speak for themselves. Though currently in opposition, both its plurality in European elections and recent polling suggest that Syriza (Coalition of the Radical Left) will soon become Greece’s largest political force. Only founded in March, Spain’s Podemos (We Can) took five seats and 8 per cent of the vote in May’s European elections. Its support now stands at 15 per cent, compared to 25 per cent apiece for the traditional parties. How did both manage it? Surprisingly, the answer is by emulating the Latin American left. Syriza leader Alexis Tsipras has undertaken numerous fact-finding missions to Venezuela over the past decade and considers Hugo Chávez a personal hero. Podemos, meanwhile, was established by a group of longstanding advisors to the governments of Bolivia, Ecuador and Venezuela, all based at Madrid’s Universidad Complutense. So central has their experience been that Podemos cite ‘thorough analysis and learning of recent Latin American processes’ as one cornerstone of their approach. » More

What Does the Modi Election Mean for India-Pakistan?

Narendra Modi giving a speech at a rally in Rewari, courtesy of Flickr upload bot/wikimedia

This article was originally published on the Australian Strategic Policy Institute‘s blog, The Strategist, on 22 May 2014.

The massive landslide victory of Narendra Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in India’s recent parliamentary election will have been received with mixed feelings in neighbouring Pakistan. Still, Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif was one of the first heads of state to call Modi to congratulate him on his election victory.

Reportedly, Sharif stressed his country’s desire for a ‘new beginning’ and his desire to resume the normalisation process with India. In that spirit, he extended an invitation to Modi to visit Pakistan. But that’s unlikely to happen anytime soon. » More

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