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Malaysian ruling coalition remains in power May 5, 2013

Posted by Sverre in : Malaysia, World politics , add a comment

The Malaysian ruling coalition Barisan Nasional (BN) seems to have managed to remain in power after today’s general elections, having at least passed the mark of the 112 necessary seats necessary to retain their parliamentary majority, reports Al Jazeera. The Malaysian newspaper New Straits Times reports the number to be 133 at the time of writing this, with 6 seats left to be decided. I haven’t seen the aggregate voting numbers yet, but I expect PR may very well have gained a vote majority, despite not having captured the sufficient number of parliament seats. This because they are strong in the population dense urban areas where more votes are necessary to gain a seat in the single seat first-past-the-post voting system.

Prime minister Najib Tun Razak has made statements that he wishes to embark on a “national reconciliation process” to work against extremism towards a more moderate environment in the wake of the election. What this means, remains to be seen. BN has a rather dubious history when it comes to “measures” for national unity, traditionally not having been shy to employ authoritarian measures to quell opposition. Whether this will be the result also this time remains to be seen.

Opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim fuelled public suspicions beforehand by claiming that only fraud could keep the opposition from winning the election. Social media are currently abuzz with various claims of fraud. The government is accused of everything from direct ballot stuffing to flying in foreigners and issuing last minute citizenship credentials to win closely contested rural districts. On Facebook a “blackout campaign” replacing profile images with a black square has been started, pointing to the “miraculous blackouts” allegedly ensuring BN’s victory. The opposition leader himself has made claims about multiple occurrences of “phantom voters” through his official Twitter account @anwaribrahim, and appears not to accept the result.

While the government coalition seems to have won this round, halting the progress of the opposition movement, whether legitimately or not, they do not seem to have managed to improve their position in parliament, losing a few seats to the opposition compared to the last general election in 2008.

The Massachusetts mess January 18, 2010

Posted by Sverre in : Uncategorized, United States , add a comment

The Democrats may lose their supermajority in the Senate. A serious problem for health reform. Several bloggers have opinions on what this may signal that way or the other, particularly since this is a traditionally Democratic seat. Dan Drezner has an interesting take on the real reason why the race has suddenly gotten interesting: Both candidates are apallingly bad.

I quote:

[…]the candidates are God awful.  Seriously, they stink.  Just to review our choices:  Democrat Martha Coakley has a prosecutor’s complex that would make Javert seeem like a bleeding-heart liberal.  She is a God-awful politician so out of touch with  reality that she accused Red Sox hero extraordinaire Curt Schilling of being a Yankee fan (Schilling’s blog response is here).  Based on the ads I’ve seen, her campaign has also been, by far, the nastier of the two.

This leaves Republican Scott Brown, who based on this vacuous Boston Globe op-ed, is an empty shirt with no actual policy content whatsoever.  He was in favor of health care reform before he was against it.  He can’t stand the run-up in government debt, and wants to cut taxes across the board to take care of the problem — cause that makes perfect economic sense.   The one thing he is unequivocally for is waterboarding suspected terrorists.

It would be true political irony if all Obama’s blood sweat and tears over health reform should go to waste because of a mess like this. But that’s politics for you. Part of the reason why it’s so interesting…

Centre-left victory in Norway September 15, 2009

Posted by Sverre in : Norwegian politics , add a comment

It now seems more or less certain that Norway will see 4 more years with a centre-left government under Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg from Labour. At the moment the right wing parties are throwing blame around and the centrist liberal party Venstre (Left) lies in shatters. The party president has announced his resignation.

More than a socialist victory, this election is a hard blow to the centrist parties in Norwegian politics. Fighting between the two major blocks seems to have drawn voters especially from Venstre who defended their position in between the two blocks. Infighting and chaos among the right wing parties must probably also account for a major part of the loss.

On the socialist side of the centre, voters appear to be shifting from the more radical Socialist Left (SV) to the more moderate Labour. The centrist coalition partner Senterpartiet (the Centre Party) keeps their members of parliament. What this means for shuffling of cabinet seats remains to be seen.

Norwegian election thriller September 14, 2009

Posted by Sverre in : Norwegian politics , add a comment

Votes are being counted in the Norwegian parliament election. At the moment, 78 % of the votes are counted and the official prognosis is at 86 seats to the government centre-left block and 83 seats to the right-wing block. Jens Stolenberg’s cabinet seems to be hanging on by it’s teeth. Getting through the finance crisis so far with the lowest unemployment might be an important reason.

Still, things are far from decided yet. This will be undecided for hours yet.

The Iranian election undoubtedly rigged June 25, 2009

Posted by Sverre in : World politics , 2comments

Daniel Berman and Thomas Rintoul of the Insitute of Iranian studies at the University of St. Andrews have analyzed the figures from the Iranian election. The report is published through Chatham House. They conclude that there is little doubt that the election was rigged to a degree that has decided the outcome.

Their most interesting finds:

· In two conservative provinces, Mazandaran and Yazd, a turnout of more than 100% was recorded.
· If Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s victory was primarily caused by the increase in voter turnout, one would expect the data to show that the provinces with the greatest increase in voter turnout would also show
the greatest ‘swing’ in support towards Ahmadinejad. This is not the case.
· In a third of all provinces, the official results would require that Ahmadinejad took not only all former conservative voters, all former centrist voters, and all new voters, but also up to 44% of former
reformist voters, despite a decade of conflict between these two groups.
· In 2005, as in 2001 and 1997, conservative candidates, and Ahmadinejad in particular, were markedly unpopular in rural areas. That the countryside always votes conservative is a myth. The claim that this year Ahmadinejad swept the board in more rural provinces flies in the face of these trends.

Even in an unstable “democracy” such as Iran, it seems highly unlikely that such results could appear by coincidence. Of course this wasn’t unexpected, but it has become very hard for the Guardian Council to deny that there were irregularities. As the sham of democracy in Iran falls, we might see the regime losing even more of their popular support, which might turn out to become a catalyst for change in the long run. At the moment, however, it seems to me that the regime has the upper hand with its brutal treatment of the protests.

Hat tip to Kai Arzheimer for posting on this report.

Racism paving the way to government? March 1, 2009

Posted by Sverre in : Norwegian politics, Political behavior , add a comment

The so called “long campaign” before the Norwegian parliamentary election is well under way, and once again it appears that immigration will be a central topic. In the aftermath of a controversy over whether or not to allow islamic headdress (hijab) with Norwegian police uniforms, the populist right-wing party Fremskrittspartiet has started campaigning about the so called secret “Islamization” of Norwegian society. If they succeed in keeping this a hot topic throughout the campaign, previous experience shows they might gain  much in terms of votes. (more…)

California: Tocqueville’s nightmare come true November 19, 2008

Posted by Sverre in : Political Theory, World politics , 2comments

Igayrightsn the euphoria surrounding the presidential election, other events in American politics have been crowded out in media. A darker chapter in American history was written in the presumably liberal state of California. I haven’t heard many (at least outside the US) discuss this, except a few bloggers – among them the authors of one of my favourite blogs, Voting While Intoxicated.

I’m of course talking about the amendment to the Californian constitution to ban gay marriage, which was voted for together with the presidential election. For those who might not be familiar with the American political system, this is quite common – to include propositions to be voted on by the public together with any election. The infamous Proposition 8, named after its number on the ballot, got 52.1 percent of the vote, more than the necessary simple majority for a new state constitution amendment. It reads as follows:

SEC. 7.5. Only marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognized in California.

As a strong supporter of gay rights, this has ruined some of my new found belief in America. But aside from my personal feelings, this is the kind of thing that would make influential political philosopher Alexis de Tocqueville turn in his grave. (more…)

Has Obama already won? October 19, 2008

Posted by Sverre in : US Presidential election , 3comments

Obama has had a good lead on the polls for a few days now – does this mean he’s won? Here’s a side glance at what the internet thinks.

Yes, say Norwegian newspapers. The reason they all agree is of course because they all quote their favourite expert, professor Ole O. Moen from the University of Oslo. To Dagsavisen, for example, he says he thinks it will now take a real or imagined terror threat for Obama to lose. He doesn’t think Obama is going to make any big enough mistakes.  But with a single expert being quoted across the board I thought I’d look around a bit.

I assumed I could rely on Fox News to bring me predictions that didn’t favour that black yuppie, but their website did little more than confuse me. They were more interested in telling me that the great-great-great-granddaughter of a slave on McCain’s ancestor’s farm is now a psychology professor.

The Washington Post seems to think Obama will win. Among other things, they can tell us how McCain’s got trouble with media as Obama gets all the endorsements and the great maverick himself is starting a fight with the NYT. Just in case the unthinkable should happen and McCain wins, the Post has posted (ha-ha) some emergency help to journalists to help explain it. At least they list possible reasons why things might take an unexpected turn. (more…)