Archive for January, 2009

January 31, 2009

As January ends, several good news are reported. 

The election of Sharif Ahmed to President of Somalia is maybe a chance of a new era in Somalia. Since islamist opposition has been included in the parliament following an agreement recently, Ahmed of the UIC has been elected president. A former sworn enemy to the interim government, hopes of a more stable Somalia has risen, should the president be willing to compromise, and succeeds in forming a unity government.

 

 

 

Another agreement and light of hope has been made in Zimbabwe, as MDC and ZANU-PF once again has reached a coalition agreement. According to this Tsvangirai will form a new government on February 11.

 

 

 

Provincial elections are held in Iraq today. Seemingly peaceful and with high turnout his is a sign of the new stability and democracy in Iraq. Apart from the last election, Sunni chose to participate. The trust in the al-Maliki government is tested. Results are expected in a few days, however these will probably not effect on the political status or system of the provincial governments.

 

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Notices

January 4, 2009

Ethiopia has started a pull-out of its troops in Somalia. This can much likely be even more devastating for the situation in the ravaged country. Very recently the president and government of the transitional authority has resigned, and without the assistance of Ethiopian troops the country will most likely fall prey to the islamist rebels.

 

 

Johm Atta Mills, the candidate of the opposition has been declared winner of the presidential elections in Ghana. Even though there has been some complaints about the fairness of the elections, Ghana is still considered a presidential democracy. The outcome is probably correct in accordance with the peoples will.

 

Gaza is under a most chaotic situation following the conflict between the Hamas regime and Israel. One could define the situation as a transition to a new political status/situation. However the politics of Gaza has been without constitutional order since the Hamas revolt summer 2007. Whatever new situation is uncertain. Gaza has been a de facto one-party territory for a year and a half.   

A new government is in office in Romania after the elections in late november. Following coalition talks a centre-left government is formed, headed by liberal Emil Boc.

There is also a new government declared in Belgium following the fall of Leterme-cabinet.

The new cabinet is headed by Herman van Rompuy, and is composed very much similar to its predecessor in a five-party coalition comprising of both Flemish and waloon parties.

 

 

2009

January 1, 2009

Following is a list of potential canges in 2009 based on the electoral calendar of coming elections. Besides these, several more changes can be expected however not predicted at tis point.

February: Turkmenistan; Second round and closing poll of the parliamentarian elections. However 123 out of 125 seats as already been allocated in first round. After the conclusion of this second round, the parliament will assemble and make a new status from the present Interim status.  The outcome may be a one-party parliament, Turkmenistan will despite this transfer from a solely one-party dictatorship to a sligtly more open autoritarian system.

March: Azerbaijan; A constitutional referendum will be held in Azerbaijan in march on whether to abolish limits on presidential terms or not. This, along with recent legislation to ban international broadcasting on the radio frequencies in Azerbaijan, raises a warning on the political direction of Azerbaijan. The political rule of Ilham Aliyev can be seen as a sligthly more liberal than the strongly authoritarian one of father Hejdar. Should the president be able to consolidate his political power for a long period, the liberal future of Azerbaijan seems a bit gloom.

Macedonia: Also in march presidential elections are to be held in Macedonia.  Even though Macedonia should be seen as a generally free and democratic country the elections of summer 2008 raised some doubt and questions of full fairness. The government party turned out dominant.  Presidential elections will most likely not produce any actual change to this, but could with a genuinely democratic outcome make that little extra weight in favour of “democracy” on the scale. Since the president of Macedonia also has limited and mostly ceremonial powers, whatever outcome would probably not change any political status.

Maldives; The Maldives will hold parliamentarian elections in march making the succesful transition to democracy complete. Only a few years ago Maldives could be seen as a hardline one-party dictatorship led by longtime serving president Gayoom. 2008 changed all this in a very profound way. Initial constitutional changes allowed the presidential elections to be contested with opposition.  Following a secound round Gayoom also admitted defeat and losing of power.  Parliamentarian elections will conclude the democratic transition with (hopefully) also a democratic and freely elected legislature.

Republic of Congo;  The Republic of Congo has been very dominated by president Sassou for several years with a repressed opposition wit few chances to make any political impact.  Since Sassou probably will stand for re-election(not yrt decided) tie presidential elections will probably not make any change of the political status of the republic of Congo.  The holding of elections still raises the possible hope.

April: Ecuador;  Much interesting but doubtful elections to president and parliament are to be held in Ecuador according to the new constitution. President Correa has run the country together with a constituent assembly for some years following the dissolution of the former parliament. One must raise concerns about the oppositions chances to succeed in these elections as Correa has taken a clear swing towards socialism and stronger presidential powers. The outcome of these elections are to be followed.

Algeria; Presidential elections are held in Algeria.  A decade of shifts between democratic and limited democratic rule makes Algeria hard to predict.  President Bouteflika candidates for yet another term and can be expected, however not for certain a return to office.  The parliamentarian elections of 2007  were somewhat disputed, and makes Algeria at this point a limited democracy.  An installation of a new president would perhaps not change this but prove that there is room for an opposition in Algeria.

May; Malawi; Since Hastings Banda left office nearly fifteen years ago Malawi has been generally free and democratic. Last elections proved dual in its outcome, hence making the classification of Malawi a bit difficult. On one hand observers found faults in the election process, on the other hand the outcome of the elections showed an acceptable distribution of seats between government and opposition. Based on these circumstances, Malawi has been considered a limited democracy by this project since 2004, the chances are however good for an upgrade to genuine democracy should these elections be fair.

June: Iran;  Presidential elections are to be held in Iran in june. President Amadinejad will be challenged by a large number of candidates among whom former president Khattami is the most known. Iran has experienced a conservative setback following the reformist era in late 90s- early 00s. Iran could however not be considered a hardline authoritarian or dictatorial state, rather a semi-authoritarian one. The Majlis(parliament) is and will continue to be dominated by conservatives whoever wins these elections. A reformist president would however make a transition to liberalism and limited democracy possible.

October: Tunisia; Changes in hardline authoritarian Tunisia are not to be expected by te coming presidential and parliamentarian elections. President Ben Ali has been a mere dictator for 21 yers now and even though no longer a one-party state Tunisia is still fully dominated by political forces loyal to te president. One could hope some change would occur during 2009, but chances of this is not high.

December: Uzbekistan;  The situation is very similar in Uzbekistan like te one in Tunisia. Te parliamentarian elections planned for December 2009 are not expected to produce any real cange in a country fully dominated by President Karimov and forces loyal to him. Chances of popular rising are however higher in Uzbekistan than in Tunisia, with significant events last years bot in Uzbekistan and neighbouring Kyrgyzstan.

Afghanistan will hold presidential elections in 2009, electing a successor to Hamid Karzai. This transition will be historic in Afghanistan, never before has an elected leader been replaced in a constitutional matter. Later on parliamentarian elections to the loya jirga will be held in 2010.

 

Angola holds presidential elections in the summer 09. Following the rather disappointing outcome from a democratic point of view, in the elections 2008. We shall not expect the chances of an opponent to Dos Santos as large.

 

Bangladesh elects a president during 2009, this will however not affect the political status of the newly restored democratic and parliamentarian system. Because of the political authorities of the president.

 

Parliamentarian elections are scheduled for Chad. Tendencies of some liberalisation has been visible over the past decades, but these has so long been too modest and limited to expect a democratic or open election. The political rule of president Deby and supporters of him are very consolidated. The coup attempt recently showed an existence of opposition, sadly though much militarised.

 

Higher hopes are raised for a genuine democratic breakthrough in the Cote d’Ivoire. A divided country for some years and ravaged by internal disturbances, hopes of a peaceful and democratic development is real. This since president Gbagbo and rebels has concluded a peace agreement and a possible coalition government.

 

Fiji is expected to hold parliamentarian elections, which then will restore the democratic system after more than two years of military rule

 

Presidential elections are scheduled for Mauritania, which also will make a start of a transition to democracy again.

 

Qatar will hold elections, however hopes of a similar liberalisation like Bahrain and Kuwait shall not be expected. Still one should be aware of the development prior to the elections.

Elections in South Africa shall be held, electing(probably Jacob Zuma ) an official president, replacing the present interim administration of Mothlante. The upcoming elections will also see what effect the split of ruling party ANC will be. A split that from a democratic point of view is somewhat welcomed as an alternative to dominant ANC. 

 

 

Finally Sudan will hold both presidential and parliamentarian elections. Even though these most likely will fail to meet democratic criteria. There is still good chances of a more civilised political rule and a stronger role for the opposition. The chances of fair elections are probably higher in Sudan than in neighbouring Chad.  The future status and possible independence of Southern Sudan is also essential, especially since the political elements from the region takes place in Sudans government. There are signs of liberalisation , perhaps Sudan can establish a democratic rule within a decade

 

 

 

 

 

Besides these prospects one can always expect further political events to happen during 2009, not predicted at this point. Of course those will be handled as they occur.