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  Sun, Sep 28, 2008
Electoral upheavals in Austria and Bavaria
Austria's two major parties emerged from Sunday's early parliamentary election in the Central European country with their worst election results since 1945. Both the Social Democratic Party of Austria (SPÖ) and the Austrian People's Party (ÖVP) - which had ruled Austria in a grand coalition government for a year-and-a-half - lost ground with respect to the previous election, but Sunday's vote was a further major setback for the People's Party, coming on top of heavy losses in the 2006 legislative election, and the center-right party's gains since 1999 have now been completely wiped out. On the other hand, the Social Democrats had less severe losses, and the left-of-center party was able to top the poll once more.

Meanwhile, the election's big winners were the country's two far-right parties, the Freedom Party of Austria (FPÖ) and the Alliance for the Future of Austria (BZÖ), the latter a 2005 FPÖ breakaway. Running separately, the two parties nearly doubled their combined share of the vote, which soared from 15.1% in 2006 to 29% this year - a figure which also stands above the FPÖ's best-ever result of 26.9% in 1999. In fact, other than for the division of the far-right vote between FPÖ and BZÖ, the outcome of this year's vote closely resembles that of the 1999 parliamentary election, and it is far from clear what kind of government will emerge from the election.

Federal Elections in Austria - Elections to the Nationalrat (National Council) has federal- and state-level results of parliamentary elections in Austria since 1945, including preliminary 2008 general election results.

Austria's SPÖ and ÖVP were not the only ruling parties to be humbled at the polls on Sunday. Just across the border, Bavaria's Christian Social Union (CSU) lost its absolute majority in the Landtag (state legislature) for the first time since 1962. However, the CSU - the Bavarian counterpart of the Christian Democratic Union (CDU) - remains the largest party in Germany's wealthiest state, and barring an unlikely alliance of the four opposition parties that will be represented in the new Landtag - namely the Social Democrats (SPD), the Free Voters, the Greens and the Free Democrats (F.D.P.) - it's likely to remain in power in Munich, possibly in coalition with the liberal F.D.P., which secured Landtag representation for the first time since 1990.

The Bavarian State Office for Statistics and Data Processing has detailed results in German of Sunday's state election here.

posted by Manuel Álvarez-Rivera : 09/28/2008 19:51 | permanent link

  Tue, Sep 16, 2008
Ukraine's government falls, another early election a possibility
Less than nine months after coming to power, Ukraine's fragile, pro-western coalition government has collapsed, following months of wrangling between President Viktor Yushchenko and Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko. While the latter is expected to remain as caretaker head of government, she has only 30 days to cobble a new coalition cabinet; otherwise, the president may call an early parliamentary election - Ukraine's third in as many years.

The ruling coalition's collapse was triggered by differences between the president and the prime minister over support for Georgia during its recent conflict with Russia, which in due course led Ukraine's Supreme Council (Parliament) to pass laws curtailing the president's powers; Yushchenko regards these laws - which were adopted with the support of the opposition, pro-Russian Party of Regions - as a parliamentary "coup."

The clash between Yushchenko and Tymonshenko is by no means the first - three years ago, he fired her and the entire cabinet on grounds of incompetence, following a period of increasingly bitter in-fighting - and it's unlikely to be the last: Mrs. Tymoshenko is widely expected to run in the next presidential election (to be held in 2009 or 2010), and opinion polls have her in a tight race with Party of Regions leader Vyktor Yanukovych, while President Yushchenko is trailing far behind.

Ukraine holds an early parliamentary election, at Global Economy Matters covers the parliamentary election of September 2007 in the Eastern European country, and includes a comprehensive review of political developments in Ukraine since the former Soviet republic declared its independence in 1991.

Update

On October 8, 2008, Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko dissolved the Supreme Council and called an early parliamentary election, which will be held next December 7. However, Prime Minister Tymoshenko's Bloc subsequently filed a lawsuit to stop the election, and on Saturday, October 11, Kiev's District Administrative Court suspended the presidential decree that dissolved Parliament and called the early election. Meanwhile, President Yushchenko insists the order has no authority since he fired the judge before he handed down the ruling, and the matter is now in the hands of Kiev's Appeals Court.

The political tug-of-war between President Yushchenko and Prime Minister Tymoshenko comes in the middle of a global financial crisis, and as Edward Hugh writes on Global Economy Matters, Ukraine Wobbles As The Financial Ground Beneath It Trembles.

posted by Manuel Álvarez-Rivera : 09/16/2008 14:07 | permanent link

  Mon, Sep 08, 2008
Early elections in Canada and (possibly) Japan
As expected, Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper has called an early parliamentary election for next October 14. Harper, who has been in power since January 2006, heading a Conservative Party minority government, hopes to secure an absolute House of Commons majority in the upcoming general election - Canada's third in five years.

Federal Elections in Canada - Elections to the House of Commons describes Canada's electoral system, and includes results of Canadian general elections since 1993.

Meanwhile, Forbes.com reports that Japan may also be heading for an early parliamentary election, following the sudden resignation of Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda earlier this month. Although the ruling Liberal Democratic Party commands a large majority in the House of Representatives - the lower house of Japan's bicameral Parliament - the opposition parties have held a majority of seats in the House of Councillors - the upper house - since July of last year, and the two legislative bodies have clashed over a number of issues.

Parliamentary Elections in Japan has an overview of the Japanese electoral system, with election results since 1996 for both the House of Councillors and the House of Representatives.

posted by Manuel Álvarez-Rivera : 09/08/2008 00:18 | permanent link