Jan. 7, 2014, 12:55 p.m.
Colombia: Voters in Bogota will vote in a referendum on March 2, 2014 to decide the future of Mayor Gustavo PETRO. Following a waste management crisis in December 2012, the Inspector General ruled that PETRO was at fault for the crisis and was barred from holding any public office for 15 years. While PETRO has appealed his decision to the Attorney General of Colombia, a simultaneous campaign to recall the Mayor has taken place. The campaign to recall PETRO received 357,250 valid signatures, enough to force the recall. In order for PETRO to be recalled, turnout must equal the 55% threshold met during the 2011 mayoral election, and a simple majority must vote in favor of PETRO’s removal.
India: The Prime Minister of India, Manmohan SINGH has announced that he will step down following the Lok Sabha elections expected in either April or May 2014. SINGH has served as Prime Minister for 10 years. In his speech, SINGH signaled that he wished Rahul GANDHI to take over the party leadership following his departure. GANDHI would continue the family legacy if elected Prime Minister, as grandfather Jawaharlal NEHRU, aunt Indira GANDI, and father Rajiv GANDHI have all served as both leaders of the Congress Party and Prime Minister of India.
Israel: An agreement between Prime Minister Benjamin NETANYAHU and Foreign Minister Avigdor LIEBERMAN has been reached on electoral system reform. Following the 2013 Knesset elections, proposals to raise the electoral threshold for parties to enter the Knesset. Currently, the threshold stands at 2 percent, while the new proposal sets the threshold at 3.25 percent. The majority of the ruling coalition is in favor of the change, with only the smaller Hatnuah party opposed. Opposition has also been raised by the three parties with large Arab backing – Hadash, Balad, and Ra’am-UAL. None of these parties achieved the 3.25 percent threshold in the election, and would likely have to unite under a single electoral coalition to achieve seats in the Knesset, despite different political end goals.
Italy: New leader of the Democratic Party, Matteo RENZI, has called for swift reform to the country’s electoral system. The electoral system, which left the government deadlocked since the 2013 parliamentary elections, has been a prime focus of the current coalition government. RENZI has proposed three alternatives. One would divide the country into 118 electoral constituency, each electing four or five deputies, with the largest party taking a 15 percent premium. A second would modify the current electoral law, directly electing three-quarters of the deputies, with 15 percent reserved for the winner’s bonus, and 10 percent reserved for smaller parties. Finally, the third proposal would follow the model of Italian mayoral elections, using a two-round majoritarian system in single member districts. Leaders of political groups, including Angelino ALFANO and Silvio BERLUSCONI have both expressed support for RENZI’s proposals.
Myanmar: Protestors have gathered in the former capital, Yangon, calling for constitutional reforms ahead of the scheduled 2015 presidential polls. Presently, Article 59 of Myanmar’s constitution prevents candidates from running for president if they have a spouse or child with foreign citizenship. This amendment would prohibit opposition leader Aung San SUU KYI from contesting the election, as her two sons from her former husband have both retained British citizenship. In order for the constitution to be amended, both the military and the President Thein SEIN would need to approve the amendment.