Jan. 28, 2014, 11:51 a.m.
Egypt: Interim President Adly MANSOUR has announced that the presidential election will be held before parliamentary elections, in contrast to the roadmap laid out by the Egyptian military after the coup last year. The decision was partly a response to requests by political parties to delay the parliamentary elections to give them more time to organize. The new constitution mandates that the first election, now determined to be the presidential race, be held no more than 90 days from the adoption of the constitution, meaning it must be held before mid-April. This short timeframe will likely benefit Defense Minister Abdel Fattah el-SISI, a leading military figure who is considering running for the presidency.
Italy: Leader of the Democratic Party, Matteo RENZI, has struck a deal with former Prime Minister Silvio BERLUSCONI on reforms to Italy’s electoral system. The new system would be based on proportional representation, but would include a large bonus for winners: alliances receiving the largest number of votes and obtaining at least 35% of votes would receive a bonus of up to 18%. If no party receives 35%, a runoff would be held between the two most successful alliances. The intent is to make the results of parliamentary elections more decisive to avoid the gridlock currently plaguing Italian politics. However, the plan has been criticized as biased towards larger parties and for retaining a system of closed party lists that was struck down by the constitutional court last year.
Tunisia: The National Assembly has finished drafting Tunisia’s new constitution. The constitution is noted for its modernity compared to those of fellow North African countries and its adoption is welcome progress given the recent political deadlock between Islamists and secularists that has persisted throughout the past year. Those tensions culminated with the dissolution of the government coalition led by the Islamist party Ennahda and the appointment of a caretaker government. The current interim Prime Minister, Mehdi JOMAA, has promised to appoint an apolitical cabinet until new elections are held. Despite these significant steps forward, Tunisia still faces serious economic issues that it must confront, as well as rising levels of Islamist violence in the region.
Ukraine: Prime Minister Mykola AZAROV has resigned, amid massive protests in Kiev. The resignation came hours before a vote of no confidence was planned and shortly after the package of restrictive laws passed two weeks ago were mostly repealed by parliament. The repealed laws, passed on 16 January without debate, were an attempt to legitimize the government crackdown on the Euromaidan demonstrations, which call for the resignation of President Viktor YANUKOVYCH. The laws included severe restrictions on freedom of speech, freedom of assembly, and freedom of the press, and are widely believed to have only escalated the violent clashes. Their repeal was endorsed by YANUKOVYCH’s Party of Regions and were likely intended as a concession to the protesters, but they are unlikely to slow the movement as violence spread to provincial administration buildings in at least 10 regions over the weekend.
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