Feb. 4, 2014, 11:32 a.m.
Bulgaria: President Rosen PLEVNELIEV has proposed a three-part referendum to be held alongside elections to the European Parliament in May. The referendums would address whether to keep Bulgaria’s system of proportional representation in the legislature or introduce majoritarian elections, whether or not to make voting compulsory, and whether or not to introduce electronic voting. President PLEVNELIEV has referred the referendums to the National Assembly, which must approve them before they are put to a national vote.
Serbia: Early elections to the National Assembly will be held on 16 March. According to first deputy prime minister and leader of the Serbian Progressive Party, Aleksandar VUČIĆ, elections will allow Serbia to overcome the slow pace of its economic reforms. While the elections stand to benefit the Progressive Party the most due to the party’s rising popularity, the Socialist Party of Serbia has also agreed with the need to hold elections. One of the primary political issues is sure to be the new accession talks with the European Union, which both the Progressive Party and Socialist Party support, but to which the opposition Democratic Party is strongly opposed.
South Africa: The Democratic Alliance, the largest opposition party to the African National Congress going into parliamentary elections in April, has named Mamphela RAMPHELE as its presidential candidate. RAMPHELE is widely known for her role in the anti-apartheid movement alongside black consciousness leader Steve BIKO in the 1970s. Critics claim the move is a strategic one as the party attempts to overcome its image as primarily representing white South Africans. Because the South African president is indirectly elected by the parliament, the Democratic Alliance would have to gain a majority of seats for its candidate to be elected, a feat it is extremely unlikely to achieve. Nevertheless, the merging of the Democratic Alliance and RAMPHELE’s Agang Party, the political rise of former ANC youth leader Julius MALEMA, and the series of corruption scandals plaguing the current administration may add up to the largest electoral threat the ANC has faced in the past 20 years.
Tanzania: The Constitutional Review Commission has released a draft constitution that would move the country toward a more federalist political system. The new charter proposes that the express powers of the national government be limited to 7 issues, while a new level of government for once-independent Tanganyika (now mainland Tanzania) would be created alongside the island of Zanzibar’s government. These two regional governments would be delegated many roles previously reserved for the national administration including authority over their respective oil and gas revenues, a growing source of income in the country. The proposed constitution also gives the High Court the power to investigate allegations of electoral fraud by presidential candidates.
Tunisia: Tunisia’s independent caretaker government led by interim Prime Minister Mehdi JOMAA was sworn in on 29 January, after months of political gridlock in the country’s constituent assembly. After adopting its new constitution last month, Tunisia now plans to hold fresh elections to the constituent assembly in October. The Independent High Authority for the Elections (ISIE) is expected to release an electoral law in the coming weeks to guide the process.
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