April 22, 2014, 11:24 a.m.
Egypt: The election commission has stated that only two candidates are registered for next month’s presidential election. The first is front-runner Abdel Fattah el-SISI, the Field Marshal who played a leading role in the ousting of Egypt’s last president, Mohamed MORSI, in July of last year. Since the coup, el-SISI has been the First Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Defense and has built what many describe as a cult of personality around his leadership. His only opposing candidate will be Hamdeen SABAHI, a secular leftist politician who was the third place candidate in the 2012 presidential election.
Mauritania: The government has announced that a presidential election will take place on 21 June, with a second round on 5 July if needed. While current President Mohamed Ould ABDEL AZIZ has not yet declared his candidacy, his party has asked him to run for reelection. ABDEL AZIZ came to power in 2008 after ousting Mauritania’s first democratically-elected leader and winning the subsequent presidential election. His party, the Union for the Republic, won 75 of 146 seats in parliament when several major opposition parties boycotted in December 2013.
Thailand: Meetings between Prime Minister YINGLUCK Shinawatra’s Pheu Thai Party and opposition parties ended abruptly and without a resolution after opposition groups withdrew at the last minute. The talks, hosted by the Election Commission, were an attempt to reach an agreement on a date for new elections. The last elections, held in February, were declared invalid last month due to the widespread disruption of voting by opposition protesters. Former Prime Minister and Opposition Leader ABHISIT Vejjajiva, whose Democrat Party boycotted the elections in February, refused to participate in the negotiations, claiming a concern for his security. Meanwhile, there is still no end in sight to Thailand’s political crisis. Not only has the country been without a functioning legislature since December, but Prime Minister YINGLUCK now also faces charges of corruption, which her supporters claim are politically motivated.
United States: A recent survey by Princeton University and Northwestern University has found that the United States more closely resembles an oligarchy than a democracy. Analyzing the results of 1,779 survey questions asked between 1981 and 2002 on public policy issues and the results of related policy proposals, the researchers concluded, “Multivariate analysis indicates that economic elites and organized groups representing business interests have substantial independent impacts on US government policy, while average citizens and mass-based interest groups have little or no independent influence.” They therefore describe the American government as a system of “biased pluralism” where policy outcomes “tend to tilt towards the wishes of corporations and business and professional associations.” This study comes amid record-low approval ratings of Congress and a recent controversial Supreme Court decision that abolishes campaign-contribution limits. The report, titled “Testing Theories of American Politics: Elites, Interest Groups, and Average Citizens,” can be found here.
(Image Credit: blogs.wsj.com)