Live-blogging the Québec debates: Charest v. Legault

I’ll be live-blogging tonight’s hourlong debate — the second in a series of three one-on-one debates — between Québec premier Jean Charest, the leader of the centrist, federalist Parti libéral du Québec (Liberal Party, or PLQ) and François Legault, leader of the newly formed, sort-of maybe center-right Coalition avenir Québec (CAQ).

Sunday night featured a four-way debate and last night featured a raucous one-on-one between Charest and Pauline Marois, the leader of the leftist, sovereigntist Parti québécois (PQ).  Tomorrow’s final debate will feature Marois and Legault, and Wednesday will bring showcase Marois and Legault.

Given Charest’s feisty, aggressive tone against Marois last night, I expect to see the same against Legault, who himself is a former PQ minister.  Legault left the PQ to form the CAQ late last year, and I would expect Charest to make the argument that Legault is a closet sovereigntist and that the CAQ has been too vague about its plans for government.  I expect you’ll also see Charest attack Legault for cuts made to Québec’s health care system — Legault once served as minister for health and social services under PQ premier Bernard Landry from 2001 to 2003.

Québec’s voters go to polls on September 4 to choose 125 members of Québec’s Assemblée nationale.

Read Suffragio’s prior coverage of the Québécois election here.

Well, it was another exciting debate and the last debate for Charest.

Charest managed to come across as a little less aggressive tonight, but perhaps a little more effective — he could point (and he did!) to Legault’s past experience in government and contrast it with the (unreliable?) positions Legault has taken as the leader of the CAQ.

Legault seemed more effective, perhaps, than he did on Sunday night, but seemed less sure throughout the night.  He’s not as good a debater as Charest.

I wonder if Legault’s strong defense of French and Bill 101 at the end of the debate will leave a bad taste in anglophone voters’ mouths — he’ll need those if the CAQ is to win the election.

All in all, I think Charest did a strong job defending his government and an even stronger job attacking the CAQ’s platform (or the slipperiness of the platform vis-a-vis Legault’s record).

Full live-blog after the jump.

* * * *  Continue reading Live-blogging the Québec debates: Charest v. Legault

First Past the Post: August 21

Jeffrey Goldberg thinks a personal visit from U.S. president Barack Obama could forestall any unilateral Israeli action against Iran.

A look at Indian-Peruvian relations.

Reuters looks at possible successors to Ethopian prime minister Meles Zenawi, who died Tuesday.

Renewed clashes in Sunni-dominated Tripoli, in Lebanon’s north, are increasing cautions about Syrian spillover.

Dutch Socialist Emile Roemer is bearish on the euro crisis.

FT Alphaville turns to the Dutch elections.

Romania’s Constitution Court invalidated the referendum on impeaching the president, Traian Băsescu, and prime minister Victor Ponta accepts the ruling.

Longtime pro-Euro Tory and justice minister Kenneth Clarke seems nervous in advance of a planned cabinet reshuffle expected from UK prime minister David Cameron in early September.

Liberal Party fundraiser Jean-Paul Boily calls on Liberal supporters to support the newly-formed Coalition avenir Québec in the Sept. 4 election as a strategic manuever to stop a sovereigntist Parti québécois government.

NOTE: I will be live-blogging tonight’s Québec election debate between Liberal premier Jean Charest and CAQ leader François Legault.

Ethiopia’s Meles Zenawi has died

The prime minister of Ethiopia, Meles Zenawi, has died after a long illness. He was 57.  Deputy prime minister Haile-Mariam Desalegne will be sworn in as acting prime minister.

Since taking power in 1991, Ethiopia really hasn’t known a leader in the post-Cold War era other than Meles.  He inherited a country decimated from a grinding famine in the 1980s and a war with Eritrea (that resulted in Eritrea’s independence in 1991) and transformed it into a stable regional power in a country that’s relatively untouched by the colonial experience, but which is the second-most populous African nation after Nigeria.

Meles’s death comes just days after the death of the patriarch of the Ethiopian Orthodox church, Abune Paulos, at age 77, who was himself appointed by Meles.

Meles came to power after participating in the coup that removed Mengistu Haile Mariam, a leader of the Derg that governed Ethiopia from 1974 to 1987 — Mengistu ruled in his own right through 1991. He presided over the writing of a new federalism-based constitution for Ethiopia in 1994, and he kind of opened Ethiopia to the ritual of regular elections, however rigged in favor of Meles.

In his last election in 2010, Meles and his Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF, or የኢትዮጵያ ሕዝቦች አብዮታዊ ዲሞክራሲያዊ ግንባር) won the majority in the Ethiopian parliament, despite widespread allegations of fraud.  His victory in the relatively fairer 2005 election was met with massive — and sometimes violent — protest, which Meles met with a general crackdown on political dissidents.  For all the stability that Meles brought to Ethiopia, democratic norms and institutions were not among his chief reforms.  For example, opposition leader Birtukan Medeksa was imprisoned from 2007 to 2010.

But Meles can certainly be credited with taking steps to strengthen Ethiopia’s economy — it has grown fantastically since Meles came to power, but for two blips in 1998 and in 2003.  Last year saw the lowest GDP growth since 2004, but it still managed to top 7%.  Ethiopia’s significant growth belies its horrific starting point as one of the poorest countries on the planet — its GDP per capita is just barely over $1,000. Continue reading Ethiopia’s Meles Zenawi has died