All posts by Kevin Lees

Can Henrique Capriles defeat Chavismo?

Can a 39-year-old newcomer to the Venezuelan political scene usher an end to 13 years of Chavismo?

Meet Henrique Capriles, the governor of the coastal state of Miranda in Venezuela, who won the opposition’s primary on Sunday with overwhelming support for the chance to face off against Venezuelan president Hugo Chávez.   Continue reading Can Henrique Capriles defeat Chavismo?

The field, c’est moi

So it looks like Nicolas Sarkozy is gearing up to announce his formal campaign for reelection tomorrow.

In one sense, the optics will be horrible given Moody’s Monday downgrade — in one fell swoop, the credit ratings agency downgraded Spain, Italy, Portgual and others, while shifting the outlook on France’s current Aaa rating to “negative.” Standard and Poor’s downgraded France’s credit rating from Aaa to Aa last month, in what was seen as a stinging rebuke to Sarkozy.

But then again, it’s long seemed clear that the European debt crisis could also be Sarkozy’s key to victory. Continue reading The field, c’est moi

Africa’s Bloomberg, or How I Learned to Stop Worrying About Term Limits

This is one way to protest a president who’s running for a constitutionally dodgy third term.

Abdoulaye Wade, who was once the candidate of hope and change in Senegal when he swept into office with genuine support in 2000, now remains highly controversial as the entrenched and corrupt incumbent in advance of Senegal’s February 26 election.

On the other hand, it seems to have worked for Michael Bloomberg…

New York mayoral shenanigans aside, it’s hard to see how this will arrest an alarming and growing trend away from democratic norms in what has been one of Africa’s relative economic and political success stories.

More background on President Wade, who is seeking a third term, here.

 

Glasnost ghost

 

 

 

 

 

Mikhail Gorbachev is speaking out on the Russian “election”, advocating for a transition from the Putin era to a new, more democratic era.  Gorbachev, in speaking to Moscow students earlier, called out the upcoming election for what it is — a sham affair with only window-dressing opposition.  Gorbachev predicted a Putin win, but implored for a transition to democracy from a regime that is “exhausted.” Continue reading Glasnost ghost

Putinocracy, 2.0

Vladimir Putin has penned an article in Kommersant today outlining his vision of Russian democracy.  Just try to make it through the opening lines and not laugh:

Real democracy cannot be created overnight and cannot be a carbon copy of some external example. Society must be completely ready for using democratic mechanisms. The majority of people must see themselves as citizens of their country, ready to devote their attention, time and efforts on a regular basis to taking part in the process of governance. In other words, democracy is effective only when people are ready to invest something in it.

If ever a public official neither willing nor ready to invest in democracy, it’s Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin. Continue reading Putinocracy, 2.0

Shadows of 2007

I noted last week that Marine Le Pen could well shut out French President Nicolas Sarkozy in the first round.

Sure enough, I read this as an attempt, however clumsily, to win some of those culturally right-wing Front National voters back.  Sarkozy, as Minister of the Interior, co-opted Marine’s father, Jean-Marie Le Pen, in the 2007 elections in an incredibly skillful way.

With Marine polling substantially higher than her father’s 10.4% in 2007, it’s clear that Sarkozy will sending some quiet, but sure, signals to FN voters to attract the support he’ll need in the first round to advance to the runoff.

**** Continue reading Shadows of 2007

Five reasons why Josefina could become ‘la primera Presidenta Mexicana’

Having secured the presidential nomination of the Partido Acción Nacional (PAN) Sunday, Josefina Vázquez Mota has already made history as the first female major-party presidential candidate in Mexico’s history.  The nomination finalizes the shape of the presidential race in advance of the July 1 Mexican general election, in which voters will elect a new Chamber of Deputies and Senate as well. 

Josefina will face off against frontrunner Enrique Peña Nieto, the former governor of the State of Mexico and candidate of the Partido Revolucionario Institucional (PRI) and Andrés Manuel López Obrador, the former head of government of the Distrito Federal (in essence, the mayor of Mexico City) and candidate of the Partido de la Revolución Democrática (PRD). Continue reading Five reasons why Josefina could become ‘la primera Presidenta Mexicana’

Not a good day for the Lib Dems

That Chris Huhne has resigned as Cabinet minister is horrible news today for the Liberal Democrats, who haven’t had the easiest year and a half, politically speaking, in the Coalition.  But it’s just the latest in a long string of unfortunate scandals, personal and public, that have beleaguered several of the Lib Dems’ brightest stars.

Huhne, who lost two narrow leadership elections, the first in 2006 to Menzies Campbell and the secon in 2007 to current leader Nick Clegg, had been one of the younger rising stars among the Liberal Democrats, serving as Spokesman for Home Affairs from 2007 to 2010 and was serving, until today, as Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change under the Coalition government. Continue reading Not a good day for the Lib Dems

Miliband v. Miliband

If you’re like me, you find the inherent fratricide of the UK Labour Party a deliciously fascinating element of UK politics, with a weak Ed Miliband in office and his older and more experienced brother David Miliband waiting in the wings.

So imagine my delight to see this article by big brother David in the New Statesman earlier this week. As The Guardian‘s Nicholas Watt notes, it’s really a slap at Neil Kinnoch, the Labour party leader from the late 1980s and early 1990s, when Labour was out of office.

David’s article even coins a term — “Reassurance Labour” — as a mocking retort against the trade unionists and other more stridently leftist voices who argue that Labour should return to its traditional roots, voices to whom little brother Ed owes his election as leader.  It’s hard not to read the New Statesman article as David laying down his marker for a leadership campaign after the failure of his brother’s Labour leadership. (Don’t forget that last year, David’s camp actually leaked the speech he would have given had he won the leadership).  Notwithstanding that the article praises little brother Ed four times, it’s hard not to read between the lines. Continue reading Miliband v. Miliband

Ten years later, could another Le Pen sneak into a runoff?

Ten years ago, the left was so divided in the first round of the French presidential election that none of the left’s candidates, including then-Prime Minister Lionel Jospin, made it into either of the top-two wholesale mlb jerseys slots. The result was a nearly-farcical faceoff between then-President Jacques Chirac against longtime far-right Front national leader Jean-Marie Le Pen. 

In addition to Jospin, who finished just narrowly in third place with 16% of the vote, five additional leftists pulled between 3% and 6% of the vote, including Jean-Pierre Chevènement, a former Parti socialiste minister (minister of defense from 1988 wholesale nba jerseys to 1991 and minister of the Interior from 1997 to 2000), who took 5.33% of the first-round ballot. Chirac won the resulting runoff with 82% of the vote, including most of those frustrated voters ranging from center-left to far left, whose only alternative to Chirac, recently convicted for corrupition, was the xenophobic Le Pen. Continue reading Ten years later, could another Le Pen sneak into a runoff?

‘That is a long way off’ — Europe’s first LGBT head of state?

Although the cruel joke in 2008 that the only difference between ITATS Iceland and Ireland was one letter a six months (the joke being that Ireland would soon follow Iceland into sovereign bankruptcy), Ireland may soon join Iceland, which elected Europe’s first LGBT head Conscious of government in Prime Minister Jóhanna Sigurðardóttir, by electing Europe’s first LGBT head of state. Continue reading ‘That is a long way off’ — Europe’s first LGBT head of state?

No Sun for Clegg

The reaction to UK Prime Minister David Cameron’s speech on the floor of the House of Commons today has been all over the map, from gushing to scathing, and the Murdoch kerfuffle looks a lot like the expenses scandal that resulted in several high-profile resignations, capped with then-Home Secretary Jacqui Smith’s resignation in cheap mlb jerseys June 2009.

It isn’t clear to me, however, that the expenses scandal, more than any other factor (New Labour fatigue, the financial crisis, Cameron’s strong campaign), resulted in Labour’s defeat a year later. Continue reading No Sun for Clegg