Entries in Elections (33)


Benjamin Netanyahu Moves Up National Elections in Israel

Lior Mizrahi/Getty Images(JERUSALEM) -- Election season is coming earlier than expected in Israel as Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced on Tuesday he was moving up the vote because of disagreements with political opponents over the 2013 national budget.

Netanyahu, who leads the coalition government, said the elections would take place within the next three months.

While budget issues might be the public reason for moving up the elections from next autumn, Netanyahu is hoping the accelerated vote will hinder his political foes from bolstering their own platforms.

Most observers say the prime minister was already tipping his hand during an impassioned speech to the United Nations General Assembly last month when he spoke of establishing a "red line" to keep Iran from developing nuclear weapons.

Privately, Netanyahu is said to be concerned that President Obama will be reelected and that he might experience fallout from his friendship with GOP nominee Mitt Romney.

During his announcement of the early vote, Netanyahu tooted his own horn by saying, "In a few months, the tenure of the most stable government in decades will come to an end.  This stability has helped us achieve the two main objectives we promised the citizens of Israel -- to strengthen security at a time when a dangerous upheaval is gripping the Middle East, and [to fortify] the economy during…a financial turmoil."

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Historic Voting Continues in Libya Despite Violence

PHILIPPE DESMAZES/AFP/Getty Images(TRIPOLI, Libya) -- Voting in Libya’s first free election in decades continued for a second day on Sunday at polling stations that were closed the day before thanks to violence, which prevented citizens from casting ballots.

Preliminary results could be announced as early as Monday, according to the state-run LANA news agency.

Libya’s High National Election Commission says approximately 1.7 million Libyans -- roughly about 60 percent of the nation's 2.8 million registered voters -- cast ballots on Saturday.

Voters are choosing from more than 3,500 candidates running to fill a 200-seat national assembly that will establish a transitional government.  The assembly will craft a constitution and establish a procedure for a presidential election in 2013.

Tripoli’s main square has become the focal point for celebrations since Moammar Gadhafi's 42-year rule ended nine months ago, and it has been filled this past weekend with cars honking horns and people waving flags while chanting, “Raise your head up high, you are a free Libyan."

The area was once called Green Square for Gadhafi's Green Book that outlined his political philosophy, but it’s now known as Martyr's Square for those who died during last year’s revolution.

Violence on Saturday included protesters setting fire to two polling centers in the eastern city of Benghazi.  Six other polling centers in other cities either opened just hours before they were scheduled to close or did not open at all.

Many of the protesters are Libyans in the eastern part of the country who feel they will be underrepresented in the national assembly.  Libyans in the east had always felt largely neglected during Gadhafi's long rule, and despite the eastern city of Benghazi emerging as the center of the Libyan revolution, many residents feel their uprising has been taken over by Libyans in the west, in Tripoli.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Libya Set to Hold First Free Election in Six Decades

PHILIPPE DESMAZES/AFP/Getty Images(TRIPOLI, Libya) -- On Saturday, Libyans will do something they haven’t done in 60 years -- vote in a free multi-party election.

Just nine months ago, Libyans were celebrating the end of 42 years of rule under the late Moammar Gadhafi.

Some three million Libyans have registered to vote so they can choose among 1,400 candidates for a 200-seat National Assembly.  That elected body will form a temporary government and draft a constitution, which will lead to another election a year from now.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Mexico Drug War: More Families Buying Armored Cars

ABC News(MEXICO CITY) -- Eighty million citizens in Mexico headed to the polls on Sunday to elect a new president at a time when drug war violence remains a crucial issue.  Some of them likely took that journey in their own armored vehicles.

More than 50,000 people have died in Mexico’s drug war, causing the armored car business to boom, allowing regular families with enough pesos the opportunity to make their vehicles safe havens.

“I would say in the last four years, the business is up 1,000 percent.  It’s huge,” an auto shop owner in Mexico told ABC News’ Cecilia Vega.

A midsize SUV outfitted with armor is bullet-resistant and can withstand 15 to 20 rounds of bullets fired from a handgun.

These so-called “family tanks” are a sign of the violent drug war that has become a top issue in Sunday’s election.

Frontrunner Enrique Peña Nieto has said he wants to focus on curbing violence in the streets and less on catching cartel leaders and blocking the flow of drugs into the United States.

Peña Nieto is a member of the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI).  The party ruled nearly uncontested for seven decades until it was defeated in 2000 by Vicente Fox, ushering in 12 years of conservative leadership.

Despite this being one of Mexico’s cleanest elections, voting did not go entirely as planned.  One polling place visited by ABC News opened two hours late.  Nevertheless, voters waited in a line that stretched down the block.

“This country needs a change,” said voter Javier Rojas.

Preliminary results Sunday night show Peña Nieto with a comfortable lead over his opponents: former Mexico City Mayor Andrés Manuel López Obrador and former cabinet secretary Josefina Vázquez Mota.  Although Peña Nieto appears to be the victor, it will be a few days before the official results are in.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


New Greek Ruling Party Works Fast to Form Coalition Government

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(ATHENS, Greece) -- With virtually no time to spare, the head of the New Democracy Party that won Greece's election on Sunday has begun trying to forge a coalition that will keep the country's fragile economy from total collapse.

Voters selected Antonis Samaras' party by a very narrow margin over a leftist bloc that wants to leave the eurozone and return to Greece's old currency.  Economists from around the globe maintained that that scenario would have spelled certain disaster for Greece and the rest of the world's economy.

Samaras should be able to get enough allies on his side to moderate terms of the bailout agreement that Greece reached with the European Union and the International Monetary Fund.

Where things go from there is anyone's guess, with some analysts already saying the point of no-return has already passed and the continent could soon be in the throes of a deep recession.

With Spain and Italy in similar straits, German Chancellor Angela Merkel has told Samaras that the new coalition must abide by its obligations and cannot go back on reform pledges previously made by Greece.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Egyptian 'Coup' Dissolves Parliament

Egyptian presidential candidate Ahmed Shafiq attends a press conference in Cairo. (AFP/GettyImages)(CAIRO) -- In the final days before this weekend's landmark presidential run-off election, Thursday brought a pair of decisions that threw Egypt's fledgling democracy into doubt.

Egypt's Supreme Constitutional Court ruled that one third of the Muslim Brotherhood-led Parliament must be immediately dissolved. The Supreme Council of the Armed Forces, the country's ruling military, quickly declared full legislative authority, saying that if a portion of the parliament was unconstitutional, that rendered the entire parliament unconstitutional.

"We saw a coup in Egypt today," said Shadi Hamid, director of research at the Brookings Doha center. "It was an all out power grab. The regime's apparatus is going into full force. And so far, it's a remarkable and successful coup."

In the second ruling, the Mubarak-appointed judges voted that Ahmed Shafiq, Egypt's former interim prime minister during the revolution, will be allowed to remain on the ballot in the run-off election against the head of the Muslim Brotherhood, Mohammed Morsi, scheduled for June 16 and 17.

"All this equals a complete coup d'etat through which the military council is writing off the most noble stage in the nation's history," Mohamed el-Beltagy, a senior member of Morsi's Freedom and Justice Party, wrote on his Facebook wall. "This is the Egypt which Shafiq and the military council desire."

Shortly after the rulings were handed down, Shafiq gave a press conference that looked and sounded much like a victory speech. Shafiq told a cheering crowd, "The age of settling accounts is over and gone. The age of using the law and the country's institutions against any individual is over."

In his speech, Shafiq, a close friend of Mubarak's, described a modern, free Egypt where every individual has a vote, promising landmark reforms. "We love you, President Shafiq," the crowd chanted in response.

But former International Atomic Energy Agency chief, Mohamed El Baradei warned that Egypt is entering a dangerous phase.

"Electing a president without having a constitution or parliament means electing a president with absolute power," el-Baradei said.

After the recent parliament elections, the Muslim Brotherhood stands to lose the most from today's rulings, and many wondered whether Morsi would still run this weekend or whether the Muslim Brotherhood would pull out in protest.

The Council on Foreign Relations' Steven Cook described two camps arising out of today's decisions: "Those [Muslim Brotherhood members] that believe Egypt is still within their grasp, and those [Muslim Brotherhood members] that are more reluctant to continue the fight, reluctant to run at all."

But former presidential candidate Abul Fotoh said Egyptians were up for the fight.

"Keeping the military candidate (in the race) and overturning the elected parliament after granting the military police the right to arrest is a complete coup and whoever thinks that millions of youth will let it pass is deluding themselves," Fotoh said in a statement.

Michael Hanna, fellow at the Century Foundation, isn't sure young revolutionaries will be as eager as last year.

"There is still a huge gulf of mistrust between the Muslim Brotherhood and the revolutionaries which presents a real stumbling block," he said. Whether people take their outrage to the voting booths, or to the street is yet to be seen.

Today's rulings come on the heels of a Justice Ministry decree on Wednesday that granted the military council authority to arrest civilians. The legal combination leaves SCAF squarely at the helm for the foreseeable future. And if Shafiq wins, many argue that it will effectively set the clock back to February 2011.

"With no parliament, and no constitution, [the military] will be governing the country," said Hamid. "SCAF has outmaneuvered everyone, and it has been masterful."

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Egyptian Election Outcome Nears as Vote Counting Begins

Stockbyte/Thinkstock(CAIRO) -- Egypt is coming closer to seeing a new democratically elected government.  After two days of polling, the polling stations are closed and election officials have started to count votes to see who will be the nation's first president elected by its people.

Voter turnout Wednesday appeared lower than in the first post-Mubarak parliamentary poll held late last year. Voting in both urban and rural areas seemed split between five leading contenders, but no reliable pattern pointed to a winner as of early Thursday. Still, based on its own estimates, the Muslim Brotherhood asserted that its own candidate, Mohammed Mursi, was in the lead ahead of 12 others competing for the presidency, BBC News reports.

Generally, election spectators have expressed satisfaction with the voting process.  U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton Thursday spoke to the significance of the Egypt's elections, which she said marked "another important milestone in their transition to democracy."

"We look forward to working with Egypt's democratically elected government," Clinton said in a statement Thursday. "We will continue to stand with the Egyptian people as they work to seize the promise of last year's uprising and build a democracy that reflects their values and traditions, respects universal human rights, and meets their aspirations for dignity and a better life."

The election's results are set to be announced Tuesday, but some individual polling stations are expected to announce results by Friday morning.  

A run-off vote is scheduled for June 16 and 17 if no candidate manages to get more than 50 percent of the votes.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Disputes Continue over Syria's Parliamentary Elections

Stockbyte/Thinkstock(DAMASCUS, Syria) -- Syria's parliamentary elections nearly 10 days ago spurred just over half of all eligible voters to head to the polls, government officials in Damascus claimed Tuesday.

Syrian election committee chairman Khalaf al-Izzaoui boasted that about five million Syrians voted to elect a new parliament although there was no way of verifying this figure since independent monitors were not allow to observe polling stations.

Opposition groups had called for a boycott of the May 7 election, contending that it was a sham attempt by President Bashar al-Assad to claim he brought political reform to Syria.

For instance, while several new parties took part in the election aside from the usual ruling Baathist bloc, activists alleged they were simply creations of the authoritarian government.

Critics also said there was virtually no voting in cities and towns that have been under siege since al-Assad instituted a crackdown on his political foes in March 2011 that has been responsible for between 9,000 and 11,000 deaths.

In Washington, State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said Tuesday the Syrian vote was "neither free, fair, transparent or representative of the Syrian people" since it occurred in an atmosphere of ongoing violence.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Turnout Heavy for Syrian Parliamentary Elections Despite Call for Boycott

ABC NEWS/Rob Wallace(DAMASCUS, Syria) -- There was evidence Monday that a call by opposition forces to boycott Syria's parliamentary elections was having little effect as voter turnout appeared somewhat lighter in some parts of the country even as the state TV said polling places were swarmed by voters.

President Bashar al-Assad promised the election would help usher in new reforms even as his critics said it was all a sham, given the government's relentless crackdown on political foes that has resulted in between 9,000 and 11,000 deaths during the past 14 months.

Unlike previous elections, multiple parties were on the ballot instead of only members of the ruling Baathist regime.

However, al-Assad also instituted restrictions about which candidates could actually run for parliament, again bolstering his foes' contention that nothing much was changing in Syria where al-Assad and his father have ruled for decades.

In fact, a new constitution approved last February gives al-Assad even greater powers over the Legislature than ever before and enables him to run for two consecutive seven-year terms, virtually giving the president control of Syria until 2026 unless he steps down or is overthrown.

Meanwhile, the ceasefire pact Syria agreed to has only proven to be minimally successful with the death count growing daily and United Nations observers slow to arrive in the country.  So far, only 40 of the 300 monitors promised have been deployed.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Opposition Calls Syrian Elections a Farce

Sasha Mordovets/Getty Images(DAMASCUS, Syria) -- Syrian opposition leaders have labeled Monday's parliamentary elections a sham and are calling on voters to stay away from the polls.

Up for grabs are 250 seats, but Haytham Manna and Haitham Maleh, who are both in exile, allege it's just another example of a power grab by President Bashar al-Assad, whose efforts to crush his political foes over the past 14 months have led to between 9,000 and 11,000 deaths.

Al-Assad claims the elections will lead to democratic reforms demanded by the Syrian people but his opponents say that nothing will change in the country where he's ruled with an iron fist for more than a decade.

Despite the call for a boycott, there's little chance of anti-government forces succeeding in electing candidates who will overturn the status quo.

Two months ago, the new constitution was approved in a referendum, which allows al-Assad to run for more two more seven-year terms.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio