Newscoop Footnotes: April 8, 2019

Welcome to Newscoop Footnotes —

the weekly review of important news no one’s talking about.

Hi, I’m Zoe Licata.

This week around the world, it’s about elections.

  • In local elections in Turkey on March 31st, the party of Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan suffered a huge setback. Erdogan’s AKP party lost control of both Ankara, the political center of the country, as well as Istanbul. The vote is seen as something of a referendum on Erdogan himself. It was a political earthquake for a man who went to extraordinary lengths to solidify his power and reduce the influence of dissenters — by imprisoning those in the army, judiciary and the media he saw as a threat to his total control. As the New York Times reported, what made the difference in this election was the deteriorating economy and a very organized opposition.Erdogan is now seeking an election recount in Istanbul, and the opposition is accusing him of tampering with democracy. From Meral Akşener of the secular, center-right İyi Party: “Renewing the election until the AK Party wins is the type of thing one sees in dictatorships.”

    Source: New York Times, Bloomberg

  • And in Israeli elections this coming Tuesday, Benjamin Netanyahu is fighting for his political life, as he seeks a 5th term as prime minister. The race is very close, due in large part to the 3 corruption charges Netanyahu is facing, which could earn him a lengthy prison term. His main challenger is Benny Gantz, an army general and former chief of staff of the Israeli Defense Forces.Netanyahu has formed an electoral alliance with the most extreme right elements in Israeli politics, which does not bode well for Israeli democracy should he be re-elected. He has also been taking steps to pass laws that would protect him from indictment on the corruption charges. And with Gantz and Netanyahu neck in neck, Netanyahu has also been trying to appeal to extreme right voters by promising the annexation of Palestinian lands.Israelis vote on April 9th for party tickets, not for prime minister — after which the country’s president Reuven Rivlin will allow the party leader with a plurality of the vote to try to form a governing coalition. Stay tuned.

    Source: New Yorker, BBC

  • Next, to India. The country’s general election will begin April 11th, to run until May 19th. The votes of some 900 million Indians will be counted on May 23rd. There are 543 seats being chosen in the Lok Sabha, India’s lower house of parliament. The party that wins a majority of seats will then choose the prime minister.Current prime minister Narendra Modi and his ruling Hindu nationalist BJP Party are seeking re-election. The primary opposition challenger is Rahul Gandhi and the Congress party. Gandhi is the grandson of Indira Gandhi, the first woman to become prime minister, and of Jawarhlal Nehru, the founding prime minister of India.Modi has issued a pre-election manifesto focusing on nationalism, national security and investment in infrastructure. Also, a controversial promise to scrap preferential ownership rights for residents in muslim-majority Kashmir — a move that could lead to widespread unrest.

    The election is considered one of the most important in India’s history.

    Source: CNN, Al Jazeera

  • And finally, to Africa. Impossible to wrap up this week’s Footnotes without spotlighting 2 significant hotspots right now.First in Khartoum, Sudan. Following 4 months of protests, thousands of Sudanese over the weekend staged a 3-day sit-in outside the residence of President Omar al-Bashir, demanding his resignation. After Bashir’s security forces used tear gas and live ammunition to disperse the crowds, it was reported that members of the military tried to protect the protestors. The protestors have been asking the Sudanese army to withdraw their support for Bashir’s government, and to hold direct talks regarding a transitional government.Bashir’s abuse of human rights has been legendary, and there is an International Criminal Court arrest warrant out for him for acts of genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity.

    Source: Al Jazeera, BBC

  • And then to Tripoli, Libya. Since 2014, Libya has been split between the U.N.-backed Government of National Accord in Tripoli, the GNA, and the forces of General Khalifa Haftar, head of the Libyan National Army who is allied with Gaddafi regime loyalists in the east. Haftar had consolidated his power in the eastern part of Libya, but then last week began an offensive on the western part of the country — advancing toward Tripoli and launching an air strike on the city’s airport.Many are concerned about what’s being seen as an escalating risk of civil war.

    Source: BBC, NPR

This has been the latest edition of Newscoop Footnotes – important events getting too little attention.

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