Friday, January 22, 2010

Three Elections

One passed, one at the half-way point, and one to come... all important.

(No, Yanks, I'm not including your special election in Massachusetts earlier this week. That one looks to also have been of great importance, but time will tell. Nice win for Green-to-Gold Guardsman Scott Brown, though. My congratulations.)

Here's the one that is done. Chile:
Former Chilean President Eduardo Frei has conceded losing the country's presidential election to conservative billionaire Sebastian Pinera.

With 99 percent of the polling places counted, official returns showed Mr. Pinera with 52 percent of the vote and Mr. Frei with 48 percent.
This was huge. A major step forward for Chile; by some measures the most important step it could have taken after the OECD recognized that Chile is in the Developed World now. Welcome to the Club, friends.

Next up, and in progress through February, Ukraine:

Current President Viktor Yushchenko is done; he got 5% of the vote in the General Poll. That leaves two of the "big three" standing... Russian-frontman Viktor Yanukovych with a momentary lead at 35% of the vote (about what his regional-ethnic party has in supporting population share, btw) and incumbent Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko, who got 25% of the vote, mostly out of a badly split Orange Revolution-based political movement. Those two will stand in the run-off election on February 7th. But the real story there right now is about a candidate that placed... third.
Orange Revolution heroine Yulia Tymoshenko and her rival, pro-Moscow Viktor Yanukovych, may have won the top two spots in Ukraine's presidential election on January 17, but as they face off ahead of the final round next month, someone else is at the center of attention.

Third-place finisher Serhiy Tigipko says he won't endorse either candidate, but there's intense competition to get him to change his mind.
Okay... but...
Tigipko headed Viktor Yanukovych's campaign during the infamous presidential election in 2004, when their victory -- in voting widely believed to have been rigged -- prompted thousands onto the streets.
Yeah. This is not good news. It is somewhat expected that an election in Ukraine will be all about personalities these days, but read the whole story from RFE/RL (linked above) to see a glimpse of how this could go wrong in a lot of ways.

More on this from our friends at Angus Reid Global Monitor, just to expand on the point of how dirty this election has gotten. The worry may well be that whichever of the candidates wins in February, Russia wins... which means the people of Ukraine lose. It really is that zero-sum there right now.

Last up, but likely to be resolved shortly. Sri Lanka:

Oh brother... this could get ugly.
On Nov. 23, 2009, Sri Lankan president Mahinda Rajapaksa called an early presidential election for 2010, saying he wants to seek a stronger mandate before his first term expires in 2011. This practice is allowed under the Sri Lankan constitution, as long as the president has been in office for at least four years. Rajapaksa was first elected in 2005.

The presidential ballot will take place on Jan. 26, 2010.

Sarath Fonseka, an army general, will also run for president. The opposition United National Party (EJP) and the far-left People’s Liberation Front party have endorsed Fonseka’s bid.

Rajapaksa is running with the United People’s Freedom Alliance (UPFA). Another 20 candidates, including a Buddhist monk and five independents, will also join the contest.

The two main contenders—Rajapaksa and Fonseka—are widely considered as the main leaders in the defeat of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) in 2009.

In November, Fonseka left the Sri Lankan army while denying accusations by the Rajapaksa government that he was planning a coup d’ ├ętat.
(source: Angus Reid Global Monitor)

Two leaders ...both bathed in the glory of defeating the LTTE and by any reasonable measure saving the nation... couldn't cooperate once the threat was past. In fairness, it appears that the dispute began from only one side... President M. Rajapaksa aparently can't stand to share the political spotlight... but still...

This is not the future your troops were fighting for, gentlemen.

May the electorate (which includes the northern population now!) show you the error of your ways.

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