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South Africa: Political parties

19-11-2015

Though weakened by allegations of corruption and inefficiency in service delivery after its two decades in power, the ruling African National Congress (ANC) continues to dominate the political scene, despite winning fewer votes in the most recent elections (2014). The highly fragmented opposition now faces an uphill struggle in challenging the ANC and offering a political alternative for the country, which is affected by deep socioeconomic divisions, 25% unemployment, a high crime rate and prevalent ...

Though weakened by allegations of corruption and inefficiency in service delivery after its two decades in power, the ruling African National Congress (ANC) continues to dominate the political scene, despite winning fewer votes in the most recent elections (2014). The highly fragmented opposition now faces an uphill struggle in challenging the ANC and offering a political alternative for the country, which is affected by deep socioeconomic divisions, 25% unemployment, a high crime rate and prevalent corruption.

US Congress: Speaker of the House

27-10-2015

In the wake of the first visit of Pope Francis to the United States in September 2015, John Boehner announced that he would resign one of the most powerful positions in government, the House Speaker, at the end of October. The vote in the House of Representatives for a new Speaker is likely to take place on 29 October and elections for other Republican leadership posts will be held thereafter. John Boehner was first elected to serve as Speaker in November 2010 for the 112th Congress. He was re-elected ...

In the wake of the first visit of Pope Francis to the United States in September 2015, John Boehner announced that he would resign one of the most powerful positions in government, the House Speaker, at the end of October. The vote in the House of Representatives for a new Speaker is likely to take place on 29 October and elections for other Republican leadership posts will be held thereafter. John Boehner was first elected to serve as Speaker in November 2010 for the 112th Congress. He was re-elected by the House in January 2013 for the 113th Congress, and again in January 2015 for the 114th Congress. The House Speaker is the political and parliamentary leader of the House of Representatives. He or she is elected by the House of Representatives and the role is the only House leadership position mentioned in Article 1 of the US Constitution (on the legislature). He or she is possibly the most prominent figure on Capitol Hill. Amongst many roles, the Speaker controls the legislative agenda through the House Rules Committee; appoints members of the majority party to committees; defines the priorities of the majority, raises money for the party and negotiates the terms of legislation with Senate leaders and the US President. This multiplicity of roles is argued to be a permanent source of struggle for the Speaker who has to promote the collective interest of the Chamber while simultaneously serving the interests of the House majority party. Looking back, academics argue that the Speakership has largely changed over time not only due to the institutional changes introduced but also because of the different personalities who have held the position.

Myanmar/Burma: Political parties

22-10-2015

After decades of direct and indirect military rule, Myanmar/Burma's political future now hangs in the balance, with elections on 8 November 2015 offering its best chance of a transition to democracy for many years. The two main parties contesting the election are the incumbent, military-backed USDP, and the opposition party, NLD, led by the charismatic Aung San Suu Kyi.

After decades of direct and indirect military rule, Myanmar/Burma's political future now hangs in the balance, with elections on 8 November 2015 offering its best chance of a transition to democracy for many years. The two main parties contesting the election are the incumbent, military-backed USDP, and the opposition party, NLD, led by the charismatic Aung San Suu Kyi.

Ecuador: political parties

12-12-2014

The political party system in Ecuador has suffered historically from fragmentation and volatility, accentuated by the 1972-78 dictatorship, and then chronic economic crises between 1984 and 2005. As a result, the country has enjoyed relatively few periods of genuine political stability. The 2006 presidential elections brought major changes, both through the weakening of the traditional parties and the appearance of new political forces, with greater strength at national level.

The political party system in Ecuador has suffered historically from fragmentation and volatility, accentuated by the 1972-78 dictatorship, and then chronic economic crises between 1984 and 2005. As a result, the country has enjoyed relatively few periods of genuine political stability. The 2006 presidential elections brought major changes, both through the weakening of the traditional parties and the appearance of new political forces, with greater strength at national level.

Russia: political parties in a 'managed democracy'

12-12-2014

From the October 1917 Bolshevik Revolution until 1989, the Communist Party of the Soviet Union was the country's only legal party. Since then, the number has grown, with a record 69 parties participating in the September 2014 regional elections. However, this apparent diversity does not mean that Russian voters have a real choice, as Vladimir Putin's grip on power is increasingly unchallenged, gradually reversing the gains made in the post-1989 democratisation process.

From the October 1917 Bolshevik Revolution until 1989, the Communist Party of the Soviet Union was the country's only legal party. Since then, the number has grown, with a record 69 parties participating in the September 2014 regional elections. However, this apparent diversity does not mean that Russian voters have a real choice, as Vladimir Putin's grip on power is increasingly unchallenged, gradually reversing the gains made in the post-1989 democratisation process.

Midterm Elections in the United States: What’s at Stake?

07-10-2014

On 4 November 2014, midterm elections will be held for all 435 seats in the US House of Representatives and for 36 seats in the US Senate. Additionally, 36 of 50 states will hold gubernatorial races on that day. The Republican majority in the House of Representatives is widely expected to be maintained, and the Party stands a decent chance of gaining the six additional seats it would need to control the Senate as well – giving the party a hold over the entire Congress, with its legislative and oversight ...

On 4 November 2014, midterm elections will be held for all 435 seats in the US House of Representatives and for 36 seats in the US Senate. Additionally, 36 of 50 states will hold gubernatorial races on that day. The Republican majority in the House of Representatives is widely expected to be maintained, and the Party stands a decent chance of gaining the six additional seats it would need to control the Senate as well – giving the party a hold over the entire Congress, with its legislative and oversight powers. Whatever results the Senate race produces, the midterms will not end the country’s long-standing political gridlock. President Obama is certain to face a difficult two years before the end of his tenure.

India's 2014 Legislative Elections: The Lack of Economic Miracles Lands the Congress Party on the Opposition Benches

27-05-2014

The EU’s relationship with India and the floundering bilateral trade negotiations may be reinvigorated by the results of the country’s elections for India’s lower house of parliament – the Lok Sabha – held between 7 April and 12 May 2014. The landslide victory of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and its leader, Narendra Modi, came at the expense of the Congress party; after being in power for all but 18 years since the country's independence in 1947, Congress obtained only 44 seats – less than 8 ...

The EU’s relationship with India and the floundering bilateral trade negotiations may be reinvigorated by the results of the country’s elections for India’s lower house of parliament – the Lok Sabha – held between 7 April and 12 May 2014. The landslide victory of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and its leader, Narendra Modi, came at the expense of the Congress party; after being in power for all but 18 years since the country's independence in 1947, Congress obtained only 44 seats – less than 8 % of the total – in the recent ballot. The new Common People's Party, which performed well in 2013-regional elections in the capital, Delhi, obtained only four seats nationwide. Modi, a Hindu nationalist who led the state of Gujarat, had been shunned by the EU and the US for many years for his part in the 2002 Gujarat riots. But between the recent elections and his investiture, on 26 May 2014, both transatlantic powers made friendly overtures to the new prime minister. Negotiations within the BJP and with potential coalition partners are well underway, and the composition of the new Indian government should be known soon. As Modi’s election campaign focussed on domestic issues, and in particular on the ailing Indian economy, the BJP-led government’s stance on foreign relations – including on cross-border trade and investment and negotiations with the EU on the stalled free trade agreement – will soon crystallise.