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Japan: Shinzō Abe wins a new mandate

25-10-2017

Shinzō Abe won the snap elections he called for the lower house on 22 October 2017. Despite her popularity, Tokyo's governor Yuriko Koike failed to convince the electorate to oust a prime minister in charge since December 2012. The newly created Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan became the main opposition force in the House of Representatives. In coalition with Kōmeitō, Abe's Liberal Democratic Party holds a two-thirds majority enabling it to pass constitutional amendments.

Shinzō Abe won the snap elections he called for the lower house on 22 October 2017. Despite her popularity, Tokyo's governor Yuriko Koike failed to convince the electorate to oust a prime minister in charge since December 2012. The newly created Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan became the main opposition force in the House of Representatives. In coalition with Kōmeitō, Abe's Liberal Democratic Party holds a two-thirds majority enabling it to pass constitutional amendments.

2016 report on Turkey

27-06-2017

During its July plenary session, the European Parliament is expected to vote on a resolution on the Commission's 2016 report on Turkey. Long-standing EU-Turkey relations, despite being a priority for both sides, have recently reached a low point, and accession talks risk being brought to a halt.

During its July plenary session, the European Parliament is expected to vote on a resolution on the Commission's 2016 report on Turkey. Long-standing EU-Turkey relations, despite being a priority for both sides, have recently reached a low point, and accession talks risk being brought to a halt.

Morocco's new political landscape

11-04-2017

On 7 October 2016, Morocco went to the polls for national parliamentary elections. This was the second time that Morocco had held national elections since being touched by the Arab Spring in February 2011. Since the 2011 public protests, a number of constitutional reforms, introduced by King Mohammed VI, have made significant changes to electoral and administrative law. Morocco's Islamic Justice and Development Party (PJD) re-emerged as the winner, with the Authenticity and Modernity Party (PAM) ...

On 7 October 2016, Morocco went to the polls for national parliamentary elections. This was the second time that Morocco had held national elections since being touched by the Arab Spring in February 2011. Since the 2011 public protests, a number of constitutional reforms, introduced by King Mohammed VI, have made significant changes to electoral and administrative law. Morocco's Islamic Justice and Development Party (PJD) re-emerged as the winner, with the Authenticity and Modernity Party (PAM) in second position. Since 25 March 2017, Morocco has a new coalition government.

Turkmenistan reforms need to go further

21-06-2016

The Turkmen government has introduced various reforms since 2008 and has expressed an interest in closer cooperation with the EU. Yet, the May 2016 debate in the European Parliament's Committee on Foreign Affairs (AFET) on the Partnership and Cooperation Agreement (PCA) with Turkmenistan highlighted Parliament's dissatisfaction with the reforms. On the grounds of severe human rights concerns, AFET suspended its approval of the PCA until the country makes satisfactory progress.

The Turkmen government has introduced various reforms since 2008 and has expressed an interest in closer cooperation with the EU. Yet, the May 2016 debate in the European Parliament's Committee on Foreign Affairs (AFET) on the Partnership and Cooperation Agreement (PCA) with Turkmenistan highlighted Parliament's dissatisfaction with the reforms. On the grounds of severe human rights concerns, AFET suspended its approval of the PCA until the country makes satisfactory progress.

Bosnia and Herzegovina: Back on the EU track?

05-04-2016

In 2015, Bosnia and Herzegovina's Stabilisation and Association Agreement (SAA) with the EU finally came into force, and in 2016 BiH applied for EU membership. Despite these positives which have put it back on track for EU accession, BiH faces a host of deeply rooted domestic issues and reforms.

In 2015, Bosnia and Herzegovina's Stabilisation and Association Agreement (SAA) with the EU finally came into force, and in 2016 BiH applied for EU membership. Despite these positives which have put it back on track for EU accession, BiH faces a host of deeply rooted domestic issues and reforms.

Democracy in Africa: Power alternation and presidential term limits

04-04-2016

The democratic landscape in Africa is complex, featuring a mixture of examples of progress, in some areas, and regression in others. While some countries have continuously come closer to high democratic standards, considerably strengthening their democratic systems, others have seen their democratic credentials worsen. A pervasive feature of political systems on the African continent has been the fact that the incumbent presidents and ruling parties tend to win elections, whether fair or not. Since ...

The democratic landscape in Africa is complex, featuring a mixture of examples of progress, in some areas, and regression in others. While some countries have continuously come closer to high democratic standards, considerably strengthening their democratic systems, others have seen their democratic credentials worsen. A pervasive feature of political systems on the African continent has been the fact that the incumbent presidents and ruling parties tend to win elections, whether fair or not. Since independence, few African states have experienced transfer of presidential and parliamentary power as a result of elections. At the beginning of the 1990s, during the democratisation wave that swept the continent, most African countries introduced constitutional term limits for their presidents. However, ultimately many of these limits were short-lived, as the leaders who initiated them were often themselves later responsible for spearheading constitutional amendments in order to extend their position in power. In several cases, strong opposition from civil society, but also from political actors, was successful in upholding constitutional rules. In others, however, popular opposition was repressed and the will of the heads of state concerned prevailed, sometimes at the cost of prolonged turmoil. In this context the question arises: how essential and useful to democracy are presidential term limits? While the US under the Obama administration has been vocal in defending term limits in Africa, the EU has not taken sides on the issue as such, focusing instead on the respect of constitutional processes when revisions occur.

Constitutional referendum in Senegal - Shorter presidential term: a half-kept promise

11-03-2016

President Macky Sall decided to put constitutional changes to a referendum on 20 March 2016. The proposal includes a reduction of the presidential term length from seven to five years. Nevertheless President Sall, following the Constitutional Council's opinion, declared the reduction could not apply to his current mandate: he would thus stay in office until 2019, contrary to a promise he made when he was elected. While Sall's supporters hailed his sense of responsibility, opponents denounced this ...

President Macky Sall decided to put constitutional changes to a referendum on 20 March 2016. The proposal includes a reduction of the presidential term length from seven to five years. Nevertheless President Sall, following the Constitutional Council's opinion, declared the reduction could not apply to his current mandate: he would thus stay in office until 2019, contrary to a promise he made when he was elected. While Sall's supporters hailed his sense of responsibility, opponents denounced this decision as a political manoeuvre to backtrack on his commitment.

Constitutional reform in Bolivia

18-02-2016

On 21 February 2016, the Plurinational State of Bolivia will hold a popular referendum on constitutional reform to decide whether to authorise a second consecutive presidential re-election. If this reform is approved, President Evo Morales, who recently started his third consecutive term in office – the second since the approval of the 2009 Constitution – will be able to run again in 2019 and thus potentially stay in power until 2025. Morales and his MAS party justify the reform as one that would ...

On 21 February 2016, the Plurinational State of Bolivia will hold a popular referendum on constitutional reform to decide whether to authorise a second consecutive presidential re-election. If this reform is approved, President Evo Morales, who recently started his third consecutive term in office – the second since the approval of the 2009 Constitution – will be able to run again in 2019 and thus potentially stay in power until 2025. Morales and his MAS party justify the reform as one that would enable him to fulfil his 'patriotic agenda', but the opposition fears that this could lead to the perpetuation of his power. Though Morales expects to win, recent polls show that the outcome is far from clear, with some showing 'yes', and some 'no', poised to win by a narrow margin.

The new Egyptian parliament

05-02-2016

The new Egyptian legislative assembly, sworn in on 10 January 2016, is likely to be loyal to President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi. Two thirds of members have joined the pro-Sisi 'State Support' (Da'am Masr) coalition, led by former intelligence officer Sameh Seif Alyazal. A supporter of the President, Alyazal has openly voiced his intention to limit the powers of the assembly, to weaken its ability to impeach the President. A member of the 'State Support' coalition, Ali Abdelaal, a French-educated lawyer ...

The new Egyptian legislative assembly, sworn in on 10 January 2016, is likely to be loyal to President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi. Two thirds of members have joined the pro-Sisi 'State Support' (Da'am Masr) coalition, led by former intelligence officer Sameh Seif Alyazal. A supporter of the President, Alyazal has openly voiced his intention to limit the powers of the assembly, to weaken its ability to impeach the President. A member of the 'State Support' coalition, Ali Abdelaal, a French-educated lawyer who helped draft the constitution and the election law, was elected as speaker of the parliament. In the absence of a dominant party, it is feared that parliamentarians, the majority of whom ran as independents, will be particularly receptive to the diverse interests of big business, national security and individual constituencies. Parties that flourished after the ousting of President Mubarak in 2011 either boycotted the elections or lost to coalitions made up of former military and police officials, business leaders and their families. The party with the strongest showing in the previous elections, the Muslim Brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice Party, has been banned and did not participate in the polls.

Ukraine and the Minsk II agreement: On a frozen path to peace?

27-01-2016

While Kyiv took an important step towards Europe with the entry into force of the Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Area on 1 January 2016, Ukraine's path to peace with neighbouring Russia remains complicated. The implementation of the fragile Minsk II ceasefire agreement — negotiated by the leaders of France, Germany, Ukraine and Russia in February 2015 — has been extended into 2016. Several unresolved issues will continue to pose challenges to the fulfilment of Minsk II in 2016. The death toll ...

While Kyiv took an important step towards Europe with the entry into force of the Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Area on 1 January 2016, Ukraine's path to peace with neighbouring Russia remains complicated. The implementation of the fragile Minsk II ceasefire agreement — negotiated by the leaders of France, Germany, Ukraine and Russia in February 2015 — has been extended into 2016. Several unresolved issues will continue to pose challenges to the fulfilment of Minsk II in 2016. The death toll has now surpassed 9 000, and Russia continues to supply the rebels with ammunition, weaponry and fighters. In addition, Ukrainian pilot Nadiya Savchenko is still imprisoned in Russia over murder charges. At the same time, the practical consequences of the conflict are tangible in the rebel-held areas, where a humanitarian crisis is unfolding. While the self-proclaimed republics in Donetsk and Luhansk had agreed to postpone local elections until February 2016 — a move that was welcomed by Kyiv, Moscow and Brussels — the next developments hinge on a political settlement. However, some analysts hope that recent Russian high-level appointments could give new impetus to negotiations. This briefing brings up to date that of 16 July 2015, 'Ukraine: Follow-up of Minsk II – A fragile ceasefire'.

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