Spanish Deadlock: Second Election Called

 

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Spaniards went to the polls in a crucial general election in December 2015. The result was inconclusive. Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy and his centre right People's Party won the most seats but lost their majority.

Newcomers Podemos, on the left, and Ciudadanos, in the centre, transformed Spanish politics and in the process made the arithmetic for forming a coalition a real challenge.

The deadline for reaching an agreement passed in early May and new elections were called for June 26th. 


Total seats in Congress of Deputies: 350

Overall majority: 176 seats


In January, Acting Prime Minister Rajoy turned down an invitation from King Felipe VI to form a government because he simply did not have the numbers in parliament to do so. 

Mr. Rajoy wished to remain as prime minister but he has been unable to agree a deal with any of Spain's opposition parties to enter into coalition - the two main left wing parties, PSOE and Podemos largely refused to negotiate with the People's Party. A corruption scandal engulfing the PP hasn't helped its cause. 

Pablo Iglesias, the leader of Podemos, suggested a coalition between his party and the socialist PSOE under which he would be deputy prime minister and Pedro Sanchez, the leader of PSOE, would be prime minister. 


At the start of February, King Felipe asked Mr. Sanchez to try and form a government. Unlike his PP counterpart, Sanchez accepted the invitation and said he would look to the left and right of the political spectrum to try and find a solution to Spain's economic woes. 

On February 24th, Sanchez and the leader of Ciudadanos, Albert Rivera, signed an agreement to form a 'progressive' government. A PSOE-Cs coalition would have 130 seats, still short of the 176 needed for an overall majority in the Congress of Deputies. 

In early March, an investiture vote on Sanchez' candidacy to be prime minister was heavily defeated. Sanchez lost the first vote with 130 lawmakers in his favour, 219 against and one abstention. The lawmaker who abstained in the first vote backed Sanchez in the second but other than that the outcome was unchanged. 

Parliament was dissolved on May 2nd after the deadline for forming a government passed without agreement. 


Polls suggest the outcome of the second election may not be all that different to the first one..

 
 

December 20th election

May 6th CIS opinion poll


White House Race: Who will replace Barack Obama?

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On Tuesday November 8th 2016, Americans will vote for their next president. Having served the maximum two terms, Barack Obama will step aside in January 2017. Both parties have begun the process of choosing their nominees. 


On the Republican side, Donald Trump, a billionaire real estate mogul best known for his role in the 'Celebrity Apprentice' on NBC, emerged as the unlikely frontrunner despite his bombastic style and numerous controversial public statements. Trump became the last remaining candidate in May 2016. 

Mr. Trump has called for Muslims to be temporarily be banned from entering the U.S, for a wall to be built along the country's southern border and has insulted a whole host of people - including Senator John McCain, a war veteran, Serge Kovaleski, a New York Times journalist with a disability and Mexican illegal immigrants, most of whom he said were racists. 

Trump finished second in the Iowa caucus (7 delegates) on February 1st, but won the New Hampshire primary (10 delegates), the South Carolina primary (44 delegates) and the Nevada caucus (14 delegates). 

Elsewhere on the GOP side, Texas Senator Ted Cruz managed to tap into the anti-establishment sentiment among voters, while Florida Senator Marco Rubio performed best among the so-called establishment candidates. 

On Super Tuesday, Donald Trump won seven states including Georgia (40 delegates), Tennessee (31 delegates) and Alabama (36 delegates). Ted Cruz won his home state of Texas (102 delegates) along with two other states. Marco Rubio had a disappointing night, recording his first victory of the campaign in Minnesota (17 delegates).

Following Super Tuesday, Mitt Romney, the 2012 GOP presidential candidate, led efforts to derail Trump's candidacy by describing him as an 'phoney' and ridiculing the frontrunner's policies, rhetoric and business record. 

Mr. Romney's comments didn't stop Trump winning Kentucky (17 delegates) and Louisiana (18 delegates) on the Saturday following Super Tuesday but Cruz did have a strong showing as he won Kansas (24 delegates) and Maine (12 delegates). Marco Rubio picked up Puerto Rico (24 delegates) but increasingly finds himself in a distance third. 

On March 8th, dubbed 'Super Tuesday #2' by CNN, Donald Trump had a good night as he won Michigan (25 delegates), Mississippi (24 delegates) and Hawaii (10 delegates). Ted Cruz won Idaho (14 delegates) and finished second to Trump in the other states. John Kasich finished a strong third in Michigan (17 delegates), while Marco Rubio had another disappointing evening. 

On March 15th, Rubio exited that race after losing his home state of Florida (99 delegates) to Trump by almost 20%. Ohio, like Florida, used a winner takes all system to allocate delegates. Governor John Kasich kept his campaign alive and frustrated Trump by carrying the state (66 delegates). However on a strong night for him and his campaign, Trump made up for the Ohio disappointment by winning in Illinois (51 delegates) and North Carolina (29 delegates).  

On March 22nd, the same day terrorists killed more than 30 people in bombings in the Belgian capital Brussels, Donald Trump won the Arizona primary (58 delegates). Trump spent the day advocating the torture of Salah Abdeslam, a suspect in the November 2015 terror attacks in Paris who was arrested by Belgian police three days before the attacks in Brussels. Senator Ted Cruz, who in the wake of the events in Brussels called for police patrols in 'Muslim neighbourhoods', won the Utah caucus (40 delegates). 

The following day Jeb Bush endorsed Cruz, saying he was a 'consistent, principled conservative'. 

On April 5th, Cruz won the primary in Wisconsin (36 delegates) but despite two weeks of negative headlines and attempts by some in GOP to mobilise a 'stop Trump' movement, Trump won a resounding victory in New York on April 20th (89 delegates). 

Trump's victory in the Indiana primary on May 3rd brought the Republican race to an end as Cruz and then Kasich suspended their campaigns. Trump is now the presumptive nominee. 


On the Democratic side, Hillary Clinton, the former First Lady, New York Senator and Secretary of State, was expected to win the nomination at a canter. However Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders has performed strongly and proven a worthy adversary for the powerful Clinton campaign.

Senator Sanders has challenged Mrs. Clinton on her links with Wall Street as part of his overall campaign theme of challenging corruption and calling for campaign finance reform. 

Clinton narrowly won the Iowa caucus (23 delegates), while Sanders comfortably won in New Hampshire (15 delegates). Clinton bounced back in Nevada (19 delegates) and had a landslide victory in South Carolina (39 delegates), thanks partly to her popularity among African American voters. 

On Super Tuesday, Clinton performed strongly, winning seven states including Texas (147 delegates), Georgia (72 delegates) and Virginia (61 delegates). Sanders won his home state of Vermont (16 delegates), Minnesota (46 delegates), Colorado (38 delegates) and Oklahoma (21 delegates).

Sanders won Maine (15 delegates) on March 6th and shocked Clinton, and pollsters, by winning Michigan (65 delegates) on March 8th. Clinton continued her strong performance in the south by winning comfortably in Mississippi (29 delegates). 

Clinton scooped up five states on March 15th to extend her delegate lead on Bernie Sanders and take a big step towards the nomination. Among the states she won on 'Super Tuesday #3' were Florida (133 delegates) and Ohio (79 delegates). 

Clinton won Arizona on March 22nd (41 delegates), while Sanders had a strong night winning caucuses in Idaho (17 delegates) and Utah (24 delegates). Sanders' winning streak continued on March 26th when he won caucuses in Alaska (13 delegates), Hawaii (17 delegates) and Washington (25 delegates) and again in Wisconsin (48 delegates) on April 5th and Wyoming on April 9th (7 delegates). 

On April 19th, Hillary Clinton finally returned to winning ways with an important victory in New York (139 delegates). She followed that up with wins in four states on April 26th and, while Bernie Sanders won Indiana on May 3rd, it remains the case that he needs to win and win big in the remaining contests to have any change of catching up with Clinton. 

Unlike the Republicans, the Democrats also operate a system of super delegates. These delegates are senior figures within the Democratic party who can vote for whichever candidate they wish at the DNC convention. Clinton has a huge lead over Sanders when super delegates are taken into account - however the counter below only shows pledged delegates. 

There are 712 Democratic super delegates - 522 have declared for Clinton and 39 for Sanders. However, they are not bound by their declaration and can change their decision at the convention. 

 

Delegates to win: 1,237

Convention: July 18th


  • Iowa caucus winner: Ted Cruz (28%)
  • New Hampshire primary winner: Donald Trump (35%) 

  • South Carolina primary winner: Donald Trump (32.5%)
  • Nevada caucus winner: Donald Trump (46%)

  • Alabama primary winner: Donald Trump (43%)

  • Alaska caucus winner: Ted Cruz (36%)

  • Arkansas primary winner: Donald Trump (33%)

  • Georgia primary winner: Donald Trump (39%). 

  • Massachusetts primary winner: Donald Trump (49%)

  • Minnesota primary winner: Marco Rubio (37%)

  • Oklahoma primary winner: Ted Cruz (34%)

  • Tennessee primary winner: Donald Trump (39%)

  • Texas primary winner: Ted Cruz (44%)

  • Vermont primary winner: Donald Trump (33%)

  • Virginia primary winner: Donald Trump (35%)

  • Kansas caucus winner: Ted Cruz (48%)

  • Kentucky caucus winner: Donald Trump (36%).

  • Louisiana primary winner: Donald Trump (41%).

  • Maine caucus winner: Ted Cruz (46%). 

  • Puerto Rico caucus winner: Marco Rubio (71%)

  • Hawaii caucus winner: Donald Trump (42%)

  • Idaho primary winner: Ted Cruz (45%)

  • Michigan primary winner: Donald Trump (37%)

  • Mississippi primary winner: Donald Trump (47%)

  • District of Columbia caucus winner: Marco Rubio (37%)

  • Wyoming convention winner: Ted Cruz (66%)

  • Florida primary winner: Donald Trump (46%)

  • Illinois primary winner: Donald Trump (39%)

  • Missouri primary winner: Donald Trump (41%)

  • North Carolina winner: Donald Trump (40%)

  • Ohio primary winner: John Kasich (47%)

  • Arizona primary winner: Donald Trump (47%)

  • Utah caucus winner: Ted Cruz (70%)

  • Wisconsin primary winner: Ted Cruz (48%)

  • New York primary winner: Donald Trump (60%)

  • Connecticut primary winner: Donald Trump (58%)

  • Delaware primary winner: Donald Trump (61%)

  • Maryland primary winner: Donald Trump (54%)

  • Pennsylvania primary winner: Donald Trump (57%)

  • Rhode Island primary winner: Donald Trump (64%)

  • Indiana primary winner: Donald Trump (53%)

  • Nebraska primary winner: May 10th

  • West Virginia primary winner: May 10th

  • Oregon primary winner: May 17th

  • Washington primary winner: May 24th. 

  • California primary winner: June 7th

  • Montana primary winner: June 7th

  • New Jersey primary winner: June 7th

  • New Mexico primary winner: June 7th

  • South Dakota primary winner: June 7th


  • Dropped out after Indiana primary: Ted Cruz, John Kasich. 

  • Dropped out after March 15th primaries: Marco Rubio

  • Dropped out after Super Tuesday: Ben Carson. 

  • Dropped out after South Carolina: Jeb Bush. 
  • Dropped out after New Hampshire: Carly Fiorina, Chris Christie, Jim Gilmore. 

  • Dropped out after Iowa:  Mike Huckabee, Rick Santorum, Rand Paul. 


Delegates to win: 2,382

Convention: July 25th


  • Iowa caucus winner: Hillary Clinton (49.9%)

  • New Hampshire primary winner: Bernie Sanders (60%)
  • Nevada caucus winner: Hillary Clinton (53%)

  • South Carolina primary winner: Hillary Clinton (73.5%)

  • American Samoa caucus: Hillary Clinton (TBC%)

  • Alabama primary winner: Hillary Clinton (78%)

  • Arkansas primary winner: Hillary Clinton (66%)

  • Colorado primary winner: Bernie Sanders (59%)

  • Georgia primary winner: Hillary Clinton (71%)

  • Massachusetts primary winner: Hillary Clinton (50%)

  • Minnesota primary winner: Bernie Sanders (62%)

  • Oklahoma primary winner: Bernie Sanders (52%)

  • Tennessee primary winner: Hillary Clinton (66%)

  • Texas primary winner: Hillary Clinton (65%)

  • Vermont primary winner: Bernie Sanders (86%)

  • Virginia primary winner: Hillary Clinton (64%). 

  • Kansas caucus winner: Bernie Sanders (68%).

  • Louisiana primary winner: Hillary Clinton (71%).

  • Nebraska caucus winner: Bernie Sanders (56%). 

  • Maine caucus winner: Bernie Sanders (64%)

  • Michigan primary winner: Bernie Sanders (50%)

  • Mississippi primary winner: Hillary Clinton (83%)

  • Florida primary winner: Hillary Clinton (64%)

  • Illinois primary winner: Hillary Clinton (50%)

  • Missouri primary winner: Hillary Clinton (50%)

  • North Carolina primary winner: Hillary Clinton (55%)

  • Ohio primary winner: Hillary Clinton (56.5%)

  • Arizona primary winner: Hillary Clinton (58%)

  • Idaho caucus winner: Bernie Sanders (78%)

  • Utah caucus winner: Bernie Sanders (80%)

  • Alaska caucus winner: Bernie Sanders (82%)

  • Hawaii caucus winner: Bernie Sanders (70%)

  • Washington caucus winner: Bernie Sanders (73%)

  • Wisconsin primary winner: Bernie Sanders (57%)

  • Wyoming caucus winner: Bernie Sanders (56%)

  • New York primary winner: Hillary Clinton (58%) 

  • Conncticut primary winner: Hillary Clinton (52%)

  • Delaware primary winner: Hillary Clinton (60%)

  • Maryland primary winner: Hillary Clinton: (63%)

  • Pennsylvania primary winner: Hillary Clinton (57%)

  • Rhode Island primary winner: Bernie Sanders (55%) 

  • Indiana primary winner: Bernie Sanders (53%)

  • West Virginia primary winner: May 10th

  • Kentucky primary winner: May 17th

  • Oregon primary winner: May 17th

  • Virgin Islands caucus: June 4th

  • Puerto Rico caucus: June 5th

  • California primary winner: June 7th

  • Montana primary winner: June 7th

  • New Jersey primary winner: June 7th

  • New Mexico primary winner: June 7th

  • North Dakota caucus winner: June 7th

  • South Dakota primary winner: June 7th

  • DC primary winner: June 14th


  • Dropped out after Iowa: Martin O'Malley



Brazil: A massive corruption scandal, a political crisis and a recession

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It is an extraordinary time in Brazil. Not only is the economy in a deep recession, but the country has been shaken by a corruption scandal in which figures at the highest level of business and politics have been implicated.

Meanwhile, President Dilma Rousseff faces the very real threat of impeachment over a separate scandal - one she sees as a coup attempt by her adversaries. 


The Petrobras scandal

The corruption ring being investigated as part of the Lava Jato probe centres around the Brazilian energy giant Petrobras and implicates executives, suppliers, construction contractors and politicians. Lava Jato is being led by Sergio Moro, a federal judge, and began in March 2014. 

Among those under investigation are the speaker of the lower house,  Eduardo Cunha, who is accused of taking $5 million in bribes as part of a ship building contract between Petrobras and Samsung. 

Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, Brazil's president from 2003 to 2011, is being investigated for allegedly benefiting from the kickback scheme at Petrobras through certain property deals. His brief arrest in March 2016 was followed almost immediately by his nomination to President Rousseff's cabinet as chief of staff.

The nomination was blocked by a Supreme Court judge and is pending appeal by the government. Brazilian politicians in ministerial positions can only be prosecuted by the Supreme Court - opponents accused President Rousseff of offering 'Lula', her mentor and an influential political figure, a position in cabinet as a way of providing him with substantial immunity. 

Both Mr. Cunha and Mr. da Silva deny any wrongdoing. 

President Rousseff herself has been linked to the scandal in a plea bargain made by Delcídio do Amaral, a senator from the Workers Party. Mr. do Amaral claimed in his deal with prosecutors that Ms. Rousseff was aware of what was going on at Petrobras (Reuters). He also said Aloizio Mercadante, Rousseff's education minister, offered him financial incentives not to cooperate with prosecutors (BBC News)

President Rousseff denies any wrongdoing or knowledge of the corruption at Petrobras. Mr. Mercadante denies Mr. do Amaral's accusations. 


Efforts to impeach Rousseff

 
brazil votes needed for impeachment

President Rousseff's adversaries are seeking to have her impeached for alleged breaches of budget rules in 2014, during her successful re-election campaign. Ms. Rousseff denies any wrongdoing and says the efforts to oust her from office are without grounds and purely political. 

On April 17th, the lower house voted to advance proceedings against Rousseff with 367 deputies voting in favour of impeachment and 137 against. The senate will now consider whether to put the president on trial. Should they do, Rousseff would be suspended from office for the duration of the trial before a final vote by the senate on whether to remove her as president. 

Michel Temer, Brazil's vice president and leader of the PMDB, would replace Rousseff. PMDB is Brazil's largest party and chose in March 2016 to leave President Rousseff's coalition government. The impeachment process is being largely driven by lower house speaker Eduardo Cunha, who is a member of PMDB and who split with Rousseff long before his party did. 

 

The economic crisis

As if the political crisis and massive corruption probe wasn't enough for Brazilians to worry about, the country is also in a deep recession marked by high unemployment and high inflation. Brazil's economy contracted 3.8% in 2015. 

Data: World Bank, Brazil statistics office

Data: Brazil statistics office
 

The key players

The key terms