The Turning of the Sphere

Andrew Scheer to lead Canada’s Conservative Party

Andrew Scheer, a 38 year old member of parliament from Saskatchewan, edged out Maxime Bernier, a former foreign minister from Quebec, in party balloting to become the leader of the Conservative Party.  Scheer gained widespread support as a consensus candidate while Bernier, who advocated a more libertarian line, possessed deeper, though less broad, favor.  Andrew Scheer was supported by many social conservatives, though he has taken a relatively moderate line on those issues.  The next Canadian parliamentary election will be held on or before October 2019.

Germany considers moving troops from Incirlik Air Base to Jordan

Berlin is examining alternatives to the Incirlik Air Base, particularly a site in Jordan, as tensions having escalated between Turkey and Germany, especially after German lawmakers were denied access to the base.

Pedro Sanchez resumes position as head of Socialist Party

Spain’s PSOE, or Socialist Party, has chosen Pedro Sanchez as its leader.  Pedro Sanchez came ahead of Susana Diaz and Patxi Lopez in the party vote.  Sanchez was the general secretary of the PSOE prior to a forced resignation at the hands of the party’s regional leaders who disagreed with his opposition to Mariano Rajoy forming a government.  Sanchez intends to reverse the party’s movement towards the center and resume the PSOE’s status as a party of the left.  The PSOE was founded in 1879.

Rouhani wins Iranian presidential election

Hassan Rouhani, the current holder of the office of president, acquired 57.13% of the vote against rival Ebrahim Raisi’s 38.30%  Rouhani’s share of the votes was high enough to secure victory on the first round and there will be no second round.  Candidates advocating reform of the political system also secured all 21 seats in Tehran’s municipal council.

The CDU wins the state election in North Rhine-Westphalia

The Christian Democratic Union (CDU) has won the state election in North Rhine-Westphalia.  NRW is both the most populous state in Germany and a bell weather.  The election represented a test for Martin Schulz, who backed NRW’s SPD governor Hannelore Kraft.  North Rhine-Westphalia is also the home state of Martin Schulz.  Chancellor Angela Merkel campaigned with Armin Laschet, a chairman of the CDU and the head the party’s local NRW branch.  The CDU placed first, the SPD second, and the Free Democrats third.  This is a major reversal from the last NRW election and strengthens the position of Merkel and the CDU and its sister party the Christian Social Union (CSU) ahead of the September vote.

This vote follows state elections in Saarland and Schleswig-Holstein and precedes the general election slated for September.

 

 

Autumn election likely in Austria, Sebastian Kurz becomes head of the OVP

 

The coalition between the center-left Social Democratic Party of Austria (SPO) and the center-right Austria People’s Party (OVP) is at an end after months of “permanent campaign” and growing discord between the parties.  The SPO, under Chancellor Christian Kern, has headed the coalition with the OVP functioning as a junior partner under Reinhold Mitterlehner who, until recently, served as Vice Chancellor.  The OVP has called for elections later this year and Chancellor Kern has concluded that he cannot create a viable minority government and now believes that autumn elections are probable.

Austria’s most popular politician, foreign minister Sebastian Kurz, was chosen to replace Reinhold Mitterlehner as head of the OVP in a meeting held today.  Kurz, who seeks to reorganize and reform the OVP, which has increasingly fallen on hard times, established seven preconditions that the party had to accept prior to him taking the reins.  The preconditions include the establishment of an independent electoral list, backed by the OVP, for Sebastian Kurz to run candidates who would not necessarily have to come from only from the OVP itself, and a reorganization of the parties governance towards a more centralized style that parts ways from longstanding dominance of various competing factions (primarily farmer groups) and regional party groups.  The People’s Party agreed to the conditions and will campaign with Sebastian Kurz as the head of the party and the chancellor candidate.

Kurz hopes to renovate and reinvent the OVP to survive the anti-establishment wave washing the political shores of Europe among other reasons.  The French election, in which anti-establishment parties reached historic levels and the new president, Emmanuel Macron, himself ran on brand new ticket and the rise of the Five Star Movement in Italy in Italy are symptoms of this phenomenon.  The Five Star Movement rejects the concept of a party and, theoretically, of coalitions and positions itself as opposed to all pre-existing parties and the “establishment.”  This trend is not entirely universal, however, as in Germany the CDU/CSU seem to be reversing its decline and defying the tide and in the UK, the Conservatives are actually regaining voters from some of the smaller parties.

Polling data suggests that Sebastian Kurz may have a major effect on the OVP’s electoral fortunes as the party leaps from third to first place in polls that include Kurz as the party’s leader.

Ahok sentenced to two years in prison

Former Jakarta governor Basuki Tjahaja Purnama or “Ahok,” was sentenced to two years in prison on allegations of blasphemy, though the charges were initially levied to end his political career, which has now occurred.  Ahok has appealed the sentence, but the immediate objectives of those who initiated the campaign against him have been achieved and will likely pave a road for future operations which Bachtiar Nasir, an opponent of Ahok, has suggested are impending.