The Turning of the Sphere

Iraqi forces take Kirkuk and surrounding area

Iraqi forces entered Kirkuk city and surrounding locations on October 16, after Peshmerga and other Kurdish forces withdrew in the face of a multipronged attack.  Iraqi forces also have taken control of locations in the Sinjar region.  These military operations are part of Baghdad’s response to the independence referendum held by officials of the KRG.

The Austrian legislative election of 2017

Sebastian Kurz and the People’s Party (OVP) came in first place in the Austrian legislative election of 2017.  Kurz, 31 years old, is now positioned to become the youngest head of government in Europe if the OVP forms a governing coalition, which is probable event.  The People’s Party made Sebastian Kurz its head earlier this year which led to a dramatic increase in the party’s polling numbers.  Kurz campaigned with the OVP, but also created his own list for independent, but OVP backed candidates to run on.

The top six vote receiving parties in the election, with partial counting of postal ballots, is as follows:

OVP:  31.5%

SPO:  26.9%

FPO:  26%

NEOS:  5.3%

PILZ:  4.4%

Grune:  3.8%

Baghdad closes the KRG’s airspace to international flights

Baghdad imposed a ban on international flights over the Kurdistan Regional Government’s airspace in northern Iraq on Friday in response to the Kurdish independence referendum.  Flights to and from the KRG via other locations in Iraq are still possible, however.  In a separate move to pressure the KRG to abandon its quest for independence the Turkish government threatened to shutdown oil pipeline that runs from the KRG through Turkey.

French senatorial elections

In the French senatorial election of 2017, about 75,000 elected officials (mostly local council members) voted for candidates for about half of the Senate’s seats.  Gerard Larcher is the current president of the Senate.  The Senate will vote for its next president on October 2.

The composition of the French senate after the election of about half of its rank is as follows:

LR Group:  149

SOC Group:  76

UC Group:  48

REM Group:  28

CRC Group:  12

RDSE Group:  11

RASNAG Group:  9

DVD:  10

DVG:  5

DIV:  1

The Kurdish independence referendum outcome

The independence referendum held in KRG governed portions of northern Iraq produced an overwhelming “yes” result of 93%.  The result is unsurprising in light of the longstanding opinion in favor of independence in the region, although a transition to independence may prove to be rocky as Baghdad has so far rejected the vote and called for it to be “cancelled.”  The government of Turkey is not enthused about the plebiscite either due to the long running internal conflict between the state and much of the Kurdish population of the country, though Ankara had cultivated ties with Erbil in recent years.  Barzani and his administration in Erbil hope that the independence vote will give them a mandate to negotiate with Baghdad over a withdrawal of the Kurdistan region from Iraq.

German federal elections

The German federal elections of 2017 produced a plurality for the Christian Democratic Union and the Christian Social Union, despite seat losses.  The Social Democratic Party, in light of the losses it suffered, has declared against returning into a coalition government with the CDU and prefers to take on the role of an opposition party.  The Free Democratic Party, which made gains, is likely to take part in the next government, although there seats are not enough to form a majority with the CDU and CSU.  Thus, a coalition between the CDU/CSU, FDP, and the Greens is likely to be tested as the first resort, although the FDP and Greens hold substantially differing views on a variety of issues.

The popular vote results are as follows:

CDU and CSU:  32.93%

SPD:  20.51%

AfD:  12.64%

FDP:  10.75%

Die Linke:  9.24%

Grune:  8.94%

Others:  4.99%


New Zealand election

The New Zealand general election of 2017 produced a parliament without a majority, but a substantial vote plurality (46.03% and 58 seats) for the National Party, led by current Prime Minister Bill English.  Bill English became New Zealand’s prime minister after John Key resigned from that position in December of 2016.  The Labour Party, headed by Jacinda Ardern, obtained second place with 35.79% of the vote and 45 seats in a test of “Jacindamania.”  NZ First, headed by Winston Peters, and the Green Party, led by James Shaw, came in third and fourth places, respectively.  No party has enough seats to form a majority on its own, but the center-right National Party is in the best position to do so with external support.  If National forms the next government then the upcoming administration will be the fourth consecutive term for the party.

The share of the vote by party for the election are as follows:

National:  46.03%, 58 seats

Labour:  35.79%, 45 seats

NZ First:  7.51%, 9 seats

Green:  5.85%, 7 seats

Maori:  1.08%

ACT:  .51%