Sunday, February 18

Sunday, February 18

TRIPURA ELECTIONS Voters of India’s Tripura state head to elections Voters in the Indian state of Tripura head to the polls

TRIPURA ELECTIONS

Voters of India’s Tripura state head to elections

Tripura-elections

Photo: AFP

Voters in the Indian state of Tripura head to the polls today to test the state’s long-standing left-wing political consensus. Despite being one of India’s smallest states, it will be a key test for India’s political parties.

With high levels of unemployment, poor healthcare and low pay-levels for state-employees, the ruling Left Front coalition faces difficulties in convincing voters to re-elect one of the country’s longest-ruling state governments. PM Narendra Modi’s BJP has promised free universal education in the state, improved internet connectivity and more employment opportunities to sway the state’s poor and traditionally left-wing voters.

Whilst the election outcome is uncertain, expect the BJP to increase its percentage of the vote and representation in the Tripura legislative assembly. For the BJP, expanding its appeal in a diverse range of states is key to ensuring a big re-election win in 2019. The elections are set to also be a test for the future of India’s political left, with a loss likely to leave them with one remaining state and no figures of national significance to promote their platform.

MEXICO POLITICS

Incumbent party to name presidential candidate

FILE PHOTO: Jose Antonio Meade, former Mexico Finance Minister, delivers a speech to his supporters, after registering as a presidential pre-candidate for the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI), in Mexico City

Photo: Reuters/Ginnette Riquelme

Today, Mexico’s ruling Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) will officially put forth its candidate for the July 1 presidential election. Since November, the PRI has supported former Finance Minister Jose Antonio Meade Kuribreña as the first non-party member for the presidency.

Running for a party riddled with embezzlement scandals and blamed for record-breaking violence, Meade is struggling to gather support for his campaign of anti-corruption and cracking down on crime. Despite his reputation for decency in public service, he stands third in opinion polls behind left-right coalition leader Ricardo Anaya and left-wing populist Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, who has an 8-point lead at 34% amidst accusations of receiving support from Venezuela and Russia.

It is unlikely Meade’s formal nomination will boost the prospects of the PRI securing a presidential victory. Independent candidates, who collectively hold 8% of approval, will likely challenge the PRI’s predominance in governorships and legislative seats and take votes away from all mainstream candidates. Expect the campaign period to internally divide the opposition but for the populist movement to gain more legislative representation as a discouraged electorate chooses its future president by a plurality as small as 30%.

UKRANIAN POLITICS

Supporters of exiled opposition leader to protest

ukraine-protests

Photo: Reuters/ Gleb Garanich

Supporters of Mikheil Saakashvili will rally in Kyiv today, urging Ukranian President Petro Poroshenko’s resignation over Saakashvili’s deportation.

Poroshenko brought on Saakashvili, a former Georgian president, to be governor of Ukraine’s Odessa Oblast region in May 2015. However, Saakashvili resigned in November 2016 and set up his own opposition party, accusing Poroshenko of complicity in endemic corruption. Last July, Saakashvili was stripped of his Ukranian citizenship; since he gave up his Georgian passport to become governor he is now stateless.

For his part, the ex-president stands accused of membership in a pro-Russia “criminal group”, a charge Saakashvili denies as a political smear. On February 12, he was deported to Poland. He will live in the Netherlands for the near future, via family reunification through his Dutch wife.

Saakashvili will continue to agitate against Poroshenko from afar, but his statelessness and questions over his extravagant lifestyle may cloud his future effectiveness as an anti-corruption champion. Still, if turnout is high in today’s protest, Poroshenko should not take his rival’s decline as a complete victory.