Sunday, January 28

Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades casts his vote at a polling station with his grandchildren and his wife Andri during parliamentary elections in Limassol
Photo: Reuters/Yiannis Kourtoglou


Republic of Cyprus holds presidential election

Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades casts his vote at a polling station with his grandchildren and his wife Andri during parliamentary elections in Limassol
Photo: Reuters/Yiannis Kourtoglou

Greek Cypriots will head to the polls today in the first round of the vote for president. The result could dictate the future of reunification talks with the ethnically Turkish north.

The three front-runners are centre-right incumbent President Nicos Anastasiades, centre-left candidate Stavros Malas and populist Nikolas Papadopoulos. The first two would continue to attempt talks with the north, while the hardline Papadopoulos would demand an immediate withdrawal of Turkish troops from the area, a move that would probably sink reunification’s already dim prospects.

Those prospects also took a blow when a hard-line nationalist party placed first in the north’s parliamentary elections earlier this month. Though independent, pro-reunification President Mustafa Akinci leads negotiations, he will have to do so either without support from a hardliner-led parliament or backed by an unwieldy four-party coalition excluding the nationalists. Either way, his hand is weakened.

Running on his record of economic recovery, Anastasiades will likely win the first round and the February 4 runoff. Some efforts at reunification will be made, but between Akinci’s uncertain political backing and Anastasiades’ tarnished image following last year’s collapsed negotiations, they are unlikely to come to fruition.



Russian opposition faces new legal setbacks amidst nationwide protests

Photo: ç

Nationwide protests are expected to begin today in Russia, after the supreme court declined opposition leader Alexei Navalny’s final appeal to be allowed to run in the March presidential election.

Unlikely to face significant opposition, Putin will likely use the remaining candidates as a cover for real campaign competition. Among the 64 approved candidates is Ksenia Sobchak, daughter of a Putin political associate and a means to divide any meaningful electoral challenge that could occur in March. Additionally, with Navalny calling for a boycott of the elections, the opposition is split between supporting him and arguing that doing so would only affirm the Kremlin’s power. This would significantly decrease any chances for a unified challenge to the Kremlin if Putin is elected, or in the post-Putin era.

With Putin’s only meaningful challenger legally disarmed, protests and the opposition movement will likely face seriously questions about their future prospects. Long-term, opposition figures hope to build on their popularity among younger Russians.  However, even with current economic difficulties, Putin’s approval ratings remain high. As a result, expect domestic political tension in the short-term as Putin’s popularity comes under strain among younger demographics in major urban centres, but little prospect for a change to the status quo for the March elections.


New law forces Colombian taxi services to submit mobile app

Photo: Rtaxi Autolagos

Following a decree last August that will see taxi meters replaced by mobile applications in the greater Bogota region, Colombian taxi services must either request the government-issued application or submit their own to the Ministry of Transport today.

Inspired by private transport services like Uber, Bogota has set a March 28 deadline to modernise its 50,000-strong taxi fleet with a mobile application system that will track vehicles and rate drivers. The change will also see tablets installed in every taxi, which will use GPS to track the distance of every trip and allow passengers to monitor fare information.

Despite the ease in convenience, the change will likely be unpopular on all fronts. For consumers, taxi fares are set to increase by some 7.4% as taxi companies try to cover the cost of upgrading the technology in their vehicles.

It could be drivers who suffer the most, however, as the tablets may make them easy targets for robbery; indeed, taxi drivers are already victims of violence in Bogota—there were 12 robberies and two murders of drivers last week. Despite the danger, taxi services have little choice but to comply or risk losing their registration.


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