Democracy Chronicles

Syndicate content
Worldwide Democracy News
Updated: 32 min 8 sec ago

VIDEO: Evo Morales and the Future of Bolivia’s Democracy

Thu, 06/15/2017 - 18:54

Evo Morales – link

Hour and a half discussion on Bolivia’s democratic future by the National Endowment for Democracy:

Here is the event description by the National Endowment for Democracy:

A hallmark of a true democracy is the periodic alternation of executive power. In Bolivia, uncertainty about a possible political transition looms large as the country prepares for presidential elections in 2019. Despite losing a referendum in 2016 that would have permitted a fourth term in office, President Evo Morales remains intent on exerting his vast influence over the country’s judiciary, media, and civil society apparently as a way of legitimizing an alternative means to retain power beyond 2020, when he is scheduled to leave office. Delayed national elections, violence, and increasing social polarization could occur during this process. In his presentation, journalist and political commentator RaulPeñaranda will address Bolivia’s possible political and economic future and reflect on the rise of Morales’ populist administration. His presentation will be followed by comments from former Bolivian Cabinet minister and La Paz Mayor Ronald Maclean-Abaroa.


Raul Peñaranda, Reagan-Fascell Democracy Fellow

with comments by

Ronald MacLean-Abaroa, Former Mayor of La Paz

moderated by

Fabiola Cordova, Associate Director for Latin America and Caribbean Programs, National Endowment for Democracy


Mr. Raul Peñaranda is a prominent journalist, author, and advocate for freedom of expression and freedom of the press in Bolivia. He currently serves as managing editor at the Bolivian news agency Agencia de Noticias Fides and as columnist of Página Siete, a daily newspaper that he founded in 2010. His most recent book, Control Remoto (Remote Control, 2014), denounces the mechanisms used by the Bolivian government to infringe on democratic liberties and to control and co-opt independent media. In recognition of his journalistic work and his promotion of freedom of expression, Mr. Peñaranda received Columbia University’s Cabot Award in 2015 and the United Nations’ Elizabeth Neuffer Medal (bestowed by former Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon) in 2012. He was a Nieman Fellow at Harvard University in 2008. During his fellowship at the NED, Mr. Peñaranda is laying the foundation for a website dedicated to the promotion and protection of freedom of expression, access to information, and democracy in Bolivia.

Ronald MacLean-Abaroa was the first democratically elected mayor of La Paz, Bolivia and was reelected four times between 1985 and 1995. Appointed the youngest minister at age 29, he has held five national cabinet positions including planning, foreign affairs, communications, finance, and sustainable development and environment, under three different Bolivian presidents. He studied at Harvard University, where he now lectures on issues of decentralization, devolution of government powers to local citizens, and anti-corruption strategies.

Gambian Media Thriving Since Dictator Jammeh’s Departure

Thu, 06/15/2017 - 18:43


New government vowed to restore press freedom and is processing 30 applications for new radio stations

At the moment, nothing is airing on Taranga FM; the office is dark. Power has been cut for 48 hours and even the generator has stopped working. This popular community radio in the outskirts of Gambia’s capital, Banjul, is used to challenges. Its troubles started in 2008, when Taranga FM began broadcasting local press reviews in…


Manal al-Sharif: The Brave Saudi Woman Who Dared to Drive a Car

Thu, 06/15/2017 - 18:38

Manal al-Sharif

Manal al-Sharif posted a video of herself driving in Saudi Arabia in 2011 and she angered many

When Manal al-Sharif posted a video of herself driving in Saudi Arabia in 2011, she angered many in the deeply conservative kingdom. “The worst backlash was from the religious establishment,” she says. “They took the Friday sermons, and they called me things like a prostitute for just driving a car.” Author Manal al-Sharif. Credit: Courtesy of…


How Campaign Spending Caps Could Level Election Playing Field

Thu, 06/15/2017 - 12:03


Capping campaign spending may lead to a higher number of people running for office

Campaign finance reformers may be on to something. Capping campaign spending may lead to a higher number of people running for office, candidates who are less wealthy on average and smaller advantages for incumbent officials, according to a paper published in the National Bureau of Economic Research this week. Based on post-reform Brazilian mayoral election data,…


Women Launch Iranian Wednesday Without Compulsion Campaign

Thu, 06/15/2017 - 11:58


Women in Iran launched a campaign called White Wednesday or Wednesday without compulsion

Women in Iran have found a middle ground in the struggle between those who want to cover their hair and those who don’t in a new campaign called White Wednesday or “Wednesday without compulsion.” Now running for the fourth week, the campaign invites women and men to wear white veils, scarves or bracelets, the color of…


Will the New Electoral Law End the Lebanese Stalemate?

Thu, 06/15/2017 - 11:54


The Lebanese Cabinet approved a new electoral law based on the proportional system | Democracy, elections and voting at Democracy Chronicles

A new electoral law is expected to be ratified by Lebanon’s parliament on Friday, paving the way for the first parliamentary elections in eight years. On Wednesday, ministers announced that Lebanon will be holding the long-delayed legislative elections in May 2018 after the country’s cabinet approved a new electoral law, staving off a fresh political crisis…


Beirut – The Lebanese Cabinet on Wednesday approved a new electoral law based on the proportional system, which divides the country into 15 electoral districts. Speaker Nabih Berri said Parliament would convene on Friday, three days before the end of its constitutional term, to vote on the law. As expected, Prime Minister Saad al-Hariri announced that…


Egyptian Internet Crackdown Picks Up Pace With Website Closings

Thu, 06/15/2017 - 11:40


Egypt’s blocking of 64 websites that are not aligned to state media’s narrative is part of crackdown

Egypt’s recent blocking of 64 websites that are not aligned to state media’s narrative is part of the government’s crackdown on civil society, analysts have said. With presidential elections scheduled to take place next year, and amid the controversial Tiran and Sanafir deal that was approved by parliament on Wednesday, analysts say that this is the…


Egyptian authorities in recent weeks have arrested at least 50 peaceful political activists, blocked at least 62 websites, and opened a criminal prosecution against a former presidential candidate, Human Rights Watch said today. The actions are further closing any remaining space for free expression. The charges against the activists appear to be based on peaceful criticism…


New Constitutional Convention Campaign Backed by Koch Brothers

Thu, 06/15/2017 - 10:59


Americans never exercised their legally enshrined right to convene a new Constitutional convention | Democracy, elections and voting at Democracy Chronicles

The Wisconsin Assembly votes Wednesday on whether to call for a convention to change the U.S. Constitution. While that in itself is surprising — the American people have never exercised their legally enshrined right to convene a new Constitutional convention — what’s more surprising is that pro-business groups with ties to the Koch brothers have pushed…


Georgia’s Voting Systems Are Susceptible to Hacking

Thu, 06/15/2017 - 10:54


Georgia voting is susceptible to hacking and the state has dragged its feet addressing the issue

Georgia’s voting systems are susceptible to hacking, and the state has dragged its feet addressing the issue, Politico reported Wednesday. The report arrived ahead of the state’s forthcoming election, which was scheduled for next week. The race will fill the seat vacated by Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price. The race pitted Democrat Jon Ossoff…


California Recall Petitions For Politicians Watered Down

Wed, 06/14/2017 - 21:51

Seattle recall petitions readied in 1910 – link

Should it be made easier or harder to recall politicians when the public is ready for someone new? A recent post on Ballot Access News titled, “California Democratic Legislators Amend One of the Budget Bills to Make it More Difficult for Recall Petitions to Succeed” by Richard Winger had the story. Take a look:

California Democratic legislators have amended one of the budget bills to alter procedures for recall petitions. SB 96 was introduced on January 11 and was strictly a budget bill. It passed the Senate on May 11. But on June 9, it was amended to include some provisions changing the law relative to recall elections. It says that signers may remove their names during the 30 days after a recall petition is submitted, and also extends the time for a recall to appear on the ballot, relative to when the petitions were submitted.

There is currently a recall underway against Democratic State Senator Josh Newman. Recall proponents have already submitted 31,000 signatures. If the bill is signed into law, it goes into effect immediately and would alter the rules for this recall. Provisions that allow signers to remove their names on petitions after it is too late for proponents to gather more signatures are fundamentally unfair. Proponents of petitions can never know if their petition will succeed, if signers can remove their names after the petition has been submitted. No one can predict how many signatures will be removed.

Extending the time between submission of a recall petition, and the date of the recall election, would have a different effect on the Newman petition. It would make it more likely that a recall would be held at the time of the regular June 2018 primary, instead of earlier as a stand-alone election.

For some reference, and if you feel the need to take action, here is the link to a petition to recall the current California governor. California posts information on its website about recalling politicians. Here is the preface to the longer explanation:

Recall is the power of the voters to remove elected officials before their terms expire. It has been a fundamental part of our governmental system since 1911 and has been used by voters to express their dissatisfaction with their elected representatives.

This publication examines the law of recall as it applies to state and local officials. In some ways, the procedures that apply to the recall of state officials are different from those that apply to local officials. Therefore, this publication is divided into separate parts to help avoid confusion. Be sure to check the Table of Contents to ensure you are referencing the proper procedure.

Please note that the procedures described herein do not apply to federal officers. Federal officers are not subject to recall. The removal of U.S. Representatives or U.S. Senators is governed by the United States Constitution, Article 1, Sec. 5 (2), which states “Each House may determine the rules of its proceedings, punish its members for disorderly behavior, and, with the concurrence of two-thirds, expel a member.” The President, Vice President and all civil officers of the United States are removed through the process of “impeachment” which is governed by the United States Constitution.

This Guide is designed to reflect all current laws, regulations and rules that pertain to recall, but it does not have the force and effect of law, regulation or rule. Therefore, in the unlikely event there is a conflict between the Guide and a law, regulation or rule, the law, regulation or rule shall take precedence. Before beginning any recall effort, the proponents should obtain the most up-to-date information available.

Here is some interesting information on why recall elections rarely work by NPR from 2002:

Recall attempts are far more commonplace in local jurisdictions, but they’re difficult to pull off at any level of government. States set prohibitively high standards for removing lawfully elected officials on the grounds of political disagreement, which is the most popular reason for recalls. Most efforts fail for lack of organization and funding, factors that often cause petitioners to fall short of collecting the number of voter signatures required to force a recall election.

For instance, insufficient signatures caused the failure of the three recalls launched against California Gov. Ronald Reagan between 1967 and 1972. The man who held the office before and after him, Gov. Jerry Brown, had eight recall petitions against him fail for the same reason. (Brown once again is governor, having won election in 2010.)

Election Body Begins Process For Next Indian Presidential Vote

Wed, 06/14/2017 - 21:27


India’s Election Commission set in motion the process to elect the country’s next president

New Delhi (dpa) – India’s Election Commission Wednesday set in motion the process to elect the country’s next president as it issued a notice on filing of nominations for the contest due next month. Anoop Mishra, secretary general of the lower house of parliament, who will supervise the polls, said the nomination papers have to be…


Hungarian NGO Law Stigmatizing Civil Society Organizations

Wed, 06/14/2017 - 19:05

Hungary Parliament

Press release from Freedom House:

In reaction to the law on foreign-funded organizations adopted in the Hungarian parliament today, Freedom House issued the following statement:

“The Hungarian government has adopted a law that has no place in a democratic society,” said Marc Behrendt, director of Eurasia programs. “Its goal is to stigmatize civil society organizations that are critical of the government, and to stifle any dissent. With the government increasingly targeting independent institutions in academia, the media, and civil society, the European Union must recognize the gravity of the situation and initiate Article 7 proceedings against Hungary due to the clear and present risk to EU values. The EU reaction to this legislation is especially urgent given the prospect of other European countries adopting versions of a ‘foreign agents’ law.”

Hungary is rated Free in Freedom in the World 2017, Partly Free in Freedom of the Press 2017, Free in Freedom on the Net 2016, and receives a democracy score of 3.54, on a scale of 1 to 7, with 7 as the worst possible score, in Nations in Transit 2017.

Freedom House is an independent watchdog organization that supports democratic change, monitors the status of freedom around the world, and advocates for democracy and human rights.

“Even though I’d braced myself for the news, today’s result still sent a jolt through me like electricity,” Julia Ivan , director of Amnesty International Hungary told me today. “Hard won freedoms will be lost and the vital work done by NGOs to create a freer and fairer society will be seriously hampered by Orban’s bullying…


Travel Ban Lifted on Cambodian Opposition Leader Sam Rainsy

Wed, 06/14/2017 - 18:59


The Cambodian government lifted travel restrictions on opposition leader Sam Rainsy on Wednesday

Phnom Penh (dpa) – The Cambodian government lifted travel restrictions on opposition leader Sam Rainsy on Wednesday morning, clearing the way for him to possibly return to the country ahead of next year’s national elections. The decision reverses an October 2016 ban on Rainsy from re-entering the country, according to Fresh News, a government-linked Khmer news…


In the UK, Strong and Stable is the New Weak and Wobbly

Wed, 06/14/2017 - 18:51

Jeremy Corbyn – link

So the farce that was the UK General Election 2017 has come to an end. Glorious leader Theresa May spun back on her own words about not calling one in the first place and justified it by saying that all the division in Westminster can be settled and a strong Tory majority will strengthen her hand at the negotiating table in Brexit negotiations.

This did not happen. A strong and resurgent Labour Party under Jeremy Corbyn ran a fantastic campaign focused around truly progressive and forward-looking policies that really resonated with the electorate, especially the younger generations who came out and voted in numbers never seen before.

What happened was Labour gained an extra 30 MPs and the Tories lost 13 and this resulted in them losing their majority in the House of Commons and a Hung Parliament ended up being the result for the second time in 7 years.

Other changes at this election saw the Scottish National Party (SNP) lose a fair few of its seats in Scotland to both Labour and the Tories. This is presumably because of many people in Scotland’s opposition to a second referendum on Scottish Independence, something being planned by the Scottish Government.


Another wonderful change that was seen, was the total collapse of the UKIP vote, they only had 1 MP to begin with but it is still lovely to see that people saw the light and didn’t bother to vote for them as much as in 2015.

In the aftermath of the election, Theresa May continued on as Prime Minister, which she is entitled to do as leader of the largest political party and is now seeking the backing of the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) from Northern Ireland. We’re told that there will be no official coalition and the support from the DUP will be on a confidence and supply basis and vote by vote system.

Negotiations between the Tories and the DUP are ongoing and very few details have come through and not too many people actually know what is going on. We do know that the Queen’s Speech (the event setting out the Government’s legislative agenda) may be delayed though, something very rare.

What is clear is the Labour Party and Jeremy Corbyn has stepped up and is presenting the nation with a clear legislative agenda and direction that they wish to take the country and is fully prepared to start this straight away.

In regard to the effect this election has had on British democracy it reaches at several levels. Firstly, the increased number of young people, especially the 18-24 age group voting is something to be celebrated. The percentages are still behind that of their elder counterparts but compared to previous elections, it is a much better result. Secondly, overall participation and turnout at this election is something to be celebrated; more people voted in this election than any other election since 1992.

But whether this election taking place in the first place being good for democracy is another issue. It could be argued that; yes, Theresa May was being democratic in going to the people to give them their say. However, on the contrary the result of the election has thrown the whole democratic process up in the air.

With the level of influence the DUP are expected to be gaining (whose uber-conservative social beliefs are not in line with that of the rest of the country) this causes issue for concern. Also, with the inconclusive election result, people should not be surprised if there is another election within 6 months to a year.

Whilst there was a high turnout at the election, the British people are not keen on voting all the time and do expect their Governments to be able to get on with things and govern.

The true failure of this whole election cycle is Theresa May’s total failure on delivering her prized ‘strong and stable’ message. As a result of her campaign and what she has done there is now no strength and stability within Westminster, she is weak and wobbly. The length of time it will take for there to be strength and stability all depends on how long it takes for Jeremy Corbyn to start living in Number 10.

Gunman Opens Fire At GOP Congressional Baseball Practice

Wed, 06/14/2017 - 18:42


On Wednesday morning, a gunman now identified as James T. Hodgkinson of Bellville, Illinois opened fire at a Congressional Republican baseball practice in Alexandria, Virginia.

The 66-year-old Hodgkinson allegedly approached Rep. Jeff Duncan (R-SC) before the shooting. According to Duncan, the shooter asked him in the parking lot whether the team practicing was the Democrat or Republican team. Duncan told Hodgkinson it was the Republican team that was practicing. Hodgkinson then said “okay, thanks” and walked away.

Steve Scalise – link

Then, shortly after 7:00 A.M. EST, Hodgkinson unleashed fire on the baseball team, critically injuring House Majority Whip Steve Scalise in the process, who is currently in critical condition after being shot in the hip. The other four people who were shot and hospitalized are Zack Birth, Matt Mika, David Bailey, and Krystal Griner.

James Hodgkinson has died from his injuries sustained during a shootout with police.

The shootout occurred during one of the Republican team practices ahead of the annual Congressional charity baseball game which was scheduled to be played at Nationals park Thursday afternoon. The annual contest has been a tradition among lawmakers since 1909.

Video submitted to the New York Post shows the gunfire and aftermath of the shooting.

CBS News reported that Hodgkinson supported Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) during the 2016 Election season. In fact, he had even volunteered for Senator Sanders’ campaign.

Hodgkinson also had a Facebook page which contained posts aimed against Donald Trump. He had recently posted a petition to impeach President Trump along with the statement “Trump is a Traitor. Trump Has Destroyed Our Democracy. It’s Time to Destroy Trump & Co.”

Also, according to CBS News, the gun used by Hodgkinson was a M4 assault rifle.

Congressman Scalise was fielding balls on second base when he was shot in the hip. After the gunfire subsided, lawmakers dragged Scalise into the outfield in an attempt to get him away from the gunman.

Scalise was then airlifted to MedStar Washington Hospital where surgery was performed. He is now out of surgery and in critical condition, however, his office has stated that Scalise was able to speak with his wife on the phone while en route to the hospital. He was reportedly in good spirits.

U.S. Capitol Police were able to respond very quickly to the incident, as Hodgkinson was subdued shortly after he opened fire. The police force has informed the public that the wounded officers are expected to survive.

Both Republicans and Democrats were able to come together as one united party after the incident. House Speaker Paul Ryan and Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi both gave statements on the House floor.

“We are united in our anguish,” Ryan said. He then continued, “An attack on one of us is an attack on all of us.”

Nancy Pelosi added, “Tomorrow we will go out on the field, we’ll root for our team, we want everyone to do his or her very best, and we will use this occasion as one that brings us together and not one that separates us further.” The Congressional baseball game is still scheduled for Thursday afternoon, according to officials.

Where is Africa’s Youth Vote?

Wed, 06/14/2017 - 12:47

South Sudanese children – link

The widening age gap between African leaders and their populations is a cause for concern. For instance, in 2016, the average median age of the African population was 20, while the average age for Heads of State was 66. Thanks to the UK elections held on 8 June 2017, there is a renewed the debate on voting patterns and political participation of youths in elections in Africa. The 72 percent youth turnout which was thrown around just an hour after close of polls, although still to be verified, was interesting for Africa’s in that it showed young people can vote and decide their destiny.

Population of the world and its regions (in millions) – link

This is all more important because Africa’s population is young and it continues to get younger as populations around the world are getting older.

According to the African Economic Outlook report, Africa has over 40 percent of its working age population between the ages of 15 and 24, making it the youngest continent in the world. The report further says that there are almost 200 million youths in Africa and that number will double by 2045.

Younger populations are beneficial in that there is large working age which means more support for citizens and key development. This means youth can lift Africa from its poverty-ridden, economically poor present and into a better future.

However, development can only happen when youths became masters of their own destiny by for instance through political participation that is voting and taking up political office so that they can drive the agenda they want. Youth remain under-represented in the voters roll throughout Africa. For instance Statics South Africa noted that before the 2016 local government elections in South Africa, out of the 25 million voters on the voters roll, youth were less than 10 million. Surprisingly, those below the age of 35 years constitute about 66 percent of the total population of 54 million (Matshediso 2016).

In Zimbabwe, youths makes up about 75 percent of the total population are youths.

In one of my recent articles titled: “Addressing Zimbabwe’s Voter Apathy Challenge”, l highlighted why youths will be important in Zimbabwe’s 2018 elections. The ruling party led by President Robert Mugabe is currently holding at least one rally for the youths in all the country’s 10 provinces. Opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC-T) leader Morgan Tsvangirai is also gearing up youths to participate in 2018 general elections through rallies and messages on social media. At his latest rally,in Gweru (270km west of Harare) Tsvangirai employed youths to register and translate the registration into actual votes.

In Kenya there is doubt that of the over 14 000 people in the August 8 2017 general elections there is no doubt few of them are youths. However, on a positive note, an audit of the voters roll by accounting firm KPMG revealed that there was a 26.95 percent increase in registered voters from 2013 with a marginal increase of registered youths. Kenya is heading for a general election on 8 August 2017


In South Africa, a study conducted prior to the 2016 local government elections reveals that youths would rather protest than go and vote. This kind of thinking will not take South Africa forward but backward.

In Tunisia and Egypt, youth played a leading role during the Arab Spring but, however remain away from elections (MINDS 2016). An eight African nation research by the Mandela Institute for Development Studies (MINDS) in 2016 revealed that, “youth were at the forefront of political change in many countries, often because of their frustration with high levels of unemployment, marginalization, and feeling under-represented both by governments and leadership”.

Although political engagement among young people is decreasing in Africa, initiatives such as the African Youth Charter aim to address this.  In coming years, youths in Africa will become the bulk of voters on average, 46% of citizens are below the legal voting age. In Uganda, 5 seats in parliament are reserved for youth representatives, while in Kenya; the Senate has elected 2 youth representatives.

The Rwanda constitution reserves 2 seats in the lower house for citizens under 35, chosen by an electoral college. In Morocco, 30 seats in the lower house of parliament are reserved for less than 40 year-olds. In Tunisia, political parties are required to put forward at least one candidate of 35 years or younger. Prior to the 2014 general elections in South Africa, the IXSA campaign was launched to encourage youths to register to vote, participation and engagement. In Zimbabwe the XIG voter campaign and other initiatives prior to the 2013 general elections engaged youths to register to vote without much success. It remains to be seen whether 2018 harmonized elections will change the matrix.

Rwanda, Kenya, Angola and Liberia are set to hold general elections in the next few months. These should hopefully represent a momentum build-up of African youth political participation with youths rising and descending on polling stations for their voice to be heard.


Big Win Boosts New Hampshire Libertarian Party

Wed, 06/14/2017 - 12:17

The Libertarian Party in New Hampshire will be able to run candidates in the state after ruling. Richard Winger of Ballot Access News recently posted the following:

New Hampshire holds a special election to fill the vacant State House seat, in the Grafton 9 district, on September 5. Qualified parties hold primaries for this seat on July 18. On June 14, the New Hampshire Ballot Law Commission ordered that John Babiarz be permitted to file for the Libertarian primary. See this story.

Babiarz had been refused when he went to file for the Libertarian primary, because he was a registered independent. However, there were no registered Libertarians, in the eyes of the state, until early this year. That is because the Libertarian Party was not a ballot-qualified party until the votes had been counted in the November 8, 2016 election.

Voters in New Hampshire may not change parties at any time they wish. They must wait until their town clerk opens up the voter registration records and allows voters to change parties. Babiarz had not been permitted to register Libertarian after the special election was called. The Ballot Law Commission felt this was unfair, and ordered state and town election officials to accept his filing.

Also, from the Libertarian Party of New Hampshire:

The Libertarian Party of New Hampshire is proud to announce that long-time Libertarian John Babiarz has filed to run for Representative in the Grafton 9 Special Election. On June 13, the Ballot Law Commission ordered that John Babiarz should be placed on the Libertarian Primary ballot in the Grafton 9 special election.

John Babiarz is no stranger to public service. He joined the Grafton Volunteer Fire Department in 1994, continued his training to became an EMT in 2001, and the Grafton Volunteer Fire Department voted him in as Chief in 2007.

John has been elected as the Town of Grafton Cemetery Trustee, and was also a member of the Mascoma School District Budget Committee. In 2003 he served in Governor Benson’s administration as Government Efficiency Commission to examine ways the state could save money in various operations.

John has also been the Libertarian Party’s Gubernatorial nominee four times (2000, 2002, 2010 & 2012). Now he’s seeking to serve his community and the state by representing the towns of Grafton, Ashland, Alexandria, Bridgewater, and Bristol as the next State Representative from Grafton 9.

About John Babiarz:

John Babiarz is the gubernatorial candidate that will restore, preserve and protect the New Hampshire advantage and values that make it the “Live Free or Die” state. John is a libertarian who believes in protecting individual rights and liberties. He believes in the tradition that both the State and Federal Constitutions are the blueprints by which we are to govern our society.

John sat on the governor’s Efficiency Commission from 2002-2004. He has first hand knowledge of how to work with state agencies to reduce wasteful spending, streamline government offices, and optimize the use of taxpayer’s dollars.

John resides in Grafton, NH with his wife Rosalie. He is the chief of the Volunteer Fire Department and a self-employed entrepreneur who is credited with procuring the first internet service provider to service the Grafton area.

Why Media is Key to Better Liberian Democracy

Wed, 06/14/2017 - 12:06


Training for young journalists contributes to the general effort for media improvement in the country

The Minister of Information, Cultural Affairs and Tourism, Lenn Eugene Nagbe, says the media in any country plays a major role in the developmental agenda, stressing that it must not be overlooked as it had been done in Liberia. Addressing reporters here on Tuesday, 13 June at the opening of a two-day workshop on ‘Elections Reporting’…


Trump Blocks Author Stephen King On Twitter

Wed, 06/14/2017 - 11:54


Author Stephen King said Tuesday President Donald Trump had blocked him on Twitter | Democracy, elections and voting at Democracy Chronicles

Author Stephen King said Tuesday President Donald Trump had blocked him on Twitter. The move came after King posted a critical tweet about White House senior adviser and Trump’s daughter, Ivanka Trump. In an interview with “Fox & Friends” on Monday, Ivanka criticized “the level of viciousness” her father had to face. “My father and this…


VIDEO: A Detailed Analysis of Puerto Rico’s Statehood Vote

Wed, 06/14/2017 - 11:41

From Al Jazeera:

In the fifth referendum of its kind, the US territory voted overwhelmingly for statehood. Puerto Rico had three options for its political status at the ballot – independence, statehood, or a continuation of the status quo. It’s unlikely that the results will be approved by the US Congress, and abysmally low turnout – just 23 percent voted – due to an opposition boycott has further undermined the non-binding plebiscite. Governor Pedro Rosello, the political force behind the referendum, was elected to office largely on a platform to bring statehood to the debt-burdened island.

The government filed for a special form of bankruptcy last month to address its monstrous $100 billion debt, the largest of its kind to do so. Meanwhile, steep austerity cuts have negatively affected many aspects of life. The University of Puerto Rico, the intellectual heart of the island, is looking at budget cuts that would gut the university. The proposed cuts led to months of student strikes, top university officials resigning, and a two month closure. Other institutions are suffering as well. Last month it was announced that 179 schools are to close permanently, and the healthcare system is on the verge of collapse because of cuts to federally funded programs like Medicaid that many rely on.

Puerto Ricans have been leaving the island in droves for decades. Unemployment is at nearly 12 per cent and 46 per cent live below the poverty line. There are now more Puerto Ricans living in the US than on the island. Although they have US citizenship, they’re not allowed to vote in presidential elections and lack full representation in Congress. Governor Rosello says he will petition Congress with the results, but many doubt it will listen.

The question of its future political status is crucial to a deeply divided a society that is trying to define its identity and hold on to its cultural heritage.