Democracy Chronicles

Syndicate content
Worldwide Democracy News
Updated: 2 min 29 sec ago

White House Investigating Jared Kushner Over Shady Loans

Tue, 03/27/2018 - 14:04

Jared Kushner is now being investigated by a fourth body, but this one is a little more close to home for the President’s son-in-law. The White House itself is now investigating $500 million worth of loans that Kushner’s business received shortly after meeting with executives from the banking industry in the White House. Ring of Fire’s…

.repubhubembed{display:none;}




The post White House Investigating Jared Kushner Over Shady Loans appeared first on Democracy Chronicles.

The dismal failure of efforts to empower the Arab people

Tue, 03/27/2018 - 13:38

By Janine A. Clark, Professor of Political Science, University of Guelph. Protestors stand behind burning barricades during clashes with riot police near the Tunisian capital of Tunis in January 2018. Violent protests over price hikes raised fears of broader unrest in the country that was the birthplace of the Arab Spring. (AP Photo/Amine Landoulsi) The protests…

.repubhubembed{display:none;}



The post The dismal failure of efforts to empower the Arab people appeared first on Democracy Chronicles.

Anti-Fake News Bill Sparks Malaysian Censorship Fears

Tue, 03/27/2018 - 13:23

The Malaysian government proposed a bill imposing hefty fines and jail sentences on those found guilty of willfully publishing fake news on Monday. The bill targets “fake news” defined as any form of written, audio or visual publication “wholly or partly false,” concerning Malaysia or a Malaysian citizen published by anyone, anywhere. The law would punish…

.repubhubembed{display:none;}



The post Anti-Fake News Bill Sparks Malaysian Censorship Fears appeared first on Democracy Chronicles.

Brazil appeals court to rule on Lula’s latest challenge

Tue, 03/27/2018 - 13:21

A Brazilian appeals court was set Monday to rule on former president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva’s latest attempt to stay out of prison and maintain his slender hopes of a political comeback. The appeal is on technical issues related to the same court’s earlier upholding of Lula’s conviction on corruption. The court, in Porto Alegre,…

.repubhubembed{display:none;}




The post Brazil appeals court to rule on Lula’s latest challenge appeared first on Democracy Chronicles.

Police make arrest over Indian journalist’s killing by mafia

Tue, 03/27/2018 - 13:15
link

Amid growing outrage over the latest murder of a journalist in India, police have arrested a truck driver accused of killing Sandeep Sharma over his investigative reporting into the country’s ‘sand mafia’. The television journalist was mown down by a truck as he rode a motorcycle on Monday — the second hit and run killing of…

.repubhubembed{display:none;}



The post Police make arrest over Indian journalist’s killing by mafia appeared first on Democracy Chronicles.

A look at the politics of the newest Judas Priest album: Firepower

Tue, 03/27/2018 - 13:10
link

More than four decades after releasing their debut album, Rocka Rolla, Judas Priest have not grown soft. Firepower, the band’s 18th studio album, released March 9, is a ferocious slab of heavy metal. It’s also a more diverse and dynamic outing than Priest’s previous release, 2014’s Redeemer of Souls. A major reason for that is lead…

.repubhubembed{display:none;}



The post A look at the politics of the newest Judas Priest album: Firepower appeared first on Democracy Chronicles.

Worries follow announcement of new census citizenship question

Tue, 03/27/2018 - 11:49

The US government announced Monday that it would reintroduce a question about citizenship status in the questionnaire for the 2020 census. This is a very sensitive issue in the era of President Donald Trump, who has made cracking down on legal and illegal immigration one of his hallmarks. The Commerce Department, which oversees the census, said…

.repubhubembed{display:none;}



The post Worries follow announcement of new census citizenship question appeared first on Democracy Chronicles.

New Row Over Data Mining Firm Cambridge Analytica in India

Mon, 03/26/2018 - 19:22

The controversy over the British-based data mining company, Cambridge Analytica, which faces allegations of using the personal data of millions of Facebook followers to influence the U.S. election, is reverberating in India, which is due to hold national elections next year. The website of the Indian affiliate of Cambridge Analytica, Ovleno Business Intelligence (OBI), has been…

.repubhubembed{display:none;}



The post New Row Over Data Mining Firm Cambridge Analytica in India appeared first on Democracy Chronicles.

The Unresolved Crisis Overshadowing Congo’s Vote

Mon, 03/26/2018 - 19:15

Jean-Pierre Kalamba waved his hand over a map of the Democratic Republic of Congo, the Central African nation that has delayed elections for two years since the president, Joseph Kabila, refused to resign after his term ended in 2016. Kalamba, an election official, said the government is struggling to raise the $1.8 billion the electoral commission…

.repubhubembed{display:none;}



The post The Unresolved Crisis Overshadowing Congo’s Vote appeared first on Democracy Chronicles.

New Jersey’s felon voters still await a savior

Mon, 03/26/2018 - 19:04

Today, in a country with allegedly the finest justice system ever created by man, we choose to relegate 6.1 million Americans to second-class citizenship. We silence them, we revoke a fundamental birthright, and we deprive them of dignity. And we do it because of a cockeyed notion that a central tenet of democracy – that government…

.repubhubembed{display:none;}



The post New Jersey’s felon voters still await a savior appeared first on Democracy Chronicles.

Dire Malaysian democratic crisis is a leading world problem

Mon, 03/26/2018 - 14:00

By Netina Tan, Associate Professor, McMaster University and Cassandra Preece, Political Science, MA Student, McMaster University. Malaysia’s Prime Minister Najib Razak speaks in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia in February 2018. (AP Photo/Vincent Thian) Malaysia is gearing up for its 14th general elections, to be held by Aug. 24, 2018. Its parliament is expected to be dissolved within…

.repubhubembed{display:none;}



The post Dire Malaysian democratic crisis is a leading world problem appeared first on Democracy Chronicles.

Zimbabwe’s 2008 post-vote violence has lessons for the next election

Mon, 03/26/2018 - 13:47

This year marks 10 years since the disputed 2008 harmonized elections. At that time, the public was growing angry while it was taking more than a month for the Zimbabwe Election Commission (ZEC) to announce the result of the 29 March 2008 presidential poll. Rumor, speculation and uncertainty gripped the country. The period following that first round of the 2008 Presidential Elections in Zimbabwe was marked by political violence that left a reportedly more than 200 people dead, thousands more people injured and more than 200 000 people internally displaced – the worst violence in the southern African country since independence in 1980. Much remains to be done to prevent a repeat of the violence.

The failure to announce the result was heavily criticized by the opposition who approached the High Court for relief. However, Justice Tendai Uchena infamously ruled in favor of ZEC arguing that the law permits them to undertake a recount and verification process. Surprisingly, the ZEC alleged that they were recounting votes that they had not disclosed for any one of the candidates to ask for a recount. Had ZEC privately disclosed the result to Mugabe? If yes, than there was a calculated collusion and, if no, why then recount the votes before announcement of the result and there after maybe receive a request for recount and verification from any of the candidates?

When the polls results were finally announced on 2 May 2008, they showed that the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC-T) candidate, the late Morgan Tsvangirai, had won by 47.9 percent whilst Robert Mugabe, in power since 1980, garnered 42.2 percent of the total votes. Independent candidate and former finance minister Simba Makoni pulled 8.1 percent. This effectively meant that since no candidate reached the 50 plus 1 percent vote required for outright majority, a second round was organized for 27 June 2007.

In this case the law states that the two-top candidates go for a run-off, meaning Tsvangirai and Mugabe were to square-off once more with the candidate getting the popular vote during second run winning the presidency. However, the MDC-T disputed the result arguing their tally showed Tsvangirai had won 50.3 percent of the vote, a narrow majority that would have him sworn in as the president, with Mugabe getting only 43.8 percent.

Media reports suggest that the violence after the first round began in the town of Murehwa about 70 kilometers North-East of Harare. The violence escalated throughout the country with both ZANU-PF and MDC-T blaming each other’s supporters for instigating the violence. However, western governments and most non-governmental organizations blamed ZANU-PF for the violence. Mugabe had been telling his supporters that “the bullet has replaced the ballot”.

The dispute went up a new level on 22 June, when Tsvangirai announced that he was withdrawing from the second round famously describing the run-off as a “violent sham” that was a security threat to his supporters. ZEC rejected Tsvangirai’s withdraw arguing that it was too late for him to pull out since they had printed the ballot paper with his name and all other logistics were in place.

Constitutional law expert Professor Lovemore Madhuku then said that it was politically correct for Tsvangirai to pull out because a free and fair election was not possible, yet, legally he was bound to participate: “The strict legal position is that candidature for the run-off or second election is not a voluntary exercise, you give your consent when you contest the first election.”

In other words there was no provision for withdrawal.

The dispute caught the attention of world leaders with the then United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon on 23 June 2008 encouraging ZEC to postpone the run-off as Tsvangirai had genuine concerns that required attention. He further said that, “the people of Zimbabwe have the right to choose their leader” in a conducive environment that result in a free, fair and credible election. Then African Union Chairman weighed in describing the events unfolding in Zimbabwe as “a matter of grave concern”.

Instead of declaring Mugabe unopposed, ZEC choose to go ahead with the electoral process with Tsvangirai’s name on the ballot. Mugabe won the opposition boycotted run-off by overwhelming margin of 85.51 percent of the votes. Mugabe was hastily inaugurated at State House by then Chief Justice Godfrey Chidyausiku and on the same day travelled to Egypt for an African Union (AU) Summit where he was surprisingly welcomed.

The AU called for dialogue eventually leading to the formation of the Government of National Unity (GNU) on 13 February 2009 by ZAUNU-PF, the MDC-T and another MDC formation led by Professor Arthur Mutambara. Mugabe remained president whilst Tsvangirai became prime minister with Mutambara and Thokozani Khupe (then MDC-T party Vice-President) becoming deputy prime ministers.

Ministerial posts were shared with ZANU-PF getting the bulk at the same time retaining key portfolios that include defense, security and agriculture whilst sharing the powerful ‘Home Affairs’ portfolio which the Registrar-General then tasked with preparing the voters roll. Police also fell under a system where both ZANU-PF and MDC-T had co-ministers. MDC-T was able to wrestle control of the lucrative finance ministry and under the leadership of Tendai Biti was able to stabilize the economy.

Mugabe was later to slip on the eve of his 2013 general election whilst addressing security chiefs where he said Tsvangirai in 2008 won by 73 percent. Whether a slip of a tongue or not, it fed a widely accepted view that Tsvangirai won the 2008 presidential election and victory was stolen during the five weeks of delayed election results with the help of a questionable High Court Judgment.

The tragic lessons that can be drawn from the 2008 political violence are that such electoral fights can tear apart the social fabric of a nation and that the power to govern can only be derived from the people. Another lesson is that holding elections without ensuring strong independent institutions, like the courts, can lead to a sham democracy. Holding elections is but one element of democracy that need to be further buttressed with a vibrant parliament and protection of human rights.

Mugabe cannot argue that the elections were democratic whilst underperforming with regards to upholding human rights, supporting the oversight role of parliament, the independence of the judiciary, and other key pillars of democracy. A country’s election management body must be independent of the ruling government and must remain absolutely impartial when conducting elections with procedure clearly spelt out and dispute mechanisms in place.

Another election approaches

In July/August 2018, Zimbabwe heads for another crucial general election. And for the first time in nearly two decades the faces of Mugabe and Tsvangirai will not be on the ballot paper. Although 112 political parties have confirmed to participate, the real fight is between incumbent Emmerson Mnangagwa of ZANU-PF and Advocate Nelson Chamisa of the MDC-T.

Already there are reports of intimidation of voters. There are reports that ZANU-PF members are demanding voter registration slips from the electorate. The alleged deployment of 5,000 soldiers by President Mnangagwa’s government is seen as a strategy resembling the 2008 disputed election.

However, it is encouraging to note that Mnangagwa has invited international election observers, some whom have already visited the country for pre-election assessment. European Union election observers arrived only last week. At the same time, Mnangagwa has invited all political parties for a conference to iron out any differences.

It is only the politics of compromise that can solve political problems, not the law or technical support from donors. It remains be seen whether Mnangagwa’s overtures are cosmetic to divert political parties and observers from the obscure National Logistic Committee that is said allegedly indirectly runs the elections. As a result of the continued uncertainty, one of the key factors during the ensuing harmonized elections will be how results are processed, and their announcement managed, to avoid a repeat of 2008.

The post Zimbabwe’s 2008 post-vote violence has lessons for the next election appeared first on Democracy Chronicles.

Turkey detains university students for protesting Syria conflict

Mon, 03/26/2018 - 13:00

Turkish police on Sunday were holding seven students from a prestigious Istanbul university after President Recep Tayyip Erdogan accused them of behaving like “terrorists” for staging an action opposing his military campaign in Syria. Police stormed a students’ dormitory and a house at Bogazici University around dawn Sunday and detained three students — two men and…

.repubhubembed{display:none;}



The post Turkey detains university students for protesting Syria conflict appeared first on Democracy Chronicles.

Afghan mother cradling baby during university exam goes viral

Mon, 03/26/2018 - 11:48

Afghan farmer Jahantab Ahmadi sits on the ground, her baby resting in her lap, as she focuses on the university entrance exam she hopes will help her fulfil her dreams. The powerful photo, taken by a professor at Nasir Khusraw private university in central Afghanistan, has gone viral after striking a chord in a country where…

.repubhubembed{display:none;}




The post Afghan mother cradling baby during university exam goes viral appeared first on Democracy Chronicles.

Mathematicians invent new tool to judge gerrymandering

Mon, 03/26/2018 - 11:32

Researchers at the University of Vermont have recently designed a new mathematical approach to judge when gerrymandering political districts goes beyond fairness and into manipulation of voting. A team led by UVM mathematician Gregory S. Warrington published the new tool in the latest edition of the Election Law Journal under the title, “Quantifying Gerrymandering Using the Vote Distribution”.

Warrington is a star researcher with an expertise in algebra at the University of Vermont’s Department of Mathematics and Statistics, a branch of UVM with a “long and proud tradition of excellence in teaching undergraduate students as well as an international reputation for world-class research and mentoring graduate students to a Master’s degree or a PhD degree”.

According to Warrington, “It’s called the declination. Because there is no single standard of what exactly gerrymandering is, there is no one way to test for it. But our measure is better in a lot of ways than the other approaches now being used.” According to a summary of this valuable work by Science Daily:

A mathematician has developed a new tool to identify gerrymandered voting districts. The research shows Pennsylvania, Ohio and North Carolina strongly gerrymandered for Republicans, while Maryland’s and California’s voting districts have been strongly tipped in favor of Democrats. The new tool could be important in the wake of two Supreme Court cases now being considered that might outlaw certain partisan gerrymanders.

Other influential research on American gerrymandering by Warrington include studies titled “Gerrymandering and the net number of US House seats won due to vote-distribution asymmetries” and “Introduction to the declination function for gerrymanders“.

The post Mathematicians invent new tool to judge gerrymandering appeared first on Democracy Chronicles.

Why Sierra Leone popstar Emmerson Bockarie is govt enemy No.1

Mon, 03/26/2018 - 11:06

For a musician used to receiving personal insults from the president and anonymous death threats with the release of every new single, Emmerson Bockarie laughs a lot. The Sierra Leonean popstar, a thorn in the side of successive governments over his 15-year career, chuckles as he recalls the countless times politicians have sought to dampen his…

.repubhubembed{display:none;}




The post Why Sierra Leone popstar Emmerson Bockarie is govt enemy No.1 appeared first on Democracy Chronicles.

A new Mexican journalism award for those covering rights abuses

Mon, 03/26/2018 - 11:02

The UN and AFP news agency have launched a new award to recognise journalists who their lives to cover human rights abuses in Mexico, one of the most dangerous countries to be a reporter. The ‘Breach-Valdez’ award will pay tribute to former journalists Miroslava Breach and Javier Valdez who were murdered last year. Valdez, highly acclaimed…

.repubhubembed{display:none;}




The post A new Mexican journalism award for those covering rights abuses appeared first on Democracy Chronicles.

Considering the weakening of South Korean presidential power

Mon, 03/26/2018 - 10:44

South Korean President Moon Jae-in on Monday proposed weakening the powers of his office and lowering the voting age in a package of constitutional reforms, while allowing the head of state to be re-elected. South Korea is a vibrant democracy but its executive presidency is extremely powerful, giving rise to a winner-takes-all politics which critics say…

.repubhubembed{display:none;}




The post Considering the weakening of South Korean presidential power appeared first on Democracy Chronicles.

Some seek return to Congressional earmarks to encourage action

Mon, 03/26/2018 - 10:40

By Diana Evans, Professor of political science, Trinity College. Members of Congress debated a government spending bill into the early morning on March 20. AP/J. Scott Applewhite Congress passed a US$1.3 trillion spending bill last Thursday, March 22 – only narrowly averting a third government shutdown this year. President Trump signed the bill into law on…

.repubhubembed{display:none;}



The post Some seek return to Congressional earmarks to encourage action appeared first on Democracy Chronicles.

Odebrecht corruption scandal ensnares Venezuela’s Maduro

Mon, 03/26/2018 - 10:36

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro awarded a Brazilian construction giant at the heart of a huge corruption scandal across Latin America almost $4 billion for public works in exchange for campaign donations, the newspaper Estado reported Sunday. The payments came to Odebrecht light in reports and documents as part of a Brazilian investigation. The documents in question…

.repubhubembed{display:none;}




The post Odebrecht corruption scandal ensnares Venezuela’s Maduro appeared first on Democracy Chronicles.