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Watchlist: Election Edition

Week of October 8 

 

 

 Milorad Dodik of Bosnia and Herzegovina. (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

Africa

 

Violence Disrupts Elections in Cameroon

 

Cameroon’s presidential elections were held this Sunday, October 7. Paul Biya seeks his seventh term in office and is expected to win reelection. Violence in the country’s Anglophone (English-speaking) regions, which lie in the North-West and South-West, deterred voters from polls and threaten the integrity of the elections. The number of polling stations in these areas was reduced due to safety issues. Security shot three separatists who allegedly fired at citizens in Buea. Many registered Cameroonian voters felt too unsafe to cast their vote in these violent areas. Separatists have also made attempts to disrupt the transportation of ballet boxes. Election results are still pending at this time. LAUREN CAMP

Asia-Pacific

 

Ballooning Debt in China

 

As the focus remains on China and the U.S. engaging in further tariff hikes and protective measure, there are growing suspicions that the Chinese government is taking greater steps to shore up the health and vibrancy of its economy. These measures include a renewed emphasis on state-backed, large-scale infrastructure projects and freeing up capital for businesses via government-controlled banks. These rising pressures come not only from the increasing tit-for-tat of the American and Chinese trade disputes, but weakening domestic consumer demand and export orders that are at their lowest rate since 2016. The Chinese economy is already experiencing a ballooning in both public and private debt, but enabling businesses and consumers to borrow more freely will inject a financial jolt into what is the world's second largest economy.  However, freeing up capital for consumption and issuing more debt is a risky proposition for China, as rising debt-to-GDP ratios may yield higher interest rates that will then imperil the ability of private and public banks and corporations to make good on their interest payments. Politically, it further saps the ability of the Chinese government to use deficit spending as a means for kick-starting economic growth. And maintaining high-levels of economic growth is arguably the most persistent and vexing policy issue that China has and will continue to face. TYLER COADY

Americas

 

Right-Wing Leader Sweeps Brazilian First Round Elections


Right-wing candidate Jair Bolsonaro won the first round of Brazilian elections on Sunday, establishing his Social Liberal Party to become the parliamentary majority in late October. The controversial candidate has mobilized support among those dissatisfied with rule of law and perceived socialist leanings of the current regime; the most notable support has come from the Roman Catholic and Evangelical populations of Sao Paolo and Rio de Janeiro. Bolsonaro, a hard-line conservative, has campaigned on promises to reinstate the death penalty and decrease barriers to gun ownership among a number of other fiscally and socially conservative policies. Many have likened his anti-liberal beliefs to those of Donald Trump, creating a similar popular pushback from liberal activists. These policies are contrasted by those of opponent Fernando Haddad, who advocates non-violence and social justice. The two candidates will face-off again on October 28 in the election’s second-round, as neither candidate secured a 50 percent majority of the vote. ANNA HAYNES

Europe

 

Milorad Wins Presidential Seat

 

On Sunday October 7th, Bosnia and Herzegovina held its 8th post-war general election, which will affect one of the most complex political systems in the world. Bosnian citizens voted on representatives for the bicameral state parliament, the parliament’s of the country’s two entities, and the three members of the nation’s tripartite presidency, which includes a Bosniak, Serb and Croat representative. The run-up to the election has been shrouded in controversy, as the government has not reached a legal consensus on election guidelines and regulations; there is currently no legal basis for the election of a new House of Peoples on the state level. Campaign rhetoric in the run-up to the election has also been heated, as it has been marked by divisive nationalist rhetoric from all sides. Serb candidate Milorad Dodik was elected yesterday into one of the seats as head of state, serving alongside Bakir Izetbegović and Željko Komšić. Milorad’s victory has caused concern for many Bosnian’s as he has been known for his extreme nationalist views, as well as his pro-Russian leanings. Dodik is a known advocate of the eventual separation of Serbs from the rest of the country, as well as being the candidate endorsed by Vladimir Putin. The election reveals a complicated future ahead for a divided nation. SELIN LEVI

Middle East

 

Saudi Journalist Feared Dead in Turkey

 

The search for prominent Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi is continuing this week after he vanished within the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on Tuesday. Khashoggi is known for criticizing the Saudi Arabian monarchy. Turkish officials fear that he has been killed within the consulate, and have stated that security footage does not show him leaving the building. President Recep Erdogan has stated that he is “chasing” the investigation, and that, “we will of course share the result with the world. All the footage of entrance or exit of the embassy is under investigation.” Khashoggi’s disappearance comes among a large crackdown by Saudi Arabia against journalists and activists critical of the monarchy. Saudi officials have denied involvement. MAYA ZREIK

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