This week in politics
|October 28, 2011||Posted by Tom Wooldridge under this week in politics|
The first elections following the Arab Spring took place on Sunday 23rd October in Tunisia. This was the first free election in the country since 1956 when a revolution removed the French from power. The results of the elections will dictate the 217 assembly members who will write a new constitution and form a caretaker government; there will be further elections in the future when the structure of the government has been created. The winner is expected to be the moderate Islamist party Ennahda, which claims to have won 40% of the seats – the party was banned under the leadership of former dictator Zine El Abidine Ben Ali. The results were expected on Wednesday 26th October, however due to unexpectedly large turnouts and technical problems these have been delayed and aren’t available at the time of publication. The turnout was high with Reuters quoting a figure of over 90% from the head of the independent commission set up to administer the election. The electoral system chosen is more proportional than First-Past-The-Post which is used in the UK – it means that one party can’t have absolute control on its own and a coalition is required. Ennahda has begun talks with secular parties to form a coalition, but the final agreement will probably depend on the maths.
The ‘Occupy’ protests have become a new global movement that has spread largely due to social networking. It began in over a month ago in America, where 600 separate protests grew and eventually went international, with the Guardian reporting 951 cities with protests in 82 countries this week. The cause is a general distrust and protest against the banks, banking system and bankers who are carrying on as before, despite causing the economic crisis and the “99%” suffering from the effects. The London protest, OccupyLSX, is camped outside St Paul’s Cathedral as the London Stock Exchange acquired a court order banning protest outside the exchange itself. This has caused trouble with St Paul’s Cathedral; they were initially supportive but then closed the front doors due to health and safety concerns and asked the camp to break up. OccupyLSX and St Paul’s Cathedral have agreed during talks to make changes at the camp, such as moving the kitchen further away from the cathedral and moving tents to allow easier access. However, talk has started of obtaining a court order to disband the camp. St Paul’s Cannon Chancellor Giles Fraser has resigned, citing the possibility of a forced and violent removal of protesters via a court order obtained by the Cathedral. There are reports of conflict within the Cathedral’s senior clergyman, suggesting that some would support obtaining a court order for a forced removal, something Giles Fraser says he is not comfortable with. It remains to be seen how low protester-Cathedral relations are going to go but it’s not likely the protests around the world are going to end soon.
This week has seen a lot of meetings between various European representatives; they have been fleshing out and planning most of Europe’s response to Greece and other nations’ financial problems. Talks have agreed a 50% ‘haircut’ (loss) to banks holding Greek debt, despite Spain resisting this as their banks hold a significant amount of Greek debt and this ‘haircut’ could damage Spanish banking. The Italian PM, Silvio Berlusconi, has agreed another financial package with his opposition to control their increasing debt, currently 120% of GDP. This seemed to please European leaders, who were also renegotiating the European Financial Stability Fund in Brussels – this is the pot of money that bailed out Ireland and Greece, and will bailout Spain and Italy if they need help. The IMF and the USA wanted this to be increased from its current €440bn to €1-2tn, and though the Eurozone has agreed to increase it to €1.4trn it has not been announced who will be paying for it. They have also decided that all European banks must have a minimum of 9% capital – basically, they must not lend £9 of each £100 customers have saved with them. This will give some protection to the Eurozone banks when Greece defaults and against any further financial turmoil in the Eurozone.