Politics this week
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A general election in Ireland produced a shock win for Sinn Fein, formerly the political wing of the IRA, a terrorist group. The party took the most first-choice votes, but ended up coming second in terms of seats in the Dail (parliament). Ireland now faces weeks or months of negotiations to produce a new government, which might bring Sinn Fein to power for the first time, as part of a coalition.
Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer abruptly resigned as leader of Germany’s ruling Christian Democrats, and said she will not be a candidate to succeed Angela Merkel as the country’s chancellor. This followed a damaging row over the party’s conduct in the eastern state of Thuringia, where it in effect ended up working with the xenophobic Alternative for Germany.
Boris Johnson, Britain’s prime minister, gave the final approval to continue HS2, a high-speed rail link between London and northern cities. The project was on hold after the costs rose above £100bn ($130bn). Mr Johnson also announced other ambitious transport plans outside London, such as road improvements, 4,000 zero-emission buses and “Mini Holland” schemes to promote bike lanes in town centres.
The military option
El Salvador’s president, Nayib Bukele, brought rifle-toting troops into the country’s National Assembly to force it to approve a $109m loan to finance his crime-fighting programme. Lawmakers decried an “attempted coup”. He eventually left the building.
Adriano da Nóbrega, the reputed head of a paramilitary group accused of killing Marielle Franco, a left-wing city councillor in Rio de Janeiro in 2018, was himself killed. Police in the north-eastern Brazilian state of Bahia say Mr da Nóbrega opened fire when they tried to arrest him and was shot dead. Opposition politicians speculated that he was killed to keep him quiet.
Pope Francis decided against ordaining married men in the Amazon, a region that has a shortage of Catholic priests. Rather than weakening the church’s commitment to priestly celibacy, he used an “Apostolic Exhortation” to urge bishops to “be more generous in encouraging those who display a missionary vocation to opt for the Amazon region”.
Former front-runners fall foul
Bernie Sanders won the New Hampshire primary, but not by much. Pete Buttigieg was a close second and Amy Klobuchar, another moderate, came third. Elizabeth Warren and Joe Biden trailed far behind. The next contest in the race for the Democratic presidential nomination is in Nevada on February 22nd.
With the ink barely dry on his impeachment acquittal in the Senate, Donald Trump took his revenge on witnesses who had testified to the House. Lieutenant-Colonel Alexander Vindman, a point man on Ukraine, was booted off the National Security Council and marched out of the White House. Gordon Sondland was dismissed as America’s ambassador to the European Union.
Four prosecutors who recommended a stiff prison term for Roger Stone, a confidant of Mr Trump who has been convicted on charges relating to the Mueller probe, resigned from the case after the Justice Department pushed for a lighter punishment. Mr Trump had earlier tweeted that he thought the prosecutors’ recommendation was “horrible and unfair”.
See you in court (maybe)
The new Sudanese government said it would hand over Omar al-Bashir to face war-crime charges before the International Criminal Court. Mr Bashir was deposed as Sudan’s president in April last year amid huge street protests against his bloody regime, which was behind the genocide in Darfur. When or where he will appear before ICC judges is unclear.
The White House confirmed that the leader of al-Qaeda’s offshoot in the Arabian peninsula had been killed. Qasim al-Raymi was hit by a missile in Yemen, where his group carried out most of its attacks. It was also behind the massacre at the Charlie Hebdo magazine in Paris in 2015.
Five more Turkish troops were killed by the Syrian army as it continued its offensive against rebels in Idlib province, the last opposition holdout. Turkish troops are in the area under an agreement trying to de-escalate the conflict. Turkey struck back at Syrian positions.
The new normal
The lunar new-year holiday, extended in many Chinese provinces because of the spread of a new coronavirus, officially ended. But many businesses remained closed because of quarantine and travel restrictions. Among the fatalities was a doctor, Li Wenliang, who had been reprimanded in January by police in Wuhan, the centre of the epidemic, for revealing the threat. Many people mourned for him online, calling for freedom of speech. The Communist Party reshuffled the leadership of Hubei province, which contains Wuhan. It also demoted the top official responsible for Hong Kong affairs.
Rodrigo Duterte, the president of the Philippines, ended an agreement making it easy for American soldiers to visit the country for joint exercises. Without evidence, he accused American forces of bringing nuclear weapons to the country. He also denounced America’s decision to cancel the visa of Ronald dela Rosa, an ally who led his bloodthirsty war on drugs.
India’s ruling Bharatiya Janata Party was thrashed in elections in Delhi. The opposition retained its lopsided majority in the local assembly, following months of protests against the BJP’s anti-Muslim amendments to citizenship laws.
The EU suspended preferential tariffs for $1bn-worth of Cambodian exports because of Cambodia’s suppression of democracy. Hun Sen, its strongman prime minister, said his country would not “bow down” to foreigners.
An off-duty soldier killed 29 people in a shooting spree in the city of Nakhon Ratchasima in Thailand. He was apparently enraged by a financial dispute with the family of his commanding officer.
Mobs attacked villages in Kazakhstan inhabited by Dungans, a tiny ethnic group with origins in China, after rumours spread that Dungans had attacked an elderly Kazakh man. Eight people died, scores were injured and thousands fled to nearby Kyrgyzstan.
“Parasite”, a South Korean comedy thriller,was the surprise winner at the Oscars. It beat the bookies’ favourite, “1917”, to scoop best picture, the first foreign film to do so, and best director. Hollywood stars spouted platitudes about diversity and stealing baby cows. The ceremony had its worst-ever viewing figures.
This article appeared in the The world this week section of the print edition under the headline “Politics this week”
via The Economist https://ift.tt/2x6zE6X
February 13, 2020 at 12:51PM