Elections in Malaysia, Spain, France, U.S. and Iran

Quite a weekend this has turned out to be, and the week ahead bears more elections to come. There’s been elections in Malaysia, Spain, France, and in the U.S. state of Wyoming, while tomorrow there will be primaries in Mississippi and Iran will hold parliamentary elections on Friday.

In Malaysia, Prime Minister Abdullah Badawi’s ruling coalition, the Barisan Nasional, won the general elections but suffered a major setback as they lost their parliamentary majority for the first time since independence in 1957, leading to his predecessor, Tun Dr Mahatir Mohamad, to call on Mr Badawi to resign. However, Mr Badawi has since been sworn in for a new term as PM.

BBC News: Malaysian prime minister sworn in

His Spanish counterpart, José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero, fared similarly in Spanish polls. Despite his Socialist Party hanging on to power, Mr Zapatero’s team failed to gain enough seats in Parliament for an absolute parliamentary majority. Across the border in France, however, there was a different story in local elections. President Nicolas Sarkozy’s UMP has taken a hit from the opposition Socialists and is currently trailing in the first round of elections. This vote is the first real chance for the French people to judge Mr Sarkozy, and it appears that his constant appearances in the press about his private life has lost his party support and votes.

BBC News: Socialists win Spanish elections
BBC News: Poll setback for Sarkozy’s party

On to the continuing race for the Democratic nomination for the United States Presidency. On March 8, Democratic caucuses were held in Wyoming. Senator Barack Obama convincingly won the vote, by 23 percentage points, picking up seven delegates in the process to Sen Hillary Clinton’s five. This win is crucial for Sen Obama as it takes some wind out of Sen Clinton’s three wins on March 4. Also, this was his first real test following the departure of a key foreign policy adviser, Samantha Power, over comments she made calling Sen Clinton a “monster”. He appears to have survived his aide’s outburst.

BBC News: Obama defeats Clinton in Wyoming

Tomorrow, the two candidates will once again go head-to-head in the Mississippi primaries, which will provide 33 pledged delegates. The Republicans will also hold a primary, although that will (excuse the poor pun) primarily be a voting exercise, as Sen John McCain has already won his party’s nomination and has no real challengers left in the race. Mrs Clinton will be looking to win tomorrow to avoid Sen Obama picking up new steam.

And finally, to Iran. President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad will be looking for a strong mandate in parliamentary elections this Friday, ahead of next year’s presidential elections. As always, this election will be a fight between the hardliners and the reformists. If Mr Ahmadinejad’s hardliners win well, as they are expected to do (many reformist candidates have been disqualified), it will be a sign that the nuclear issue is nowhere close to being solved.

Iran vote may strengthen Ahmadinejad


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