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Middle East voters have had enough of election fraud: Where is my vote? Mauritania Edition
Just as thousands of Iranians have taken to the streets to protest a seemingly rigged presidential election, now thousands of voters in Mauritania – at the other end of the Middle East – are marching under a green banner that reads: “Where is my vote?” A style of civic mobilization appears to once again spreading out of Iran, offering a model to dissidents throughout the region.
The Mauritanian protests began after the July 18 elections, where General Abdel Aziz, who took power in a coup last year, claimed to have won 52% of the vote in a multi-candidate race. However, accusations of voter fraud have run rampant, and opponents are asking for an international investigation and calling the vote “prefabricated”. Two incriminating videos have surfaced to buttress these claims: One video allegedly shows a ‘fraud factory’ in which pro-Aziz campaign staffers are seen duplicating voter ID cards to allow people to vote twice. Another video, taken on the day of the vote, shows Aziz’s supporters purchasing ID cards from underprivileged citizens, supposedly to use them to vote for Aziz.
The four main opposition candidates have rejected the outcome, the European Union has called for a proper inquiry, and the chairman of Mauritania’s Electoral Commission has resigned in protest. Hundreds of Mauritanians have taken to the streets to protest the apparent fraud, and the opposition has already adopted the slogan “Where is my vote?” – translating it into Arabic and French as a rally cry. No Iran-like crackdown on protestors has yet erupted, though it appears the struggle – as in Iran – is far from over.
More news of the civil rights movement in the Middle East at the CRIME Report.
European voters staged a protest of their own. The European Union elections were held over the last few days, and the status quo took a big hit. European elections: extremist and fringe parties are the big winners
Extremist and fringe parties were the beneficiaries as voters across Europe deserted mainstream parties or stayed at home in protest at the state of their economies.
The Centre Left was set to be the big loser across the 27 European Union countries with the Centre Right consolidating its position as the largest group in the Parliament. Anti-immigrant parties gained MEPs in Austria, Denmark, Finland, Hungary, the Netherlands and Slovakia.
Governing parties generally suffered but this trend was bucked in Italy, where Silvio Berlusconi’s Party of Freedom was heading for gains, and in France, where Nicolas Sarkozy’s UMP recovered dramatically from a poor showing in 2004.
The turnout of about 43 per cent, compared with the low of 45.47 per cent in 2004, meant that 213 million voters abstained from the poll despite mandatory voting in several countries.
One voter concern that major political parties ignored was immigration from Muslim countries, and they paid a price:
Britain elected its first extreme-right politician to the European Parliament, with the British National Party winning a seat in northern England’s Yorkshire and the Humber district.
The far-right party, which does not accept nonwhites as members, was expected to possibly win further seats as more results in Britain were announced.
Lawmakers with Britain’s major political parties said the far right’s advance was a reflection of anger over immigration issues and the recession that is causing unemployment to soar.
Near-final results showed Austria’s main rightist party gaining strongly while the ruling Social Democrats lost substantial ground. The big winner in Austria was the rightist Freedom Party, which more than doubled its strength over the 2004 elections to 13.1 percent of the vote. It campaigned on an anti-Islam platform.
In the Netherlands, Geert Wilders’ anti-Islamic party took 17 percent of the country’s votes, taking four of 25 seats.
The Hungarian far-right Jobbik party won three of 22 seats, with the main center-right opposition party, Fidesz, capturing 14 seats and the governing Socialists only four.
Jobbik describes itself as Euro-skeptic and anti-immigration and wants police to crack down on petty crimes committed by Gypsies. Critics say the party is racist and anti-Semitic.
Why did parties on the Left do so poorly? The WSJ:
One reason is that as Europe tipped into recession, the right moved left — appropriating some of the left’s long-standing economic policies, including nationalizations and bailouts…right-wing parties across the continent began offering more pragmatic approaches to policy than they had traditionally done. In the past decade, conservative parties introduced competition or privatized some public services in France, Germany and Italy — but they refrained from dismantling the health-care and public transport services cherished by voters.
Another reason for the shift to the right:
Some fear that the inability of many European left-wing parties to attract voters is a cause — not just a symptom — of a rise among parties on the far right. “When people fear that they are not protected by their governments, they go back to nationalism,” said Anthony Wedgwood Benn, a retired U.K. Socialist lawmaker.
Political shenanigans or honest mistake? The UKIP is considered a fringe party. ANGER AS VOTERS CAN’T FIND UKIP ON BALLOT PAPERS
…The first and most obvious thing that emerges is that none of the three main Westminster parties made any gains in voting share. The Tories dropped marginally, Labour nose-dived and the Lib-Dims were lacklustre.
What is also fascinating though is the voting share of the what the pollsters like to call the “others”. Taking UKIP, BNP, the Greens, English Democrats, the SLP, the Christian Party, No2EU, Jury Team and Libertas, their combined vote was 519,520 or 42.3 percent of the total votes cast.
In terms, significantly more people voted for the “others” than they did the lead party – the Conservatives – which only took 24.5 percent of the vote. In fact, since all three Westminster parties only took 56.5 percent of the vote, there was very nearly parity between the established parties and the rest.
The next thing of interest is the “anti-EU” vote. Here, we can take UKIP, BNP, the English Democrats, the SLP and No2EU as the core vote. Collectively, they polled 400,487 which, at 32.7 percent share, far outstrips the winning Conservative vote. In other words, the Tories, with their pro-EU policy are firmly in the minority.
When the anti-Lisbon treaty vote is examined, however, we can add in the Tories, the Christian Party, Jury Team and Libertas. That brings the vote to 700,289 or 57 percent of the vote cast. It can be assumed, therefore, that in Yorkshire at least, the government has no mandate whatsoever to implement the Lisbon treaty…
Ireland’s government is looking at a no-confidence vote after losing at local polls.
Will the European political class take heed of what their voters told them, or will they waste their time blaming everyone but themselves? Time will tell.
In other election news, Lebanon stays out of Hezbollah’s political clutches.
Here’s a change I could believe in: Term Limits: Correcting Congress
The Founders did not intend government to be a career. They envisioned governing as a volunteer position for a set amount of time, after which it was time to go back home. They also debated limiting terms. Washington and Jefferson argued in support of term limits, while Madison and Hamilton opposed them. Not much came of the debate for about a hundred years, since members often voluntarily chose to leave Washington and returned home. Long-term Congressional incumbency was rare then, but the times have changed.
At present, there is only one term limit. The 22nd Amendment to the United States Constitution placed a limit of two terms on Presidents in 1951. There are no term limits for Vice Presidents or members of Congress, whether Representatives or Senators. Politicians, lobbyists and special interest groups continue to combat term limits for those offices.
Voters love the idea:
Voter initiatives of the 1990s are responsible for states adopting legislative limits. In an online column, Wall Street Journal columnist Steve Moore wrote that “limits on politicians’ time in office were enacted or reaffirmed by enormous margins nearly everywhere they were on the ballot in what might have been the loudest referendum for term limitation by voters ever.” The Republicans hopped on the bandwagon.
It takes a Constitutional Amendment:
States have tried to apply term limits to members of Congress. However, in 1995, the Supreme Court of the United States ruled that states cannot impose qualifications for prospective members of the U.S. Congress stricter than those specified in the Constitution. U.S. Term Limits, Inc. v. Thornton [514 U.S. 779] invalidated the Congressional term limit laws of 23 states. Congress failed to achieve the required two-thirds majority needed to pass a term limit constitutional amendment and the matter did not come up again.
“Term Limits would also hinder corruption and the effects that lobbyists have upon the government by breaking the established connections between lobbyists and the legislators in power, and by reducing the sway future campaign donations have,” Duncan Quirk wrote recently in the Huffington Post. “Establishing Term Limits would also promote a meritocracy by reducing the number of career politicians and the influence of political families, consequently curbing nepotism and the grooming of future politicians for office.”
Dan Greenberg, writing for the Heritage Foundation notes, “Term limits would change Congress. They are supported by large majorities of most American demographic groups; they are opposed primarily by incumbent politicians and the special interest groups which depend on them. Term limits would ameliorate many of America’s most serious political problems by counterbalancing incumbent advantages, ensuring congressional turnover, securing independent congressional judgment, and reducing election-related incentives for wasteful government spending.”
It’s a political class war:
We need new people in government with responsible, well thought ideas for the military and economic wars we face. Establishing term limits for members of Congress can make that happen, but it requires a Constitutional Amendment. Amendments happen when a national public movement demands it. It has been done before – Women’s Suffrage (19th Amendment, 1920), Poll Tax Barred (24th Amendment, 1964), and Voting Age set to 18 (26th Amendment, 1971) to name a few. It can happen again. Establishing Congressional term limits is not a red versus blue issue. It is a we the people versus they the governing class issue, and its time has come.
Where can I enlist?
Another Republican plot foiled. Voter ID Was a Success in November
Remember the storm that arose on the political left after the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the constitutionality of Indiana’s voter ID law last April? According to the left, voter ID was a dastardly Republican plot to prevent Democrats from winning elections by suppressing the votes of minorities, particularly African-Americans.
Since the election of Barack Obama, we haven’t heard a word about such claims. On Jan. 14, the federal appeals court in Atlanta upheld Georgia’s voter ID law.
The reasons for the silence about alleged voter suppression is plain. In the first place, numerous academic studies show that voter ID had no effect on the turnout of voters in prior elections. The plaintiffs in every unsuccessful lawsuit filed against such state requirements could not produce a single individual who didn’t either already have an ID or couldn’t easily get one.
What about this election?
The Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies (JCPES) found that black turnout in the 2008 election was at a historic high, having increased substantially from 2004. The total share of black voters in the national vote increased from 11% to 13% according to exit polls, with 95% of blacks voting for Mr. Obama.
On to the next persecution fantasy.