This weekend around the World people are voting in important elections. In Brazil voting takes place for the successor to President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva with his former Chief of Staff, Dilma Rousseff, widely expected to win but there seems to be uncertainty over whether she will get the 50% necessary to avoid a run-off election at the end of the month although a poll at the end of last month had her on 52%.
In Sarajevo people are out voting for the Parliament, assemblies in the two semi-autonomous regions and for a number of Presidents. The Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights, with the unfortunate acronym for such an important body of ODIHR, of the OSCE has observers in the country for the elections. The long term observers report can be found here and we will find out their views on the conduct of the elections on Monday. It is hoped that the elections will result in new leadership for the country which is still racked by ethnic tensions and corruption and has 43% unemployment.
In Latvia elections were held yesterday and it seems the government who, faced with serious economic difficulties because of the World economic troubles, were honest with the people and took hard decisions and have been re-elected possibly with a majority for itself. With one party in government and one major opposition are we seeing the shake out of the hundreds of parties established after the end of Soviet occupation of Latvia and a move toward a more normal European model of fewer larger parties? The OSCE had observers at the elections and said they complied with expected norms.
I’ll end this trip round the World in Germany where they were not voting yesterday but this weekend marks the 20th year since the reunification of the country. The fall of the Berlin wall and the reunification of Germany, together with the end of the Soviet occupation of Europe was the biggest most important event of my lifetime. I too will raise a glass to celebrate getting back our continent. There was much said about the state of the German economy in the last 20 years but it seems to be roaring ahead now am I think the troubles it has faced have been as a result of the costs of reunification. I’ll just end saying that Margaret Thatcher was against the reunification of Germany, another example where she was wrong about Europe.
UPDATE: Finally, to round up my tour of the World, here’s a video of a presentation to the Swiss Parliament on agricultural tariffs, (hat tip Harrys Place) its the way he tells them: