Oleg Buklemishev.

Vladimir Putin has for a third time taken office as Russian president. Though, he is coming back to a country in a very different mood, says Oleg Buklemishev, Economist and Advisor to opposition leader Mikhail Kasyanov. “The scene of the inauguration car passing through an empty city is quite symbolic”. Buklemishev is convinced that the authorities’ violence towards mostly peaceful protesters shows that “intolerance towards dissent will only increase during new Putin term. Instead of bridging the national divide he has clearly chosen to polarize society even more”. Her believes that even the “weakest” of Medvedev’s “political reform” can be revoked in this environment (more…)

With almost 98 percent of the votes counted, social liberal incumbent Boris Tadić, Democratic Party (DS) received 25.33 percent of the votes, while ex-nationalist Tomislav Nikolić from Serbian Progressive  Party (SNS) got 24.99 percent in the presidential elections on May 6, reported b92.net. It came as no surprise that these are the two rivals that will face each other in the second round on May 20. Serbia won EU candidate status in March and both parties favor EU-membership.

The presidential candidate of the Democratic Party of Serbia (DSS) Vojislav Kostunica won 7.44 percent of the votes, while the candidate of the United Regions of Serbia (URS) Zoran Stankovic scored 6.56%, reported the Serbian government on its home page srbija.gov.rs. The Hajlmarson Foundation is cooperation with both these parties. (more…)

The Croatian President Ivo Josipovic last week joined European leaders who will not attend a Yalta summit in mid-May. The Croatian president’s office said that one of the reasons for the decision is suspected human rights violations in Ukraine. The news comes after a foreign ministry spokesman in Ukraine said on April 30, that the presidents of Austria, the Czech Republic, Germany, Italy and Slovenia has informed Kiev that they will not attend the Yalta meeting of Central and Eastern European leaders on May 11-12.

The boycott of the Yalta meeting reflects mounting concern over the hunger striking opposition leader and the treatment of her in jail. Yulia Tymoshenko was sentenced last fall to seven years imprisonment for abusing power while she was in office. She has denied the allegations.  (more…)

Norman Quijano, Mayor of San Salvador and up for reelection.

Sunday March 11, legislative and municipal elections will take place in El Salvador. Opinion polls confirm the decline of the support of  president Mauricio Funes (FMLN) and his government. A survey carried out by Mitofsky in February 2012 shows an increasing mistrust in the Government, as no improvement has been made, rather the contrary. The positive approval rates of the president has fallen 17 percent, and currently six out of ten Salvadorians believe that Funes has lost control over the Government and that he is also  losing control of the country.

When  president Mauricio Funes assumed the presidency 35  percent of the respondent in the polls believed that he didn’t have control over the country, today the aqivalent number is 60 percent. In November 2009, 22 percent estimated that the Funes Government was not what they had expected, now a 62 percent shares this opinion. (more…)

Henrique Capriles, a governor, former legislator and founder of the center-right Justice First party, February 12, 2012, won the nomination of a broad coalition of Venezuela’s opposition parties – called the Democratic Unity Panel. Mr. Capriles will face off in October elections against Hugo Chávez, since 13 years the authoritarian leader of Venezuela. “Analysts believe Venezuela’s oft-divided opposition, which for the moment has put its differences aside, has the best chance to oust the president at the polls— if it is able to stay united”, writes the Wall Street Journal.

Following the election Henrique Capriles was slandered by state media stating, among other things that “This is our enemy, the Zionism that Capriles today represents”. “Zionism, along with capitalism, are responsible for “90% of world poverty and imperialist wars.” (more…)

In mid-November a delegation from the Jarl Hjalmarson Foundation visited Cairo and Alexandria. The purpose of the visit was to research possibilities for future cooperations in the region. Thomas Gür, who was part of the delegation, describes the complex political landscape that reveals itself when the Arab Spring turns into fall and winter.

When we visited Egypt the country faced its first round of elections to the parliament’s lower house – an election which was held in approximately a third of the constituencies on 28 November. The second round of elections took place in mid-December and the third will be held early January. Another three rounds of elections will later be held to the parliament’s upper house in March of 2012.

The complexity of the electoral process is a result of an Egyptian election law which states that there must be a judge present at every polling station to ensure that the process is conducted in a right manner. And since there are three times as many polling stations as there are judges in the country, elections to parliament’s two chambers are held in three rounds each.  After the elections a committee of 100 people will be appointed to write Egypt’s new constitution.

This process is tainted with serious weaknesses – not least as the results of each election are made public which influences the following elections. The complexity of it however reflects that these are the first free elections since before the military coup in 1952. (more…)

Following the trial against leading Belarusian human rights defender Ales Byalyatski, the Council of the European Union decided on December 16, 2011, to reinforce restrictive measures against the Belarusian regime and those involved in repressions against the democratic opposition and civil society. The Council added two more people – who have been involved in the trial of human rights defender Ales Byalyatski – to the list of those subject to an asset freeze and a ban from entering the EU.

Meanwhile, December 19, Belarusians marked the one year anniversary of the presidential elections of 2010, which ended in rare mass protests and a exceptional wave of repressions; a ruthless crackdown including targeted harassment of the opposition, independent journalists, as well as the rest of the Belarusian civil society.

On the eve of the election December 19, 2010, nearly 50,000 people gathered in the city centre of Minsk, as President Alexandr Lukashenka was declared the winner of a fraud-tainted ballot, in which each of his nine rivals was awarded less than 3 percent of the vote. At least 700 peaceful demonstrators were brutally arrested as authorities cracked down on the protest. Two of the oppositional candidates in the presidential election, are still in prison – Andrei Sannikau and Mikola Statkevitj.

EPP Condemns Russian Elections

December 9th, 2011   Articles | News | Russia

Walburga Habsburg Douglas, Chairman of the EPP and likminded groups in the OSCE PA, presented the resolution.

The European People’s Party (EPP) calls upon the European Union, the OSCE and the Council of Europe to declare the State Duma elections in Russia, on 4th December 2011, as non-free and not meeting some OSCE commitments on generally accepted democratic standards. The mass arrests follwing the elections are also critiziced.

In a statement dated December 8, 2011, the EPP calls upon the European Union, the OSCE and the Council of Europe to monitor the presidential elections in Russia [ March 4, 2012] carefully.

The EPP points to the fact that the Russian authorities persistently refused  “to register new political parties under the pretext of various technical formalities”.

The EPP declares that Russian authorities must “stop non-compliance with their obligations in the sphere of human rights and democracy under the framework of the OSCE and CoE, changing the rules and practices of the process of registering political parties, in order to provide for unimpeded access for political forces to the presidential elections of 2012”.

Read the EPP resolution about the Russian elections

The European People’s Party (EPP) calls upon the European Union, the OSCE and the Council of Europe to declare the State Duma elections in Russia, on 4th December 2011, as non-free and not meeting some OSCE commitments on generally accepted democratic standards. The mass arrests follwing the elections are also critiziced.

In a statement dated December 8, 2011, the EPP calls upon the European Union, the OSCE and the Council of Europe to monitor the presidential elections in Russia [ March 4, 2012] carefully. The EPP declares that Russian authorities must “stop non-compliance with their obligations in the sphere of human rights and democracy under the framework of the OSCE and CoE, changing the rules and practices of the process of registering political parties, in order to provide for unimpeded access for political forces to the presidential elections of 2012”.

Read the EPP resolution about the Russian elections

Protests and Arrests in Russia

December 7th, 2011   Articles | Russia

For the past few days thousands of people have gathered to demonstrate against the result of the Duma elections in Russia on December 4.  At least 15 000 people gathered in the city centre of Moscow on Monday, December 5; yesterday on Tuesday, December 6, thousands of people gathered not only in Moscow but also in St. Petersburg, as well as in some other large cities; all this makes it the first mass opposition protest in Russia since 1993.

Opposition supporters shouted “Putin is a crook and thief” referring both to the alleged election fraud and to widespread complaints that United Russia party is one of the major reasons for Russia’s widespread corruption. They also shouted “Russia without Putin” in a tense stand-off with hundreds of pro-Kremlin youth Nashi (Ours) and young men with emblems of United Russia’s youth wing (the Young Guards). More than 550 people were detained in the capital on Tuesday evening. About 250 people who tried to hold an unsanctioned rally were arrested in St. Petersburg. Another 25 protesters are said to have been detained at a similar protest in the city of Rostov-na-Donu. (more…)