On December 4 voting to elect the State Duma of the Russian Federation took place. Facing the collapse of public confidence and support, the ruling group was forced to organize the most dirty and fraudulent elections in the post-Soviet history. Campaign and the voting itself were accompanied by an unprecedented level of violations and abuses by the authorities. Manipulations of the public opinion, pressure on citizens, independent observers and members of election commissions, buying and rigging votes were undertaken at a scale unseen before. .
JHS is publishing a new report in cooperation with the think-tank Freedom Research Association on how the refugee crisis is covered in Turkish media. Read more
The economic problems are so long gone in Venezuela that debts have become a real threat to the country. The value of the currency decreases rapidly and inflation is going up. Foreign imports have ceased, resulting in empty shelves in stores around the country. Read more
On 21-24 November, the leadership of the oppositional National Independance Party of Azerbaijan visited Brussels, to build contacts, knowledge and exchange ideas.
The visit program included meetings with Moderate Party members of the European Parliament, the Swedish Ambassador to the EU, deputy secretary general of the European People’s Party and the European External Action Service’s expert on Azerbaijan. Some of the issues on the agenda were the challenges regarding democratic development and freedom of the media in Azerbaijan,and the conflict over Nagorno-Karabach.
The political situation in Argentina has been turbulent in the last year. In the legislative elections of June 2009, the opposition won majority in the House of Representatives and has over the last year been characterized by president Cristina Kirchner’s attempt to remain in power. When visiting Sweden in March, Carolina Poli Palazzo, Advisor to an Argentinian local politician described an Argentina which has been subject to political misgovernment but which is finally on its way back – if the opposition manages to build a stable coalition.
The presidential form of government in Argentina not only results in a different role and impact of the legislative branch but also in few coalitions formed between parties compared to the Swedish form of government. As legislative elections are mid term elections, when majorities are changed in both chambers it doesn’t change the government whatsoever.
The two-party structure that has been predominant in the last sixty years came to an end in the 2001 political and economic crisis. Today, the system is largely based on four main parties (which have subdivisions and, in some cases, fragile alliances). This system has a direct impact on the National Congress and is likely to have an impact on the 2011 presidential elections. (more…)
The Swedish government has decided to strengthen the Swedish presence in the Caucasus and in the Balkans. Today it was decided that the current offices in Pristina (Kosovo), Tbilisi (Georgia), Chisinau (Moldova) and Tirana (Albania), that up until this point have been administered from neighboring embassies, will be upgraded to embassies.
In Western Africa, offices will also be turned into embassies in Bamako (Mali), Ouagadougou (Burkina Faso) and in Monrovia (Liberia). The same goes for the office in Kigali (Rwanda), La Paz (Bolivia), and in Phnom Penh (Cambodia). Along with this decision the Swedish government has decided that the embassies in Bratislava, Dakar, Dublin, Ljubljana, Luxemburg and in Sofia will be closed.
– Within the framework of close cooperation between the EU member states, there are great possibilities to develop new ways of bilateral contacts in the future, says the Swedish Foreign Minister Carl Bildt in a comment published by the Foreign Ministry.
– To turn the Secretariats’ into embassies is a step towards, supporting the Swedish development efforts within certain countries. It is also a step on the road to further strengthening our long-term cooperation with these countries. A stronger presence is crucial for an effective collaboration with superior results, according to Gunilla Carlsson, Swedish Minister for International Development Cooperation.
The Russian economist and reform politician Yegor Gaidar suddenly passed away on December 16, at the age of 53. The son of an admiral entered Russian history and world politics in the early nineties, as the brief prime minister of the Yeltsin government that was about to get the post Soviet economy back on its feet after the collapse of the Soviet Union.
This granted him the admiration of the world but hardly the love of the people. The so called shock therapy, associated with the visiting economist and colleagues Anders Åslund and Jeffrey Sachs, implied a necessary but brutal transition from the waste of the planned economy to market economic principles. However, contrary to the common belief among senior Soviet officials and the aims of Mikhail Gorbachev, it soon turned out that the Soviet economy was so dysfunctional that reform was beyond reach.
The break from the old was crucial to the rescue team. However, the immediate positive effects were scarce. In addition, the liberalization was further restrained by the still communistically dominated political establishment around Yeltsin. Due to the long dictatorship there was an imminent lack of entrepreneurs who could have been able to shoulder a renewal. Instead, Oligarchs and corruption flourished. (more…)