ARENA of El Salvador Regains a Majority
The parliamentary election of March 11, 2012 in El Salvador found ARENA, the leading right-wing political party, regaining a plurality of seats in the legislature, winning 33 of the 84 seats, ahead of the 31 seats won by FMLN, the leading left-wing party. ARENA had led the government until the elections of 2009 which gave FMLN the plurality in the legislature and, for the first time, the presidency, which had been held by ARENA since 1989. This week’s election saw ARENA regaining the position of the most seats in the legislature despite its fragmentation due to the formation of a new party, GANA, of former ARENA party members, who subsequently formed a ruling coalition with FMLN. GANA won 16 seats in this week’s election.
Russian Presidential Election Held, to Little Surprising Result
In the Russian presidential election held March 4, 2012, Prime Minister and former President Vladimir Putin was nominated by the ruling United Russia party, which has effectively held the presidency since its founding in 2001 due to its association with then-president Putin. It has also held a majority since the State Duma elections of 2003. Putin left the presidency in 2008 due to the limit of two consecutive four-year terms and was succeeded by his designated successor Dmitry Medvedev. Medvedev’s proposal that Putin be the nominee of United Russia for the 2012 presidential election led many observers to suggest that Putin would retake the presidency due to his continued high approval ratings in his position as Prime Minister and de facto leader of the country.
Slovak Parliamentary Election Signals Fall of Center-Right Coalition
In the Slovak parliamentary election of March 10, 2012, saw the rise to power of the social democratic Smer-SD party, which won 83 seats, a majority in the 150-seat parliamentary body. Despite previously controlling a plurality of the seats with 62 after the previous election in 2010, Smer-SD had seen the next four largest parties form a coalition after that election, led by the liberal conservative/Christian democratic SDKU-DS and comprising also the libertarian SaS, the social conservative/Christian democratic KDH and the centrist Most-Hid. The election was precipitated by the fall of the SDKU-DS-led coalition after a vote of no confidence and will lead to government by the now-majority Smer-SD party, whose leader, Robert Fico, has asserted his nation’s desire to maintain an important part of the eurozone.
Belizean General Elections Maintain Majority Party
In the general election of Belize, the only Central American nation in which English is the official language, held on March 7, 2012, the majority center-right United Democratic Party (UDP) retained its majority in the House of Representatives. Of the 31 seats in the House, UDP had held 25 seats after the 2008 elections, for a large majority, giving its leader Dean Barrow the position of Prime Minister since 2008. In this week’s election, UDP won 17 of the 31 seats, leaving it with a majority, though a much slimmer one. The Christian democratic People’s United Party, which had controlled the government prior to the 2008 elections, when it won only six of the 31 seats, won 14 of the 31 seats this time around, leaving it still in opposition, but much closer to control of the House.
Switzerland Goes to the Polls on Various Referenda
Switzerland held votes on March 11, 2012 on five national referenda on different subjects. By a vote of 66 percent, Swiss voters rejected a measure that would have required six weeks’ paid vacation for all citizens, up from the presently required four weeks, a measure that was supported by labor unions and the tourism industry but opposed by business groups. By a narrow margin of 51 percent, voters approved an initiative to require that no more than 20 percent of the homes in a given community can be sold as second homes, which was promoted as a way to encourage conservation of natural resources and prevent the rise of property prices. By a vote of 58 percent, voters rejected the reintroduction of the Fixed Book Price Agreement, which would have fixed the price of books sold to the public. Such laws are in place in many countries in Europe, though Switzerland repealed its version in 1999 before its re-enactment in 2009 and re-repeal by this vote. A measure to provide tax incentives to home buyers fell by a vote of 55 percent, despite the concern about low home ownership rates in Switzerland. Finally, 87 percent of voters approved the entry into the constitution of the present policy by which state gambling profits must be used for projects with public benefit.