Job Cuts In Greece

The Greek parliament is holding a vote today on a proposal which could lead to the unemployment of 15,000 state employees. The reason for the proposals is to help the country to reduce costs and receive more bailout money, but there have been a series of protests in opposition to the job cuts from trade unions (groups representing those who may lose their job). Adedy, the civil service trade confederation, and the private sector GSEE union called a demonstration outside parliament late on Sunday afternoon against “those politicians who are dismantling the public service and destroying the welfare state”.

greekjobcuts

If the law passes it would undermine the constitutional guarantee that the civil servants’ jobs would be for life. Although the sector has been very large since the 1980s it is argued that the dismissal of the workers would be against their constitutional rights. Those who have broken rules will be the first to be dismissed, but a lot of other workers are to be replaced by younger employees.

It is estimated that if the law goes ahead unemployment will rise further than the 27% it is currently at. The proposals are predicted to pass with a fairly comfortable conservative majority supporting Prime Minister Antonis Samaras.

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Iceland Elections – Your Questions Answered

Today Iceland held a vote in their elections where a defeat is expected for the current coalition government, who first made it into power after economic difficulties in the country. The two parties who were partly blamed for the economic difficulties are expected to form a coalition to replace the retiring prime minister, Johanna Sigurdardottir. The two centre-right parties are eurosceptic; this could prevent the government’s efforts to secure EU membership.

Who Is Competing? 

The Progressive Party, normally thought of as Iceland’s third party, has grown in popularity as a result of its opposition to the government’s to use the people’s money to repay British people/banks for money lost in their banking collapse. Their leader, Sigmundur David Gunnlaugsson, hopes to get approximately 20% of their debt waived by foreign company’s whom they own money too.

The Independence Party, their conservative party, fell from power in 2009 after being the key party since after World War 2. The main reason for this was because much of the blame of the economic crises was put on the party and their leader, Geir Haarde, was put on trial – but he was only found guilty of minor offence. Currently, their leader, Bjarni Benediktsson, hopes for increased economic growth in the country by encouraging investment and reducing taxes.

The current coalition, between the Social Democratic Alliance and the Left-Green Movement, are low on opinion polls and unlikely to gain re-election. Bright Future, a pro-European party, and the Pirate Party, a pro-digital rights party, are also both low on opinion polls.

Iceland-sm20130427003955

Why Is The Current Government Not Popular?

The simple answer is because they are blamed for the economic collapse 2008-2009. Since then the country has experienced some economic growth and unemployment has dipped below 5%. Unfortunately, Iceland still has high debts and owes a lot of money to other countries and companies. The governing coalition made matters worse by declaring that they would pay of these debts using the citizen’s money.

The EU

The residents of Iceland wanted to join the EU after the economic crises because it is seen as a protection for the country from future economic difficulties. Although the government did start some negotiations they have been slow and nothing much has come from it.

Their Electoral System

They have a 63 member parliament (Althingi). The members are elected proportionally, which means seat are elected proportionally to the number of votes received. A key aspect of a proportional electoral system is that it prevents any one party gaining too much power (a tyranny of the majority), but can lead to smaller, more extremist, parties gaining representation.

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Iraq Election

In Iraq provincial (regional) elections have been held for the first time since American soldiers left the country in 2011. In the lead up to the election there was violence throughout the country, which has led to the Shia-led government postponing a couple of other provincial elections.

At present, Iraqi troops are ensuring there is stability in the country. Dozens of people have been killed by bombings in the last week alone, as well as two polling stations have been attacked. So far 14 people who have decided to stand for election have been murdered, but the Prime Minister (Nouri al-Maliki) told citizens to continue voting in defiance of “enemies of the political process”.

Iraq_Top

Approximately 14 million Iraqi citizens are able to vote for the 8000+ candidates competing for the 378 council seats. In the capital, voters were searched twice before they could cast their vote and elsewhere security forces patrolled. One student, Abdulsahib Ali Abdulsahib, said that “security is the most important problem that all of them should be working for; without this, life would be so difficult,”

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Somalia’s al-Shabab – Your Questions Answered

Who are they?

  • al-Shabab means ‘The Youth’ in arabic
  • They are affiliated with al-Qaeda
  • They formed as a young radical section of the Islamic Courts Union (Sharia courts established to rival the Transitional Federal Government) in 2006, as they fought Ethiopian forces who had entered Somalia to back the weak interim government
  • Foreign jihadists (islamic militants) were reported to have helped al-Shabab
  • Places ruled under al-Shabab are subject to strict Sharia law e.g. stoning a women to death if she has committed adultery

Does al-Shabab control much of Somalia?

  • They are mainly in control of rural areas – however, they did have control over some towns and cities in the past (in August 2011 al-Shabab were forced out of the capital, Mogadishu) 
  • One port city, Kismayo, had been vital for al-Shabab to bring in supplies to areas under their control – they no longer have control of the port
  • Although this has been a big victory for the government and the African Union frequent suicide attacks are made by al-Shabab in the capital
  • They are increasingly using guerrilla warfare against the forces of the African Union
  • Since, Kenyan and Ethiopian forces have taken control over parts of the country to regain order

SOMALIA MILITIA

Who is the leader of al-Shabab?

  • The head of al-Shabab is Ahmed Abdi Godane, but is known as Mukhtar Abu Zubair 
  • However, there is some evidence to suggest his leadership is being put under pressure from a large southern breakaway section of the group
  • The previous leader, Moalim Aden Hashi Ayro, was killed by a US airstrike in 2008

al-Shabab’s foreign links

  • Joined al-Qaeda in 2012, but have been working together for longer
  • It is believed that members of al-Qaeda who are retreating from areas, such as Afghanistan, will soon seek refuge with al-Shabab in Somalia

Attacks by al-Shabab, other than in Somalia

  • In the Ugandan capital, Kampala, they committed a double suicide that killed 76 people (they were watching the 2010 world cup football final)
  • Attacks in 2002 on Israeli targets near Mombassa in Kenya

Who backs al-Shabab?

  • Eritrea, an independent state in North East Africa, is an ally, but it denies that it supplies al-Shabab with weapons
  • Eritrea dislike Ethiopia

Somalia

Somalia is pretty much a failed state. They have not had an effective government for about 20 years and have been subject to constant war. As a result, al-Shabab easily won support among Somalia’s promising security – something the citizens welcomed!

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US Unwilling To Recognise Venezuelan Election Results

The American government is unwilling to recognise the recently elected Nicolas Maduro as the new president of Venezuela, who was elected earlier this week – https://digestiblepolitics.wordpress.com/2013/04/16/nicolas-maduro-wins-election-in-venezuela/. John Kerry, the US Secretary of State, said that due to the controversy over the results he believed a recount of the votes would be necessary.

Henrique Capriles, Maduro’s challenger for the presidency, had originally requested a recount of the votes after he believed that Maduro had illegally won the election. However, thus far, the Venezuelan National Electoral Council has refused to allow a recount with the Supreme Court agreeing that there was no legal basis for it. Maduro, as a result, has accused Washington of interfering with Venezuela affairs. Similarly, the ex-president of Venezuela, Hugo Chavez, accused the US of imperialism when he was alive.

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Same-Sex Marriage Legalised In New Zealand

The New Zealand parliament has passed a bill with a fairly large majority (77:44) in favour of same-sex marriage, the first country in the continent of Oceania to do so. The bill amends the 1955 marriage act and led to celebrations across the country, particularly in the capital, Wellington. One way they expressed their happiness was by singing a New Zealand love song called “Pokarekare Ana”. The Labour MP who introduced the bill (Louisa Wall) said that the bill enabled “declaration of love and commitment to a special person”.

However, according to polls, approximately  one-third of citizens opposed the bill – most notably, christian lobby groups. Bob McCoskrie, the founder of one christian lobby group, Family First, said the amendment to the marriage act undermined the traditional concept of marriage. Whilst Colin Craig, the conservative party leader, stated that New Zealand is “seeing the politicians make a decision… that the people of this country wouldn’t make”.

Worldwide, same-sex marriage has been on the agenda. We recently made a post on the legalisation of same-sex marriage in Uruguay and another post on the ‘ban’ of same-sex marriage in Hungary. In Australia, their neighbouring country, they voted overwhelmingly against a similar bill. The UK continue to not allow same-sex marriage, although civil partnerships are allowed, and in the United States nine states have legalised it (but it seems more states will soon follow). In total there are now 13 countries who have legalised same-sex marriage:

marruage

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