Thailand Turmoil

Digestible Politics is back with daily posts helping you understand the world around you in a digestible manner!

Today, we shall be talking about what is happening in Thailand and the political crises currently happening…

The Prime Minister

The court in Thailand decided to get rid of their Prime Minister (Yingluck Shinawatra) because it was found she had illegally repositioned the national security chief of Thailand so he would have a different role in government. A further 9 members of the Thai government were told to resign.

Many people are angry about what has happened, believing the court is biased in favour of the opposition.

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What next?

Fears are increasing because it is believed that fights could break out between the ‘red shirts’ (those who support the Prime Minister) and those who are against the Prime Minister.

This political nuisance is nothing new in the country and many protesters have been protesting throughout the Prime Minister’s time in office, by occupying buildings and disrupting elections. So far, approximately 30 people have died during the protests.

Who is the leader of Thailand now?

Those ministers in cabinet who remain are currently leading the country with a caretaker Prime Minister (Niwatthamrong Boonsongphaisan) – Digestible Politics loves this name!

After disruption at a previous election earlier in the year, a new election is being held in July. However, there are fears that there will be even more protests to come in these elections.

The latest crises

A controversial amnesty bill (an amnesty is where you give a pardon to someone) was passed by the government, which could potentially lead to Thaksin Shinawatra (a former leader and also Yingluck’s sister) returning to politics without ever setting foot in jail.

Many thousands of people have showed their opposition to the bill, which was eventually dropped, but anti-government protests remain.

What are your thoughts on the protests in Thailand? Should they have ousted their Prime Minister?

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Ukraine Violence – Your Questions Answered!

Why are there protests?

The citizens are greatly concerned about the direction their country (Ukraine) is heading. It is not yet known whether Ukraine will be a country that will adhere to the rule of law or will be a country that is run like Russia in a very closed fashion.

The original trigger for the protests was the result of the President,  Viktor Yanukovych, rejecting the possibility of a stronger relationship with the European Union in favour of closer links with Russia, last year. A majority of the country’s population wants to integrate with Europe (as Ukraine is currently not a member state), so this was a major upset.

protest

2014

This week violence is at an all time high in Ukraine, however it is uncertain whether it started as a result of the government’s actions or the action of the people. Things were believed to be going well, especially as a deal had been made between the protesters and government that their parliament would discuss plans to alter the constitution to limit the president’s power. However, the speaker of the Ukrainian parliament rejected this, which subsequently lead to the protesters becoming increasingly violent.

Who is protesting?

Most protests have occurred in Western Ukraine and Kiev as these areas have people who most want to be part of the EU. Although there has been protests in the East many citizens are Russian speaking and not concerned. Although the opposition parties have been trying to direct the protesters, they do not seem to be very successful in gaining the trust of those protesting.

What is in it?

Russia wants to be a country that can challenge the large global economic powers, such as China, the USA and the EU, so seeks to create a close tie with Ukraine so the country can work towards that goal. However, alternatively, if Ukraine were to be part of the EU it is believed that their economy would rapidly grow.

Will Ukraine be divided?

Some say it will, due to the clear divide in those speaking Russian and those who do not. And as a result of the clear voting divide – where those in the East are voting for the current president who wishes to tie with Russia and those in the west who vote for the opposition.

Vote

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UK Unemployment Decreases To 7.1%

It has been announced that the level of unemployment in the UK now stands at 7.1%. The Office for National Statistics (ONS) said that in the 3 months leading to November (2013) 170,000 people gained employment and the number of people claiming Jobseeker’s Allowance (money unemployed people can get when searching for work) has decreased by 24,000.

In today’s Prime Minister Question time (http://www.parliament.uk/business/news/2014/january/prime-ministers-questions-22-january-2014/) the Labour Party leader, Ed Miliband, said he “welcomes the fall in unemployment” because “whenever an individual gets back into work, it’s good for them and good for their family.” However, he did argue that despite these seemingly good statistics the average annual wage had decreased since 2010 by £1,600.

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David Cameron, the Prime Minister, also commented on the decrease of unemployment calling the last quarter “the biggest ever quarterly increase in the number of people in work in our country.” George Osborne, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, also commented favourably on the increase employment at the World Economic Forum in Davos stating that the increase in employment shows his economic plan is working.

The decline of unemployment has been so rapid that experts had predicted these sorts of levels would be reached either later this year or even early 2015 (according to over half of the 28 economists polled) . Chris Williamson, chief economist at Markit, believes this is set to continue and unemployment will “continue to collapse”

The Bank of England had previously declared that they may increase interest rates from 0.5% when UK unemployment reaches 7%. The benefits of increase interest rates would mean that people get more money coming into their bank accounts and prices of houses will go down. However, an increase of interest rates would result in the cost of borrowing money to increase meaning that small businesses could suffer.

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Bangladesh Elections – Your Questions Answered

Tomorrow Bangladesh holds its 5th national election. The main two parties are the Awami League (Leader Sheikh Hasina) and the Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP Leader Khaleda Zia). These elections have come under the media spotlight after the BNP and its allies have decided to boycott the election.

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What is the risk?

– The Awami League is expected to win by a huge majority as a result of the opposition’s boycott. This will certainly undermine the credibility of the election. Violence is also expected to be an issue tomorrow as political workers from the parties clash.

Why has the Bangladesh Nationalist Party decided not to take part?

– The country has previously held elections with a neutral caretaker government to ensure that the election process is fair. But, in this election, the Awami League have refused to create a neutral caretaker government. This is believed to undermine the fairness of the election.

Impact of the boycott

– 154 out of the 300 seats are uncontested, which means the Awami League would win without trying. However, it is believed that continued protest and violent clashes will result from the election.

bangladesh_election--621x414

The main people

– The leader of both the Awami league and the BNP have been rivals for the past two decades as power shifted between the two parties. This election is likely to increase this tension dramatically. The third party’s (JP) leader H M Ershad has declared that the JP will also not be participating in the election furthering the complications.

What other issues are there?

– Violence, unemployment and poverty is high and afety and wage levels are low, which is not being helped by political instability. It is reported by The Asia Foundation that 75% of voters would like a neutral caretaker government during the election, so it will be interesting to see whether voter turnout will be on the same level as previous elections.

World Political implications

– Countries including the USA and the UK have refused to send observers to Bangladesh. This has weakened relations geopolitical and dented Bangladesh’s global image.

The election

– In the previous election there was a 70% voter turnout, but this is expected to be much less tomorrow. Although in 2008 the results were announced within 24 hours, the announcement of tomorrow’s results will depend on how peacefully the election is carried out.

What are your views on the elections? Should the Awami League set up a neutral caretaker government to maintain the peace?

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Kenyan MPs Salaries Cut

Public outcry has led to the Kenyan government to cut MP salaries by $45,000 to $75,000 (approximately 40%). Protesters called the Kenyan MPs ‘MPigs’ forcing this decision despite a previous decision in May where MPs saw their salary rise to $120,000.

However, MPs will receive a $58,000 car allowance for agreeing with the cut, as well as a large pension, an armed guard, a diplomatic passport and access to airport VIP lounges. The MPs believe that they deserve the high salaries, often providing financial help to their constituents. Although many would agree the MPs are hard working the public outrage stemmed from the fact that they were receiving well over the national average income of $1,800 per year.

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Should Kenyan MPs have their salary cut? If so what should be done with the money?

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Turkey Protests 2013 – Your Questions Answered

In Turkey, protests have broken out in the biggest unrest in a decade. Read on to find out why…

Why are they protesting?

Late May trouble began in protest to the proposed demolition of one of  Istanbul’s green spaces (Gezi Park), which has a huge symbolic value to many of the locals. The government planned to use the space to build a replica Ottoman-era barracks and a mosque on the site

Why did so many end up protesting?

Although the protest started off small the police agitated the locals when they tried to clear the protesters away with tear gas and water cannons. As a result, in early June, thousands of people joined in. The government has admitted to overreacting, but so far there have still been approximate 2,800 protesters injured, 800 arrests and 2 deaths.

protestturkey

Who are the protesters?

The protesters are far-ranging from young to old, rich to poor.

What do the protesters want?

Originally it was the stopping of building on Istanbul’s green spaces. Now, a committee of experts known as the Taksim Solidarity Platform has been established to negotiate with government. Their demands are to scrap the redevelopment of the green space, the sacking of many police officers, the prevention of excessive force and to release the arrested protesters.

What other factors could have led to protest?

Days before the protests a bill was passed in parliament to ban the late-night sale of alcohol in shops, which led to protesters holding up beer to Recep Tayyip Erdogan (their Prime Minister) as a gesture of defiance. There are also plans to place a constitutional ban on headscarfs, adultery and kissing in public.

What are your thoughts? Do you think they should be protesting? Is their police showing too much force?

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Thatcher’s Funeral Pictures

Thatcher’s funeral is currently underway and as pictures speak louder than words here are a few pictures of what has happened already:
thatcher1

 

thatcher2 thatcher3 thatcher4 thatcher5

thatcherprotest

What are your thoughts on Thatcher?

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Hungary’s Constitutional Controversy

What has happened?

Hungary has approved a series of amendments to their constitution that had been deemed unconstitutional in past rulings. As a result, this could mean increased power for the state, increased power for the conservative Fidesz party and remove/weaken a number of checks and balances. The Prime Minister of the country,  Viktor Orban has declared that the amendments are necessary if the country is to continue moving away from Hungary’s legacy of communism.

What are the amendments?

One amendment is to weaken the Constitutional Court meaning they will not have the power to remove laws already contained in the constitution. Another amendment, which other critics say weakens the Constitutional Court, is to lower the retirement age of judges in the country. Election campaigning has been restricted to the state-owned media, which has been argued to reduce freedom of expression in Hungary. A number of civil liberties (citizen freedoms) have been restricted and an anti-gay law has been created.

orban

How was the government allowed to implement these amendments?

The wining conservative coalition (Orban’s Fidesz party and the Christian Democratic People’s Party) gave the government a two-third majority in their parliament, giving them substantial power to pass these changes with little opposition.

Who has opposed the amendments?

The United States government and a number of European Institutions have shown their concern over the amendments stating that it will undermine the democracy of the country. Furthermore, human rights organisations (e.g. Amnesty International) have also shown opposition

In the country, the Socialist Party refused to vote and thousands of protesters turned out in the capital, Budapest.

How has the government reacted to opposition of the amendments?

Orban stated that he was “fully committed” to European standards, but he has no intention to not go ahead with the changes. His deputy prime minister, Gergely Gulyas, said that “It’s natural for the governing majority to make use of the authority it received in democratic elections”.

What are your views on the amendments? Has Hungary’s government overstepped it’s power? What if this was your government?

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Nicolas Maduro Wins Election In Venezuela

A couple of posts ago we wrote about the lead up to the election, and the tension felt between Nicolas Maduro and Henrique Capriles:

https://digestiblepolitics.wordpress.com/2013/04/14/venezuela-vote-to-elect-president/

The president of Venezuela has now been confirmed as Maduro after a close election battle. Protests by Capriles, and his party, were made but the National Electoral Council continued to defend Maduro’s narrow victory of 50.7%:49.1%.

Nicólas Maduro celebrates victory in election

Conflict broke out in the capital, Caracas, between protester and police declaring that the votes had been miscounted. Some students took to the streets to show their discontent, whilst others took to balconies and the streets hitting pots and pans in protest. The protests had been expected as Capriles had urged people to protest the results if Maduro won.

However, thousands of supporters also took to the street in support of Maduro’s win. Singing and dancing was seen and horns were heard. Maduro told his supporters that the result was “just, legal and constitutional” and that he looks forward to leading the country.

Here are some challenges currently Venezuela face:

  • Internal divisions: Society is deeply divided into those who see Chavez’s “Bolivarian revolution” as the solution to their problems and those who think it has been the country’s ruin.
  • Shortages: Everyday goods in short supply and power cuts common
  • Inflation: 25% inflation is threatening to stop all increases in the minimum wage.
  • Crime: One of the highest homicide and kidnapping rates and few crimes are  punished.
  • Prisons: Overcrowding and poor conditions have caused a series of deadly prison riots. Many of those in jail have been awaiting trial for years.
  • Relations with the US: Have been tense over the past decades as President Chavez engaged in anti-US rhetoric.

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Violent Protests For Education Reform In Chile

If you live in the UK you will probably know about the rising university tuition fees that caused large protests in London, and if you live in America you may have heard of the student protests to education cuts in New Jersey . In fact, wherever you liver, demand for education reform and changes to the system have the ability to mobilise large numbers of students.

In Chile, the protests to education reform are massive and have been continuing for 2 years, but the largest one in 2013 occurred yesterday. Approximately 100,000 people have been protesting in the streets of Santiago (the capital), even though the education system in Chile is said to be one the best in Latin America. The issue lies in the divide of education standards – the protesters are arguing that whilst the middle-class are receiving high class education standard, the lower classes are receiving a much poorer quality education.

Riot police in the city fired water guns, tear gas and used paintball guns to prevent the violent protest after being attacked by students. In total, 8 officers were injured and 109 people were arrested. One of the officers was hit by acid and is now in a critical condition.

Although the protest started off peaceful it soon became violent leading to widespread destruction of the city.

How can Chile progress and prevent further violence?

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