Global News Journal

Beyond the World news headlines

Greece’s grey election campaign turns voters to comedy

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Greek elections have traditionally been raucous, ebullient affairs, a true celebration of democracy in the country that gave birth to the concept. This year, the mood is noticeably more sombre ahead of Sunday’s vote. Colourful elections kiosks at main squares stand nearly empty, attracting few voters. The chat at cafes and on the Internet usually centres on voters’ disappointment with politics as a whole for failing to fight corruption and put the economy on a steady growth path.

“Our expectations were dashed,” said financial analyst George Kaisarios on the NewsTime blog. “The three pylons of our development strategy in the last decade, euro zone entry, Olympic Games and credit expansion, have been wasted. And unfortunately for all of us, there is nothing on the horizon to replace them.”

One mood damper for Greek voters is that Oct 4 election is another big battle between the political dynasties trapped in an endlessly revolving door of political rule, with few fresh faces to excite the crowds.

The heirs to Greece’s two most prominent political families are facing off for the third time. Socialist opposition leader George Papandreou seems set to wrestle power back from conservative New Democracy Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis after 5 years, according to the last published opinion polls.

Germany’s Greens celebrate victory in defeat

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Sunday’s federal election threw Germany’s Greens into a state of disarray — should they celebrate their best result ever or mourn the fact they failed to prevent a centre-right coalition and languished in fifth place?

“A Victory that is a Defeat”, “Triumph and Bitterness”, “Celebrations despite missing goal,” read newspaper headlines on Monday.

A reminder that Greece was not always democratic

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Visitors to Greece’s capital these days cannot escape the fact that a general election is on he way.  But it is not just the constant discussion on television and the excited newspaper headlines about a U.S.-style debate between front runners that lets you know.

Peppered across the city are political stalls, open for the public to come in and be persuaded to vote on Oct. 4 for whichever party is hosting them. The style ranges from a bench and chairs manned by two ageing communists in the northern suburbs to a rather slick structure in Athen’s central Syndagma Square touting the worth  of the ruling conservative New Democracy party. For some reason the latter was blaring out The Clash’s “Rocking the Casbah” on a recent sunny morning.

Iran’s Ahmadinejad jumps the gun on Afghan poll

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By Golnar Motevalli

On Friday, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad — accused by thousands of Iranians back in June of stealing Iran’s own disputed election — congratulated Afghan president Hamid Karzai on being re-elected.

It was a bit premature: even Karzai himself hasn’t actually claimed victory in last month’s presidential poll.

Less content, more Merkel in campaign posters

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With two weeks to go before Germany holds an election, Chancellor Angela Merkel’s conservatives have unveiled a new set of election posters, depicting Merkel, Merkel, and more Merkel.

Rather than campaigning on the issues highlighted in their election programmes, the Christian Democrats (CDU) and their Bavarian sister party the Christian Social Union (CSU) are keeping it simple and hoping to capitalise instead on the popularity of their leader, Germany’s first female chancellor.

German election TV debate: Live

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9:15 p.m. - The whole country has come to a standstill for this debate, it seems. It’s like during the World Cup soccer tournament — with “public viewing” arenas like this one in Berlin set up from The Black Forest to the Baltic. 9:00 p.m. - The sparks are flying here in the first half hour. The four interrogators, network heavyweights, are grilling both Merkel and Steinmeier and there’ s an unexpectedly good discussion going on here without a lot of long speeches. They’re debating about Opel right now — who deserves credit for saving the carmaker. Steinmeier said it would be “Mausetot” (dead as a mouse) if it had been up to Merkel and a centre-right government. Merkel counters — nonsense.

 

from Raw Japan:

Japan two-party system — long in arriving

Observers of Japanese politics who have long thought the country was ripe for a real two-party system are watching Sunday's election with a dual sense of incredulity -- surprise that it has taken so long to oust the long-ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP), and surprise that it finally looks like happening.

Media surveys show the decade-old opposition Democratic Party is set to win the poll for parliament's powerful lower house -- and probably by a landslide, ushering in party leader Yukio Hatoyama at the head of a government pledged to spend more on consumers and workers than the companies that benefited most from LDP policies.

from Raw Japan:

No Obama moment in Japan

Opinion polls show the opposition Democratic Party of Japan is set for a runaway victory in Sunday's general election, but voters are showing none of the enthusiasm that swept Barack Obama to the U.S. presidency last year.

When I talked to more than a dozen voters in a small town near Hiroshima, western Japan,  they were interested in the election and had a lot to say about it. And most were looking for change -- but not with a great deal of fervour.

Merkel softens up and talks baking, makeup and clothes

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Between running an election campaign and trying to save European carmaker Opel at the weekend, German Chancellor Angela Merkel was baking a currant cake and writing out a shopping list for her husband.

Merkel has sought in recent months to soften her business-like image by opening up about her life at home, hoping to reach out to more voters ahead of the federal election on September 27.

Obama calls German election but Merkel knows he’s got it wrong

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Barack Obama might have unrivalled expertise about the U.S. electorate. But the American president showed he’s something of a fish out of water when it comes to the complex world of German politics — where the seeming winners sometimes end up losing and the losers can end up in power with the right alliance.

Obama recently told Germany’s conservative Chancellor Angela Merkel to stop worrying about the Sept. 27 election: “Ah, you’ve already won. I don’t know what you always worry about,” Obama told her in comments captured by a German TV camera at the White House as the two were on their way to a joint news conference.

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