2012 has been an election year in the European Union’s Eastern neighborhood. The year started with presidential elections in Russia, followed by parliamentary elections in Armenia, Belarus, Georgia, and Ukraine. Even though the electoral saga continues in 2013 with presidential elections in the South Caucasus, the most critical elections are now behind us. What are the outcomes? Have elections brought the Eastern neighborhood closer to substantive, if not procedural, democracy?
Elections in Georgia surpassed expectations. The climate of polarisation that preceded election day laid the foundation for contested results and a prolonged stalemate. None of this happened. On the contrary, the ruling party admitted defeat and did not call demonstrations. Georgia’s parliamentary elections were won by the opposition (55% of votes, 84 out of 150 seats), incarnated by the Georgian Dream coalition. This came without violence, which is indeed unprecedented in Georgia since its independence. The de facto one-party rule in Georgia and the worrying authoritarian inclinations of the Saakashvili era came to an end. As such, elections in Georgia sent an important signal elsewhere in the Post-Soviet space and came to the great satisfaction of international organisations promoting democratic standards.
It is no news that elections in Belarus follow a well-written scenario designed by President Aleksander Lukashenko’s administration. In a state completely submitted to the ruling power, with the two main opposing parties boycotting the race, the September parliamentary elections were anything but competitive from the start. As usually in Belarus, it is not just the lack of competition that led the OSCE/ODIHR and other international observers to qualify the recent elections as contrary to many fundamental democratic standards.
The Ukrainian parliamentary elections’ day turned out to be calm and the voting process peaceful, mainly because the main actors played their winning cards well in advance.
Hopes that Dmitry Medvedev could constitute a more liberal and Western-oriented alternative to Vladimir Putin were dissolved ou dissipated in September 2011 when Medvedev announced his unconditional support to Putin’s candidacy. The predicted switch sowed disillusion. The re-election of Vladimir Putin for a 6-year term in March 2012 took place in an unprecedented context for Russia and constituted a nightmare for its leaders. Demonstrators in Russia’s cities massively protested against the system’s unaccountability, pervasive corruption and deteriorating socio-economic climate.
A lecture given by Charles Grant, Director of the Centre for European Reform, the prominent London-based think tank defining itself as “pro-European but not uncritical”, offers us a great opportunity to reflect on one of today’s most salient issues in the European Union (EU): the future of the UK in, or outside, the EU.
Nouvelle Europe transformed a business school class, mainly composed of non Europeans students, into an ephemeral European Parliament. A successfull and rewarding experience!
In the last 2012 French Presidential Election, the surge of populism constituted a major component of the political campaign. In the United States, the Tea Party has caught media and politicians’ attention alike, gaining a strong political voice, as the designation of Paul Ryan as Mitt Romney’s running mate suggests.
Over the past two years, the worldwide political scene has witnessed major challenges of political transitions in different territories that led to radical changes for countries. During this period Ankara and Washington relations have hit a rough patch on the road. Recent tensions in Syria, even creates more political issues in between these two key players. So what shall we expect next, especially giving the fact that a general election is approaching in the states.
As Europe, and especially the Euro area, seems to slowly be sinking into recession, the sun seems to shine brighter on the other side of the Atlantic. Indeed, the data for the third trimester of the American economy were recently published, and reached a nice and round 2%. Apart from being good news for the actual President, it is also a rather intriguing one for Europe. The crisis has lasted for so long on the old continent - five very unhappy years - that it is now known as the euro crisis. But how Euro(pean) is it really?