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Ireland awaits general election results

The incumbent Taoiseach (Prime Minister) Leo Varadkar’s Fine Gael party faces a tough election due to housing and social services failures.

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By AfricaLegalNews Political Desk

The Republic of Ireland went to the polls on Saturday 8 February 2020 and the results are expected on Sunday.

The incumbent Taoiseach (Prime Minister)  Leo Varadkar’s Fine Gael party faces a tough election due to housing and social services failures.

Mr Varadkar, the son of Indian immigrants, however, made history by being Ireland’s youngest leader when he came into office in 2017. He has also been the republic’s first openly gay prime minister.

An Irish Times MRBI poll conducted in early February showed Fine Gael in third place at 20 per cent. The polls were led by leftist and former Irish revolutionary militia linked party Sinn Fein at 25 per cent) and Fianna Fail at 23 per cent.

The other main parties contesting the election include The Green Party, Labour Party and People Before Profits.

Mr Vradkar’s government’s term witnessed some historic moments for Ireland, including the Brexit negotiations, the Irish border talks and a referendum on abortion held in 2018.

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Cities and Industry

Indigenous people protest Brazil’s oil and fossil industry

REPSOL is one of Spain’s largest and iconic to the fossil fuel industry which the protestors felt was wreaking havoc worldwide

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Indigenous representatives from five different peoples and activists from 350.org held a protest on Sunday in front of the headquarters of REPSOL in Madrid, Spain. The protest was meant to draw attention to an oil leak that has been polluting the beaches and contaminating sea life across 11 states in Brazil since October

REPSOL is a global company operating in all areas of the oil and gas industry. The business is one of Spain’s largest and iconic to the fossil fuel industry which the protestors felt was wreaking havoc worldwide. In a statement, the protestors stated that whether through oil spill disasters or through the end-use of the fossil fuels, companies like REPSOL were the main culprits of the climate crisis.

They stated that operations from large companies threaten ecosystems, livelihoods and the health of indigenous communities worldwide. The government of Brazil has reportedly been insisting on expanding the oil frontier.

The protestors emphasised their cultural links to the environment. One of the protest leaders, Andreia Takua,  President of the National Council of Indigenous Health said, “We indigenous people feel that fossil fuels expansion needs to be stopped. Fossil fuels pollute the soil, the water, the air. They turn nature into a commodity. For us indigenous people, our environment is sacred, it cannot be sold. So, when a part of our land or our ocean is auctioned off to the highest bidder, it feels as if a part of us was removed. It feels as if we had lost part of our spirit. We need our oceans clean and our forests intact. We want fossil fuel companies to stop drilling off the coasts of Brazil and we want the Brazilian government to immediately stop auctioning off new oil fields for exploration” 

The protest also highlighted challenges faced by water sources in Latin America. Ninawa Huni Kui  President of the Huni Kui Peoples Federation and member of the Council of the Indigenous peoples of the Brazilian Amazon remarked, “Oil drilling contaminates groundwater. In the state of Acre, like in many other regions where people live on the river banks or close to them, the contamination of fish ends up making people sick. Water becomes undrinkable, not only for people, but for animals as well. But even if you didn’t eat fish or drink water, in the Amazon, because of the humidity, the air itself brings down the contaminated water through the rain. Over the past three months only, 12 children died of water contamination. The same way they pollute the environment, fossil fuels are also a source of corruption for communities everywhere they are found. When oil companies start drilling, the first thing that happens is that members of the community are co-opted. Fossil fuel companies try to get the support of our communities, saying they will create jobs for young people, with support from the state administration. This creates conflict in the community. It’s what fossil fuels do, they disarticulate communities”.

 CoP25 has seen protests from indigenous groups, environmental activists such as Extinction rebellion as well as youths under the Fridays For Future banner.

Nicole Oliveira the Managing Director of 350.org Latin America added, “Indigenous leaders and young activists from Latin America are present in Madrid to remind governments of the world that our fight for climate justice is stronger and more urgent than ever. As the momentum for a transition to socially fair energies keeps growing, it becomes harder and harder for politicians and fossil fuel companies to ignore the pressure. COP25 needs to be another important milestone on this journey.”

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Europe

Algeria and the UK: 2 different States in Watershed Elections for Global Law and Politics

These elections had significant potential impacts on constitutional law and global relations.

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By Africa Legal News Political Desk

Voters in two different parts of the world, Algeria in Africa and the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland in Europe went to the polls on the same Thursday in December 2019 in watershed elections. These elections had significant potential impacts on constitutional law and global relations. In Algeria, the vote occurred against the backdrop of widespread protest. In the United Kingdom, the future of the kingdom in Europe was in focus following the never-ending Brexit debate.

Algeria: Vote amidst the storm

Algeria passed through some of its tumultuous times in 2019. In the begging of the year, long-time President  Abdelaziz Bouteflika stepped down amidst protests at his panned third time run for office.

Over 24 million people were eligible to vote for the President.

Five candidates were contesting for the Presidency. The protestors viewed these candidates as part of the establishment. The candidates included two former prime ministers under, Abdelmadjid Tebboune and Ali Benflis. The other candidates are Azzedine Mihoubi (former Minister of Culture), Abdelkader Bengrina (former Minister of Tourism) and head of the El Moustakbal Front, Abdelaziz Belaïd.

Anti-election protest in Algeria

Protestors, including the most significant Islamic party, were calling for a boycott of the elections amid concerns that they will be a continuation of the old regime.

The United Kingdom: A Brexit Election

The election in the United Kingdom was mostly about Brexit, though there were social issues at play. The UK voted to leave the European Union. Brexit has since claimed the  of two Prime Ministers (David Cameron and Theresa May).

Prime Minister Boris Johnson was, however, one of the vital Brexit campaigners. The same can also be said of his main contestant Jeremy Corbyn. However, Corbyn indicated that he was open for another referendum.

The election for the 650-seat House of Commons pitted several parties. These were the ruling Conservatives led by the incumbent Prime Minister Boris Johnson, the Labour Party led by democratic socialist Jeremy Corbyn, the Liberal Democrats (Jo Swinson), Green Party of England and Wales (co-led by Jonathan Bartley and Sian Berry) and the Brexit/Reform Party led by Nigel Farage. Other critical political entities are Nicola Sturgeon’s Scottish National Party which contested in Scotland and Adam Price’s Plaid Cymru in Wales.

Overview

The two elections may have seemed like one issue elections (Bouteflika or Brexit). However, there were several simmering social issues on the ground.

Algeria is one of the top oil and gas producers in Africa. However, this wealth is not reflected in society, as several people continue to suffer from poverty and unemployment. The World Bank reports that as much as 25% of the population live in poverty.

So instead of being single-issue elections, it is worthwhile to view the two elections holistically; as political events that have a real effect on the lives of mostly, the poor.

In the UK as well, like the rest of the Western world, people are awakening and demanding actions on the environment and climate change. Some of the candidates making climate change their key issue. Furthermore, the National Health Service and taxation also remained critical issues.

As we awaited the results, these two were indeed watershed elections, in more ways than one.

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