Spring Election Preview
All eyes might be on the United States this year for its November general election, but across the world contests are taking place that seriously shake up global politics.
On Friday, February 26, Ireland will head to the polls to select a new Taoiseach (yes, that’s really the name for the Irish head of state). Incumbent leader Enda Kenny of the center-right Finn Gael party called the election to renew his coalition government’s mandate. Kenny’s government was elected in the aftermath of the European financial crisis, which collapsed Irish banks and led to an IMF bailout. While current opinion polls have the Finn Gael with a comfortable, but slipping lead, the Labour Party, the junior member of the current government, is in deep trouble. It’s support has slipped to single digits in recent polling, with many voters fleeing to the left-wing Sinn Fein party. If the numbers hold, Kenny’s government will fall well short of the 50% needed to maintain its current coalition.
Peru will have its round of general elections on April 10th. Incumbent Ollanta Humala is ineligible to run due to constitutional term limits. In his place, there is a clear front runner: Keiko Fujimori, leader of the right-wing populist party Fuerza Popular. Fujimori is the daughter of ex-President Alberto Fujimori, who fled the country for Japan after corruption allegations. If Fujimori’s lead in the polls holds, she has pledged to kick start Peru’s economy, which has been hobbled by recently by the collapse in commodity prices.
The Philippines will hold its general election on May 9th. Like President Humala of Peru, President Benigno Aquino cannot run for reelection due to term limit restrictions. The current favorite candidate is former Aquino cabinet member Mar Roxas (a Penn graduate!). While the divisive issues such as the response to Typhoon Haiyan and the Visiting Forces Agreement signed with the United will play a central role in the campaign, all candidates have supported the Aquino administration’s forceful response to China’s maritime activities in the South China and West Philippine Seas.