Home > Uncategorized > Politics this week: 4th – 10th November 2006

Politics this week: 4th – 10th November 2006

The Democrats did better than expected in America’s mid-term elections. They handily won the House of Representatives, ousting the Republicans who have controlled the chamber since 1995 and positioning Nancy Pelosi as the first female speaker, and seemed to have secured the Senate by a narrow margin. See article

With the issue of Iraq prominent in the elections, a prominent casualty of the Republican rout was Donald Rumsfeld, who resigned as defence secretary. Earlier, the Army Times, the voice of America’s troops, had called for him to go. George Bush nominated Robert Gates, a former head of the CIA, as his new defence chief. See article

Democrats also did well in the various governors’ races, giving them control of the majority of governorships for the first time in 12 years. Colorado and Ohio, seen as bellwether states in the 2008 presidential race, were among the states they picked up. They also won Massachusetts, making Deval Patrick the second black man to be elected to a governor’s office. There was consolation for the Republicans in California, where Arnold Schwarzenegger romped to victory, and Florida, where Charlie Crist won, but only after he embarrassed George Bush by ducking out of a campaign rally with him. See article

Plenty of state initiatives were on the ballot. South Dakota‘s voters rejected stringent restrictions on abortion that had been passed by the legislature and which anti-abortion advocates were hoping would provide a test case in the Supreme Court. Arizona passed a raft of measures targeting illegal immigrants, such as making English the state’s official language, but produced a surprise by becoming the first state to reject a constitutional ban on gay marriage. Measures banning same-sex nuptials were passed elsewhere. See article

Political parties and Maoist rebels in Nepal reached a peace agreement. The Maoists will submit to United Nations supervision of their fighters and weapons, and will join an interim government. See article

Thailand‘s authorities, seeking to pacify its troubled Muslim-majority south, freed 92 southerners detained over the 2004 Tak Bai protest, in which the police and army killed more than 80 Muslims.

A suicide bomber killed more than 40 soldiers at an army training camp in north-west Pakistan. The army blamed the attack on militants taking revenge for the bombing of an Islamic college in a nearby tribal area on October 30th, which killed 80.


Protesters took to the streets of Taiwan‘s capital to demand the resignation of the president, Chen Shui-bian, after prosecutors said they had evidence of corruption by both himself and his wife. He denied the charges and stayed put, with the support of his party. See article

In eastern Sri Lanka, at least 45 civilians were killed when army shells hit a camp sheltering people displaced by the war with Tamil Tiger rebels.

Daniel Ortega, the leader of Nicaragua‘s Sandinistas, won a presidential election. With 91% of the vote counted, he had 38%, a nine-point lead over his nearest rival, Eduardo Montealegre, who was backed by the United States. Mr Ortega was Nicaragua‘s president during the Sandinista revolution from 1979-90. See article

In Mexico, bombs damaged the Federal Elections Tribunal, a Canadian bank and the offices of the formerly ruling Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) in the capital. A small leftist group said it placed the devices to support a five-month uprising against the PRI governor of the southern state of Oaxaca.

Cuba‘s foreign minister said he did not want to ���speculate��� about whether Fidel Castro, the country’s ailing president, would be well enough to attend an official celebration of his 80th birthday next month. In July Mr Castro was operated on for ���intestinal bleeding���. He is widely thought to be suffering from cancer.

The European Commission published its annual report on Turkey and other candidates for membership of the European Union. The report was highly critical of Turkey‘s progress, though it stopped short of recommending a suspension of the membership talks. An EU summit in December will now consider that option. See article

An attempt to end the British opt-out from the EU‘s maximum working-time rules failed. But several countries may now be taken to court for not counting doctors’ on-call time against the limits.

In an unexpected development after last week’s election, the Spanish region of Catalonia is to have a new government made up of three left-wing parties, led by the Socialists. That consigns the centre-right nationalist party which won the largest share of the vote to opposition.

The three candidates for the Socialist Party’s nomination in France’s presidential election held a final televised debate. The frontrunner, S��gol��ne Royal, is clinging to her lead, though it has shrunk and some doubt whether she will win on the first round. See article


Saddam Hussein was sentenced to death for ordering the killing of 148 people in the mainly Shia town of Dujail in 1982. He then appeared in court again, on trial for the slaughter of more than 100,000 Kurds during the Anfal campaign in 1987 and 1988. See article

Iraq prepared a law to allow former members (excluding the most senior) of Saddam’s Baath Party to return to the public-service jobs they were ousted from in 2003. Separately, Iraq‘s interior ministry charged 57 employees with torturing prisoners at a detention centre in Baghdad.

Hours after the Israeli army ended its six-day occupation of Beit Hanoun in Gaza, its artillery bombarded the town, killing���by accident, it said���at least 19 Palestinians.

Talks on forming a Palestine national unity government were resumed but got off to a slow start. Hamas, which runs the Palestinian Authority, proposed an alternative to the current prime minister, Ismail Haniyeh. Its opponents did not accept him. See article

Chad accused Sudan of ���exporting the genocide��� from its Darfur region over the border. Chad’s army has been engaged in fierce fighting with rebel forces which it says are backed by Sudan.

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