Thursday, March 15, 2007

Developments of Early March

I apologize for the big gap in updates. I have been quite busy with various political-related initiatives in my own life.

Let's take a look at some of the developments which have occurred since the last update:

Duck replaces Sook

On March 7, the Prime Minister of South Korea, Miss Han Myung-Sook resigned. She had served in office for exactly one session of parliament, which is the typical way it works in the South Korean system. Their prime ministers are basically just figureheads who symbolically head the legislature, while the president holds all real power. Miss Han remains more popular than most, however, which has led many to speculate she has abandoned the job in order to run for president in the December 2007 elections.

Miss Han was the second woman to ever serve as Prime Minister of Korea, although the first one, Chang Sang, only held office for a period of 20 days in 2002. She failed to be ratified by parliament when it was revealed that, among other things, she never actually went to Princeton as she claimed on her resume.

The new Prime Minister of South Korea is named Han Duck Soo. He's the former minister of finance or something.

Northern Ireland to attempt unity once again

March 7 also saw the United Kingdom hold parliamentary elections for the disputed territory of Northern Ireland.

Unsurprising to anyone who knows anything about the place, in Northern Ireland elections the voters tend to elect their legislators along strictly religious / nationalist lines. This in turn always results in a horribly polarized parliament. Protestants who favor unity with Britain still hold a demographic majority in NI, so they always win a plurality of seats thanks to strictly demographic voting. Separatist Catholics always form a strong opposition, and politicians from the two groups refuse to get along- much like their constituents.

This election was no different. The Protestant parties won 54 seats while the Catholics won 44.

The two main Northern Irish political parties are led by old men who have been around forever. The separatist Sinn Fein is led by a bearded gentleman named Gerry Adams. He is a former member of the Irish Republican Army, the infamous anti-British terror group (though he denies it). When Bill Clinton invited him to the White House in 1994 Margaret Thatcher said the gesture was horribly offensive to Brits, and rhetorically asked how Americans would feel if she invited Timothy McVeigh to come and visit the Queen. Indeed, Margaret Thatcher hated him so much she actually banned British television from broadcasting his voice on the air.

The leader of the pro-British Protestant Democratic Unionist Party is Ian Paisley (seen here), an 80-year-old Presbyterian priest. He really hates Catholics. Imagine the most hysterical, bigoted, anti-Catholic remark possible and Reverend Paisley has probably said it. He's called Pope John Paul II the anti-Christ on numerous occasions, for example, including at least once to his face.

Paisley is now going to become the Prime Minister of Northern Ireland, and Gerry Adams will likely become minister of something-or-other. Both parties have softened up a bit in recent years, and now say they are prepared, in theory, to work together and form a joint government of national unity.

This was supposed to happen in 2002, but at the last minute the parties refused to work together so Tony Blair suspended the Northern Irish government and imposed direct rule from London. Since Britain has no constitution he's allowed to do that kind of thing. He might do it again if this national unity business never actually materializes.

African country holds election

The small African nation of Mauritania held presidential elections on the 11th- the first democratic elections in the country's history. Former cabinet minister Sidi Ould Cheikh Abdellahi won 25% of the vote while longtime opposition politician Ahmed Ould Daddah won 21%. Since no one won a majority, the two men will be forced to undergo a second, sudden-death round of elections where all the minor candidates are excluded. I've always liked that system of electing people. I wish we used it in this country.


Eric Stimson said...

Mauritania isn't "small."

Benjamin said...

When you live in a country the size of Canada, just about everything else looks small by comparison.

Anonymous said...

jeez, everyone's a critic. You know damn well what he meant, it's an insignificant country.

Anonymous said...

I'm looking forward to the odd couple in Northern Ireland.

Matt said...

You know, this type of elections is the same kind we have here in France, and it has it's faults. Remember when nationalist and racist party leader Le Pen made it into the second round last elections? He doesn't actually have a chance to win, since he won only some 2-3% between rounds, but he still can sneak his way into the second round and force everyone to vote for the least evil of both: Jacques Chirac, elected at a bit over 80%. What I am saying is that such a system, in a country where there are 40 people trying to become president, favorises not the preferred ideology, as democracy should, but favorises the party whose ideology is so far gone there is no other party who could leech voters off of it. The sheer amount of more or less moderate parties means that whilst any one of those parties is more popular than the Front National, most lose to it in the first round because the votes are spread out among those many moderate parties, versus the one and only popular far right party.

Psudo said...

The United Kingdom is small, but certainly not insignificant. Size and significance are unrelated.

Anonymous said...

I had a prof who was on a panel with Gerry Adams... He was so fanatical (GA, I mean) that my prof said it was absolutely impossible to conduct any kind of debate. He said that GA was simply on a completely different wavelength and you couldn't break through to reason with him. He spoke AT you, not TO you.

Matthew Naylor said...

I wouldn't mind that kind of electoral system either. It'd be interesting, though, and would only work if we got rid of the notion of confidence voting. However, it would guarantee Liberal PMs forever.