THE 2017 PAPUA NEW GUINEA ELECTION: BAD LUCK?

by Maud Webster

The 2017 Papua New Guinea election was fraught with allegations, violence and anger. Yet the object of the disquiet – Peter O’Neill – was still re-elected as Prime Minister. He represents the People’s National Congress Party, which has been rising rapidly in popularity over the past couple of decades. In 2002, they were in opposition with two votes, but entered government in 2007. Now, they hold twenty-seven. O’Neill has held the position since 2011 and just about holds it still, by obtaining support from minor parties and scrabbling together support for his party’s re-election. Following coalition discussions, his vote support margin stood at sixty votes to forty-six.

The election itself was blighted by disorganisation and electoral roll irregularities, in addition to initial dissatisfaction with O’Neill’s first term. Voters expressed concerns about the chaotic economy, rife with extensive borrowing. Whilst statistics show growth in GDP, growth has dropped from 13.3% in 2014 to a mere 2% in 2016.

The election itself was an appalling farce. Continue Reading

VENEZUELA: FROM INSPIRATION TO DESPOTISM

by Chris Jarvis

CW: torture, rape, political violence

Less than a decade ago, left-wingers across the globe turned towards Latin America as something of a road map towards a more progressive and socialist politics. Many a left tradition could be identified in the range of regimes, leaders and parties that had come to power throughout the region. Evo Morales in Bolivia, Luiz Inacio Lula Da Silva in Brazil, Rafael Correa in Ecuador, Ollanta Humala in Perù, Jose Mujica in Uruguay, Daniel Ortega in Nicaragua, the ever present Castros in Cuba, and Hugo Chávez in Venezuela. The “Pink Tide”, as this phenomena became loosely known, was high, and international awe developed among the left.

Breaking out of the 1990s, in which the global institutions of neoliberalism, from the IMF and the World Bank to the US state and multinational corporations drove an agenda of austerity, privatisation of services and market liberalisation, Governments of the “Pink Tide” brought promise of a better deal for the various Latin American nations which elected them. To greater or lesser degrees, these Governments sought to recentre economies away from international capital and towards the needs of people, increase spending on and provision of welfare and public services – whether through anti-hunger initiatives, healthcare programmes or education projects, and deepen democracy. Across the region, the Pink Tide brought with it decreasing levels of economic inequality, higher literacy rates, reduced poverty and greater levels of health.

In 2017, the legacy of these leftist Governments lies tarnished – and perhaps the most emblematic of this turn is Venezuela.Continue Reading