According to the preliminary results outgoing Prime Minister and leader of the right-wing Serbian Progressive Party (SNS), Aleksandar Vučić, has obtained 55,1% of the votes and secured a win in the first round of the presidential elections on the 2nd of April. Former Ombudsman and independent candidate Saša Janković came in second with 16,3% of the votes and Luka Maksimović Beli (Whitty) obtained 9,4% of the votes. The turnout was 54,2%. Although there were no major incidents on the election day, Vučić had a great advantage in resources and air time during the campaign.
On 23 November Vice Versa, together with ActionAid, Both Ends, Partos, De Nieuwe Liefde and Pax, organised De Nacht van de Tegenmacht (The night of countervailing power), dedicated to peaceful resistance of courageous citizens all over the world. The event brought together musicians, activists, politicians and journalists from Netherlands, Bangladesh, Ethiopia and Suriname. The program was very intense: featuring speakers, a talk show, columns, music, interactive sessions (Power to the People! Civic power in the global South; Populism café and Journalism & Civic Power), as well as exhibitions of organisations and short movies.
On 11 December Macedonia held early parliamentary elections, which were supposed to resolve a two-year political instability. Results of the two main parties are more or less 1% away from each other, with 99.72% of the votes counted: ruling nationalist VMRO DPMNE gained 38% and the opposition Social Democrats (SDSM) – 36.7% according to the Central Election Commission. Both parties declared victory and are looking for coalition partners. They are most likely to reach out to ethnic Albanian minority for support. Democratic Union for Integration (DUI) got 7.3%, which could bring 9-11 seats. Newly formed BESA party has 4.87%, which might result in 5 seats. DPA-led – Movement for Reforms acquired 2.95% - potential 3 seats. Democratic Party of Albanians alone received 2,61%, which could mean not more than 2 seats. The voter turnout was 67% - one of the highest in recent general elections.
Afgelopen weekend organiseerden we een campagnetraining voor jongeren van de Democratische Partij in Moldavië. Er zijn in het land kort geleden presidentsverkiezingen geweest die teleurstellen verliepen voor de partij, en dus willen ze zich nu concentreren op het opleiden van de jongeren generatie politici.
On 14 November, Foundation Max van der Stoel had the honour to meet Azeri dissidents and human rights activists Leyla and Arif Yunus. It has been one year since Arif was released from prison in Azerbaijan, on 12 November 2015, and FMS asked Leyla and Arif about their story and views on the human rights situation in Azerbaijan, the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict and the plans for the future.
After a former KGB general Heydar Aliyev came to power in Azerbaijan in 1993 – political repressions started. In 2003 the father was followed by his son, Ilham Aliev and repressions against dissidents became systematic. Human rights defenders of Azerbaijan regularly compose lists of prisoners of conscience and political prisoners. Among them – Leyla and Arif Yunus, a couple of Azeri dissidents and human rights activists, who are now refugees in the Netherlands.
The book "Background to the crisis in Syria and perspectives on human rights & humanitarian law violations" of Yana Ballod (intern for Democracy at Foundation Max van der Stoel) has recently been published by Wolf Legal Publishers (WLP). This book is a result of an effort to gather all the pieces of the crisis in Syria together. This to provide a clear picture of what has been happening and what are the legal implications to it. Besides, it expresses frustration with the currently existing system of international decision-making and impotence when it comes to fulfilling its most important function: protecting human lives and dignity.
Nu de Roemeense parlementsverkiezingen naderen (11 december) is het extra belangrijk hoe de houding van de belangrijkste partijen tegenover Rusland is. Poetin wil zijn invloedssfeer uitbreiden. Wordt hij door Roemeense politici verwelkomd? De publieke opinie in Roemenië is overwegend anti-Poetin. Maar het is toch spannend waar dit naartoe gaat. Als Rusland geld blijft pompen in propaganda, als de EU blijft teleurstellen en de VS zich onder Trump minder bekommert om de regio, dan kunnen er invloedrijke politici overlopen naar Poetin. En dan kunnen ook de burgers gaan denken: beter een goeie buur dan een verre vriend.
On 13 November the run-off Presidential elections took place in Moldova. An openly pro-Russian socialist candidate Igor Dodon assumed presidency with 99.9% of votes counted. Dodon (Socialist Party and former economy minister in a communist 2006-2009 government) acquired 52.29% of votes against the pro-European candidate Maia Sandu (Action and Solidarity Party and former World Bank official and education minister in 2012-2015), who received 47.71%. The voters turnout was 53.3%, only 4% higher than in the first round on 30 October, while abroad it doubled. Such a result could influence the ongoing EU integration efforts of Moldova. Dodon has said during his campaign that he plans to conduct a referendum on withdrawing from the Association Agreement with the EU and joining the Eurasian Customs Union instead. Good relations with Romania and Ukraine have been claimed to be of interest to Dodon as well, even though he has said recently that Crimea is a ‘factual’ part of Russia, which caused outrage in Ukraine. Sandu, in her turn, supported the withdrawal of several thousands of Russian “peacekeeping” troops from the separatist Trans-Dniester region, which broke away in early 1990s. It was unusual that 9,000 people came to vote in Trans-Dniester this time, where they usually do not participate in Moldovan elections.