April 2022 global news roundup: Major electoral (France, Hungary, Mexico, Slovenia) and non-electoral (Hong Kong, Israel, Pakistan) developments; Geopolitical and political crises

French flag (Photo by Jeremy Bezanger on Unsplash)

This roundup summarises the most important news stories around the world in the last month (April 2022).

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The French presidential runoff was a rematch of the 2017 election, between president Emmanuel Macron – seeking to be the first French president to win re-election since 2002 – and right-wing candidate Marine Le Pen. However, voter turnout was the lowest in a first round in two decades. Mr. Macron was ultimately re-elected in the second round, also marked by a high abstention rate, becoming the first sitting French president in 20 years to have done so. Ms Le Pen passed the 40 per cent threshold for the first time.

In Hungary, with his party maintaining its two-thirds parliamentary majority, prime minister Viktor Orbán clinched an overwhelming electoral victory to win a fourth consecutive term. He is the longest-serving leader within the European Union. Although the Mexican president is halfway through a single six-year term in office, he had promised voters in 2018 a chance to remove him from office three years into his term. We won 90 per cent of the vote backing him, but with a turnout of under 20 per cent. And in Slovenia, the opposition liberals won parliamentary elections against the ruling right-wing populists, winning the chance to form the next government in a coalition.

Major non-electoral developments (Hong Kong, Israel, Pakistan)

Hong Kong’s chief executive Carrie Lam said she will not seek a second five-year term in office. In Israel, the ruling coalition lost its parliamentary majority after a surprise lawmaker defected, increasing the likelihood of the country’s fifth national election in three years.

And in Pakistan, following the blocking of a vote to oust him, the prime minister dissolved parliament and called for a snap election. However, the supreme court overturned his decision and paved the way for his removal, which transpired after an eventual no-confidence vote over allegations of poor economic and foreign policy mismanagement. As he was ousted, opposition leader Shehbaz Sharif – the brother of three-time former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif – was voted as the new prime minister.

Geopolitical and political crises

Geopolitically, in Ukraine, Russia began its offensive in eastern Ukraine. In Israel, more than 150 Palestinians were injured and hundreds were detained by Israeli forces around the al-Aqsa Mosque. This follows recent Israeli raids and Palestinian attacks and responses in the occupied West Bank. And in Turkey, the murder trial of slain columnist Jamal Khashoggi was transferred to Saudi Arabia, with fears that the transfer would lead to a cover-up of his killing.

Politically, in Sri Lanka, angered by growing economic crises and shortages of essentials, tens of thousands of protestors demanded for the resignation of the president. The calls for resignation have been ignored, even though most of the country’s cabinet was replaced. In the United Kingdom, prime minister Boris Johnson was fined for breaching his own government’s pandemic breakdown rules. He will not resign. And in Yemen, the president resigned and handed power over to a ruling council so as to preserve the ceasefire with Iran-backed rebels.

Other news in the United States and around the world

Amazon employees at a New York warehouse voted to unionise, marking the first successful attempt at the country’s second-largest employer. Separately, Judge Kentanji Brown Jackson made history as the first African-American female justice to be confirmed to the supreme court by a vote of 53-47. Her appointment will not alter the ideological bench with a 6-3 conservative majority.

Finally, there were deadly disasters in Afghanistan (twin suicide bombing), Ethiopia (anti-Muslim attack), Japan (tour boat sinking), India (religious procession), the Philippines (landslides and flooding), South Africa (major floods, resulting in the declaration of a national state of disaster), and Syria (Israeli attacks).

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