The World in a Flash
The RoundUp this week covers Turkey’s referendum results, Trump’s attempts to boost his approval ratings, an early bit about the shooting in Paris (actual motives/affiliations still unconfirmed), and a quick look at the upcoming French, UK, and Iranian elections.
Turkey’s March From Democracy
This past week President Erdogan of Turkey secured new, expanded powers with an affirmative win in the country’s latest referendum. The yes camp, which the President was championing, allows for a significant constitutional overhaul. With a meagre win of 51.2%, President Erdogan – after the 2019 elections – will be able to rule with virtually unchecked power as he continues his march to consolidate the state behind him since the recent failed coup attempt against him. He will be able to appoint senior officials, judges, and members of his own cabinet with virtually no oversight. Further, the parliament in Turkey will be severely weakened and the Office of the Prime Minister will cease to exist. The opposition, or no side, is calling foul play and some outside observers of the referendum vote are accusing the president of tipping the scales in his favour, especially after announcing victory before all the ballots were counted. Finally, some might find it disturbing that President Trump congratulated Erdogan on his questionable victory in the referendum especially those that fear Trump identifies with ‘strongmen’ leaders.
Trump’s Changes to H1-B Visas
In an attempt to claw back up the ratings chain in the aftermath of the TrumpCare flop, the embarrassment that was both the attempted ‘Travel Bans’, whatever happened in Syria (or Iraq… no, Syria) and the host of issues he’s been backpedaling on in recent days, the President of the United States decided this week to sign an executive order that he says will stop the “theft of American prosperity” by curbing the employment of low-wage immigrant labour and favour American companies for federal contacts. The H1-B Visa is intended for highly-skilled labourers in fields like technology, science, and law, though other industries also use it, but according to Trump companies are in fact using it to get out of hiring Americans. While some are heralding this as Trump making good on at least one of his election promises, the Justice Department, Homeland Security, and the United States Immigration and Citizenship Services have all been hammering away at H1-B since the beginning of the year. Apparently, tech company execs agree with The Donald, but say they turn to foreigners when they can’t find Americans with the requisite education (usually advanced degrees). No doubt Betsy DeVos will help with that. Since Trump’s apparently ‘gone soft’, it does make sense that he has resorted to peeing on the dumpster fire that is his presidency thus far.
Paris was hit with another attack after a gunman came out and started firing at Police on Champ-Elysees. The attacker was killed by police as he fled the scene. The gunman was said to be wielding a Kalashnikov rifle, and from the resulting six shots one police officer was killed and two were injured. ISIS has claimed responsibility for the attack but details are still unknown. This attack comes before the first round of the French Presidential Elections and many candidates have ended their campaign early as a sign of respect.
European Elections Update
Both France and the United Kingdom are in the throes of elections. France will be holding the first round of presidential elections on the 23 April. It is a close race between the top four candidates: Le Pen, Macron, Fillon, and Mélenchon. The top two candidates will go on to the second round. There are currently many undecided voters who can sway the results. Le Pen’s campaign may make some gains following the terrorist attack in Paris this past Thursday. In the UK, Theresa May has called an election for June 8. This is widely seen as an opportunity for her to secure a large majority within Parliament going into Brexit negotiations. The Conservative Party is currently polling quite well and is expected to make major gains in Parliament, and during her speech to call the elections she called out the opposition for only criticizing the Brexit plans without having any of their own. The opposition has welcomed the election and will put out their platforms in the coming days.
Ami Disqualified from Iranian Presidential Elections
In what is shaping up to be a barometer for the perceived success of the nuclear deal and easing of sanctions on the Iranian population, the incumbent President Rouhani has been predicted to lose as he reportedly hasn’t managed to improve the conditions on the ground, though polling data is notoriously difficult to get. Rouhani’s biggest competition though will come from Ebrahim Raisi, a hard-line cleric and professor of Sharia law, whose platform is based on reducing poverty and corruption. Last week, former president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad had, to the chagrin of many a moderate, announced his intentions to throw his hat in the ring, but was disqualified earlier this week by the Guardian Council, Iran’s legal/religious authority. They may have excluded Ahmadinejad so to prevent the rift’s between factions with Iranian from widening further, or perhaps to protect Rouhani, whose loss could signal the weakening of the regime, or to signal their desire to move forward to a relatively unstable Washington. #ironicreversal.