1758 – Mustard was advertised for the first time in America.
1764 – The city of St. Louis was established.
1799 – Printed ballots were authorized for use in elections in the state of Pennsylvania.
1842 – Adhesive postage stamps were used for the first time by the City Dispatch Post (Office) in New York City.
1898 – The USS Maine sank when it exploded in Havana Harbor for unknown reasons. More than 260 crew members were killed.
1900 – The British threaten to use natives in their war with the Boers.
1903 – Morris and Rose Michtom, Russian immigrants, introduced the first teddy bear in America.
1932 – George Burns and Gracie Allen debuted as regulars on “The Guy Lombardo Show” on CBS radio.
1933 – U.S. President-elect Franklin Roosevelt escaped an assination attempt in Miami. Chicago Mayor Anton J. Cermak was killed in the attack.
1942 – During World War II, Singapore surrendered to the Japanese.
1943 – “My True Story” was heard for the first time on ABC radio.
1946 – Edith Houghton, at age 33, was signed as a baseball scout by the Philadelphia Phillies becoming the first female scout in the major leagues.
1953 – The first American to win the women’s world figure skating championship was 17-year-old Tenley Albright.
1961 – A Boeing 707 crashed in Belgium killing 73 people.
1962 – CBS-TV bought the exclusive rights to college football games from the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) for a figure of $10,200,000.
1965 – Canada displayed its new red and white maple leaf flag. The flag was to replace the old Red Ensign standard.
1982 – During a storm, the Ocean Ranger, a drilling rig, sank off the coast of Newfoundland. 84 men were killed.
1985 – The Center for Disease Control reported that more than half of all nine-year-olds in the U.S. showed no sign of tooth decay.
1989 – After nine years of intervention, the Soviet Union announced that the remainder of its troops had left Afghanistan.
1991 – The leaders of Czechoslovakia, Hungary and Poland signed the Visegard agreement, in which they pledged to cooperate in transforming thier countties to free-market economies.
1995 – The FBI arrested Kevin Mitnick and charged him with cracking security in some of the nation’s most protected computers. He served five years in jail.
2002 – U.S. President George W. Bush approved Nevada’s Yucca Mountain as a site for long-term disposal of radioactive nuclear waste.
They might have drawn Betty Boop white, but her history is black. The character was actually stolen from Cotton Club singer Esther Jones — known by her stage name “Baby Esther” and the baby talk she used when she sang songs like “I Wanna Be Loved By You (Boop- Boop-BeDoo). Her act later “inspired” cartoonist Max Fleischer to create the character Betty Boop and Esther tried to win the rights back to her character until the day she died.
Hitler’s Jewish ancestry isn’t the strangest twist in racial history. FBI director J. Edgar Hoover — the man who plagued the black liberation movement from Marcus Garvey to the Black Panther Party — was known by his peers as a passing black man.
His childhood neighbor, writer Gore Vidal famously quoted, “It was always said in my family and around the city that Hoover was mulatto. And that he came from a family that passed.”
And apparently that was a closely-guarded secret. Millie McGhee, author of Secrets Uncovered: J. Edgar Hoover Passing For White, said,
“In the late 1950’s, I was a young girl growing up in rural McComb, Mississippi. A story had been passed down through several generations that the land we lived on was owned by the Hoover family. My grandfather told me that this powerful man, Edgar, was his second cousin, and was passing for white. If we talked about this, he was so powerful he could have us all killed. I grew up terrified about all this.”
The Medici Family
It’s hard to get through any school lesson about the Italian Renaissance without talking about the Medici family. What history doesn’t like to talk about is that the financial ruler of the western world — Alessandro de Medici, Duke of Penne and Duke of Florence and commonly called “Il Moro” (Italian for Moor — a term commonly used to describe anyone with dark skin) — was born to an African-Italian mother (a servant) and a white father (who would later become Pope Clement VII).
Clark Gable did not try to hide his black and Native-American heritage, although it wasn’t widely publicized either. When his Gone with the Wind costar Hattie was not permitted to attend the premiere in Atlanta, Georgia, he threatened to boycott it. When he saw “colored” and “white” bathrooms on the set, he refused to continue working until all of the cast were treated equally.
If you thought Michelle Obama was the first black first lady, surprise! Jackie Onassis’ ancestor John van Salee De Grasse was the first black American formally educated as a doctor. Her father was nicknamed “Black Jack” Bouvier because of his dark complexion.
Alexander Hamilton was the first secretary of the treasury whose face adorns the U.S. 10-dollar bill. Alexander Hamilton’s mother, Rachel Fawcett Lavain, was said to be of “mixed blood.” Alexander’s older brother was dark-skinned and treated as black. Even though his mother was half-black, both she and Alexander were light skinned enough to pass as white.
For black history buffs, it’s really all about the Hamiltons. Alexander Hamilton isn’t just the man on the $10 bill, he was the United States’ first Secretary of the Treasury. His mother, Rachel Fawcett Lavain, was said to be of “mixed blood” and his father was the son of a Scottish Duke. Alexander’s older brother was dark-skinned and treated as black. But Alexander was light enough to pass and went on to establish the first national bank in the American colonies, founded the U.S. mint and wrote most of the Federalist Papers. Hamilton was born as the illegitimate son of Rachel Fawcett Lavien on a Carribean island the size of the town of Kirkland called Nevis. His mother was divorced for infidelity long before Hamilton was born, casting question onto Hamilton’s father. Some claim that it was James Hamilton, the man who lived with Rachel. Others claim it was Nicolas Cruger, a Carribean merchant with connections in New York who employed an eleven year old Alexander Hamilton after his alleged father left him and his mother died. Some claim that Hamilton’s mother had affairs with her slaves. Additionally, many claim that Hamilton’s mother was herself part black, newspapers record Hamilton being called a mustee (implying his mother was a quarter black) by political enemies.
Ludwig Van Beethoven
The classical composer’s mother was a Moor. Even though paintings of the composer depict him as very Caucasian, his death mask highlights his African features.
The famous classical composer’s mother was a moor. It’s a fact that became popular again after this cast of his African facial features contradicted the “idealized” paintings of the man history likes to re-imagine.
The question was brought to modern science, but recent DNA evidence was inconclusive. For more information, please refer to the related link from the Washington Post. The research team also said that future DNA analysis might answer lingering questions about Beethoven’s ethnicity. As a young man, the dark-complexioned Beethoven sometimes was called “the Moor,” and some historians have questioned whether he had African blood. Walsh said his analysis of the hair strands showed “no wrinkles or bends” typical among people of African descent, but that more tests may be conducted.
St. Nicholas, who lived from 270 to 343 A.D., is the saint upon whom the legend of Santa Claus is based. St. Nicholas lived in what is now Turkey, which was at that time a hub for people of African descent. Ancient pictures of St. Nicholas depict him as a dark-skinned man with African features, in contrast to his modern whitewashing as the rosy-cheeked Santa Claus.
The real story of Santa Claus begins with Saint Nicholas (270 – 343 AD), who was born in the village of Patara, an area which was once Greek but is now part of Turkey. He was born to wealthy parents, who died in an epidemic while Nicholas was still young. Nicholas used his entire inheritance to assist the needy, the sick, and the suffering.
Queen Charlotte of Great Britain
Queen Charlotte was descended from Madragana, a Moor (a north African), and Portugal’s King Alfonso III. She was queen when America declared independence from Britain. Charlotte’s parentage makes Queen Elizabeth II, Prince Charles and Prince William technically mixed race.
This 18th century painter got into hot water when he painted Queen Charlotte’s features a little too realistically. The painting stirred up long-standing rumors about King George III’s wife’s African heritage. And those rumors turned out to be true. Queen Charlotte was the member of a Portuguese royal family begun by Alfonso III and his lover Madragana “a moor“. Because this makes Queen Elizabeth II, Prince Charles and Prince William technically mixed race, many historians have tried to cast doubt on the nature of Queen Charlotte’s heritage. But her personal physician has noted her “true mulatto face” and the public report released before Queen Elizabeth II’s coronation in 1953 acknowledges the monarchy’s African heritage. It is a great “what if” of history. “If she was black,” says the historian Kate Williams, “this raises a lot of important suggestions about not only our royal family but those of most of Europe, considering that Queen Victoria’s descendants are spread across most of the royal families of Europe and beyond. If we class Charlotte as black, then ergo Queen Victoria and our entire royal family, [down] to Prince Harry, are also black … a very interesting concept.
Alexander Pushkin, who is considered the grandfather of Russian literature, was the great-grandson of an Ethiopian prince named Ibrahim Gannibal. One of Pushkin’s famous unpublished works is an unfinished work about his Ethiopian great-grandfather.
The man considered the father of Russian literature was he great-grandson of an Ethiopian prince. Among Pushkin’s more famous unpublished works (left after his death in a duel) is an unfinished novel about his Ethiopian great-grandfather. Ossip Abramovich Gannibal’s father, Pushkin’s great-grandfather, was Abram Petrovich Gannibal (1696–1781), a Black African page kidnapped and brought to Russia as a gift for Peter the Great.
Enduring comic legend Carol Channing didn’t reveal to the world that her father was black until 2002, when she was over 80 years old.
Famous New York Times book reviewer Anatole Broyard was born to light-skinned black parents in New Orleans and passed himself off as white once he grew up and moved out of his predominantly black Brooklyn neighborhood. The truth wasn’t revealed until his daughter Bliss wrote the book One Drop: My Father’s Hidden Life — A Story of Race and Family Secrets.
American writer Anatole Broyard passed as white his entire life. It wasn’t until his daughter, Bliss, published One Drop: My Father’s Hidden Life — A Story of Race and Family Secrets was the truth revealed: The famous New York Times book reviewer was born to light-skinned black parents in New Orleans and started passing once he grew up and moved out of his predominantly black Brooklyn neighborhood.
Anton Wilhelm Amo
Anton Wilhelm Amo, aka Anthony William Amo, was born in an area of Africa now known as Ghana. He was treated as a member of the family by Anthony Ulrich, duke of Brunswick-Wolfenbuttel, who was given Amo as a “present.” Amo grew up to be a philosopher and teacher in Germany, where he studied. He is the first African known to attend a European university.
Juan de Pareja
Spanish painter Juan de Pareja was described as a “Morisco,” which means “of mixed parentage and strange color.” He was born into slavery, the son of an enslaved mixed-race woman and Spanish father. Pajera is known primarily as a member of the household and workshop of painter Diego Velazquez, who freed him in 1650.
No course covering Philosophy 101 is complete without referencing Christian theologian Saint Augustine. What’s less commonly covered is his African origins and birth place of (modern-day) Souk Ahras, Algeria. He was the eldest son of Saint Monica of Saint Augustine. Aurelius Augustinus (his birth name) was born in Africa, educated in Rome, and a Milanese by baptism. He spent his early years in what is now know as Souk-Ahras, Algeria. Often called Augustine of Hippo, “The knowledgeable one,” by the Roman Catholic Church, he was considered by Evangelical Protestants to be (together with the Apostle Paul and the Bible) the theological fountainhead of the Reformation teaching on salvation and grace.
studied is the fact that Augustine has African origins and was born in what is now Algeria. Later medieval depictions made him look Caucasian.
The boy pharaoh King Tutankhamen is sometimes described as fair skinned, but artifacts found at his tomb identify him as a black African.
The Boy Pharaoh of Ancient Egypt is often depicted as fair skinned. But these images recovered from his tomb (in addition to several other artifacts) have identified him as a black African. The panelists believe the Egyptians of Tut’s time had, for the most part, very dark skin, like people from sub-Saharan Africa. Charles Finch is the director of International Health at Morehouse School of Medicine in Atlanta. “Whenever ancient writers, Hebrew or Greek, make any reference to ancient Egyptians’ color, it’s always black,” Finch said. “There was no issue back then. There was no discussion. There was no debate. It only became a debate in the last 200 years.”
Joseph Boulogne was also known as Le Chevalier de Saint-George or the “Black Mozart.” He was the son of an enslaved African woman and a father who was a wealthy planter. Boulogne climbed the ladder of French society because of his mastery of European music and sword-fighting.
French writer Alexandre Dumas is the author of The Three Musketeers and The Count of Monte Cristo. He was born to a white father, a general and rival of Napoleon Bonaparte, and an enslaved mother.
Alexandre Dumas was the son of the General Dumas born in 1762 to a white father and an enslaved mother. General Dumas was such a good general that he made his rival — Napoleon Bonaparte — nervous. Thanks to Napoleon’s machinations, the General ended up imprisoned in a dungeon for years — the story that inspired Alexandre to write The Count of Monte Cristo about his father.
Nubian King Piye invaded Egypt around 730 B.C. and united the nation for over seven decades under his rule and then his son’s. Nubia would become modern-day Sudan. For years bigoted archaeologists suppressed the fact that a black man conquered the fair-skinned Egyptians.
Hannibal of Carthage
Hannibal of Carthage, one of the greatest military strategists in history, is often depicted with much narrower features, but coins depicting Hannibal and his famous army of elephants leave little doubt about his African heritage.
Hannibal of Carthage — one of the greatest military strategists in history is often depicted with much… narrower features. But these coins depicting Hannibal and his famous army of elephants leave little doubt in the minds of many historians of his African ancestry. Here, the focus is the Mediterranean world in antiquity — things were different then. Hannibal came from an area we refer to as northern Africa, from a Carthaginian family. The Carthaginians were Phoenicians, which means that we would conventionally describe them as a Semitic people. The term Semitic refers to a variety of people from the ancient Near East (e.g., Assyrians, Arabs, and Hebrews), which included parts of northern Africa. [SeeSemitic Languages in Their Original Homelands Map.] The world view was very different.
Juan Latino, born Juan de Sessa, was a notable Spanish black scholar at the University of Granada in 16th-century Spain. He was the son of black slaves of the duke consort of Sessa and was educated with his master’s son. Latino was eventually freed, easily assimilated into Spanish society due to his education, and enjoyed an interracial marriage.
Hannibal of Carthage
George Augustus Polgreen Bridgetower was an Afro-Polish virtuoso violinist who lived in England for the majority of his life, which enabled him to easily navigate white high society. He was the son of Frederich Bridgetower, an African prince, and a Polish woman of German descent named Mary Ann.
How can a presidential election featuring four left-of-center candidates yield any result other than a top-two runoff between the center-right and the far-right? The question haunted the French left for much of 2016. The events of the last month, however, offered an unexpected answer: an embezzlement scandal.
François Fillon, who unexpectedly won a primary to become the candidate of the right-wing Republicans party in November, has been at the center of dizzying revelations ever since Le Canard Enchaîné, a satirical/investigative newspaper, reported that his wife had received nearly $900,000 in taxpayer money as Fillon’s parliamentary assistant. On top of that, the paper alleged that this position was an entirely bogus job. The scandal has since worsened as Fillon has been unable to document the work his wife was supposed to have performed: Indeed, a 2007 interview emerged in which his wife declared that she’d never worked for her husband. The media has also focused on similarly questionable payments made by the candidate’s parliamentary office to his children.
As a result, in the space of 10 days, Fillon went from clear favorite to collapsing into third place in some polls, with support under 20 percent. And now he’s facing calls within his own party to drop out.
Fillon has resisted, but there’s no set procedure for the Republicans to choose a replacement if Fillon does bail. The most commonly named potential alternative for Fillon is Alain Juppé, who is comparatively more moderate and finished as runner-up in the party’s fall primary. Yet Juppé, who had dominated general election polls until his surprise loss to Fillon, insists he will not step in as a Plan B. Plan C has been marginalized as well. Last week, former President Nicolas Sarkozy, who came in third in the primary, was ordered to stand trial over charges that he violated campaign finance regulations during his failed re-election bid in 2012.
It is also not clear whether a new candidate would even be able to make up the ground that Fillon has now lost to Emmanuel Macron, the centrist independent candidate who served as Socialist President Francois Hollande’s economy minister but has been inching rightward to take advantage of Fillon’s troubles. (At his first large rally earlier this month, Macron railed against the “left of egalitarianism.”) Fillon’s struggles open a clear path for Macron to make the runoff instead of him by gathering votes from relatively centrist voters on both the right and left.
While most polls show Marine Le Pen, the candidate of the far-right extremist National Front, leading in the first round, those same surveys show Macron and Fillon crushing her in a runoff, with the biggest unknown right now being whether Fillon, Macron, or possibly even the nominee of the beleaguered Socialist Party earning the other runoff spot. Indeed, Fillon-gate has also given some unexpected new hope to the ruling Socialists, who held their own two-round primary in January.
Benoît Hamon, a former education minister who represents the Socialist Party’s left flank, emerged as the surprise victor. He led the first round with 36 percent of the vote, in front of Manuel Valls, who served as prime minister from 2014 to 2016 and took 31. Valls hails from the party’s right wing, and he represented continuity with Hollande’s presidency. Arnaud Montebourg, a former economy minister who had been expected to be Valls’s adversary in the runoff until Hamon’s surge in the campaign’s final weeks, came in a distant third with 17 percent of the vote. Hamon then easily won the runoff against Valls, 59 to 41.
Hamon was part of the Hollande/Valls cabinet in 2014 when he and Montebourg were dismissed for publicly criticizing the government’s austerity policies. As a result, Hamon and Valls’ primary battle unfolded along starkly ideological grounds: Valls ran as embodying a “realistic” left, while Hamon insisted on the need for a different economic orientation than the one Hollande had practiced since taking office in 2012. Hamon’s most emblematic policy proposal—universal basic income—was at the center of the campaign. Hamon and Valls also disagreed on issues relating to civil liberties and secularism. For instance, Hamon had opposed some French mayors’ ban on the “burkini,” unlike Valls.
Key to Hamon’s chances in the presidential election is a potential alliance with the radical Left Front’s Jean-Luc Mélenchon and the Green Party’s Yannick Jadot. As long as each of these men is running, it’ll be difficult for any one of them to make the runoff. Yet their aggregate total in current polling is around 30 percent, far above where any other individual candidate is polling. After winning the Socialist Party’s nomination, Hamon quickly made gestures toward both Mélenchon and Jadot, but neither has appeared keen to the possibility of dropping out.
● Germany – parliament (Sept. 24)
Since we last checked in on Europe’s largest economic power, two important events have unfolded. Firstly, Germany set Sept. 24 as the date for the upcoming federal election. Second, the center-left Social Democratic Party (SPD) chose former EU Parliament President Martin Schulz as its candidate for chancellor. Schulz was selected after the party’s previous leader, Sigmar Gabriel, stepped down and announced he would not contest the election. Gabriel was plagued by poor poll numbers and the uncomfortable reality that by serving as a leading voice in a grand coalition between Chancellor Angela Merkel center-right Christian Democratic Union (CDU) and the SPD, he couldn’t very well turn around and run against those same policies. (Merkel announced she would seek a fourth term late last year.)
Schulz’s nomination gave the SPD a bump in the polls and, if it sticks, we could see a much more competitive election than we expected weeks ago. Greens and Die Linke (a far-left party whose name translates as, simply, “the Left”). If Merkel were to lose, she would become the fourth major European head of state to depart from office in just over a year (the others being David Cameron in the U.K. and Matteo Renzi in Italy, who both resigned after losing referendums they’d pushed, and Francois Hollande in France, who decided not to run for re-election on account of his deep unpopularity).
● Italy – parliament (TBD)
Last month, Italy’s highest court issued a critical ruling regarding the proportional representation election system used in the country’s powerful lower house of parliament. The judges threw out former Prime Minister Matteo Renzi’s recent reforms that required a runoff between the two parties that earn the most votes, but they left in place a provision that guarantees a majority of seats in parliament for the largest party if it wins 40 percent of the vote or more. The ruling could clear the way for possible early elections in 2017, well ahead of the regularly scheduled date of May of 2018.
Renzi resigned in late 2016 following the defeat of a referendum that he had called to reform Italy’s constitution and remove key powers Democratic Party lacks a majority. However, he is still widely expected to lead his party in the next election. The former prime minister favors early elections this year, as does the main opposition leader, Beppe Grillo, whose big-tent populist party, the Five Star Movement, polls neck and neck with Renzi’s Democratic Party at roughly 30 percent each—well short of the new 40 percent threshold that would give either of them an automatic majority.
So if Italy does head to the polls in 2017, the outcome could lead to messy coalition negotiations, just like in 2013. The Democratic Party currently governs in an alliance with a few minor center-right parties, and that formation could struggle to retain its majority, particularly in the Senate, where it is more loosely organized. Grillo’s party hopes to ride the anti-establishment tide that is sweeping Europe, but it eschews traditional coalition-building. Meanwhile, far-right party Lega Nord has roughly tripled its support since 2013, but both it and former Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi’s mainstream conservative party, Forza Italia, still lag far behind with roughly 13 percent support each.
● Liechtenstein – parliament (Feb. 5)
This tiny Alpine microstate of 37,000 people recently held elections that resulted in little change from 2013 in the country’s proportionally elected parliament. The two main right-of-center parties that dominate Liechtenstein’s political scene won an overwhelming majority of seats, just as they always have. Prime Minister Adrian Hasler’s national-conservative Progressive Citizens’ Party lost one seat but maintained its plurality with nine total, while the relatively more centrist and Christian democratic Patriotic Union was in close second with eight. The two rivals currently govern together in a coalition, giving them a 17-seat majority in the 25-member chamber.
The right-wing populist Independents improved on their 2013 debut with 18 percent of the vote and a gain of one seat for five in total, but they remained a distant third. The center-left green Free List, which is the only party that supports significantly curtailing the authority of the country’s relatively powerful constitutional monarch, won just three seats and 13 percent of the vote, which roughly matches their all-time record.
● United Kingdom
- Northern Ireland – regional parliament (March 2)
- Copeland and Stoke-on-Trent Central by-elections (Feb. 23)
A few unexpected elections will be taking place in the United Kingdom in the next month. In Northern Ireland, as we covered previously, snap elections for the country’s parliament are taking place March 2, in the wake of Sinn Fein’s withdrawal from the government. The makeup of the parliament is not expected to change significantly, so the likely question will be whether the Democratic Unionist Party and Sinn Fein can find a way to start working together again. If not, the parliament risks being suspended, with governance of Northern Ireland returning to London as it has during similar episodes in the past.
Meanwhile, two by-elections (special elections) will be held in England on Feb. 23, both previously held by Labour MPs (members of parliament). The two seats are Copeland (a mostly rural district in the far north of England) and Stoke-on-Trent Central (a small city in the English Midlands). Labour is facing heavy challenges in these two historically friendly seats, both of which voted strongly to leave the EU in last year’s Brexit referendum.
In Copeland, the main challenge is from the Tories; if they’re successful, it would be the first time since 1982 that the party in control of government has won a seat from the official opposition. In Stoke-on-Trent, the xenophobic UKIP is Labour’s main opponent, with UKIP’s new leader, Paul Nuttall, standing as his party’s candidate. Losses in either seat would reflect Labour’s broader struggles in the wake of the Brexit vote that has left the party divided.
● The Gambia – legislature (April 6)
The small West African nation of The Gambia has experienced what looks like a remarkable transition toward democracy after the country’s longtime dictator, President Yahya Jammeh, miraculously lost re-election to challenger Adama Barrow last December. Jammeh had refused to step aside, but thanks to peaceful military intervention by the regional inter-governmental organization ECOWAS, he eventually ceded power to Barrow in late January and agreed to go into exile.
Jammeh had ruled The Gambia since taking power in a 1994 military coup. Although he still held elections, his APRC party always won nearly every seat in the unicameral National Assembly. With Barrow’s election marking a turning point in the country’s transition, away from authoritarianism and toward freer and fairer elections, April’s legislative races could see the coalition of parties that supported the new president win a majority now that there is no longer an autocrat able to use the state to brutally suppress dissent.
During his successful campaign to topple Stephen Harper’s Conservative government, Liberal leader Justin Trudeau unambiguously vowed that 2015 would be the last federal election in Canada conducted under the country’s first-past-the-post system. This was a particularly exciting prospect for progressives and soft supporters of the left-wing New Democratic Party, who were horrified to see Harper’s Tories seize control of Parliament in 2011 despite winning less than 40 percent of the nationwide popular vote. While Trudeau kept the exact nature of the change vague, some hoped that Canada would embrace a system of proportional representation, while others speculated that a ranked-ballot or transferable vote system was more likely to be in the cards.
However, almost as soon as Trudeau swept into power with a surprisingly large parliamentary majority, observers began to doubt that the Liberals would feel much incentive to restructure the very same electoral system that allowed them to form a majority government with only a plurality (39.5 percent) of the popular vote.
As it turns out, the skeptics and cynics were proven completely right, as earlier this month, Trudeau pulled the plug on any changes to Canada’s electoral system, despite a parliamentary committee recommending moving ahead with proportional representation. While Trudeau was said to have been fearful of the possibility of reform enabling fringe right-wing parties, his complete reversal of an unequivocal promise is nothing short of bitterly disappointing for reformers.
● Ecuador – president and legislature (Feb. 12)
Outgoing President Rafael Correa could soon find the reign of his leftist PAIS Alliance coming to an end as the country goes to the polls to elect its next president and a new legislature. Correa’s coalition has dominated national politics since his initial election in 2006, when he allied himself with Venezuela’s Hugo Chavez and other regional left-wing populists. However, Ecuador’s oil export-dependent economy has suffered a recession following the steep global decline in commodity prices since 2014, leading Correa to impose unpopular austerity policies.
And making matters worse, former Vice President Lenin Moreno, Correa’s preferred successor, has seen his campaign rocked by recent allegations that his running mate played a key role in corruption at the state oil company. While polling in Latin America can often be unreliable, some surveys show Moreno possibly winding up in a runoff (he would need to obtain at least 40 percent of the vote and a 10-point advantage over his nearest opponent). If there is a second round, Moreno could lose to either CREO party candidate Guillermo Lasso or Social Christian Party candidate Cynthia Viteri, if either of these two conservative opponents can unify the opposition in a runoff.
● Democratization: The Economist has published its 2016 Democracy Index, which rates every country’s government on a scale from “authoritarian regime” to “full democracy.” Ominously, they downgraded the United States from a “full democracy” to a “flawed democracy,” yet noted that this was not a consequence of Donald Trump’s election, but rather reflected the conditions that helped him win the first place, such as an unfair electoral system, among other factors. The report includes a useful interactive map of their assessment for every nation, including scores going back several years, so you can see how democracy has trended worldwide over the last decade.
The Daily Kos International Elections Digest is compiled by Stephen Wolf and David Beard, with additional contributions from James Lambert, Daniel Nichanian, and Daniel Donner, and is edited by David Nir.
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