Week in Review

It’s All About Elections

Brett Stewart ’14

The news this week focused primarily on elections, both in the US and abroad. Naturally, one topic of interest is the “Super Tuesday” primaries, where GOP nominees battled, once again, to be their party’s flag-bearer for the Republican Convention. One could surmise that Mitt Romney won the day, but Rick Santorum, a heel-biting adversary, persisted despite the frontrunner’s plans. Newt Gingrich and Ron Paul continued to stay irrelevant as they desperately tried to win a few delegates—making them seem more like vote stealers than serious candidates. In the Middle-East, amid recent global tension over its nuclear facilities and a looming military strike from Israel, Iran had its first elections in years. However, the elections gave Ayatollah Ali Khamenei an ironclad majority against his rival, President Ahmadinejad, only stirring up more conflict between the two political figures. Finally in Russia, Vladimir Putin, who was poised to win his country’s elections, returned to the Kremlin as President after last Sunday’s elections. Allegations of electoral fraud have continued to haunt the internal affairs of Russia ever since the December parliamentary elections, but Putin still moves strong as he becomes Russia’s President once again. All around the world, the key word in this week’s news is “election.”

On March 6, 2012, aka “Super Tuesday,” the GOP Nominees fought over 10 states to further secure their nomination. Mitt Romney gained early (and expected) wins in Vermont, Virginia, Idaho, Alaska and Massachusetts, while Oklahoma, North Dakota, and Tennessee went to Rick Santorum. Ohio, considered a key state both in the primaries and the general election, was fought for by both Santorum and Romney, but at the end of the day Romney won the Buckeye State just a few points ahead of Santorum. Newt won his home state of Georgia, albeit with some minor fighting against Romney in Atlanta. Sadly, Ron Paul won no states. Over the entire day, “Super Tuesday” awarded 419 delegates for the candidates. According to the New York Times delegate count, Romney managed to obtain 216 delegates, propping him up to 415. Santorum gained 84 delegates, putting him up to 176. Gingrich gained 72 for a total of 105 and Ron Paul gained 22 for a total of 46. [1] The Huffington Post explains the reasons behind differing delegate counts across sources. 1,144 pledged delegates are required for a candidate to secure the nomination at the GOP convention. While it is only March, the four candidates continue to fight in what seems to be a long and bitter electoral race for the Republican Party nomination. Romney kept his lead, but anything could happen in the next few months.

In the Middle-East, Iran held parliamentary elections for the first time since the height of the Green movement protests in 2009. Ever since these protests, the Iranian government has blocked all elections amidst the chaos. However, with global tension mounting with Israel and a chance of a military strike on Iran’s nuclear facilities, elections were reopened. The parliamentary elections awarded Iran’s Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, an ironclad majority against rival President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. The growing tension between the two political figures escalated when Iran’s religious leader called for the removal of the position of President of Iran. Now that the Supreme Leader obtained a decisive majority in Parliament, he has strong leverage to move forward with his own agenda in Iran. The election results may also instill a more religious approach towards policy both domestically and abroad, especially regarding Israel, the “West,” and its own citizenry.

In Russian elections last Sunday, Vladimir Putin, former President and former Prime Minister, took back his seat as President of the country. Putin won 64.7% of the country’s vote, comfortably above the 50% mark needed to avoid a runoff election. He now has extended his claim to power to 18 years. “We have gained a clean victory!” Putin stated, standing next to his protégé Dmitri Medvedev. “We have won in an open and honest battle…Glory to Russia!” Putin cheered in celebration as he stood in a crowd of thousands, surrounded by banners stating, “We Believe in Putin!” However, there has been growing concern over the handling of the elections ever since the December parliamentary elections. Allegations of electoral fraud and ballot-stuffing, in favor of the ruling party, United Russia, paint a grim picture of the domestic politics of Russia. Many believe in the ideals of United Russia, but some call it the party of “crooks and thieves,” creating concern over the direction of the country. The polls projected Putin to win regardless of the controversial elections in December, but some Russian citizens worry Putin could stay in power until 2025. He has led the country since his Presidency in 2000, after the resignation of Boris Yeltsin, and during his premiership from 2008 to 2012. During this time, he was considered the “man behind the throne” of his successor President Dmitri Medvedev. Now Putin takes back his position and resumes full command of the country while dealing with the internal tension created from the elections.

[1] I did not include Wyoming’s delegate count due to the fact it does not end until March 10th.