More than 200 people were killed in Syria on election day, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human rights.
1. To no one’s surprise, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad won Tuesday’s discredited presidential elections, held in the midst of a brutal civil war. Assad apparently won 88.7% of the vote against two nominal candidates, according to official figures.
Debbie Wasserman Schultz, along with other spin-mode Dems, have been downplaying Republican David Jolly’s victory in the race for the vacant congressional seat in Florida’s 13th district. Judging by the network news coverage of that story, the “old school” media agree there’s “nothing to see here”:
As the Media Research Center reported, the mainstream networks didn’t mention the David Jolly victory at all in their evening newscasts the day after the election, and barely found time to talk about it elsewhere:
CBS was the only network to report on the race Tuesday evening, but even they were nowhere to be seen the night after. Correspondent Nancy Cordes had made it clear Tuesday that the race had serious implications: “Both parties see this race as a referendum on the President’s health care law.”
ABC and NBC combined for a whopping 33 seconds of coverage on the election on Tuesday and Wednesday, with zero mention of it on their evening newscasts.
A GOP win in a tight race that many considered a referendum on Obamacare? Yawn.
If Democrat Alex Sink had won that election, the networks might still be on the air airing stories about was a waste of money it is to even go forward with the November elections.
Editor’s note: This post has been updated for clarity.
“There are no rules any more. It’s all about the preservation of Erdogan.”
ISTANBUL — In an emotional post-election speech late Sunday night, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Turkey’s embattled prime minister, made one thing clear: He isn’t going anywhere. He suggested instead that he’ll veer more hardline in fighting off the mounting challenges to his 11-year run in office, vowing to pursue arrests against his rivals and even predicting that some might flee. Despite months of alleged phone-tap leaks that paint Erdogan and his allies as shockingly corrupt — and the outcry over his recent bans of YouTube and Twitter — his Islamic-rooted Justice and Development Party (AKP) won a resounding victory in municipal elections held across the country on Sunday. It took some 45% of the vote, nearly 20% more than its nearest competitor, and kept its crucial hold on Istanbul and Ankara. Both Erdogan and his opponents had painted the polls as a referendum on his standing amid the crisis. He called the result an “Ottoman slap” for his enemies — and seemed to be planning more. “They will pay the price,” he said. Erdogan has won praise at home and abroad for elevating Turkey’s middle class and pushing its military out of politics. But he has faced unprecedented resistance since June 2013, when protests over the demolition of an Istanbul park spiraled into nationwide unrest over his heavy-handed governing style. Erdogan refused to back down then and has stuck to that posture amid the scandal rocking his government now — sending riot cops to quell protests and purging hundreds of police and justice officials to combat ongoing corruption probes. Throughout, he has stressed repeatedly that there’s only one way to beat him — at the ballot box. But Erdogan’s increasing crackdowns are sparking concern that even elections in Turkey may be turning into an unfair fight. As two important national votes approach, Erdogan appears more willing than ever to bend the country’s democratic institutions to his will — or even to subvert them — in order to keep his hold on power. “I think he’ll use whatever means possible,” said Steven A. Cook, a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations. “There’s a sense that there are no rules any more. It’s all about the preservation of Erdogan and the AKP.” Turkey will hold presidential elections in August, while parliamentary polls are due next year and could be called sooner. A newly emboldened Erdogan is expected to compete in one of these votes. AKP bylaws on term limits technically rule out another run for the three-time prime minister, but they could be rewritten, allowing him to stand again. Or he may run for president, a largely ceremonial post now that would be sure to grow in influence in Erdogan’s hands. With these votes on the horizon, Cook and other observers said, Erdogan and the AKP will likely work to consolidate power — and to ensure that they retain the upper hand against any potential challenge at the polls. “I think they’ll use every tool they have,” Cook said. “They’ll use a combination of things like coercion, intimidation, and using the institutions of the state that they can manipulate to get what they want.” Erdogan and the AKP already exert considerable influence over the country’s press, using financial intimidation of media companies to win favorable coverage and sometimes suing journalists who draw their ire. In one recent leak, Erdogan calls the director of a major TV station to get an opposition politician’s speech pulled off the air; in another he reduces a powerful newspaper owner to tears. These intimidation tactics have lately expanded to the outlets publishing news of the leaks — one editor was questioned by police last week, and several opposition news sites were knocked offline by cyber attacks on election day. In addition to its recent social media bans, the government has given itself powerful new web censorship tools. If it begins to arrest those it blames for the corruption leaks, as Erdogan has suggested, it will raise the stakes considerably. Cook said the AKP could also pass laws to increase its control over the electoral process — much as recent legislation has tightened its control over the judiciary. An ineffectual opposition that even many Erdogan critics despise enables such efforts. “It’s a system where there are really no checks and balances any longer,” Cook said. “The question is what kind of resistance they’ll get.” The situation looks ripe for escalation from both sides, said Soner Cagaptay, the director of the Turkish Research Program at the Washington Institute. For the first time in the upcoming polls, he said, Erdogan may see groups from across Turkey’s fragmented political spectrum band together to challenge him. “It’s not that they agree politically,” he said. “But they agree on one thing: An elected government cannot be authoritarian.” Erdogan seems less likely than ever to back down. He is embroiled in a bitter feud with a powerful one-time ally, the Islamic cleric Fetullah Gulen, who is thought to command considerable influence in Turkey from his self-exile in Pennsylvania, particularly over the police and judiciary. Gulen and his followers are widely believed to be driving the recent corruption investigations and leaks. Erdogan has called them a “parallel state,” and it’s Gulenists in Turkey that he likely plans to target with arrest. At the same time, Erdogan remains locked in an increasingly divisive struggle with Turkey’s political opposition — and in particular the largely young and left-leaning segment of the population who filled the streets for last year’s demonstrations and have been especially riled by the social media bans. Erdogan may feel that he must retain power to prevail in these battles, Cagaptay said — and to keep the immunity of the prime minister’s office to avoid facing charges in the corruption probes. “He has created so many political enemies, and so polarized the landscape, that he cannot afford to lose,” Cagaptay said. “It’s very likely that he will become even more authoritarian to prevent the opposition from taking control.” In the coming months, these power struggles could reach a head in the battle for web freedom in Turkey, Cagaptay added. “It’s where all these other freedoms collide,” he said. “Freedom of assembly, expression, and media are all embodied now in freedom of the internet.” As the polls closed on Sunday night, for the first time in recent memory, many Turks sounded the alarm about potential voter fraud. But there was no evidence to support these claims — and in this round of voting at least, Erdogan and the AKP didn’t need the help. As Michael A. Reynolds, a Princeton University professor who has studied Turkish elections, put it: “Erdogan has definitely been shaken. But he’s still in place.” The recent corruption allegations have “landed with a muffled thud” among much of the electorate, he added. “There’s no sign that they have really damaged Erdogan.” Henri Barkey, a Turkey specialist at Lehigh University, noted that Erdogan’s voters have so far stuck with him. “People are voting for him not because they’re blind, but because they’re better off than they were 10 years ago,” he said. “That’s a very strong argument.” Yet many financial analysts have warned that Turkey’s economy is weakening — and it has been shaken by the last year of unrest. Erdogan’s strategy to combat the recent challenges has been to go on the attack — demonizing his opponents and seeming to savor the country’s growing polarization in order to mobilize his base. “I have never seen anything like this [in Turkey],” Barkey said. “The society has become evenly divided — and each side sees the other as illegitimate. And that bodes very poorly.” Kerem Oktem, a scholar at Oxford University who writes on modern Turkey, said that even Erdogan’s victory at the polls on Sunday saw him take less than half of the vote — leaving much of the country increasingly at odds with him as he tightens his grip. “I can’t envision how the 55% of Turks who are not pro-Erdogan are going to consent to this transfer to dictatorship,” he said. As for Erdogan, Oktem added: “He will fight until the bitter end.”
The internet entrepreneur has promised to reveal evidence “that John Key lied.”
1. Internet Party founder Kim Dotcom is expected to hold a dramatic public forum days out from the NZ election aimed at destroying Prime Minister John Key’s credibility.
Fiona Goodall / Getty Timages
The founder of former streaming website Megaupload told 3 News NZ, “I invite everyone to come there because that is going to be the day where I’m going to reveal my evidence.
“My evidence around the political interference and my evidence that John Key lied.”
2. Mr Doctom has booked the Auckland Town Hall five days before the September 20 election, with the intention of releasing documents allegedly showing Mr Key has lied about spying in New Zealand.
NZ Prime Minister John Key. Photo: Phil Walter / Getty Images
According to 3 News NZ the documents will also include leaks by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden.
3. Allegations are also expected to centre around the 2012 raid on Mr Dotcom’s house which saw him arrested linked to US charges of copyright infringement.
3 News NZ / Via 3news.co.nz
Mr Dotcom maintains the Prime Minister knew about the investigation into the internet entrepreneur well in advance.
4. He confronted Mr Key in a 2013 parliamentary hearing into spying laws.
3 News NZ / Via 3news.co.nz
5. Mr Key continues to maintain he had limited knowledge of the raid just one day before it was about to occur.
3 News NZ / Via 3news.co.nz
6. Mr Dotcom’s Internet Party is contesting the September 20 election where John Key is widely tipped to be returned as Prime Minister.
Phil Walter / Getty Images
7. US authorities have been pursuing Kim Dotcom for alleged copyright infringement linked to the operation of defunct streaming website, Megaupload.
Kim Dotcom / Via youtube.com
Kim Schmitz assumed the name and persona Kim Dotcom through more than two decades working as a prominent hacker, businessman and net neutrality activist.
TurboVote is a handy-dandy application that “makes voting easy.” See?
Here’s how easy TurboVote’s made voting for The Washington Free Beacon’s Lachlan Markay:
Better late than never?
BBC News channel boss Jasmine Lawrence urged people not to vote UKIP on Twitter yesterday, in breach of the BBC’s impartiality rules.
1. The BBC has reprimanded a senior journalist for saying UKIP supporters are sexist and racist.
Jasmine Lawrence, assistant editor at the BBC News Channel, will play no part in the coverage of today’s European and local council elections after urging her Twitter followers to “stand up to white, middle class, middle aged men w/ sexist/racist views”.
The BBC said in a statement: “Jasmine Lawrence was tweeting from a personal account. She has been reminded of her responsibility to uphold BBC guidelines. She has deactivated her Twitter account and will now be playing no part in the BBC’s election coverage in coming days.”
Lawrence, who marshalled the rolling news channel’s coverage of the 2012 General Election, has now deleted her account.
UKIP leader Nigel Farage has called for her to be fired.
2. The #WhyImVotingUKIP hashtag went viral this week in the run-up to today’s elections, with people suggesting both genuine and sarcastic reasons.
BBc Broadcasting House
But this incident will be seen as highly embarassing for the BBC, which takes very seriously any allegation that its staff have a liberal bias.
A BBC-commissioned survey in 2011 found that many viewers “saw the BBC as being left-wing or liberal in its programming” while others complained of a lack of impartiality.