Those in power and those fighting for it have made headlines this year, some for very controversial reasons. With the whole world eagerly anticipating the American Presidential election in 2016, it has been an eventful year for the electorate that’s watching the potential candidates. The elections that have taken place in 2015, both in India as well as abroad, will have long lasting impacts on politics in the years to come.
US Presidential Election candidates
As the world watches with bated breath, the potential party candidates for American President have been battling it out, trying to swing public support in their favour. Business tycoon and probable Republican party candidate, Donald Trump, leads with the highest support base, according to public opinion polls. His support base has risen from 27 percent of the Republican voters in October, to a whopping 41 percent in December. In the wake of shootings at San Bernadino in December, Trump courted controversy when he proposed a temporary ban on Muslims entering the United States till better security measures are implemented. This suggestion only served to enhance his growing support-Republican voters were seen to be in favour of his idea, though it garnered flak from all quarters globally. A petition on the British Government’s website, seeking to ban Trump from the UK, has gathered over 500,000 signatures.
Meanwhile, former Vermont Senator, Bernie Sanders, and former Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton are vying for the Democratic party nomination. According to polls, Sanders lags Clinton by close to 25 points. Bernie Sanders and Trump have been on a collision course over their disparate views on economic policies, and other issues of national and international issues, with Sanders holding a more liberal, progressive viewpoint.
UK General Election, May 7
For the first time since 1992, a Conservative Party majority government, with a working majority of 12, was elected in 2015, with David Cameron securing a second term as Prime Minister. The Labour party with Ed Miliband at the helm came a close second in terms of votes. The Liberal Democrats, who had governed in coalition with the Conservatives since 2010, suffered their worst defeat since the 1970 elections.
Referendum in Greece, July 5
The European Commission, International Monetary Fund and the European Central Bank jointly proposed certain bailout conditions on Greece, according to which, certain fiscal reforms would have to be implemented by the debt-ridden country, in consultation with the IMF, EC and ECB. A referendum, the first since 1974, was held to decide if these conditions were to be accepted. The public (over 61 percent) voted a clear no.
Myanmar elections, November 8
The National League for Democracy, led by Aung San Suu Kyi, secured an absolute majority in the national parliament. The 2015 general elections were the first openly contested elections since 1990. The Union Solidarity and Development Party which has a strong military backing, with Thein Stein as President, had been ruling since 2010. The NLD’s victory marked a complete overthrow of the vestiges of the military rule that Myanmar had previously experienced till 2010.
Though the NLD won the elections, its leader, Suu Kyi is barred from holding the position of President according to the constitution since both her children are British citizens. The President will be chosen indirectly by the NLD dominated Legislature by March 2016.
Delhi Assembly Elections, February 7
The underdog, the Aam Aadmi Party, made history when it secured an absolute majority, winning 67 out of 70 seats, trumping the political heavyweights-the Congress and BJP. Arvind Kejriwal assumed office for the second time as Delhi’s CM, having resigned after 49 days in office in 2014, due to issues over the Jan Lokpal Bill. Kejriwal is currently engaged in a spat with the BJP over allegations that Arun Jaitley was involved in certain irregularities, during his term as DDCA chief.
Bihar Legislative Assembly Elections, October 12-November 5
The Bihar elections were a face off between the ‘Mahagatabandhan’ (an alliance between the JDU, led by Nitish Kumar in Bihar, and RJD, led by Lalu Prasad Yadav, supported by the Indian National Congress) and the BJP led NDA. The RJD won the highest number of seats (80) with the JDU coming a close second with 71. Nitish Kumar secured his third term as CM with the 2015 elections. The elections were a landslide victory for the alliance, as it trumped the NDA and BJP’s victory in the 2014 general elections, indicating that public opinion might have swung against Modi.
Narendra Modi’s foreign visits
During his tenure in office, PM Narendra Modi has made several international trips and met with leaders of various countries, in the interest of foreign policy and bilateral relations. Modi’s visit to the UAE in August was the first by an Indian PM in 34 years. He also became the first Indian PM to visit Mongolia in May. During his international visits, Modi sought the support of the leaders of several countries for India’s permanent membership in the UNSC.
On December 25, Modi made a sudden, impromptu visit to Lahore and met his Pakistani counterpart, Nawaz Sharif. His ‘surprise,’ unannounced visit was seen globally as a sign of good will and improving relations between the two nations which have historically been at loggerheads.