Weekend in Democracy: Election Takeaways from Ukraine, Brazil, Tunisia, and Uruguay

This weekend was an active one for voters around the world– citizens across Ukraine, Brazil, Tunisia, and Uruguay went to the polls on Sunday, and now have newly elected governments.  These elections drew keen interest from international observers, and as we face down crisis and uncertainty around the world, are certain to have global implications.  Here’s what you need to know from the weekend’s democratic exercises:

Ukrainian President Poroshenko with Secretary of State John Kerry this June

Ukrainian President Poroshenko with Secretary of State John Kerry this June.  Photo courtesy of U.S. Department of State

Ukraine

The blocs led by President Petro Poroshenko and Arseniy Yatsenyuk each captured roughly 21 percent of the vote on Sunday, and will likely form the core of a pro-European coalition that will lead Ukraine’s parliament.  The government now has a clear mandate to pursue closer ties with the European Union, and to carry out the ambitious reform packages needed to clear Kiev of corrupt officials and get the Ukrainian economy, which contracted by 6 percent last year, back on track.  The separatist held regions on Donetsk and Luhansk did not participate in the vote, and will hold their own elections on November 2nd.

Brazil

Incumbent President Dilma Rousseff held on to defeat challenger Aécio Neves by about 3 percent in the closest Brazilian presidential election in more than 100 years.  The election was bitterly contested, yet Ms. Rousseff needs to pivot quickly to address the pressing political and economic concerns facing Brazil.  Since President Rousseff took office in 2011, the Brazilian stock market has fallen over 50 percent in value, and the economy is growing at the slowest rate in over a decade.  This comes along with reports of endemic corruption at Brazil’s largest company, Petrobas, which has ties to political elite in Rousseff’s inner circle.  News of Ms. Rousseff’s re-election quickly impacted the Brazilian stock market and Real, both of which were falling on Monday.

Tunisia

Tunisian voters elected the secular Nidaa Tounes party (38 percent) over the Islamist Ennahda party (31 percent) to lead its governing coalition.  Ennahda had led the Tunisian government since the 2011 elections, but fell out of favor after what was widely viewed as mismanagement of the Tunisian economy. Political reforms implemented following the Arab Spring in 2010 have been broadly hailed as a great success, with 70 percent of Tunisians either very satisfied or somewhat satisfied with the new government as of February 2014. However, economic pressure continues to build as the country struggles with high unemployment, especially among youth, and an economic growth rate that has stalled since 2010.

Uruguay

Parliamentary and presidential elections were held in Uruguay on Sunday, with the Broad Front party holding onto a majority in parliament.  Meanwhile, presidential elections will go into a run-off on November 30 between Broad Front party candidate Tabare Vazquez and National Party candidate Luis Alberto Lacau Pou. Vazquez captured over 47% of the vote in the first poll and looks well-poised to take the presidency in the second round run-off. He previously served as president from 2005-2010, when he won a great deal of respect with his blend of pro-market economic policy and social welfare programs.

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