Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Two American Elections

For someone that covers politics quite a bit on this blog I have commented little on the US midterm elections, mainly because there are tens of thousands of other blogs doing just that, many of them far better than I could. I will however rejoice briefly, with many of my American friends, in the Democrats' wrestling control of the House of Representatives back from the Republicans after twelve years in minority. They need two closely-run Senate races in Montana and Virginia, both Republican-held seats, to take the upper house.

Pundits are calling it a referendum on the Bush administration and the Iraq war, both partly true, but given that Clinton suffered a similar whipping in the 1994 midterms and went on to be easily re-elected two years later, we should not get too excited just yet. And even if the Senate falls to the Democrats that will still leave only one branch of government in their hands. And we still also await the growing of both a spine and a pair of testicles that might allow them to develop into a genuinely progressive party. Remember, only one Senator on either side of the house voted against the invasion of Iraq.

Meanwhile, further south, Daniel Ortega, a name that will be familiar to those that watched Latin American politics closely in the 1980's has returned to power after sixteen years in opposition. The former Sandinista leader has toned down his revolutionary rhetoric, going so far as to dress himself up as a devout Catholic in order to get elected, and, with 38% of the vote, he has avoided the necessity of a second round. The Yanks are unhappy with this, having sent their erstwhile Nicaraguan 'expert' Oliver North to Managua to strongly advise the locals from exercising their democratic will in the wrong way, just as they did in the 1990 elections, but this time with less success. Ortega remains pally with Fidel Castro and Hugo Chavez though he is unlikely to be too much of a firebrand, if the way he has prostrated himself before the Catholic Church is anything to go by. Nicaragua outlawed abortion by a unanimous parliamentary vote two weeks ago, no doubt the first step in a descent back into the dark old days.