Vladimir Putin has won the Russian presidential election, reclaiming his former position after operating as Prime Minister for the last term of government.
Results indicate a landslide win with a majority of 64%, in what Putin declared was an “open and honest battle”. However opposition groups dispute the fairness of the election, claiming the contest was “clearly skewed in favour of current Prime Minister Vladimir Putin”.
In a statement Tonino Picula, the spokesman for the Organization for security and Co-operation said “The point of elections is that the outcome should be certain…This was not the case in Russia. There was no real competition and abuse of government resources ensured that the ultimate winner of the election was never in doubt.”
Putin has been at the top of Russian politics since his first term as prime minister in 2000. As a former KGB agent, he has always been criticized for his association with private business particularly the oil sector and accusations of corruption have been prevalent throughout his political career.
Following allegations of corruption in previous elections, measures were taken to improve accountability and accuracy. Camera’s were set up in polling stations to prevent vote rigging and foul play. However Putin’s opposition have already declared these measures as ineffective, amid claims of inaccuracies and the falsification of results. Alexey Navalny an anti corruption campaigner accused Putin’s part of organizing carousel voting, where bus loads of individuals toured several polling stations in order to cast multiple votes.
The row centres over issues of press censorship and began after independent student newspaper The Journal published an article detailing dissent, and a possible vote of no confidence against the current president Kasia Bylinska, at the Napier Student’s Association.
The article stated that allegations of six counts of unconstitutional behaviour had been made against Ms Bylinska and that eight programme representatives had signed a motion for an emergency meeting to enact a vote of no confidence in the president.
The NSA responded by removing all copies of the publication from the university, which has prompted accusations of press censorship by members of the student body.
Rik Carranza, who ran against Ms Bylinska in last year’s election, said: “This action taken by the NSA is disgusting and shares more in common with censorship in China than creating an equal playing field for election candidates which the elections committee is trying to justify.
“I am a proud member of the student union movement and have been for many years now and let me tell you, I have never seen such a flagrant disregard for freedom of speech in my time in NUS. The NSA has infringed basic human rights and they should not be allowed to continue”, he continued.
Edinburgh Napier University said: ” The University does not condone the decision of the NSA to remove copies of The Journal from its campuses.”
The campaign has earned support from SNP MSP Shirley-Anne Somerville. She said: “Freedom of the press is integral to any democratic society. The Journal is a valued resource in the city, keeping students up to date with student issues and wider current affairs – it is a respected paper and provides valuable experience and employment to…… those interested in the field of journalism. I hope that this current dispute is concluded as soon as possible.”
The protesters are also hoping to gain enough signatures on a petition for an emergency meeting for a vote of no confidence in Kasia Bylinska. This would over-ride the need for programme representatives to lend their support. The petition currently has over 200 signatures after just a few hours of campaigning.
Christopher Pilkington, one of the most active members of the protest and a programme representative for the Business Management with Marketing course, said: The idea of a university – a place that is intended to shape young minds – being actively censored is intolerable.
“We cannot be brought up to accept a censored press, particularly when the organisation doing the censoring is refusing to be held accountable to the students it claims to represent.”
Following the publication last week, all copies of The Journal have been removed from Napier campuses. The NSA have yet to issue a statement regarding the reasons for the removal and have so far declined to comment on the Journalgate protests.
Kenneth Dale-Risk, Law lecturer at Edinburgh Napier University said he did not believe the original Journal article to be defamatory stating that it was “an article of fact.”
European heads of state have chosen Herman van Rompuy to be the European Union’s first president after a state dinner.
Herman van Rompuy, Belgium’s prime minister will be the new president and Baroness Catherine Ashton, European Commissioner for the United Kingdom will be the foreign secretary.
The president will be the most senior figure in the European Union and the foreign secretary will represent all member countries abroad.
Van Rompuy said he will respect the diversity of the union and will work for a stronger and more united bloc.
He added: “I will listen carefully to everyone and I will make sure that our deliberations will turn into results for everyone.”
US President Barack Obama said the appointments would “strengthen the EU and enable it to be an even stronger partner to the United States”.
However, not everybody cheered at the idea of having an EU president. Gerard Batten, UKIP MEP for London said the appointment of a president only adds insult to injury.
He said: “It’s bad enough having the Lisbon Treaty rammed down our throats but a president from a nothing country telling us we shouldn’t exist? They are jackals biting the lion’s tail.”
The post is being created under the Lisbon Treaty, which comes into effect on 1 December. The treaty is intended to make the EU bloc a stronger global force.
The European Union is a bloc of 27 nations. Up to now its presidency has been held by each member state in turn for six months, chairing and organizing Council meetings.
The new president’s role will be more permanent and he will preside over the European Council’s meetings every six months and will call for special meetings if necessary, according to Reuters.
He will chair the EU Council, which brings together the heads of state or government of the 27 member states, has legislative and budgetary powers which it shares with the European Parliament, and is the main policy-making body.
The post comes with chauffer driven cars, a brand new £280m headquarter, an annual salary of £250.000 and a potential annual pension of 70% of his salary.
America has elected its first black president. President Elect Barack Obama, 47,gave his victory speech from Glen Park in his hometown of Chicago at Midnight (5 o’clock this morning U.K time).
The speech gave praise to McCain, as well as his own campaign team and family. “You have earned the new puppy that’s coming with us to the White House” he joked to his daughters. He also told the story of one 106 year old voter, Anne Nixon Cooper, who had voted for the first time, illustrating how America has changed in the last century, and how it may continue to change.
“I will listen to you, especially when we disagree” said Obama, reaching out to those who did not support him, despite their opposition.
Senator McCain gave his speech conceding the victory to Obama earlier, from Phoenix Alabama, congratulating Obama on his victory. McCain’s supporters booed at the mention of Obama. Chants of “we want john” were heard in Phoenix. McCain quieted the crowd and continued to praise the new president elect, appearing magnanimous in defeat and asking his supporters to forget the defeat and to reach out to the new president elect, for the benefit of all Americans.
Elsewhere in the U.S sentiments seem to be more hopeful towards the new president elect. Chants of “Yes We Can” and “Brand New Day”, two of Obama’s campaign slogans were heard at many rallies and election night parties. One particular celebration saw former presidential candidate and civil rights activist Jessie Jackson shed tears of happiness.
Mr Obama’s victory has been hailed as “another Camelot” for the world. With “the politics of fear and militarism … about to come to an end” as Dr Robert Franklin, president of Moorhouse college (Dr Kings Alma Matter) said. This may well be the common view across the world. To meet his manifesto promises, Barack Obama will have to work hard – but as one Blogger featured on the BBC’s coverage of the election said: “Tonight we celebrate – tomorrow we work”.
Celebrations were not confined to America, with Barack Obama’s grandmothers village in Kenya celebrating and Kenya holding tomorrow as a day of celebration.
At the time of publishing there are still some states which have not declared a victor, though President elect lead the electoral collage vote with 338 to 155 for McCain. 270 electoral votes were needed to carry the presidency. There is still a chance that the already impressive victory will turn into a landslide. The Democrats have also won control of the senate.
The current president, George Bush, called Obama to congratulate him saying “it was an amazing night”, despite being from the opposing party.
Mr Obama will take office as the 44th president of the United States of America on the 21st of January next year.