EsadeGeo Daily Digest, 13/07/2020

Bloomberg – Marek Strzelecki and Maciej Martewicz / President Duda has unassailable lead in pivotal Polish vote

  • Poland’s President Andrzej Duda is poised to win a highly-charged election after a bitter battle that pitted the conservative incumbent against a pro-European challenger.
  • Five years into a nationalist makeover, Duda and his allied Law & Justice party have transformed Poland from a nation hailed as a model of post-communist change to one battling against the European Union’s values. With another term, the government could erode the rule of law so much that Poland’s remains out of the EU mainstream for years.
  • “This is heading for the courts due to the scale of irregularities and the small margin between the candidates,” said Anna Materska-Sosnowska, a political scientist at Warsaw University. “Regardless of the final result, we have a completely split country and both candidates realize this.”
  • The victory sends a difficult message to Brussels and Berlin. Germany pays the biggest chunk of the bills and Poland is the biggest net beneficiary of EU funds. While the financial relationship is clear, the ideological drift has been just as apparent.
  • The Guardian – Christian Davies / Future of ‘Third Republic’ defines run-off vote in Poland

The Washington Post – Ishaan Tharoor / The trouble with making Hagia Sophia a mosque again

  • For a leader who has championed the steady reassertion of his nation’s Islamic heritage, restoring Turkey’s most famous site of worship to the Muslim faithful would be a powerful legacy.
  • A 1934 decree by Turkey’s secularist modern founder, Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, made Hagia Sophia into a museum that commemorated the depth of its history, which predates the advent of Islam. It became a monument to a universal legacy that transcends religion and underscored Istanbul’s place at the heart of different cultures and faiths
  • Some critics lamented what they saw as a blow to Turkish secularism. “To convert it back to a mosque is to say to the rest of the world unfortunately we are not secular anymore,” Nobel Prize-winning novelist Orhan Pamuk told the BBC on Friday.
  • The country’s opposition parties haven’t made too much of a fuss. “Turkey is a country where religion and nationalism intersect, so that many of the staunchly anti-Erdogan camp would back the principle of Turkish sovereignty over the monument,” observed Louis Fishman, a professor at Brooklyn College.
  • Haaretz – Louis Fishman Erdogan turns Hagia Sophia into a mosque: Islamists rejoice, Trump is silent and Turkey’s opposition won’t be distracted 

Financial Times – Max Seddon Russian Governor’s arrest sparks anti-Putin protests

  • Sergei Furgal, a former MP who won against a Kremlin-backed candidate in 2018 to become governor of the Khabarovsk region, is the latest target of a recent wave of searches and detentions.
  • Analysts say the arrests indicate that Mr Putin’s show of force in the highly stage-managed constitutional vote rests on shaky ground. The Kremlin has hailed the vote outcome, with over 70 per cent in favour of the changes. But it came as the Russian president’s approval ratings have sunk to record lows and living standards have stagnated.
  • On Saturday, about 35,000 people, the largest show of discontent in the region’s history according to local media, forced through barriers set up by police under the pretext of disinfecting Khabarovsk’s main square. They chanted “Putin must resign!” and “Down with Moscow!”
  • The investigation appears to have begun after Mr Furgal refused to drop out in favour of Khabarovsk’s Kremlin-appointed governor and rode his candidacy to victory in 2018. Investigators said four people were arrested last November in relation with the case and had given evidence implicating Mr Furgal in the murders.
  • The New York Times – Andrew Higgins / Protests rock Russian Far East with calls for Putin to resign

Politico – Christian OliverCorruption crisis puts Bulgaria’s Borissov on the ropes

  • For more than a decade, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and other center-right EU leaders have never wanted to peer too deeply into how their faithful Bulgarian ally Boyko Borissov runs his country. They will now finally have to lift the lid on his premiership.
  • Since Thursday night, the Balkan nation has erupted in the biggest wave of anti-government protests in seven years. The immediate focus of the current protests is on two powerbrokers who shun the daily limelight: Ahmed Dogan, former head of the country’s ethnic Turkish party, and his ally Delyan Peevski, a media baron. 
  • The trigger point came on July 7 when Hristo Ivanov, a former justice minister and leader of the anti-corruption Yes Bulgaria party, pulled off a successful video stunt by filming his landing in a rubber dingy on a Black Sea beach. While the beach is theoretically public land, Ivanov was set upon by security guards because the stretch of coast is the basecamp of Dogan.
  • For Borissov, the overarching threat is indeed that patience is wearing thin with his party. Tsvetan Tsvetanov, GERB’s former No. 2 who has split off and wants to form his own political group after being caught up in a housing scandal, has warned that half of the party’s voter base could peel away amid the current showdown.
  • Al Jazeera– Mariya Petkova Bulgaria Rocked by Protests amid coronavirus fears

Today’s long reads:

The selected pieces do not necessarily reflect the views of Javier Solana and EsadeGeo. The summaries above may include word-for-word excerpts from their respective pieces.

Política Internacional |