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NightWatch 20120504

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For the night of 4 May 2012

Elections this weekend: Three important elections will be held through 6 May.

4 May Iran held its second round of elections for some 65 seats in the 290-seat Majlis (legislature) for which no candidate obtained the necessary percentage of the vote to win. Early reports indicate that the conservatives, who are anti-Ahmadi-Nejad, will increase their majority in the Majlis.

Comment: The first round of elections was in March and resulted in a strong conservative victory, meaning anti-Ahmadi-Nejad. This run-off election completes the defeat of Ahmadi-Nejad in the power struggle with Supreme Leader Khamenei over national leadership. The issues were domestic, mainly about Ahmadi-Nejad's failures of leadership. There is no good news for the US in this election.

6 May France will hold a presidential election in which incumbent President Sarkozy seeks a second term. Campaigning ended on 4 May with polls showing Socialist Party candidate Francois Hollande ahead.

Comment: The polls indicate that the election will be a referendum on the austerity measures that the Sarkozy government has implemented during the European economic crisis. Hollande has campaigned on a platform of increased government spending to ease daily living conditions for workers. He rejects Sarkozy's pro-business and banking policy of paying down the deficit and the sovereign debt and promised to renegotiate the European Union treaty agreed in December by which 27 members voted to reduce deficits to an agreed level or pay fines.

France's budget deficit in 2011 was 5.8% of Gross Domestic Product. The target for 2013 is 3%. France's sovereign debt was 86% of GDP. Unemployment was 9.1% in 2011 according to the CIA World Fact Book.

If Sarkozy loses, he will be the sixth state leader to be ousted recently in a growing backlash against austerity.

6 May Greek parliamentary elections are expected to provide no majority for any party and no prospects for a stable coalition government.

Comment: This election is up for grabs because popular hostility against established political leaders and parties is widespread. Temporary Prime Minister Papademos has only been in office since November and will not return, making him potentially the seventh leader to be ousted in the backlash against austerity.

The election will determine whether Greece stays in or leaves the eurozone and whether it maintains internal stability. If the New Democracy and Socialists lead a coalition, the experts say Greece will struggle to honor its obligations to the European Union, the European Central Bank and the International Monetary Fund, but there will be street protests.

If a coalition of smaller extremist parties tries to form a government, the European Union bailout agreement will be scraped and the country will continue on the path of contraction in economic life and standard of living, but the street protests might be delayed a bit.

Egypt: Military police, using water cannons and tear gas, clashed with protestors near the Ministry of Defense building in Cairo. One soldier was reported killed and more than 370 were injured, according to the Health Ministry. Violent protests also occurred in Suez, where demonstrators stoned the governor's building.

Comment: This was the second violent clash this week, the first of the presidential campaign. Nine people were killed on Wednesday. The protestors, reportedly led by Islamists, want the Army out of politics.

End of NightWatch for 4 May.

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