Politics this week
Enrique Peña Nieto won Mexico’s presidential election on July 1st, returning the Institutional Revolutionary Party to power after a 12-year hiatus. Mr Peña beat left-winger Andrés Manuel López Obrador by 6.6 percentage points. The defeated candidate claimed fraud and called for a full recount. The electoral authority began a partial recount, but said this was unlikely to alter the result. See article
Paraguay was suspended from Mercosur, the South American trade block, after its Congress carried out a lightning impeachment of the elected president, Fernando Lugo. The block’s other members—Argentina, Brazil and Uruguay—agreed to admit Venezuela; its entry had been blocked by Paraguay’s Senate.
Demonstrations against a big gold project in northern Peru led to clashes with police in which three people were killed and 21 injured.
On July 1st Venezuela’s president, Hugo Chávez, kicked off his campaign for a third stint in office with rallies—and a whopping fine for Globovisión, the country’s only remaining anti-government television station. See article
Waiting to pounce
Police investigators raided the home and office of Nicolas Sarkozy, France’s former president, in the early hours of July 3rd as part of an inquiry into allegations of campaign-finance irregularities. The raids came after the expiry of Mr Sarkozy’s presidential immunity in June.
The Cour des Comptes, the French national auditor, found that an extra €6 billion-10 billion of savings would be needed to meet deficit targets. The new Socialist government said it would do this mostly through tax increases on companies and on the rich. See article
Ukraine’s parliament passed a law to allow regional governments to adopt Russian as an official working language, provoking violent protests in Kiev. The chairman of parliament resigned over the bill.
Heinz Fromm, head of Germany’s domestic intelligence service, resigned after a parliamentary inquiry into the bungling of an investigation into a murderous neo-Nazi cell. Agents destroyed key documents from informants and failed to act on tip-offs.
The German chancellor, Angela Merkel, faced strong criticism at home after the latest European summit. Even politicians in her ruling coalition criticised her for giving in to demands for more generous conditions for the euro zone’s bail-out funds.
An “action group” of nine countries, including the five permanent members of the UN Security Council and Iraq, Kuwait, Qatar and Turkey, agreed in Geneva that a “transitional governing body” should be formed in Syria “by mutual consent”. The opposition lamented that the text made no specific reference to their demand for President Bashar Assad to step down as part of any agreement. Opposition groups met later in Cairo in the hope of establishing a united front. See article
Human Rights Watch, a New York-based lobby group, said that Syria’s government was practising a widespread policy of state-sanctioned torture and that the regime’s actions amounted to a crime against humanity.
At least 15 worshippers at a church in Garissa, a mainly ethnic-Somali town in eastern Kenya, were killed by assailants presumed to be members of Somalia’s rebel Shabab movement linked to al-Qaeda. Kenyan government forces have been seeking to squash it. See article
Islamist militants attacked a 15th-century mosque in Mali’s ancient city of Timbuktu. Ansar Dine, a group believed to have links to al-Qaeda, said that the city’s Sufi shrines were idolatrous. See article
A Zimbabwean minister loyal to President Robert Mugabe said that white- and foreign-owned businesses must hand over a controlling stake to black citizens within a year. The prime minister, Morgan Tsvangirai, disagreed, saying that the government had neither discussed nor endorsed the move.
A loss of momentum
Fears grew of a return to recession in America, as a key measure of manufacturing activity, the Institute for Supply Management’s survey, fell to its lowest level since the recovery officially began in 2009.
Mitt Romney got a mild boost in his battle to eject Barack Obama from the White House as figures showed that the Republican Governors Association raised more money than its Democratic counterpart in the first quarter of 2012. In 2008 Mr Obama had far more money to spend than his Republican rival, John McCain.
But Mr Romney came under fire from, among others, Rupert Murdoch, for the poor quality of his campaign team. Although the race appeared to have tightened to a virtual dead heat in mid-June, the latest polls show Mr Obama back out ahead again, and leading in all the main battleground states.
Mammoth Lakes, a mountain resort in California’s High Sierra, became the second city in the state to file for bankruptcy in a week, following a similar move by Stockton in the Central Valley.
China cancelled plans to build a copper-alloy plant in Shifang, in the south-western province of Sichuan, after protests by residents led to clashes with police. The head of the local Communist Party said the decision was made in response to public disquiet.
A report by Japan’s parliament said last year’s disaster at the Fukushima nuclear plant should have been foreseen and prevented. It also attacked the plant operator and the government for their responses to the crisis.
America offered a limited apology for a friendly-fire incident in November last year, when 24 Pakistani soldiers were killed by its aircraft. In response Pakistan agreed to reopen the strategic routes over its territory for lorries supplying NATO forces in Afghanistan. See article
The South Korean delegation to the International Whaling Commission, meeting in Panama City, unveiled a proposal to begin a programme of hunting for scientific research. Although this is allowed under the global moratorium of 1986, only Japan is doing it. The plan was heavily criticised by other members.