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Stories related to the internal politics of states and various domestic issues. 

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Emir of Kuwait dissolves parliament amid continuing political crisis between government and parliament

Emir of Kuwait dissolves parliament amid continuing political crisis between government and parliament

The Emir of Kuwait, Sheikh Mishal Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah, on Thursday issued a decree dissolving the National Assembly following "disrespectful remarks by lawmakers regarding the ruler".  An official statement cited by the state news agency, KUNA,  said the parliament has been dissolved “due to the National Assembly breaching constitutional principles as it failed to show due respect to the political leadership and for deliberately using uncontrolled and offensive language”. The remarks were made by lawmaker Abdulkarim Al-Kandari last week. It is the third time the National Assembly has been dissolved during the past 18 months and the ninth time since 2006 amid non-stop political crises between the elected parliament and the government. The decree said the dissolution was based on article 107 of the constitution, which gives the Emir the authority to dissolve the National Assembly but by stating the reasons. The article also states that fresh elections must be held within two months of the date of the dissolution. The dissolved Assembly was elected barely nine months ago in early June last year after the dissolution of the previous Assembly over disputes with the government. The parliament of Kuwait (National Assembly) has more power than similar institutions in the other Gulf monarchies. This came about after the liberation of Kuwait following the Iraqi invasion and the first Gulf War. Whilst there are no political parties, parliamentarians are usually elected to represent interest groups, including religious groups. In recent years Parliament has been involved in a constant struggle with the government, which is usually led by a member of the ruling al Sabah family. This is the first political crisis under the new Emir, Sheikh Mishal al-Ahmad al-Jaber Al-Sabah, who took over as ruler in December, following the death of his predecessor. The new Emir has as yet also not named a Crown Prince, which leaves the issue of succession open. The Crown Prince usually comes from a different branch of the Al Sabah family, further complicating matters
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Opinion
Opinion: Pashinyan's Constitutional Gambit

Opinion: Pashinyan's Constitutional Gambit

Reforming the constitution of any nation is inherently challenging, but in Armenia it has always proven particularly controversial, writes Onnik James Krekorian in this op-ed for commonspace.eu "Speaking at the Ministry of Justice in January, Pashinyan not only emphasised the necessity of constitutional reform but even argued for a comprehensive overhaul rather than piecemeal amendments. The purpose, he said, in addition to possibly switching from majority to minority governmental system, was to make Armenia “more competitive and viable” in a new “geopolitical and regional situation.” The opposition instinctively interpreted those words as referring to his administration’s attempts to normalise relations with Azerbaijan. At the heart of these claims is a belief that the preamble in the current constitution referring to the 1990 Declaration of Independence, itself based on the 1989 decision on the “Reunification of the Armenian SSR and the Mountainous Region of Karabakh,” could be removed. The opposition claims that doing so would only be at the behest of Baku. Armenian Foreign Minister Ararat Mirzoyan has not categorically denied the claim but does confirm that Azerbaijan continues to raise this issue in negotiations, interpreting the preamble as indisputable claims on its territory."

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Editor's choice
News
Fascist salute rattles Italian politics

Fascist salute rattles Italian politics

The sight of hundreds of men giving the fascist salute of raised arm during a commemoration in Rome on Sunday (7 January) has sent waves through the Italian political scene. The men were part of a larger crowd taking part in an annual commemoration for three far-right activists who were killed in the 1970s, allegedly by far-left militants. In a video that went viral on social media, rows of black-clad men can be seen extending their right arms. They are also heard shouting "Presenti", in response to the rallying cry "For all fallen comrades!" - a slogan typical of the Italian far-right. The rally is held every year to commemorate the 1978 killings of three teenage activists from the youth wing of the far-right Italian Social Movement (MSI). Two were shot dead by suspected far-left militants outside MSI headquarters on Via Acca Larentia in Rome, while the third was killed by police in riots that followed the shooting. No-one was ever prosecuted for the killings, which have become widely known as the "Acca Larentia massacre". Sunday night's scenes have been condemned by parties across the political spectrum. It has however once more opened a divide in Italian politics that has not been properly healed since the end of World War II.
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UAE puts 84 Muslim Brotherhood members up for trial on terrorism charges

UAE puts 84 Muslim Brotherhood members up for trial on terrorism charges

The confrontation between the authorities in the United Arab Emirates, and the Muslim Brotherhood continues. In the latest in a series of moves, the Public prosecutor in the United Arab Emirates has referred 84 defendants to Abu Dhabi Federal Court of Appeal, otherwise known as the State Security Court, for trial on terrorism charges. Expressions of dissent are very rare in the UAE, and the trail is bound to cause great interest. Most of the defendants referred to the court by Attorney General Dr Hamad Al Shamsi were said to be members of the Muslim Brotherhood. The charges refer directly to establishing “another clandestine organisation for the purpose of committing acts of violence and terrorism on UAE soil”, according to state news agency Wam. “The defendants had concealed this crime and its evidence before they were arrested and tried in the Case No (17) of 2013 – State Security,” Wam reported. “Acting on a body of evidence gathered by investigation, the Attorney General ordered a probe into the details of this crime, with legal representation assigned for each suspect. “After nearly six months of investigation yielding sufficient evidence of its commission, the Attorney General referred the defendants for trial.” Proceedings have begun, with lawyers appointed for defendants who did not have representation. The court has also begun hearing from witnesses in the case and the public trial procedures are continuing.
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Sheikh Mishaal sworn in as new Emir of Kuwait

Sheikh Mishaal sworn in as new Emir of Kuwait

Sheikh Mishal Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah took the constitutional oath as the new Emir of Kuwait at a special session of the country's parliament on Wednesday (20 December), becoming the 17th Amir of the State of Kuwait.   In a speech after the constitutional ceremony in the Assembly, Sheikh Mishal paid tribute to late Emir Sheikh Nawaf Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah who died on Saturday, and strongly criticized the government and the Assembly for taking “unanimous decisions that harm national interests”. Kuwait has a complex constitutional arrangement that has developed over decades to balance the interests of different branches of the ruling al Sabah family, and the power of the royal family and people’s opinion reflected through the country’s elected parliament which has become increasingly adept at providing scrutiny of the ruling family. For this reason, Kuwait is considered the most democratic of the six GCC monarchies, but the system has also often ended in deadlock between the parliament and ruling family, sometimes triggering fresh elections and often bringing down Ministries headed by members of the Royal Family. Sheikh Mishal, who until Saturday was the country’s Crown Prince, was declared as Kuwait’s 17th ruler by the Cabinet of Ministers on Saturday, hours after announcing the death of Sheikh Nawaf.
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Commentary
The attempt to impeach the president of Georgia was politically unnecessary and diplomatically costly

The attempt to impeach the president of Georgia was politically unnecessary and diplomatically costly

Georgia is a parliamentary republic. The people vote for the members of parliament who then appoint a prime minister. He/She and his/her ministers are the executive authority. The president, with one or two small exceptions is a symbolic head of state, a totem pole for the nation to unite around, much as is a constitutional monarch in say Scandinavia or the Benelux. So when the Georgian government says that President Salome Zurabishvili had no authority to travel to Europe without its permission, and to speak to foreign governments on sensitive foreign policy issues without its permission, they were technically right. Yet, the Georgian government’s decision to push forward the impeachment of President Salome Zurabishvili was not only politically unnecessary, but also counterproductive and wrong. The government knew it was unlikely to succeed with the impeachment given it did not have the necessary numbers in the parliament, but proceeded just the same. It sought the advice of the Constitutional Court, which as predicted, on 16 October ruled that the Constitution had been breached. It then moved the impeachment resolution to the parliament, where it only secured 86, out of the 100 votes necessary. Salome Zurabishvili thus remains the president of Georgia. Yet this act of political folly comes with a diplomatic price. It puts question marks on the wisdom of the current government, and it makes Georgia appear increasingly like a banana republic, hardly fit to become an EU member anytime soon.
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Donald Tusk set to become Poland's next leader

Donald Tusk set to become Poland's next leader

After parliamentary elections held on Sunday (15 October) in Poland, Donald Tusk is set to become the country's next leader. Exit polls results after the close of voting showed that Poland’s opposition parties look like they’ve won convincingly opening the way for the leader of the Civic Coalition led by former president of the European Council, Donald Tusk, to become the country's next leader. Whilst the current governing party, the Law and Justice (PiS) party still emerged as the largest party, winning 36.8 percent of the vote, it will still not be enough to form a government and other opposition parties are likely to join the Civic Coalition, which won 31.6 percent, to form the new government. Two smaller opposition parties, the center-right Third Way which won 13 percent, and the Left which won 8.6 percent, are likely to join the new government. A far-right Confederation won 6.2 percent, but is unlikely to be included in the new coalition. In 2019, PiS won 43.6 percent of the vote. The poll was conducted by IPSOS and was shared with Poland’s three main television networks. The poll has a 2 percent margin of error. Turnout was was high at 73 percent. If the exit poll results are confirmed, the Law and Justice will win 200 seats, Civic Coalition 163, Third Way 55, the Left 30 and Confederation will take 12. Poland is one of the largest and most important members of the European Union but in recent years its government has clashed continuously with the European institutions, as the PiS tried to implement changes in the judicial system and other sectors of government that Brussels considered to be against accepted European norms and values.
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Pashinyan's party victorious but weakened after Sunday's elections in Yerevan

Pashinyan's party victorious but weakened after Sunday's elections in Yerevan

Voters in Armenia's capital Yerevan went to the polls on Sunday to elect a new city council and Mayor. The vote was seen as a test of the popularity of the current prime minister Nikol Pashinyan, and his Civic Contract party, particularly as they move towards signing a peace treaty with Azerbaijan. Pashinyan's party emerged victorious since it gained the most votes, but the vote has been less than decisive. In fact a coalition will be required for a majority to be established in the city council following elections that were also marked by a low turnout. The Armenian Central Electoral Commission (CEC) said that as of closing of polls at 8 p.m. on Sunday, turnout was 28.5 percent, representing 234,553 voters out of 824,250 eligible. Civil Contract's mayoral candidate in Yerevan elections is current Deputy Mayor Tigran Avinian, who served as Armenia’s deputy prime minister in 2018-2021. Hayk Marutian, a former Pashinian ally who served as Yerevan mayor from 2018 to 2021 when he was relieved of his duties by a vote of no confidence passed by the Civil Contract-dominated Council of Elders emerged in second place. The CEC on Monday completed the electronic counting of votes. The results of all 475 polling stations have been summarized, according to which, based on preliminary data, 5 political forces are entering the Yerevan Council of Elders: Pashinyan's Civic Contract, "National Progress" (Hayk Marutian), "Mother Armenia" an alliance  that has the support of former president Robert Kocharian, "Republic", a political force seen as sympathetic to Pashinyan, and "Public Voice".
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Opinion
Opinion: Forthcoming municipal elections in Armenia may pose a first test for a peace agreement with Azerbaijan

Opinion: Forthcoming municipal elections in Armenia may pose a first test for a peace agreement with Azerbaijan

Delays in signing an Armenia-Azerbaijan peace agreement open the prospects that the process may be derailed as a result of domestic politics. Next month, Yerevan will go to the polls to indirectly elect a new mayor. The parliamentary opposition is boycotting the vote, and a large number of voters remain apathetic or undecided, but the vote can still be seen as demonstrative enough ahead of the 2026 national parliamentary elections. In this op-ed for commonspace.eu, Onnik James Krikorian argues that Pashinyan foes are already attempting to turn the 17 September 2023 vote into a ‘referendum’ on Armenia-Azerbaijan talks and former de facto State Minister of Karabakh Ruben Vardanyan has called for the same. If Karabakh does dominate the campaign trail, and if Pashinyan’s Civil Contract can emerge victorious with no major abuse of administrative resources recorded, then there would hardly be any political reason not to sign a peace agreement in the nearest future. But if the government were to lose City Hall as 2025 and 2026 approaches, then that would look even less certain. For now, that does not appear likely, but what happens next month could greatly influence Pashinyan’s options in the weeks, months, and years ahead.