Elections Roundup: Gujarat, Chile, Catalonia

Gujarat: Won. But lost.

The ruling BJP won 99 of the 182 seats up for grabs in Gujarat, home state of popular Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Sure, it’s a majority, but it’s down from the 115 seats it currently holds. A troubling omen ahead of national elections in 2019? As the BJP looks ahead, expect Modi to seek extra support by increasing social spending and loosening the reins on divisive Hindu nationalist elements within the party.


Chile: Right. Maybe.

Former president (and current billionaire) Sebastian Pinera handily beat his center-left opponent in Sunday’s presidential election. Commodity prices will help the economy, but a fractured congress will hinder Pinera’s ability to act. Meanwhile, fringe parties that outperformed in the first round of the election will look to maintain their momentum. Open question whether Pinera’s win is part of Latin America’s “swing to the right” or if we’re on the cusp of a deeper anti-establishment polarization in the country.

Catalonia: Separatism. Light.

Remember when the Catalan regional government held an illegal independence referendum, Spanish police cracked skulls, the Catalans declared independence, and then the Spanish government dissolved the government and called fresh elections? Those elections are this Thursday, and they’ll likely return another separatist-led minority government. Another unilateral push for secession seems unlikely unless separatists win a majority of the vote and/or the seats. Also, as a practical matter, most of the boldest separatist leaders are currently in jail.

In Italy, stacks of plastic boxes in supermarkets and stores are not garbage - they are collected and reused, thanks to a consortium that specializes in recycling them for food storage. How do these "circular" plastic boxes help reduce energy consumption and carbon dioxide emissions?

Learn more in this episode of Eni's Energy SUPERFACTS series.

British economist Jim O'Neill says the global economy can bounce back right to where it was before, in a V-shaped recovery. But his argument is based on a lot of "ifs," plus comparisons to the 2008 recession and conditions in China and South Korea that may not truly apply. Ian Bremmer and Eurasia Group's Robert Kahn take issue with O'Neill's op-ed, on this edition of The Red Pen.

Today, we're taking our Red Pen to an article titled "A V-Shaped Recovery Could Still Happen." I'm not buying it. It's published recently by Project Syndicate, authored by British economist named Jim O'Neill. Jim O'Neill is very well known. He was chairman of Goldman Sachs Asset Management. He's the guy that coined the acronym BRICS, Brazil, Russia, India, China. So, no slouch. But as you know, we don't agree with everything out there. And this is the case. Brought to you by the letter V. We're taking sharp issue with the idea that recovery from all the economic devastation created by the coronavirus pandemic is going to happen quickly. That after the sharp drop that the world has experienced, everything bounces back to where it was before. That's the V. Economists around the world are debating how quickly recovery will happen to be sure. But we're not buying the V. Here's why. W-H-Y.

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Over the past few years, we've seen three major emerging powers take bold action to right what they say are historical wrongs.

First came Crimea. When the Kremlin decided in 2014 that Western powers were working against Russian interests in Ukraine, President Vladimir Putin ordered Russian troops to seize the Crimean Peninsula, which was then part of Ukraine. Moscow claimed that Crimea and its ethnic Russian majority had been part of the Russian Empire for centuries until a shameful deal in 1954 made Crimea part of the Ukrainian Soviet Republic. Americans and Europeans imposed sanctions on Russia. But Ukraine is not part of NATO or the EU, and no further action was taken.

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Nicholas Thompson, editor-in-chief of WIRED, provides his perspective on technology news:

Will the new audit of Facebook civil rights practices change the way the company operates?

Yes. It came under a lot of pressure from civil rights activists who organized an advertising boycott. And then an internal audit on Facebook's effect on civil rights came out. It was quite critical. Those two things, one after the other, will surely lead to changes at the company.

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The United States and the European Union have comparable population sizes, but their COVID-19 death toll trajectories have recently become very different. Since the beginning of July, the average number of both new fatalities and new deaths per 1 million people is rapidly increasing in the US while it remains mostly flat in the EU. We compare this to the average number of new cases each seven days in both regions, where the US trend continues upward but is not surging like the death toll. EU countries' robust public health systems and citizens' willingness to wear masks and maintain social distance could explain the disparity.