What We’re Watching: Bibi Gets Another Go at the Ballot Box
Israeli Elections 2.0 — Israelis go to the polls again today for the second time in five months. Back in April, Prime Minister Benjamin (Bibi) Netanyahu's Likud party (just barely) won the most votes, but failed to form a governing coalition, paving the way for new elections. The big question today is: how many Israelis have actually changed their minds in such a short timeframe? Last time, Likud and the centrist Blue and White coalition each won 35 Knesset seats, and polls show the two parties are still neck and neck, while secular right-winger Avigdor Lieberman — whose dissent in May left Bibi one seat short of a majority — is gaining steam. If this holds, Bibi would not have a majority again, and a complicated rotating premiership, national-unity government, or even a third election, could result. We are watching for results shortly...
Italian Hospitality—As typically follows dramatic breakups, Italy's new government is moving on and wants the world to know it. Over the weekend, Rome permitted an NGO boat carrying migrants (82 to be precise) to dock in an Italian port for the first time this year. This would not have happened under rightwing former interior minister Matteo Salvini, whose hardline approach towards migrants made his Lega party the most popular party in Italy. Salvini lost his spot in the government after a failed bid to trigger new elections last month, but now that he's leading the opposition, we're watching to see whether the new government's more welcoming approach to migrants puts the wind back into Salvini's political sails, and fast.
Mexico's Imaginary New Police Force – In order to tackle Mexico's soaring murder rate and rampant corruption, Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador created a new police force, the Guardia Nacional. But less than a year into his presidency, few people are joining the new outfit, due to widespread disillusionment within the existing police ranks, low pay prospects, and the very real danger of getting killed on the job. We're watching this story because it's another reminder how politicians who sweep into office promising big changes – like AMLO did – can struggle to translate their plans into reality.
What We're Ignoring
Russian Priests' Holy Water Air-Drop - Priests in Tver, near Moscow, dropped holy water out of a rickety airplane last week to combat drunkenness unsavory congress in the city. We love the image, but we're ignoring this little pop of propeller-powered pious precipitation, because stricter laws – including a crackdown on illegal moonshine – have already made a significant dent in alcohol-related deaths in one of the world's hardest-drinking countries in recent years.