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France, Greece, Serbia, Armenia vote in crucial elections

06. May 2012. | 11:56

Source: Novinite.com

Four European nations – France, Greece, Serbia, and Armenia – are holding Sunday, May 6, 2012, crucial elections.

 Four European nations – France, Greece, Serbia, and Armenia – are holding Sunday, May 6, 2012, crucial elections.

France: Anti-Sarkozy Vote?

In France, incumbent President Nicolas Sarkozy is facing his Socialist challenger, Francois Hollande in the run-off of the French Presidential Elections, with Sarkozy trailing Hollande by 6 percentage points in polls Friday.

After eight other candidates were eliminated in the first round on April 22, Hollande has led Sarkozy in every poll conducted throughout the campaign.

Hollande, after gaining the endorsement of centrist Francois Bayrou, who had won 9.1% in the first round two weeks ago, urged voters to give him enough support so that he can act when he takes office and not be "a hobbled victor."

Hollande has promised to renegotiate the European Union's "fiscal pact," which sets tight budget rules, and he called for a "growth pact" to stimulate stagnant economies and add new jobs.

The choice that French people make will affect France and the European Union and its attempts to manage the eurozone debt crisis. France is also a permanent U.N. Security Council member and nuclear power and has troops on missions abroad, from Afghanistan to Congo.

Greece: Debt-ridden Disillusionment

Debt-ridden Greece is voting Sunday in its first general elections since in the Socialist Cabinet of George Papandreou stepped down in the fall of 2011 to make way for a caretaker Cabinet.

Thus, Greeks began voting at 7 a.m. local time (0400 GMT, 12 a.m. EDT) in their most critical election in decades, with voters set to punish the two main parties that are being held responsible for the country's dire economic straits.

32 parties vie for the votes of nearly 10 million registered voters. Such is the disillusionment with the socialist PASOK party and conservative New Democracy, which have been alternating in power for the last 38 years, that neither is expected to garner enough votes to form a government, reports say.

Days of wrangling over forming a coalition will likely ensue, with the prospect—alarming to Greece's lenders and much of the country's population—of another round of elections if they fail.

Serbia: EU Integration Test

Former ultra-nationalist allies of Slobodan Milosevic may return to power in Serbia, 12 years after the late Balkan strongman was ousted by pro-Western forces seeking EU membership, international media report, raising alarm.

The first-round vote on Sunday for Serbian president, and votes for a 250-seat national assembly and local councils, pit pro-EU democrats against nationalists. The two leading contenders are the Democratic Party of recent president Boris Tadic and Milosevic's former ally Tomislav Nikolic, of the right-wing populist Serbian Progressive Party.

A presidential run-off is expected on May 20, as both Tadic and Nikolic are unlikely to get more than 50% of the first-round vote that includes 12 candidates.

Incumbent President Tadic has urged Serbs to vote for him for the sake of their country's EU integration.

Armenia: Democracy Test

Voters in Armenia have begun casting ballots in parliamentary elections seen as a crucial test of the nation's stated commitment to democracy.

Ninety seats in the 131-member National Assembly are being contested in a proportional vote by nine political forces, including eight parties and one bloc. Another 41 parliament seats are up for grabs in single-mandate elections in as many constituencies contested by a total of 139 candidates on the first-past-the-post basis.

As has repeatedly been stated by Armenia's international partners, including the European Union and the United States, and has been acknowledged by the Armenian leadership, the May 6 polls put on the line the nation's broader democratic credentials. Virtually all general elections held in Armenia during its two decades of independence have been flawed and fallen short of international democratic standards.

Opinion polls suggest that Armenian Preisdent Serzh Sarkisian's Republican party, which currently has a parliamentary majority, is ahead of its ally in the outgoing coalition - the Prosperous Armenia party led by millionaire tycoon and former arm-wrestler Gagik Tsarukian - with opposition parties trailing behind.


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