U.S. President Obama Reelected to Four More Years in Office
U.S. President Barack Obama was reelected to his office, defeating Republican candidate Mitt Romney in the popular vote and in the Electoral College, securing a winning 303 electoral votes with Florida yet to be confirmed on Wednesday afternoon. He took the key battleground states of Colorado, Iowa, New Hampshire, Ohio, Virginia and Wisconsin on his way to victory. “Despite all the hardship we’ve been through, despite all the frustrations of Washington, I’ve never been more hopeful about our future. I have never been more hopeful about America. And I ask you to sustain that hope”, said Obama during his victory speech. The Republican party maintained its grip on the House of Representatives while Democrats retained the Senate. The states of Colorado and Washington legalised the recreational use of marijuana, while same sex-marriages passed in Maine, Maryland, and Washington. Minnesota rejected a bill that would ban marriage equality. Wisconsin elected the first openly gay politician to the U.S. Senate, Tammy Baldwin. Finally, Puerto Rican electors approved a measure to become the country’s 51st state. President Obama said he would respect the vote’s outcome, which still has to be approved by the U.S. Congress. The houses have never previously denied a petition for admission into the Union.
EU Slashes Growth Forecasts, Recovery Not Expected Until 2014
The European Union (EU) has slashed growth forecasts for the countries in the eurozone, stating that the area’s gross domestic product (GDP) would contract 0.4 percent and it would not recover until at least 2014. “Europe is going through a difficult process of macro-economic rebalancing, which will last for some time”, wrote EU Economic Affairs Commissioner Olli Rehn, predicting that economic pace should “pick up at the turn of the year”. However, Rhen added that the EU should continue “to combine sound fiscal policies with structural reforms to create the conditions for sustainable growth” and that there was no “room for complacency”. Such policies, wrote Rehn, should “bring unemployment down from the current unacceptably high levels”.
Spain Upholds Gay Marriage Law as France Prepares Similar Legislation
Spain’s highest court has upheld a gay marriage law drafted in 2005, throwing out an appeal by the country’s ruling Popular Party. The appeal was lodged by the party when it was still in opposition, in July 2005, and sought to contest the word “marriage” being used to describe the union between two individuals of the same sex. Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy explained the rationale behind the appeal to local radio station Cope. “We appealed not because the union of two people of the same sex would have legal effects, that did not matter to us”, said Rajoy. “The only thing we appealed was the name.” Separately, the French government of President François Hollande is preparing to submit a draft bill on same-sex marriages to cabinet next Wednesday. The government expects fierce opposition from the country’s faith leaders. The Catholic cardinal of Paris, Andre Vingt-Trois, said the bill would be “the marriage of a few imposed on all”.
Beijing Enters Lockdown Before Communist Party Congress
The Chinese capital Beijing has begun preparations for the five-yearly Communist Party Congress, beginning on Thursday, that will unveil the country’s new set of leaders. The week-long event begins on November 8 because the number is considered to be auspicious. The same date saw the ascension to power of President Hu Jintao in 2002. Among the measures being undertaken by authorities are strict checks on visitors to Tiananmen Square and a fresh supply of fire extinguishers to douse any self-immolators. Objects banned from the site during the congress include fruit knives, for security reasons, as well as balloons, ping-pong balls, toy planes and helicopters, which could all potentially carry subversive slogans. Similar instructions have been given to pigeon owners, ordered to secure their birds, and residents on the square’s north side, who have been told to lock their windows. Prostitutes and migrant workers have also been made to leave Beijing before Thursday.
Pakistani Prime Minister Asks Switzerland to Reopen Case Against Pakistan’s President
Pakistani Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf has asked Swiss authorities to reopen a corruption case against President Asif Zardari. Ashraf is acting on the instructions of the country’s Supreme Court, who threatened to charge him with contempt of court if he did not comply. His predecessor, Yusuf Raza Gilani, was disqualified from his post by the justices when he refused to carry out these instructions. The standoff stems from the agreement that returned civilian rule to Pakistan. Outgoing military president Pervez Musharraf declared an amnesty law in 2007, but the Supreme Court declared the measure illegal in 2009 and ordered the reopening of money laundering cases against President Zardari. There are fears that any further instability would derail the tackling of more important issues in the country, such as crippling power cuts and a renewed Taliban insurgency.