This week around the world: Sept. 23–29

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Sept. 24 Germany

Angela Merkel was re-elected chancellor of Germany for a fourth time in federal elections that also saw the far-right Alternative for Germany emerge with the third-most votes, enough to allow it to enter the German parliament for the first time in over 60 years. The party’s platform includes denial of climate change, the reinstatement of military conscription, opposition to marriage equality, and the dissolution of the Eurozone.

Sept. 25 Irbil, Iraq

It was the world against the Kurds as northern Iraq hosted a historic referendum for independence, drawing ire from the central Iraq government as well as the United States, who said the move would prove a distraction from the battle with the Islamic State. Turkey and Iran, which have their own significant Kurdish populations, also condemned the move, calling the push for independence from Iraq illegitimate.

Sept. 26 Saudi Arabia

A royal decree announced that women in Saudi Arabia will be allowed to legally drive starting as early as next year, according to the Saudi Foreign Ministry. Speculation abounds regarding the role the new heir to the Saudi throne, Mohammed bin Salman, had in influencing the decision. Since 1990 female activists have faced arrests, harassment and the loss of their jobs for taking the wheel in protest.

Sept. 27 Puerto Rico

Puerto Rico’s austerity woes continued, as Puerto Rico’s Fiscal Agency and Financial Advisory rejected an offer from a group of creditors that was framed as relief but would have likely turned a profit for the owners of Puerto Rico’s debt. The U.S. federal government has refused federal aid to the island following Hurricane Maria, which has left nearly the whole island without electricity and half without potable water.

Sept. 28 Tokyo, Japan

Japan’s parliament was dissolved after Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe announced a snap election. Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike’s new Party of Hope formally began the day before and is expected to challenge the dominant position of Abe’s Liberal Democratic Party. Two significant differences between Koike’s party and Abe’s LDP include the former’s opposition to an increase the nation’s sales tax, and its calling for Japan to abandon nuclear power.

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