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This Week Around the World

April 25 Japan: The ruling Democratic Party in Japan lost all three parliamentary seats that were up for grabs in the by-elections, according to Reuters. The election was the first national election to take place since Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga took office last November. “Two of the elections were held due to scandals, so that was definitely in the background,” said Airo Hino, a political science professor at Waseda University. “But anger and frustration on the part of the people due to how the pandemic’s being handled, and the slowness of the vaccine rollout, also played a part.” Kyodo News reported Suga’s cabinet’s approval rating fell from approximately 70% when first taking office to below 40% in February. “I intend to take the people’s decision with humility, and make amends where amending is necessary after conducting further analysis,” Suga said.


April 27 Albania: The Central Election Commission announced  that Albania’s Socialist Party won its third consecutive election with 98% of the ballots from Sunday’s parliamentary election counted, according to AP News. The commission said that the Socialist Party won 49% of the vote and 74 of parliament’s 140 seats. “We broke the record,”  Prime Minister Edi Rama said to thousands of supporters in the capital city of Tirana. “It was a historic record. Thank you for placing your faith in us to lead you for another four years. My dream…is to make Albania in this decade…the Balkan champion, in tourism and agro-tourism, in energy and agriculture and in fast, qualitative, incorruptible digital services.”


April 28 Somalia: Following division on how to go about elections, Somali President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed called for new elections. “As we have repeatedly stated, we have always been ready to implement timely and peaceful elections in the country,” Mohamed said in a speech. “But unfortunately, our efforts were hampered by individuals, and foreign entities who have no aim other than to destabilize the country and take it back to the era of division and destruction in order to create a constitutional vacuum.” Tensions have been high since Mohamed’s four-year term ended in February with no plans for elections in sight, according to Al Jazeera. This comes after Mohamed signed a controversial measure earlier this month to extend his term another two years—a move passed by Somalia’s lower house of parliament but rejected by the senate. 


April 29 Lima, Peru: Pedro Castillo, Peru’s front running presidential candidate, was rushed to a health clinic for respiratory issues, according to Reuters. On April 11, exit polls by Ipsos Peru announced left-wing elementary school teacher Castillo to be the top candidate for the election, followed by Keiko Fujimori, the daughter of former Peruvian dictator Alberto Fujimori. “Dear compatriots: I thank you for convening…in Lima,” Castillo wrote on Twitter. “However, due to health issues, I inform you with regret that I will not be able to attend. My hugs and apologies for all those who arrived.” On April 30, Castillo announced he would be returning to the campaign trail in time for the first debate on May 1, after being diagnosed with a throat infection. 


April 30 Jerusalem, Israel: 45 people died early Friday morning in a stampede during a festival celebrating the ultra-Orthodox Jewish holiday of Lag BaOmer, according to AP News. Estimates report tens of thousands of people were present at the tomb of 2nd-century sage Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai for the annual festival. Citizens of the United States and Canada were among the casualties. Some witnesses blame police barricades for blocking people from leaving properly. “The officers who were there couldn’t care less,” said Velvel Brevda, a rabbi who witnessed the stampede. “Beautiful holy Jews [were] killed here for no reason whatsoever.” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced May 2 as a day of national mourning and said he joined others in donating blood for the injured. “In these moments our people unite and that is what we are doing at this moment as well,” Netanyahu said while visiting the scene.