Press Review March 31st 2014

Prime Minister Reccip Tayyep Erdogan’s Justice and Development (AK) party has won a landslide victory in local Turkish elections, reports wsj.com. The website explains that “Normally, local elections in Turkey are minor affairs that garner little international attention. But the stakes in Sunday’s voting have soared in recent weeks amid mounting allegations of financial and political impropriety against the premier and his allies.” The victory is likely to be interpreted as a stamp of approval for Erdogan and his controversial government. Surrounded by close intimates and supporters at a rally in Ankara, Mr. Erdogan declared that his political enemies had been given an “Ottoman slap” in the local elections.

Former Labour Minister of Health Lord Warner, writing in theguardian.com, has argued that urgent reforms are needed to the United Kingdom’s National Health Service (NHS) in order to stave-off it’s decline: “Many politicians and clinicians are scared to tell people that our much-beloved 65-year-old NHS no longer meets the country’s needs.” As populations in Western societies’ grow old at a time of tight budgets, there is increasing pressure on health services which are coming under pressure in a number of countries. Lord Warner, having co-authored a report for the think-tank Reform, makes a number of recommendations including the introduction of £10/month NHS membership fee, having visitors pay for overnight stays, and increasing taxation on products such as cigarettes, alcohol, and sugary foods, among other things. The article cites extensive opposition in a wide-sector of the British medical establishment to many of the proposed reforms.

Reuters.com reports that newly appointed Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi has vowed that he will quit if his drive to reform the Italian Senate is blocked. As Reuters explains: “His bill would scrap the current fragmented system, which grants equal powers to the Senate and the lower house Chamber of Deputies but elects them by different rules which make it hard for any group to win a stable overall majority in parliament.” This comes as part of a larger reform package which seeks to jump-start the economy through tax-breaks and to reduce the size of the Italian political establishment.

Calling the contemporary situation in Ukraine worst than it was during the Orange Revolution of 2004 in an interview with dw.de, famed Ukrainian writer Yuri Andrukhovych has called for Ukraine to accede to both the European Union and North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), but says that the government has not yet openly articulated the latter option due to sensitivities in the east of the country. It should be noted that elsewhere on its website, Deutsche Welle actually considers whether NATO expansion in the east could be a root cause of the current Ukrainian crisis and a provocation toward Russia.

Photo Courtesy of dw.de
Writer Yuri Andrukhovych. Photo Courtesy of dw.de

In the Press Review section of the GovFaces blog you will find regular updates on important social, political, and economic issues of the day. Items presented here and in the Analysis & Opinion sections do not necessarily reflect the views of GovFaces.

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