The Briefcase: Elections Around the World

In today's Briefcase, we discuss elections in Georgia, Turkey, and the U.K., along with listener feedback. 

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The state of Georgia held a special election to replace Rep. Tom Price (now the Secretary of Health and Human Services). Democrats invested heavily in 30-year-old Jon Ossoff. In a crowded field and a district that Price carried by 23 points, Ossoff did well but failed to cross the 50% threshold required to win the seat. He and Republican Karen Handel will face off in a June election. 

Turkey held a referendum to diminish the parliamentary system and strengthen the president’s powers. The referendum measure eliminates the prime minister and places all of the prime minister’s powers in the president, gives the president more ability to make laws through decrees and more power over the judiciary, and potentially extends the president's term. President Recep Tayip Erdogan campaigned hard for this referendum which passed by a very narrow margin. He argued that threats to Turkey’s security require him to have broad power to protect the country. Opposition parties claim that there was foul play in the election and called for annulment of the referendum. The Turkish election board rejected the appeals. The change doesn’t go into effect until 2019, after an election that Erdogan is expected to win. (It’s also expected that he will hold this election earlier). This referendum is broadly seen as a move toward authoritarianism.  

Last month, Prime Minister Theresa May triggered a two-year process for withdrawing from the EU — meaning a March 2019 deadline. The process is going to be complicated, and Theresa May says that the UK needs to move past elections so that everyone isn’t campaigning just as the negotiations with the EU reach a fever pitch. She said she wouldn’t do this on many occasions, but she has reversed course. The election is now scheduled for June 8.  Commentators believe that she’s trying to strengthen her support in Parliament to have a stronger position in negotiations with the EU.

We also discussed Megan's feedback on our North Korea discussion (sign up for our emails to read Megan's full message and see her recommendations for further exploration of North Korea) and Kerry's feedback about Smart Power