Canadians are headed for the polls again, showing how shaky politics has become in such countries. Stephen Harper’s Conservative Party “won” a general election in early 2006 by garnering more seats than any other party. The other three major parties — Liberal (or “Grits”), New Democrat Party, and Bloc Québécois (the French separatist party) — each held significant numbers in the Parliament (pictured). Conservatives gained 24 seats for a total of 125; Liberals lost 32 seats for a total of 103; the New Democrats gained 10 seats for 29 total; and Bloc Québécois lost 3 seats down to 51; there was 1 independent.
A March 25 article from ANSAmed reports that “Secularism in Spain is quickly gaining steam,” and that the Archibishop of Madrid is warning of “the persecution of Catholics in Spain.” Although Spain is often viewed as historically serving as one of the bulwarks of Roman Catholicism, recent events offer evidence that anti-clerical sentiment is once again on the rise in that nation.
Hundreds of thousands of protesters took to the streets in London over the weekend to oppose proposed budget cuts being pursued by the new government. And while most of the union-led demonstrators reportedly remained peaceful, violence and vandalism were frequent occurrences. (See videos at bottom of page.)
When the Portuguese Parliament failed to pass an austerity bill on March 23, the country’s Prime Minister, Jose Socrates, resigned. That move leaves Portugal leaderless for at least two months while facing a significant financial crisis: it must refinance nearly $13 billion of short-term debt by June. Investors have already pushed interest rates on Portugal’s sovereign 10-year debt to almost 8 percent, while credit-rating agencies Fitch and Standard & Poor’s both downgraded that debt’s quality on March 24.