Editors Jimmy Lovaas and Halima Mansoor discuss the Turkey's upcoming runoff election, plus more on the G7 meeting in Japan, possible flooding in northern Italy, voters heading to the polls in the Southeast Asian nation of Timor-Leste and an important deadline for elections in Ecuador.
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This episode includes contributions from Factal editors Jeff Landset, Joe Veyera, and Jess Fino. Interview features editor Halima Mansoor. Produced and edited by Jimmy Lovaas. Music courtesy of Andrew Gospe.
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Copyright © 2023 Factal. All rights reserved.
This is an unofficial transcript meant for reference. Accuracy is not guaranteed.
JIMMY LOVAAS, HOST:
Welcome to the Factal Forecast, a look at the week’s biggest stories and what they mean from the editors at Factal. I’m Jimmy Lovaas.
Today is May 18th and our 100th episode. Thank you so much for your continued support.
In this week’s podcast we’ve got a G7 meeting in Japan, possible flooding in northern Italy, voters heading to the polls in Timor-Leste, an important deadline for elections in Ecuador and a look at Turkey’s upcoming presidential runoff.
You can also read about these stories and more in our weekly newsletter, which you’ll find a link to in the show notes.
G7 meeting in Hiroshima
Information compiled by Jeff Landset
JIMMY: Leaders from some of the most influential countries in the world will begin meeting in Japan on Friday.
Of course, the annual summit for the Group of 7, typically just referred to as the G7, comes under the specter of global economic uncertainty amid U.S. debt ceiling negotiations.
The previous G7 summit was in June last year in Germany, where leaders provided a united front against Russia following the full invasion of Ukraine.
And so, the world is watching as President Joe Biden and Republican congressional leaders try to negotiate a deal before the June 1 deadline.
Biden has already canceled the second part of his trip to Asia and plans to fly home after the G7 meetings to continue the negotiations.
Now, if the U.S. were to default on its $31.4 trillion debt, the global implications would be massive.
For one, it would mean the United States would be unable to borrow more money, thus throwing the world markets into chaos.
Further flooding threat for northern Italy
Information compiled by Joe Veyera
JIMMY: More heavy rainfall could hit parts of Italy this weekend. That, after flooding in the drought-struck Emilia-Romagna region left at least nine people dead and forced more than 10,000 others from their homes.
In fact, over a span of 36 hours, some areas received around half of their average yearly rainfall. That triggered at least 120 landslides and one bridge collapse, as well as widespread road damage and the suspension of rail service.
The severe weather even forced the cancellation of the Emilia-Romagna Grand Prix race in Imola, with organizers saying it wouldn’t be right to put additional pressure on local authorities and emergency services.
Now, Italian Civil Protection Minister Nello Musumeci has said "nothing will ever be the same again” in the country as it increasingly experiences tropical weather more commonly found in parts of Africa.
Weather, like intense rainfall followed by long periods of drought. That leaves soil unable to absorb water, leading to rainfall flowing over the surface and causing “unimaginable damage.”
Information compiled by Jess Fino
JIMMY: A record number of voters will head to the polls on Sunday in the young nation of Timor-Leste. They’ll elect its new parliament a year after giving president José Ramos-Horta a landslide victory.
A total of 17 parties are competing for votes, with the largest being the center-left Fretilin party, fronted by former Prime Minister Mari Alkatiri, and the center-left CNRT party, led by former Prime Minister Xanana Gusmão.
Last year, Ramos-Horta was elected president with CNRT party backing.
A recent poll showed CNRT with 49 percent of the vote, ahead of Fretilin with 25 percent. That, shortly after current Prime Minister Taur Matan Ruak accused the country’s president of abuse of power for ordering the dismissal of the National Intelligence chief.
Now, with a large percentage of the electorate voting for the first time this election, the results could be somewhat unpredictable, with voters demanding better job and training opportunities.
Meanwhile, pre-election coalitions have been prohibited, meaning new coalitions could be agreed to after the vote.
The president has said an absolute majority would be the “best solution for the country,” while arguing the winning party should not work alone in governance.
The vote will be closely monitored for any signs of unrest, with some incidents already reported in the weeks before the election, despite police claiming the incidents are unrelated.
Deadline for announcement of fresh elections in Ecuador
Information compiled by Jess Fino
JIMMY: A new date for fresh elections in Ecuador will have to be set by Wednesday. That, after President Guillermo Lasso dissolved the country’s congress in an attempt to escape impeachment.
Lasso’s controversial move to dissolve the National Assembly came just hours after the start of his impeachment trial.
He’s argued the allegations made against him concerning alleged embezzlement were “politically motivated.”
On the other hand, if the impeachment had gone ahead, the opposition-controlled parliament was likely to have succeeded.
Regardless, according to Lasso’s decree, the country’s electoral council now has seven days to set a date for new elections, which must be held within 90 days.
Those elected will replace the former lawmakers for the rest of the current term, which ends in May of 2025.
Now, while the armed forces quickly pledged support for Lasso, the leader of Ecuador's largest indigenous union called the move a “cowardly self-coup with the help of the police and the armed forces, without citizen support.”
The union, formally known as the Confederation of Indigenous Nationalities of Ecuador, had previously demanded Lasso leave office. They’ve also called for impeachment proceedings to be held and are likely to call for protests.
Turkey runoff election
Information compiled by Halima Mansoor
JIMMY: Our last item for this forecast is on Turkey’s upcoming runoff election. For more on that we’ve got Factal Senior Editor Halima Mansoor.
JIMMY: Hello, Halima!
HALIMA: Hi, Jimmy.
JIMMY: So glad you’re here. Hoping you can get our listeners up to speed on the Turkey election. It seems like there’s been a bit of drama so far. Can you give us a bit of a recap maybe?
HALIMA: Sure. So, in a nutshell, Turkey’s opposition headed into election night on May 14 high on hope, but there was no winner, except perhaps the nationalist parties. President Erdogan did not win, not with his 49.5% of votes, and the opposition candidate Kilicdaroglu did not win with 44.8% of votes. I think even more surprising was the performance of the dark horse in the race – Sinan Ogan, who is from an ultranationalist alliance. He was polling 3% at best and well overperformed with 5.2% of votes. To make matters worse, on election night, the opposition sent some big names on live television to say they had the numbers to win, that they knew they had the numbers because they had their own count going and that the night would end with the promised ‘spring.’ That was their campaign slogan: ‘spring is coming.’ None of that happened and people rightly want to know: where did they get those numbers from?
JIMMY: Huh. Well, what’s the latest then?
HALIMA: Well, we’re heading into round two of the fight on May 28 and none of the hope or vigor from the first round campaigns is evident on either side. Each side is under pressure as the election is widely slated to be decisive for the future of the country in a way no other election has been in 20 years. In fact, Erdogan’s side is examining their underperformance; the party lost seats compared to 2018 and the leader didn’t have an outright victory. But they are confident the third runner up Ogan will push his base to vote for Erdogan. Over in the Kilicdaroglu camp, there is more anxiety. Senior party leaders are speaking behind the scenes of complete restructuring in strategy and approach, and that’s before the runoff in less than two weeks. But can you change tack completely and carry more voters along the way in such a short period of time?
JIMMY: Good question. Hey, what can you tell us about the claims of fraud?
HALIMA: So, images have been circulated of the hand-written tallies of the vote counts from ballot boxes and people shared screenshots of the electoral board’s system showing miscounting of those votes. So people are basically accusing the electoral council of miscounting the votes to aid the ruling party. Several opposition parties have filed complaints but none have said so far that these were big enough discrepancies to have tipped round 1 in their favor. There were also reports of voter intimidation in Batman where a party supporting the ruling alliance tried to prevent women from voting and in Urfa where the opposition’s election observers were beaten up and also where the man of a family tried to use the women’s ballots to vote for Erdogan.
JIMMY: Well, considering all that, what do you think folks should be watching for next?
HALIMA: So, we need to watch for how the ruling party uses the state apparatus further to tip the voters in its favor. Before the election, Erdogan did things like raising the salaries of public workers by 45% or promising households free gas units for a year. State TV and pro-government media gave Erdogan’s side dozens of hours of air time and just minutes to the opposition. But, regardless of who wins on May 28, Turkey’s nationalists are on the rise. There is a prominent nationalist party in both coalitions. And Sinan Ogan, the so-called kingmaker, is a known ultranationalist. His alliance has openly condoned violence against immigrants, against refugees and against the Kurds. Finally, no matter who wins, Erdogan or Kilicdaroglu, they will be under pressure to toe the rising nationalist line and that’s going to impact the safety and future of millions of refugees in Turkey and not to mention the Kurdish population.
JIMMY: Well, Halima, I think we’ll leave it there for today, but I thank you so much for catching us up. Appreciate it.
HALIMA: Thank you for having me, Jimmy.
JIMMY: Take care.
JIMMY: As always, thank you for listening to the Factal Forecast. We publish our forward-looking podcast and newsletter each Thursday to help you get a jump-start on the week ahead. Please subscribe and review wherever you find your podcasts. We’d love it if you’d consider telling a friend about us.
Today’s episode included contributions from Factal editors Jeff Landset, Joe Veyera, and Jess Fino. Our interview featured editor Halima Mansoor and it was produced and edited by me – Jimmy Lovaas. Our music comes courtesy of Andrew Gospe.
Until next time, if you have any feedback, suggestions or events we’ve missed, drop us a note by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org
This transcript may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability not guaranteed.
Copyright © 2023 Factal. All rights reserved.
Music: 'Factal Theme' courtesy of Andrew Gospe