Venezuela, Nicaragua, Colombia and France

Chavez Seeks Federal Territories, Constitution Change (emphasis added):

“The governors don’t have the power or resources to solve the problems of some areas,” Chavez said in a televised speech today from southern Apure state. “I’d like to have three, four, five vice presidents, like in Iran and Cuba.”

The creation of federal territories would concentrate more power in the hands of Chavez, who won a six-year term in December and has been in office since 1999. Chavez reiterated his call to change the constitution to allow him to be re- elected indefinitely.

“I don’t know if in five years I will have the fire to run again,” said Chavez, 52. “But I think the option should be open for the people to decide to elect someone to serve 10, 20, or 30 years.'”

Not enough fire to run, but plenty of fire to stay on; the Organization of Anti-American States probably won’t complain.

Chavez’s buddy Daniel Ortega’s been networking lately: He took Muammar Gaddafi’s jet to visit Iran. Once there, it was all miel sobre hojuelas schmoozing: ‘Iran-Nicaragua to create justice-oriented order’, which, by the way, doesn’t prevent him from seeking more aid from the United States. Too bad he didn’t wear a baseball cap to visit the mullahs.

Of course the mullahs loved him and the official news agency peppered their reporting with this rather obnoxious headline, Supreme Leader: Unfair trend of int’l ties heading towards destruction

The unfair trend of international ties is heading towards destruction and a completely different future, the Supreme Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said Sunday.

I wonder if the supreme leader’s ever heard of Joe Lieberman, or of Ron Klein and Connie Mack, who said, The rulers of Nicaragua, Venezuela and Iran are part of a new trio of tyrants.

Not related to any of the above, Colombia and France continue to discuss the possibility of a swap with the FARC for Ingrid Betancourt, who was taken prisoner five years ago:

Mr Sarkozy’s office said that he hoped that Mr Granda’s release could help free the hostages. Ms Betancourt is a minor figure in Colombia but an iconic one in France, where she studied. She has dual citizenship and two French children. A vast portrait of her hangs from the façade of Paris’s town hall. When foreign minister in 2003, Dominique de Villepin, her former professor, sent a crack team to rescue her; their mission was embarrassingly aborted in Brazil.

Since his election, Mr Sarkozy has taken up her case with vigour, twice inviting her children to the Elysée Palace.

I was wondering what Sarko’s approach was going to be on the Betancourt case, but here’s the explanation:

Liberating Ms Betancourt would be a spectacular political coup for a president whose action-man style marks a break with the era of Jacques Chirac and who faces two-round legislative elections on June 10th and 17th.

More blogging later, but before I do, Dynamobuzz is blogging again.



France: Parliamentary sweep for Sarkozy

Parliamentary sweep for Sarkozy

President Nicolas Sarkozy’s right-wing party has won a sweeping victory in the first round of parliamentary voting. According to TNS-SOFRES estimates, the right wing won between 405 and 445 seats, compared with 120-160 seats for the left.

Like in last May’s presidential elections, participation was extraordinarily high: France2 (link in French) reports that

Participation in legislative elections tends to be lower than in presidential elections, which means that the low record of abstentions (35.58% in 2002) might be beaten.

Sarkozy party ‘set for landslide’

Projections after the first round of France’s parliamentary elections suggest President Nicolas Sarkozy’s party is heading for a landslide.

Run-off elections continue next Sunday.

More updates later.

3:40 update
TF1 official results:

UMP & Presidential majority (Right) : 405-455 seats
Mouvement pour la Démocratie (Centrist) : 1-4 seats
Socialist Party and other Left : 120-160

More at No Pasaran

Map of today’s final results by department (run-off lections continue next Sunday).

Hour-by-hour at Le Monde (link in French)

7:20PM Welcome, Austin Bay, Instapundit and Ace of Spades readers.

Via Austin Bay, at MSNBC:

Such an outcome would be a remarkable personal endorsement for Mr Sarkozy, marking the first time in almost 30 years that an outgoing government has been returned to office. The previous UMP government was deeply unpopular and widely blamed for failing to tackle France’s unemployment crisis. But under the new president’s leadership the UMP is thought to have won the largest share of the vote for any party for 40 years.

The Guardian: “There is a sense of optimism in the air – a sense that we are on top of things”.

9:30PM: My friend Nidra Poller has an excellent op-ed at Pajamas Media.

Extreme Left, Extreme Right, and Socialists all lamented to the same basic tune: democracy requires a healthy balance between the party in power and the opposition. And not a single one of them acknowledged that the way to ensure that healthy balance is to appeal to voters and obtain their confidence. In the same way that they confuse equal chances with equal results, they confuse political freedom with guaranteed victory. We’re the opposition, so voters have to elect us…whether they like it or not.



A Beeb and blog round-up

Students go on rampage in China

Hundreds of students have rioted against the police in central China.

Witnesses said the unrest, in the city of Zhengzhou in Henan province, was sparked on Wednesday after a student was beaten by police.

She had been selling items on the street, apparently without a license. There was an argument and reports say officials broke her front teeth.

At this point other students began to gather round and witnesses say hundreds clashed with police and burned cars.


While the G8 guys fret about Global Warming, Cold snap prompts Peru emergency and April freeze hurts Kentucky farmers

Meanwhile the North Koreans are firing missiles and the Lebanese are bombing Palestinians and no one at the G8’s complaining. Imagine if Israel was doing that…

Speaking of the G8, this would be a good picture for a caption contest:


The Anchoress has an excellent discussion over immigration, and another one on Pres.Bush that are must-reads.

Gerard has the Memo from Israel to Palestine (h/t Larwyn)


Via Maria, Who is Nicolas Sarkozy? What to expect from France’s new president, scion of one of the oldest Jewish families of Salonika, Greece

In a lighter mode:
Separated at birth?

  • Arrogance has to be earned. Tell me what you’ve done to earn yours – Dr House
  • Believe fervently in miracles, so that you too can be plucked from the Sea of Stupidity – Siggy

On the other hand, has anyone seen Hugh Laurie and Siggy in the same place at the same time?