Wednesday, November 5, 2014

US mid-terms: Republicans win control of the Senate

The Republicans have won control of the Senate in the US mid-term elections, increasing their power in the final two years of Barack Obama's presidency.

The party won in Arkansas, Colorado, Iowa, Montana, North Carolina, South Dakota and West Virginia.

And it is expected to post more gains as votes are counted in other states.

Republican Senator Mitch McConnell, poised to lead the chamber, said the result was a vote against "a government that people can no longer trust".

In the mid-terms, so-called because they fell half way into Mr Obama's second four-year term in office, about one-third of the Senate, the entire House of Representatives, 36 of 50 state governors, and countless state and local offices were up for election.

Throughout the campaign, Republicans focused on voter dissatisfaction with Mr Obama, a Democrat, describing the vote as a referendum on his presidency.

As the first results came in late on Tuesday, it became clear they had made convincing gains in the chamber.

Continue reading the main story

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Spain seeks to block Catalan independence vote

Spain will seek to block in the courts a watered-down version of a Catalan vote on independence planned for Nov. 9 in the same way it stopped a non-binding referendum, Deputy Prime Minister Soraya Saenz de Santamaria said on Friday.

Tensions have risen between Spain’s central government and Catalonia as Madrid blocks all attempts by the northeastern region to vote on its future. Madrid argues such a ballot would violate the constitution because it would allow a percentage of Spaniards to vote on a matter affecting the whole country.

Saenz de Santamaria said at a weekly press conference the central government would seek to block the watered-down vote, couched as a ‘consultation of citizens’, to protect the rights of Catalan civil servants so they wouldn’t be forced to break the law.

Catalan head Artur Mas plans to hold the Nov. 9 ballot, marshalled by volunteers, in place of a non-binding referendum on independence suspended by the Constitutional Court while it deliberates on whether it is legal.

On Thursday, the highest-ranking state adviser backed a veto of the new ‘consultation’ saying it was just as illegal as the original plan.

The government will now ask the Constitutional Court on Friday to rule on the legality of the vote, Saenz de Santamaria said. Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy referred this week to the ‘consultation’ as a ‘pseudo vote’.

It is unclear how the central government would enforce a block on the vote if Catalan leaders decide to press ahead.


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