Germans go to the polls
Chancellor Angela Merkel on Saturday urged Germans to give her would-be successor Armin Laschet their vote to shape Germany’s future, in a last-ditch push to shore up his beleaguered election campaign. About 60.4 million people in the nation of 83 million are eligible to elect the new parliament, which decides who will be the next head of government. Recent polls point to a neck-and-neck race between Merkel’s centre-right Union bloc and the Social Democrats, with the latter marginally ahead, making the vote one of the most unpredictable in recent years.
Icelanders vote… and prepare for complicated outcome
Election fever started for Icelanders Saturday as tight margins are likely to bring the end of an unprecedented left-right coalition that has brought the country stability through four years of cooperation after a decade of crises. The Left-Green Movement of Prime Minister Katrin Jakobsdottiris seeking a second mandate. Opinion polls suggest a record nine parties are expected to win seats in parliament. A clear picture is not expected to emerge until Sunday evening.
San Marino holds abortion referendum
The tiny state of San Marino votes today in a highly-charged referendum over whether or not to allow abortion up to 12 weeks of pregnancy. Along with Malta, Andorra and the Vatican, San Marino is one of the last places in Europe with a total ban on abortion, even in cases of rape or incest, severe foetal impairment or risk to the mother’s life. In today’s referendum, 35,411 voters, a third of them living abroad, are eligible to vote.
Red carpet treatment for Lady Huawei
Chinese state media has welcomed telecoms giant Huawei’s chief financial officer, Meng Wanzhou, back to the “motherland” on Saturday, after more than 1,000 days under house arrest in Canada, on what they called “unfounded bank fraud charges”. Meng was allowed to go home after a deal was reached with US prosecutors to end the fraud case against her. But Chinese media kept silent about Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor, the two Canadians released from Chinese custody in an apparent reciprocal act by Beijing. Detained by Chinese authorities just days after Meng’s arrest, they were also released a few hours after Meng. The years-long extradition drama has been a central source of discord between Beijing and Washington.
Puigdemont vows to return to Italy
Catalan separatist leader Carles Puigdemont has pledged to return to Sardinia next month to attend a court hearing on his possible extradition to Spain. A court on the Italian island released Puigdemont on Friday, a day after Italian police detained him under the European arrest warrant issued by Spain, over a 2017 independence vote that courts ruled as illegal.
Hauliers and poultry workers to get UK temporary visas
More than 10,000 workers will be temporarily permitted to work as lorry drivers and in the food sector as British government ministers look to rescue Christmas from supply shortages. A temporary visa scheme will see opportunities created for workers to take up employment in the UK until Christmas Eve, in a bid to keep supermarket shelves stocked with turkeys and toys and counter delivery difficulties at petrol stations.
Taliban hang bodies as warning in Herat
The Taliban hanged a body from a crane in the main square of the city of Herat. Wazir Ahmad Seddiqi, who runs a pharmacy on the side of the square, told the Associated Press that four bodies were brought to the site and three were moved to other squares in the city to be exposed. They would have been captured during a kidnapping attempt and killed by the police. In recent days, one of the Taliban leaders had announced a return to executions and hand amputations.
Harry and Meghan get ovation in Central Park
The Duke and Duchess of Sussex, Prince Harry and his wife Meghan Markle, received a rousing ovation by the thousands of young people who attended the Global Citizen Live concert in Central Park in New York. Holding hands and underlining the need for liberalization on the COVID vaccine front, they stressed the need of facilitating access and distribution in every part of the world, even in the poorest countries. The concert has been named as “the biggest concert in the world”: 24 hours of uninterrupted rock, pop, rap, soul music from the stages of all five continents, a real mega festival to call for an end to extreme poverty by 2030 and raise funds for the countries most in need.