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BBC World News (September - December 2022)


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Trudeau returned with majority government

OTTAWA-- Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau returned to office with a new majority government after calling a snap election in August.

The campaign saw a focus on the response to the COVID-19 pandemic as well as climate change emerge as central issues.

Other parties, led by Conservative Party leader Erin O’Toole, condemned the election as “unnecessary” in the midst of the pandemic. However, Mr Trudeau claimed that the election was necessary to “break deadlock” and “give Canadians a say on the recovery they wish to see”.

Mr O’Toole was seemingly hurt by shifts to the centre on climate change and gun rights, which seemingly allowed the People’s Party to gain support. However, some analysts note that his shift to the centre may have been instrumental in closing the gap with Mr Trudeau’s Liberals, despite losing some support to the People’s Party.

In the end, Trudeau benefitted from a surge in support for the People’s Party of Canada, a right-wing group, and a collapse in support for both the Green Party and the Bloc Québécois. Despite winning, the news was not entirely good for Mr Trudeau, who saw his party’s polling lead shrink significantly from the pre-campaign period.

“We have a firm mandate to build a fairer Canada,” said Mr Trudeau at a rally on election night. The Liberals won the smallest share of the vote that yielded a majority government in history, casting some doubt on that claim.

Internationally, Mr Trudeau is expected to push for more action on climate change as world leaders convene in Glasgow for COP26 later this year. Likewise, Canada has newly emerging interests in the Indo-Pacific following the precipitous withdrawal from Afghanistan earlier this year.

Following the election, Mr O’Toole announced his intention to stand down as leader of the Conservative Party and Yves-François Blanchet announced he would stand down as leader of the Bloc.

Trudeau is due to conduct a Cabinet reshuffle imminently, representing his newfound flexibility as the leader of a majority government.


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Germany elections 2021: How the Social Democrats and Olaf Scholz defeated  Merkel's CDU - Vox

Centre-left and green parties claim narrow win in Germany

BERLIN-- German voters delivered a resounding defeat to Angela Merkel’s Christian Democrats in this month’s election, with her Christian Democratic Union set to be the fourth largest party in the Bundestag. The combined CDU/CSU bloc, formed with the CDU’s Bavarian sister party, the Christian Democratic Union, will be the second largest bloc in the Bundestag.

Olaf Sholtz and the Social Democratic Party are to be the largest party in the Bundestag, with Mr Sholtz likely to become the German Chancellor following coalition negotiations. In their best performance in recent years, the SDP won 223 seats in the Bundestag.

Speaking following the result, Mr Shultz said that the SDP had “a clear mandate to form a government” and that Germans had “chosen a pragmatic leader to lead a pragmatic government.” Throughout the campaign, Mr Sholtz, the current finance minister, was parodied as being a competent technocrat more than an inspiring leader.

The SDP’s traditional coalition partner, the Greens, will hold 127 seats in the Bundestag, becoming the third largest party. This is their best performance at a federal election, fueled by a surge in the southern states.

The Greens have made clear the cost of their support for a coalition: control of the foreign ministry and a new economics ministry that has addressing climate change as a critical function. Annalena Baerbock, the Greens candidate for chancellor, is likely to be nominated as foreign minster and vice-chancellor. Her co-leader, Robert Habeck, is likely to lead the economy and climate ministry.

The Greens, under the leadership of Ms Baerbock, are likely to push for a more hawkish foreign policy than Germany has pursued in past. Ms Baerbock has warned of the challenges posed by China and the threat of Russia to Europe.

The decline of the CDU was fueled by the rise of the far-right in Germany, with Alternative for Germany (AfD), soaring to become the second largest single party in the Bundestag with 128 seats. “This is a resounding result for those that want to see a Germany for Germans,” said AfD leader Alice Weidel.

Additionally benefiting AfD was the defection of voters associated with left-wing Die Linke (The Left), which failed to qualify for additional seats for the first time since 2005. With only two constituency seats and less than 5% of the vote, Die Linke failed to quality for proportional representation.

The exact details of an SDP-Green coalition will be negotiated in the coming month. Ms Merkel will remain Chancellor in a caretaker capacity until a new one is sworn in.


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Chinese foreign minister summons British ambassador following "anti-China tirade"

The British ambassador in Beijing was summoned to the Chinese Foreign Ministry today following the Prime Minister's statement in the House of Commons, which was characterised as a "sad, petulant, anti-China tirade" by Chinese government sources.

It is understood that, at the meeting, the ambassador was informed that the "blanket ban" on exporting certain goods to Chinese firms would spark a trade war. Likewise, the ambassador was informed that the China General Nuclear Power Corporation is willing to part with its interest in the Hinckley Point C nuclear power station at "a reasonable market cost" and that efforts to seize CGN's stake in the project would "unnecessarily raise tensions".

As a preliminary measure, China has announced an additional 125% tariff on scotch whiskey. China represents a £221 million market for scotch whiskey exports, comprising nearly 5% of scotch exports. Industry experts now expect exports to fall below £100 million, in a blow to the scotch industry. "This is a significant loss - not catastrophic, but significant," said an industry executive.

A spokesperson for the Chinese Ministry of Commerce and the China's Customs Tariff Commission said that further measures were being prepared.

The Chinese Ministry of Education will also be seeking renumeration for the Confucius Institutes that are expected to close in the coming year, reportedly seeking upwards of £50 million from British universities for violations of the agreements establishing the institutes.

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