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presidential election

Sao Tome and Principe’s President Manuel Pinto da Costa has boycotted his own run-off election, handing victory to his rival.

The president of the West African state withdrew from August 7 poll, alleging fraud in the first round held on July 17.Manuel Pinto da Costa of Sao Tome and Principe

Manuel Pinto da Costa’s rival, Evaristo Carvalho, a former prime minister, is now certain to win the race.

Evaristo Carvalho had won the first round with 49.8% of the vote while Mamuel Pinto da Costa had taken 24.8%.

Ahead of August 7 run-off, Manuel Pinto da Costa had called on his supporters not to vote, and later reports said many of them had stayed away.

Manuel Pinto da Costa ruled Sao Tome with an iron fist for the first 15 years after independence from Portugal in 1975.

He lost the presidency after introducing reforms in 1990, including multi-party democracy, but in 2011, he was re-elected to office.

Sao Tome and Principe, a former Portuguese colony, consists of two islands of volcanic origin and a number of smaller islets lying off the western coast of Africa.Sa

Ivory Coast is holding the first presidential election since the civil war ended in 2011.

The bitterly contested presidential election has been marred by prominent opposition candidates pulling out, citing widespread irregularities.

Ivory Coast’s incumbent President Alassane Ouattara is running for a second term in the world’s largest cocoa producer.

Some 3,000 people were killed in the conflict which ended with Alassane Ouattara coming to power in 2011.

Photo Getty Images

Photo Getty Images

The conflict broke out after former President Laurent Gbagbo refused to accept Alassane Ouattara’s victory in the 2010 election.

Laurent Gbagbo was subsequently arrested and is due to stand trial at the International Criminal Court (ICC), where he denies war crimes charges.

Three of the 10 opposition candidates, including former PM Charles Konan Banny, have withdrawn from the election.

They allege that the process has been rigged to guarantee victory for Alassane Ouattara, a former International Monetary Fund (IMF) economist.

Alassane Ouattara denies the charge, and has called on people to turn out in massive numbers.

Memories of the conflict are still fresh in people’s minds, especially in strongholds of Laurent Gbagbo, correspondents say.

Poles are voting to elect the country’s president for the next five years.

Poland’s presidential elections on May 10 have a colorful cast of candidates whose antics are providing most of the drama, because there is little suspense about the result: incumbent President Bronislaw Komorowski expected to easily win a second term in office.

Opinion polls put Bronislaw Komorowski in the lead, but if no candidate wins more than 50% of the vote there will be a second round.

Bronislaw Komorowski took office in 2010 after his predecessor, Lech Kaczynski, died in a plane crash.

The president has limited powers, but is head of the armed forces and can veto new laws.Poland presidential election Bronislaw Komorowski

Bronislaw Komorowski, 62, is an independent allied with the centre-right Civic Platform, which has been in government since 2007.

His main challenger is Andrzej Duda, from the right-wing opposition Law and Justice party, which is led by former President Lech Kaczynski’s twin brother, Jaroslaw.

Rock musician Pawel Kukiz looks likely to gather protest votes, but has trailed the leading pair in opinion polls. Another eight candidates are standing.

During a period of tension with Russia over the unrest in Ukraine, President Bronislaw Komorowski says he has promoted stability.

The presidential vote comes ahead of parliamentary elections this autumn, and may give pointers to Civic Platform’s chances of retaining power.

If no candidate wins more than 50%, a second round will be held on May 24.

Recep Tayyip Erdogan has won Turkey’s first direct presidential election.

With almost all the votes counted, current PM Recep Tayyip Erdogan had won about 52%, against 38% for main rival Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu.

The huge margin of victory means there is no need for a run-off.

Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who has vowed to bolster the power of the president, promised supporters a “social reconciliation period”, saying: “Let’s leave the old discussions in the old Turkey.”

Recep Tayyip Erdogan has won Turkey's first direct presidential election

Recep Tayyip Erdogan has won Turkey’s first direct presidential election (photo AFP/Getty Images)

He added in the speech in Ankara: “Today, not only those who love us, but also those who don’t have won. Today Turkey has won.”

Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who has spent three terms as prime minister, is revered by supporters for boosting the economy and giving a voice to conservatives.

His critics lament his authoritarian approach and Islamist leanings in a secular state.

After the provisional results were announced Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu, joint candidate for the two main opposition parties, said: “I congratulate the prime minister and wish him success.”

Recep Tayyip Erdogan has been prime minister since 2003 and was barred from standing for another term.

He needed more than 50% of the vote for an outright victory, avoiding a second round.

Turnout appears to be much lower than expected – some voters may have been dissuaded by the summer heat and holidays.

Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s other rival, Kurdish politician Selahattin Demirtas, took about 9% of the vote.

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Turkish people are voting in the country’s first ever direct presidential election.

Three candidates are vying for the position, including current PM Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

If none of the candidates gets above 50% of the vote, a second round will be held on August 24.

Recep Tayyip Erdogan, 60, says that if he wins he wants to turn the largely ceremonial post of president into the country’s executive powerhouse.

He has been prime minister since 2003 and is barred from standing for that office again.

Polls opened at 08:00 local time and close at 17:00.

Recep Tayyip Erdogan's two rivals in Turkey’s presidential election are a little-known diplomat, Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu, and Kurdish politician Selahattin Demirtas

Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s two rivals in Turkey’s presidential election are a little-known diplomat, Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu, and Kurdish politician Selahattin Demirtas

Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s two rivals are a little-known diplomat, Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu, and Kurdish politician Selahattin Demirtas.

Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu, 71, is the joint candidate of the two main opposition parties in parliament, the centre-left Republican People’s Party (CHP) and the far-right Nationalist Movement Party (MHP).

He served as the secretary-general of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation from 2004 to 2014.

Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu has vowed to uphold the president’s traditional role, insisting it is not up to the head of state to be involved in day-to-day running of politics.

Selahattin Demirtas, 41, is a leader of the left-wing People’s Democratic Party (HDP) and a well-known politician from the Kurdish minority.

Correspondents say he has focused his campaign on championing the cause of the oppressed, the poor, the young and the working classes.

In his final rally in the city of Konya on Saturday, Recep Tayyip Erdogan vowed to raise Turkey’s democratic standards and economic record to create a “world leader and global power”.

Selahattin Demirtas held his final rally in the city of Izmir.

“We cannot build our union by accusing each other. Let’s show our colors at the ballot box tomorrow with our oppressed identities and faiths,” he said.

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Slovakia’s PM Robert Fico and independent challenger Andrej Kiska will run for a second round of the country’s presidential elections.

In Saturday’s first round, Robert Fico polled 28.2% with Andrej Kiska on 24% on a turnout of 43.4%.

Independent conservative Radoslav Prochazka was third with 20.8%.

As no candidate gained 50% of the votes, a second round run-off will be held in two weeks’ time for the mainly ceremonial post.

Robert Fico’s left-wing Smer party won the parliamentary election in 2012.

The 49-year-old had previously served as prime minister from 2006 to 2010, pursuing an anti-austerity agenda.

Since the 2012 elections Robert Fico’s party has governed alone – the first time since independence that a party secured an absolute majority in the Slovak parliament.

Slovakia’s president has the power to appoint the prime minister, as well as the main figures in the judiciary.

Independent challenger Andrej Kiska and PM Robert Fico will run for a second round of Slovakia's presidential elections

Independent challenger Andrej Kiska and PM Robert Fico will run for a second round of Slovakia’s presidential elections (photo SITA/Jozef Jakubèo)

However, parliament exercises legislative power.

Robert Fico’s bid for the presidency is widely seen as an attempt to make his domination of Slovak politics total.

Outgoing President Ivan Gasparovic was elected for the first of two five-year terms in 2004 as voters united against former PM Vladimir Meciar.

Slovakia adopted the euro in 2009 during Robert Fico’s previous term as prime minister.

The country has since seen significant economic growth.

Past governments had been blamed for privatization scandals and other forms of corruption.

Analysts say challenger Andrej Kiska, a 51-year-old millionaire, is riding a wave of continuing popular anger at allegations of sleaze and distrust in established parties.

Andrej Kiska says he wants to fight corruption and create a more efficient government.

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Slovakia votes in a presidential election that pits current PM Robert Fico against independent challenger Andrej Kiska.

PM Robert Fico is seen as the frontrunner, ahead of businessman-turned-philanthropist Andrej Kiska.

Opinion polls predict a two-candidate run-off vote will follow as no one is expected to win an outright majority.

Robert Fico’s leftist Smer party won over half of the seats in parliament in the 2012 general election.

The Slovak president has the power to appoint the prime minister, as well as the main figures in the judiciary.

However, it is a largely ceremonial role and parliament exercises legislative power.

Slovakia’s PM Robert Fico is seen as the frontrunner in today’s presidential election

Slovakia’s PM Robert Fico is seen as the frontrunner in today’s presidential election

Outgoing President Ivan Gasparovic was elected for the first of two five-year terms in 2004 as voters united against former nationalist PM Vladimir Meciar.

Slovakia adopted the euro in 2009 during Robert Fico’s previous term as prime minister.

The country since has seen significant economic growth.

Past governments been blamed for privatization scandals and other forms of corruption.

Analysts say Andrej Kiska is riding a wave of continuing popular anger at sleaze and distrust in established parties.

The 51-year-old is a successful businessman-turned-philanthropist who says he wants to fight corruption and create a more efficient government.

Other candidates in Saturday’s vote include actor Milan Knazko, who was a leading figure of the 1989 Velvet Revolution that ended Communist rule in Czechoslovakia, and Radoslav Prochazka, an independent conservative lawmaker with a degree from Yale Law School.

Saturday’s first round is unlikely to produce an outright winner, who would need over 50% of the vote, but is expected to send Robert Fico and Andrej Kiska into a run-off on March 29.

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Mali is set to begin voting in a presidential election run-off.

Many expect Former PM Ibrahim Boubacar Keita, who won 40% of the vote in the first round, to defeat ex-Finance Minister Soumaila Cisse.

The election follows more than a year of turmoil which included a coup and a French-led military intervention to oust Islamist rebels from the north.

The victor will oversee more than $4 billion in foreign aid promised to rebuild the West African state.

A 12,600-strong United Nations Stabilisation Mission in Mali (Minusma) is currently deploying, as France begins to withdraw its 3,000 troops.

The UN has stressed the importance of the election to the restoration of constitutional order and the start of national dialogue and reconciliation.

A record 49% of the 6.8 million registered voters cast a ballot in first round on 28 July.

Mali presidential candidates Soumaila Cissé and Ibrahim Boubacar Keita

Mali presidential candidates Soumaila Cissé and Ibrahim Boubacar Keita

Soumaila Cisse, who was second among the 27 candidates with 19.7% of the vote, complained that there was widespread fraud, with more than 400,000 ballots declared spoiled.

However, Mali’s Constitutional Court rejected the allegations and the head of the EU election observer mission, Louis Michel, praised the electoral process for its transparency.

Ahead of Sunday’s second round, for which some 21,000 polling stations are due to open across Mali at 08:00 GMT, Louis Michel said he had been “positively surprised” by preparations.

Ibrahim Boubacar Keita – who is popularly known by his initials, “IBK” – has urged voters to give him what he called a “clear and clean” majority in the run-off.

“My first priority would be the reconciliation of the country. After the trauma that it has suffered, a new start is needed,” he told reporters on Saturday.

But IBK also said he would be pursuing “a real peace… not a false one”.

Ibrahim Boubacar Keita, 68, has the support of influential moderate Islamic leaders, and 22 of the 25 losing first-round candidates have given him their backing.

Soumaila Cisse, 63, has run on pledges to improve education, create jobs and reform the army. He has been more openly critical of the leaders of last year’s military coup than Ibrahim Boubacar Keita.

“I am confident, because it is not about adding to the votes from the first round, there will be new votes, it is a new election,” he told the AFP news agency on Saturday.

“Everything restarts from zero.”

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Venezuela’s presidential election to replace late leader Hugo Chavez will be held on April 14, the country’s electoral commission has said.

The announcement follows the appointment of Hugo Chavez’s favored successor, Nicolas Maduro, as acting president.

Hugo Chavez died on March 5 after a long battle with cancer.

Nicolas Maduro will run as the governing party candidate with Henrique Capriles expected to stand for the opposition.

Hugo Chavez – who led Venezuela for 14 years – won last October’s election against Henrique Capriles, polling 54% of the vote to Capriles’s 44%.

As Hugo Chavez’s health worsened, he announced that his vice-president, Nicolas Maduro, should succeed him.

Nicolas Maduro, 50, has pledged to carry on the former president’s leftist policies and opinion polls have shown him as the favorite to win the next election.

The head of the electoral commission, Tibisay Lucena, said the candidates would have to register for the race by Monday.

Shortly after his announcement, the head of the opposition coalition officially proposed Henrique Capriles, 40, as their presidential candidate.

Nicolas Maduro will run as the governing party candidate with Henrique Capriles expected to stand for the opposition

Nicolas Maduro will run as the governing party candidate with Henrique Capriles expected to stand for the opposition

Henrique Capriles tweeted that he was grateful to be chosen, adding that he was analyzing the statement from the electoral commission.

“In the following hours I will give my decision,” he said.

Henrique Capriles – a lawyer by training – is governor of the state of Miranda.

He describes his policies as “centrist” and “humanist” and says his political inspiration is former Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva who courted businesses and investors while also developing social programmes.

Despite the outpouring of grief and affection for Hugo Chavez, whose lavish state funeral was held on Friday, the opposition believe they have a chance of winning the election.

Millions of Venezuelans have filed past his coffin as it continues to lie in state in a military museum in Caracas.

Nicolas Maduro has announced that the former leader’s body will be embalmed “like Lenin and Mao Zedong”.

The opposition boycotted Nicolas Maduro’s swearing-in on Friday, saying that it was unconstitutional.

It argued that – under the constitution – the speaker of the National Assembly, Diosdado Cabello, should be the one to take over as acting president.

Henrique Capriles called the move fraudulent.

The opposition further argues that, according to the constitution, the election should be held within 30 days of Hugo Chavez’s death. The date picked falls outside that period.

Meanwhile, Acting President Nicolas Maduro held one of his first diplomatic appointments on Saturday when he had a private meeting with the Chinese delegation that attended Friday’s state funeral.

He told the Chinese representatives that Beijing “can count with the Bolivarian government, with the people of Venezuela to deepen the strategic alliance that our two countries have”.

Nicolas Maduro and Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega later visited the military academy where Hugo Chavez is lying in state.

Nicos Anastasiades has won the Cypriot presidential election with 57.5% of the vote.

It was a comfortable victory of the centre-right leader over Communist-backed Stavros Malas on 42.5%. Stavros Malas has conceded victory.

Nicos Anastasiades takes power as Cyprus stands on the brink of bankruptcy, hit by the knock-on effect of Greece’s economic woes.

He favors a quick deal with foreign lenders to finalize a bailout of the Cypriot economy.

“It is a clear and strong mandate for change, for reform, for our country to exit this vicious circle of crisis,” Tasos Mitsopoulos, Nicos Anastasiades’s spokesman, told reporters according to Reuters news agency.

Jubilant supporters of Nicos Anastasiades’s Democratic Rally party waved Greek and Cypriot flags, honked car horns and set off firecrackers in the capital Nicosia as the results came in, said reports.

But Stavros Malas warned his party would be “severe critics of anything that diverts from the interest of the people or the country”, said AFP news agency.

The Cypriot economy is in recession and the state has little money in its accounts.

Nicos Anastasiades has won the Cypriot presidential election with 57.5 percent of the vote

Nicos Anastasiades has won the Cypriot presidential election with 57.5 percent of the vote

Cyprus first asked the EU for a bailout last July to shore up its banks.

Because of the bailout deal for Greece, and the restructuring of its debts, which saw private bondholders suffer big losses, Cypriot banks lost about 75% of their investments.

However, the Cypriot bailout deal has foundered in protracted negotiations.

The new president will have to finalize a deal with the other 16 countries that use the euro and with the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

Stavros Malas supported a bailout but opposed austerity. Last week’s first round in the presidential election failed to produce a decisive result.

Nicos Anastasiades will aim to exploit massive natural gas finds off Cyprus’s coast, bringing in badly needed income and energy, but risking escalating tensions with Turkey.

He will also be under pressure to reach out to Turkish Cypriots in the north of the island, cut off since Cyprus was formally divided along ethnic lines almost four decades ago.

Who is Nicos Anastasiades?

  • 66-year-old lawyer
  • A member of parliament since 1981 and leader of his centre-right DISY (the Democratic Rally) party since 1997
  • Says he would support austerity measures which would accompany an EU/IMF rescue package, saying the election is about “the survival of the country”
  • Heavy smoker known for straight-talking style – sometimes seen as autocratic
  • Widely respected despite political humiliation nine years ago when he supported a UN blueprint to reunify the island that was later rejected by the public

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Rafael Correa has been re-elected for a third term as Ecuador’s president with more than 50% of the vote.

His main challenger, Guillermo Lasso, has admitted defeat.

Addressing his supporters in the capital, Quito, Rafael Correa, 49, called for “another four years of revolution”.

First elected in 2007, the socialist leader is widely credited with bringing political stability to a nation that suffered decades of protests and coups.

But critics accuse Rafael Correa of being a dictator in the making.

Rafael Correa, a US-trained economist, has been accused of implementing policies that have served to strengthen his hold on power and erode the influence of political opponents and private media.

But his so-called “citizens’ revolution” has made him popular with many ordinary Ecuadoreans and has won him friends among other Latin American left-wing leaders.

Partial results give Rafael Correa 56.7%, ahead of 23.3% for his nearest rival, former banker Guillermo Lasso. The third-placed challenger was poised to take 6.6%, with four others trailing below 5%.

To avoid a run-off, the president needs to win 50% of the total vote or 40% plus a 10-point margin over the second-placed candidate.

Rafael Correa has been re-elected for a third term as Ecuador's president with more than 50 percent of the vote

Rafael Correa has been re-elected for a third term as Ecuador’s president with more than 50 percent of the vote

Speaking on TV after 40% of the votes had been counted, the head of the National Electoral Council said the final result would not be significantly larger or smaller.

President Rafael Correa was quick to claim victory.

“Nobody can stop this revolution,” he told a crowd of supporters gathered outside the balcony of the Carondelet Palace in Quito.

“The colonial powers are not in charge anymore, you can be sure that in this revolution it’s Ecuadoreans who are in charge.”

“We are here to serve you,” he added.

“Nothing for us, everything for you: the people who deserve the right to be free.

“This is not just a victory for Ecuador, this is a victory for the great homeland of Latin America.”

During his six years in power, Rafael Correa has expanded access to healthcare and education and improved thousands of miles of highways, creating many jobs in the process. Poverty rates have dropped significantly.

Critics say that, since coming to office, he has filled the courts and government positions with allies and stifled free speech by taking on the media.

They also complain he has restricted free enterprise with heavy taxation and regulatory changes and taken government spending to an unsustainable level.

Rafael Correa is close to Venezuela and Cuba and has sought to establish ties with Iran and China. Last year, he upset the US, Britain and Sweden by granting asylum to wanted WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange at the Ecuadorean embassy in London.

“I don’t recognize the current Correa. He is a different person. He is not the friend I used to have, that I used to love like a brother,” said Alberto Acosta, one of the co-founders of the Alianza Pais governing party and now an opposition candidate.

“He controls everything. He is a sort of Sun King of the 21st Century,” he said referring to France’s King Louis XIV.

Since 2007, Rafael Correa has re-written the country’s constitution: a move that allowed him to run for, and win, a new term in 2009. He is legally barred from running again after this election, the Associated Press reports.

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Nate Silver, a New York Times blogger and celebrity numbers wiz, is set to make millions for his spot-on election prediction.

Nate Silver, the 34-year-old statistician who developed his own formula for predicting presidential outcomes, bet MSNB morning host Joe Scarborough $2,000 that Barack Obama would win the election on November 6.

Both men agreed to donate their winnings to charity.

Nate Silver won and is now poised to take in far more than his initial bet, Business Insider reports.

Nate Silver, who started his career analyzing baseball players’ performances, earned $700,000 for a two book deal with Penguin after calling the 2008 presidential election, according to the New York Observer.

Nate Silver, the 34-year-old statistician who developed his own formula for predicting presidential outcomes

Nate Silver, the 34-year-old statistician who developed his own formula for predicting presidential outcomes

On Election Day Business Insider proposed that Nate Silver could potentially double those earnings in 2012 with more book deals and high-paid speaking gigs if he were to successfully call the election again.

In addition to blogging for the New York Times, Nate Silver is the founder of his own much-read blog FiveThirtyEight.com.

Nate Silver was the topic of a Today show segment on Friday after successfully predicting Barack Obama’s win.

“He’s becoming a bit of a celebrity,” Today show host Andrea Canning told viewers.

“President Obama may have been the big winner this week, but coming in a close second: New York Times blogger, statistician and self-described geek, Nate Silver.”

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As the East Coast tries to get back on its feet after the damage from Hurricane Sandy, New Jersey has announced that residents can vote by email in the upcoming presidential election.

Flooding, damaged roads and power outages have forced many Jerseyites from their homes and the electronic option will allow first responders who are working away from home and those displaced by the storm to cast their ballot.

Hurricane Sandy, that barreled down on New Jersey and New York on October 29, has claimed 110 lives, displaced thousands and left millions without power for days.

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie and his counterpart in New York, Gov. Andrew Cuomo, have been reviewing how to prepare their respective states for November 6 – while simultaneously trying to restore electricity and access to food and water.

Both states have asked power companies to prioritize electricity to polling stations this coming Tuesday.

New Jersey will allow any state resident that has been displaced by the storm to qualify as an overseas voter, meaning they can submit their ballot by fax or email.

New Jersey residents told they can vote via email as the Northeast scrambles to prepare polling stations after Sandy

New Jersey residents told they can vote via email as the Northeast scrambles to prepare polling stations after Sandy

Governor Chris Christie also mandated that county clerks open their offices over the weekend to allow early voting and has called for paper ballots to be sent to polling stations still without power.

“Time on your hands? Tired of cleaning stuff up? Go there in person, you’ll get a ballot, you vote and hand it in and you’re done,” Chris Christie said at a press conference, encouraging residents to not let the storm prevent them from exercising their right to vote.

“There’s no reason why anybody shouldn’t vote. We’re going to have a full, fair, transparent, open voting process,” he added.

New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg has tried to address the issue of polling station power availability but told reporters that the Board of Elections has jurisdiction over those centers.

“They have known for six days now that we were going to have some problems and hopefully they had backup plans anyway,” he said, casting some doubt on their preparedness though much of the city will likely have power by next Tuesday.

Many counties in upstate New York are still without power but officials have noted that paper ballots are primarily used, so the power outage should not impact a person’s ability to vote but access to polling stations might be a difficulty for many voters.

After the storm swept through the East Coast, local officials assessed the damage and some actually wondered if the destruction was severe enough to merit the postponement of the presidential election.

But the idea was dismissed given the limited geographic scope of the storm and the monumental impact of rescheduling the decision day for the U.S. Commander in Chief.

Changing the date of a national Election Day, which has never actually occurred before, can only occur by an act of Congress, according to legislation from 1845.

 

Barack Obama and Mitt Romney are heading into the final two days of campaigning with the outcome still too close to call.

Republican Mitt Romney will campaign in Iowa, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Virginia, while Barack Obama heads for New Hampshire, Florida, Ohio and Colorado.

Both candidates addressed large rallies on Saturday in key swing states.

The latest ABC News/Washington Post survey suggests the pair are level with 48% of support.

Both Barack Obama and Mitt Romney are showing signs of exhaustion as they continue their daily, multiple-state visits to attract any undecided voters in the marginal battleground states that will determine the winner.

Former President Bill Clinton was also suffering as he joined Barack Obama in Virginia, addressing the rally in hoarse tones, saying he had “given my voice in the service of my president”.

Barack Obama told the 24,000 people in Bristow, Virginia, that the planning and organization of his campaign now no longer mattered.

“The power is not with us anymore, the planning, everything we do, it doesn’t matter. It’s all up to you, it’s up to the volunteers… you have got the power. That’s how democracy is supposed to be.”

At Barack Obama’s rally in Milwaukee, pop star Katy Perry, wearing a dress emblazoned with the Democratic slogan “Forward”, helped warm up a 20,000 crowd.

Barack Obama told them not to allow Mitt Romney to return the US to a time when Wall St had “free rein to do whatever” it liked.

Campaigning in New Hampshire on Saturday, Mitt Romney criticized Barack Obama for saying that voting would be their “best revenge” on the Republicans.

“Vote for revenge? Let me tell you what I’d like to tell you: Vote for love of country. It is time we lead America to a better place.”

The latest ABC News-Washington Post survey suggests Barack Obama and Mitt Romney are both level with 48 percent of support

The latest ABC News-Washington Post survey suggests Barack Obama and Mitt Romney are both level with 48 percent of support

Later, in Colorado Springs, the Republican challenger told supporters that Tuesday’s election would be “a moment to look into the future, and imagine what we can do to put the past four years behind us”.

“We’re that close right now,” he said.

“The door to a brighter future is there.”

The campaigning there has been at its fiercest. No Republican has ever been elected president without first winning Ohio.

But when there has been so much pressure on people to vote early and when all but a tiny fraction of likely voters have made up their mind, how much difference will all this frantic last-minute campaigning have?

An opinion poll on Sunday for ABC News and the Washington Post put the two candidates at 48%, with even voters who term themselves independents split evenly on 46%.

Mitt Romney remains favored in the whites, seniors and evangelical groups; Barack Obama in women, non-whites and young adults.

Barack Obama remains slightly ahead in most of the nine-or-so swing states that will determine the election.

Opinion polls published on Saturday showed him well-placed in Iowa, Nevada and Ohio, but most remain within the polls’ own margins of error.

The election is run using an electoral college. Each state is given a number of votes based on its population. The candidate who wins 270 electoral college votes becomes president.

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When President Barack Obama flew to Chicago to cast his vote early in Chicago on Thursday, he became one of over 8 million Americans to have already made their decision for the November election.

And now with the election just ten days away, early results from those polls are giving both Barack Obama and Mitt Romney cause to claim victory – despite neither campaign having established a distinct advantage.

In encouraging results, Barack Obama appears to be matching his 2008 presidential victory totals across the country, but Mitt Romney is exceeding Senator John McCain’s efforts and appears to be already ahead in key state Florida.

Early voting results released so far show success in Florida for Mitt Romney but encouragement for Barack Obama in North Carolina

Early voting results released so far show success in Florida for Mitt Romney but encouragement for Barack Obama in North Carolina

Colorado: 325,810 votes have been cast so far – 126,539 from Republicans and 120,965 from Democrats and 75,030 from unaffiliated voters

Florida: 925,604 votes as mail-in-absentee ballots have been cast – 414,016 from Republicans and 363,881 from Democrats. In person early voting begins today in the Sunshine State

Iowa: 399 ballots have been cast – 183,780 for Democrats and 126,872 from Republicans. In this key state in 2008, Democrats had a 24-percent point lead and this year that lead is eight percent.

Nevada: 218, 616 votes have been cast so far – 101,935 for Republicans and 79,059 for Democrats

Ohio: 808,051 ballots have been cast so far in Ohio – but party affiliation is not revealed

Virginia: 247,862 votes have been cast so far in Virginia which does not reveal party affiliation

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Romanians are voting in a referendum on whether to impeach President Traian Basescu.

Traian Basescu has already been suspended by parliament in a series of moves that have caused alarm among Romania’s EU partners because of the speed of the process.

The government accuses Traian Basescu of exceeding his authority and of meddling in government affairs.

Traian Basescu denies the accusations and has urged a boycott of Sunday’s referendum.

Romanians are voting in a referendum on whether to impeach President Traian Basescu

Romanians are voting in a referendum on whether to impeach President Traian Basescu

Under a new Romanian law backed by Traian Basescu’s Liberal Democrat Party (PDL), more than half of the electorate will have to vote to make the result valid.

The referendum is one of the fiercest political clashes in Romania since the return of democracy in 1990.

The result is hard to predict but will have long-term repercussions for Romania’s political and economic stability.

The row has paralyzed political decision-making in Romania at a time when it is finalizing agreements on an IMF-backed aid package.

Traian Basescu’s popularity has slumped since he backed tough austerity measures demanded by Romania’s international lenders and also because he backed corrupted members of PDL.

According to the latest polls, about 65% of the electorate wants to remove Traian Basescu. However, analysts say the government will struggle to achieve the required turnout.

Traian Basescu had initially urged Romanians to come to referendum and vote “no” to what he called “a coup”, but later asked his supporters to boycott the vote altogether, a stance also adopted by the new opposition (PDL). However, Traian Basescu will vote today even he urged people to boycott the referendum.

If he is impeached, a presidential election must be held within three months.

Earlier this month, European Council President Herman Van Rompuy voiced “deep concerns” about the political crisis in Romania “with regard to the rule of law and the independence of the judiciary”.

Romania and neighboring Bulgaria joined the EU in 2007, but Brussels has put both countries under special monitoring because of concerns about judicial independence, corruption and political influence in state institutions.

 

Tens of thousands of people in Mexico City are marching against the result of the presidential election, which was won by Enrique Pena Nieto.

The demonstrators, who are not necessarily linked to any particular party, say the vote was not fair.

They accuse Enrique Pena Nieto’s party, the PRI, of buying votes; some carried banners saying “Not another fraud”.

Enrique Pena Nieto, who was declared the winner after a recount of nearly half the votes, denies the allegation.

The second-placed candidate in Mexico’s presidential election, Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, has said he will mount a legal challenge to the result.

Tens of thousands of people in Mexico City are marching against the result of the presidential election, which was won by Enrique Pena Nieto

Tens of thousands of people in Mexico City are marching against the result of the presidential election, which was won by Enrique Pena Nieto

Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador said he would prove that illicit money was used to buy votes in the 1 July poll and secure the victory of centrist candidate Enrique Pena Nieto, who denies this.

Six years ago, after losing the presidential election by a narrow margin, the left-wing Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador led weeks of protests that caused disruption in central areas of Mexico City.

Enrique Pena Nieto was confirmed the winner on Friday after a final recount, with 38.21% to Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador’s 31.59%.

Third-placed Josefina Vazquez Mota, from the right-wing National Action Party, has admitted defeat.

There is a broad spread of people, not necessarily from the left, who feel that votes in their parts of Mexico were tampered with.

But Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, of the Party of the Democratic Revolution, said the election had been fraudulent and that he would file an appeal next week.

He accuses the party of Enrique Pena Nieto, the Institutional Revolutionary Party, of paying for votes using gift cards for a supermarket chain.

Numerous videos have emerged of people claiming they received credit in exchange for voting for the PRI.

The party governed Mexico for 71 years until it was defeated in the 2000 presidential poll.

 

Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, the second-placed candidate in Mexico’s presidential election, has said he will mount a legal challenge to the result.

He said he would prove that illicit money was used to buy votes and secure the victory of centrist candidate Enrique Pena Nieto, who denies this.

Enrique Pena Nieto was confirmed the winner on Friday after a final recount, with 38.21% to Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador’s 31.59%.

A protest march is planned in Mexico City on Saturday.

Six years ago, after losing the presidential election by a narrow margin, the left-wing Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador led weeks of protests that caused disruption in central areas of Mexico City.

Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, the second-placed candidate in Mexico's presidential election, has said he will mount a legal challenge to the result

Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, the second-placed candidate in Mexico's presidential election, has said he will mount a legal challenge to the result

Third-placed Josefina Vazquez Mota, from the right-wing National Action Party, has admitted defeat.

It is not just Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador’s team who are pushing for alleged irregularities to be investigated.

There is a broad spread of people, not necessarily from the left, who feel that votes in their parts of Mexico were tampered with, he adds.

Accusations of irregularities led to a re-check of about 50% of votes after the result was announced on Monday.

The president of Mexico’s electoral body said on Friday following the recount that there was no reason not to accept the result.

But Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, of the Party of the Democratic Revolution, said the election had been fraudulent and that he would file an appeal next week.

He accuses the party of Enrique Pena Nieto, the PRI, of paying for votes using gift cards for a supermarket chain.

Numerous videos have emerged of people claiming they received credit in exchange for voting for the PRI.

Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador promised to keep protests peaceful and “act responsibly”.

Enrique Pena Nieto, of the PRI party, said he had done nothing wrong and said he may sue his opponents over the allegations.

The election had been a tortuous process, and Enrique Pena Nieto is unlikely to see a quiet acceptance of the result.

Mexico’s Federal Electoral Institute has until early September to address complaints and formally announce a winner in the presidential election.

 

The US Department of Homeland Security announces that illegal immigrants who came to America as children may be eligible for work permits and will not be deported.

Under a new plan, those aged between 16 and 30 who have lived in the US continuously for five years would be eligible for amnesty from deportation.

Eligible candidates will also be able to apply for a work permit.

The move is seen as addressing a top priority for many Latino voters in a presidential election year.

The US Department of Homeland Security announces that illegal immigrants who came to America as children may be eligible for work permits and will not be deported

The US Department of Homeland Security announces that illegal immigrants who came to America as children may be eligible for work permits and will not be deported

Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano said deportation laws were not designed to be “blindly enforced without consideration given to the individual circumstances of each case”.

“Discretion, which is used in so many other areas, is especially justified here,” Janet Napolitano added.

In order to be eligible under the new initiative, illegal immigrants must:

have arrived in the US when they were under the age of 16

• have lived continuously in the US for at least five years

• must be in school, or have graduated from high school or be honorably discharged veterans of the US military

• have no criminal record

• be under 30 years old.

 

France is prepared for the second round of presidential election that could see a socialist winner for the first time since 1988.

In the first round socialist Francois Hollande won 28.6% of the vote, ahead of incumbent Nicolas Sarkozy on 26.2%.

Rising unemployment and the euro crisis have dominated the campaign.

Nicolas Sarkozy says he averted recession and will preserve a “strong France”. Francois Hollande contends the country is in “serious crisis” and needs change.

Polls in mainland France and Corsica will be open from 08:00 to 18:00, with voting stations in big cities remaining open for another two hours.

On Wednesday the two rivals took part in a testy debate, watched by an estimated 17.9 million people, and continued to campaign until Friday.

Francois Hollande – who has long been regarded as favorite – said turnout on election day could affect the result.

Nicolas Sarkozy said no election had ever been so “undecided”.

Nicolas Sarkozy says he averted recession and will preserve a "strong France” while Francois Hollande contends the country is in "serious crisis" and needs change

Nicolas Sarkozy says he averted recession and will preserve a "strong France” while Francois Hollande contends the country is in "serious crisis" and needs change

In the final days, each stepped up his appeals to voters who backed far-right leader Marine Le Pen and centrist Francois Bayrou in the first round.

Marine Le Pen, who attracted 6.4 million voters, has said she would cast a blank ballot but called on supporters to “vote according to their conscience”.

Francois Bayrou, who attracted almost 9% of the first-round vote on 22 April, said he would back Francois Hollande in the second.

The socialist candidate has also been endorsed by hard-left candidate Jean-Luc Melenchon, who won 11% of the vote.

President Nicolas Sarkozy, who has been in office since 2007, has promised to reduce France’s large budget deficit and to tax people who leave the country for tax reasons.

Francois Hollande, for his part, has promised to raise taxes on big corporations and people earning more than 1 million Euros a year.

He wants to raise the minimum wage, hire 60,000 more teachers and lower the retirement age from 62 to 60 for some workers.

If elected, Francois Hollande would be France’s first left-wing president since Francois Mitterrand, who completed two seven-year terms between 1981 and 1995.

It would also be the first time an incumbent president has lost a re-election bid in France since Valery Giscard d’Estaing in 1981.

The presidential vote will be followed by a parliamentary election in June.

 

President Nicolas Sarkozy faces an uphill struggle in the second round of the French presidential election, after coming second in Sunday’s first vote.

Nicolas Sarkozy won 27.1% of the vote, while his Socialist rival Francois Hollande took 28.6%, the first time a sitting president has lost in the first round.

Francois Hollande and Nicolas Sarkozy will face each other in a second round of voting on 6 May.

Third-place Marine Le Pen took the largest share of the vote her far-right National Front has ever won, with 18%.

Francois Hollande’s narrow victory in this round gives him crucial momentum ahead of the run-off in two weeks’ time.

Nicolas Sarkozy, leader of the ruling centre-right UMP, will now need to woo the far-right voters who backed Marine Le Pen if he is to hold on to the presidency. But Francois Hollande remains the front runner.

Around one in five people voted for the National Front candidate, including many young and working class voters, putting her ahead of seven other candidates.

The election has been dominated by economic issues, with voters concerned with sluggish growth and rising unemployment.

Marine Le Pen, who campaigned on a nationalist, anti-immigration platform, said she would wait until May Day next week to give her view on the second round.

She told jubilant supporters that the result was “only the start” and that the party was now “the only opposition” to the Left.

Opinion polls taken after voting on Sunday suggested that between 48 and 60% of Le Pen voters would switch to backing Nicolas Sarkozy in the second round.

But pollsters also predict a large abstention rate in the second round.

Nearly a fifth of voters backed a party – the National Front – that wants to ditch the euro and return to the franc.

President Nicolas Sarkozy faces an uphill struggle in the second round of the French presidential election, after coming second in Sunday's first vote

President Nicolas Sarkozy faces an uphill struggle in the second round of the French presidential election, after coming second in Sunday's first vote

But polls suggest Francois Hollande will comfortably win the second round.

As the results came in, he said he was “best placed to become the next president of the republic” and that Nicolas Sarkozy had been punished by voters.

“The choice is simple, either continue policies that have failed with a divisive incumbent candidate or raise France up again with a new, unifying president,” Francois Hollande said.

It is the first time a French president running for re-election has failed to win the first round since the start of the Fifth Republic in 1958.

Nicolas Sarkozy – in power since 2007 – said he understood “the anguish felt by the French” in a “fast-moving world”.

He called for three debates during the two weeks to the second round – centring on the economy, social issues, and international relations.

Francois Hollande promptly rejected the idea. He told reporters that the traditional single debate ahead of the second round was sufficient, and that it should “last as long as necessary”.

Turnout on Sunday was high, at more than 80%.

Marine Le Pen achieved more than the breakthrough score polled in 2002 by her father and predecessor, Jean-Marie Le Pen, who got through to the second round with more than 16%.

Leftist candidate Jean-Luc Melenchon, who was backed by the Communist Party, came fourth with almost 12%.

He urged his supporters unconditionally to rally behind Francois Hollande in the run-off.

Centrist Francois Bayrou, who was hoping to repeat his high 2007 score of 18%, garnered only about 9%.

If Nicolas Sarkozy cannot change the minds of a substantial number of people, he will become the first sitting president to lose an election since 1981.

Wages, pensions, taxation, and unemployment have been topping the list of voters’ concerns.

Nicolas Sarkozy has promised to reduce France’s large budget deficit and to tax people who leave the country for tax reasons.

Francois Hollande has strongly criticized Nicolas Sarkozy’s economic record.

The Socialist candidate has promised to raise taxes on big corporations and people earning more than 1 million Euros a year.

He also wants to raise the minimum wage, hire 60,000 more teachers and lower the retirement age from 62 to 60 for some workers.

If elected, Francois Hollande would be France’s first left-wing president since Francois Mitterrand, who completed two seven-year terms between 1981 and 1995.

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Socialist Francois Hollande has won most votes in the first round of France’s presidential election, early estimates say.

Francois Hollande got 28.4% of votes, according to projections based on partial results, against 25.5% for centre-right incumbent Nicolas Sarkozy.

Nicolas Sarkozy and Francois Hollande will face each other in a second-round run-off on 6 May.

The election has been dominated by widespread anxiety over the French economy and the wider eurozone crisis.

Socialist Francois Hollande has won most votes in the first round of France's presidential election, early estimates say

Socialist Francois Hollande has won most votes in the first round of France's presidential election, early estimates say

The estimates – based on votes counted in polling stations that closed early at 18:00 – were announced by French media when all voting ended at 20:00.

It is the first time a French president running for re-election has failed to win the first round since the start of the Fifth Republic in 1958.

Nicolas Sarkozy – who has been in power since 2007 – was facing a total of nine candidates in Sunday’s first round.

Far-right leader Marine Le Pen came third with about 20% of the vote, and leftist candidate Jean-Luc Melanchon fourth with more than 11%.

Centrist Francois Bayrou, who was hoping to repeat his high 2007 score of 18%, garnered only about 9%.

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