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.
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.
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
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.
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
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
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?
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
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
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.
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
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.”
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
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
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.
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
• 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
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
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.
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
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.