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Elections Round-Up

Macro Monday, surprise results for Pakistan elections, Kingswood and Wellingborough by-elections on Thursday, win for Stubb in the Finnish elections, and Trumps advice to NATO members.

Macro Monday

There are 2,640 billionaires in the world. Their combined wealth fell slightly last year, down from $2.3 trillion to $2.1trillion. Bernard Arnault leads the way with $211 billion dollars, often trading places with Elon Musk at the top of the charts.

Pakistan Elections

There was surprise amongst Pakistan’s military leadership over the weekend, as election results showed Imran Khan has won the most seats. The surprise is really because Mr Khan was ousted in 20022, imprisoned in 2023, sentenced to another 14 years at the end of last month and, leading up to the election, candidates aligned with him were arrested and intimidated.

The win falls short of a majority, which means it will be a tall order to form a coalition from within prison. With this probably comes stalemate and the main opposition party of Nawaz Sharif has enough seats to attempt to cobble together a coalition of their own – something the powerful military would far rather see. In the meantime, though, there’s a high risk of political paralysis in a country of 240 million people.

By-Elections: Kingswood and Wellingborough

Thursday will see voters head to the polls in two by-elections at Kingswood and Wellingborough in the latest litmus test for the Government, as the country continues to speculate on when the next General Election will take place. The Wellingborough by-election follows more than 10% of Conservative MP Peter Bone’s constituents signing a petition to recall him. The long-standing MP who has been an ardent campaigner for Brexit, was suspended for a month and a half for breaching the MP’s code of conduct following an investigation into accusations of sexual misconduct and bullying. Though the seat has served as a stronghold for the Conservatives since 2005, some commentators are suggesting that the party is struggling, not least because of Reform UK who have canvassed heavily in the constituency. Gen Kitchen – who is looking to take the seat for Labour for the first time since the party won by a narrow 187 votes in 1997 – will need a around an 18-point swing to win and overturn the 18,500 conservative majority.

Meanwhile in Kingswood, the electorate is heading to the ballot box following the constituency’s MP Chris Skidmore resigning from the Conservative party over the government issuing more oil and gas extraction licences. Skidmore – who served as the Minister for Energy – secured a majority of 22.8% during the 2019 election, but just over an 11 point swing could see Labour’s Damien Egan win the seat.

Finnish Elections

Sticking with elections, last night saw Alexander Stubb win the Finnish Presidential Election having secured 51.6% of the vote with 99.7% of the votes counted. Stubb takes over from his fellow party member Sauli Niinisto who has served twelve years in office for the National Coalition Party. The centre-right Stubb – who served as Prime Minister of Finland from 2014 to 2015 – is broadly considered pro-European and has taken a strong stance against Russia following their full-scale invasion of Ukraine.

The new Head of State will assume the office of the presidency at a time when Finland has just joined NATO. Here, Finland became the 31st member of the alliance as it looks to send a strong signal to its neighbouring Russia along its 1,300km border. Stubb has generally advocated greater integration with NATO and welcomed housing some of the alliance’s troops in the country.

 

More on NATO

Continuing with NATO, Donald Trump has put the cat amongst the pigeons by saying that he would “encourage them to do whatever they want” to Nato members who hadn’t met their budgetary commitments. 19 out of 30 Nato members didn’t meet their 2023 spending goals, including Germany, Norway, and France. Jens Stolenberg has said that Nato stands “ready and able” to defend its members but that suggestion that “allies will not defend each other undermines all of our security”.

 

As well as stoking outrage in Europe, the comments have been jumped on by Biden who has said “Donald Trump’s admission that he intends to give Putin a green light for more war and violence, to continue his brutal assault against a free Ukraine, and to expand his aggression to the people of Poland and the Baltic states is appalling and dangerous”.

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