Italy’s president was reelected for a second term and Portugal’s prime minister won reelection this weekend. A trucker convoy protesting vaccine mandates paralyzed Canada’s capital.
Two NATO allies opted for continuity over change in elections this weekend. Closer to home, Ottawa was at a standstill as an anti-vaccine mandate trucker convoy descended on Canada’s capital.
- In Italy, President Sergio Mattarella, 80, had previously announced he would retire after one seven-year term. He was convinced to renege and was reelected by the Italian parliament.
- The presidency is largely ceremonial, but the president has wide power to appoint prime ministers or call new elections in times of political instability. This is not insignificant as Italy tends to go through prime ministers faster than most people change their Brita filters.
- Prime Minister Mario Draghi was expected to succeed Mattarella as president. A Draghi presidency could have led to a political crisis as there was no natural successor.
- Draghi is a former president of the European Central Bank. He is widely respected across Europe and is seen as a steady hand as Italy recovers from COVID-19.
- In Portugal, Prime Minister Antonio Costa won reelection to a third term after presiding over Portugal’s post-COVID recovery and successful COVID-19 vaccination program.
- Costa’s Socialist Party (PS) won a surprising absolute majority of seats in parliament. Previously, PS governed in a coalition with far-left parties that collapsed in December, forcing early elections.
- Most other parties underperformed, including the two far-left parties who forced the election in the first place. The only other party to beat expectations was Chega (Enough), a far-right party that finished third behind PS and the conservative Social Democratic Party (PSD).
- The New York Times reported that the first day of “Freedom Convoy” protests were largely peaceful in their opposition to a trucker vaccine mandate and COVID-19 restrictions in general.
- The BBC described the second day of the “Freedom Convoy” as “chaos.” A Canadian minister called isolated incidents including a swastika flag sighting and a person dancing on the tomb of the unknown soldier as “beyond reprehensible.”
- The Washington Post covered the Canadian government’s response to the protests, including Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s description of them as a “fringe minority” and police warned of social media posts and disruptive “lone wolf individuals.”
- The Telegraph reports that Canadian PM Justin Trudeau was forced to flee his residence for a safe location as 2,700 trucks and 10,000 protesters demonstrated in Ottawa.
- Fox News highlighted a controversy ensnaring the CBC, Canada’s state broadcaster.The government-run news organization suggested the “freedom convoy” was being “instigated” by “Russian actors.” Evidently, Russiagate conspiracy theories know no borders.
- Breitbart covered ex-president Donald Trump’s praise for the “freedom convoy” at his rally in Texas this past weekend.
© Dominic Moore, 2022