When people say that democracy cannot be gained and maintained without sacrifice, they probably don't think of it like this.
April 28, 2019 / 8:11 AM / Updated 7 hours ago
More than 270 died from overwork-related illnesses in Indonesia elections
JAKARTA (Reuters) - Ten days after Indonesia held the world’s biggest single-day elections, more than 270 election staff have died, mostly of fatigue-related illnesses caused by long hours of work counting millions of ballot papers by hand, an official said on Sunday.
The April 17 elections were the first time the country of 260 million people combined the presidential vote with national and regional parliamentary ones, with an aim to cut costs.
Voting was largely peaceful and was estimated to have drawn 80 percent of the total 193 million voters, who each had to punch up to five ballot papers in over 800,000 polling stations.
But conducting the eight-hour vote in a country that stretches more than 5,000 km (3,000 miles) from its western to eastern tips proven to be both a Herculean logistical feat and deadly for officials, who had to count ballot papers by hand.
As of Saturday night, 272 election officials had died, mostly from overwork-related illnesses, while 1,878 others had fallen ill, said Arief Priyo Susanto, spokesman of the General Elections Commission (KPU).
The Health Ministry issued a circular letter on April 23 urging health facilities to give utmost care for sick election staff, while the Finance Ministry is working on compensation for families of the deceased, Susanto added.
The KPU has come under fire due to the rising death toll.
“The KPU is not prudent in managing the workload of staff,” said Ahmad Muzani, deputy chairman of the campaign of opposition presidential candidate Prabowo Subianto, reported by news website Kumparan.com.
Prabowo, who independent pollsters said was the loser of the 2019 polls based on quick counts, had alleged widespread cheating and his campaign claimed some officials punched ballots in favor of incumbent President Joko Widodo. Widodo’s security minister said the allegations were baseless.
Both candidates have declared victory, though quick counts suggested Widodo won the election by around 9-10 percentage points.
The KPU will conclude vote counting and announce winners of the presidential and parliamentary elections on May 22.
Meanwhile, BOLO for Spanish election results tonight.
Deeply divided, Spaniards vote with eye on far-right’s rise
By ARITZ PARRA 2 hours ago
MADRID (AP) — A divided Spain voted Sunday in its third general election in four years, with all eyes on whether a far-right party will enter Parliament for the first time in decades and potentially help unseat the Socialist government.
The incumbent prime minister, Pedro Sánchez, is set to win the most votes, but his Socialists seem far from scoring a majority in parliament to form a government on their own.
The fragmentation of the political landscape is the result of austerity that followed a recession, disenchantment with bipartisan politics and the recent rise of far-right populism.
Sánchez called Sunday’s ballot after a national budget proposal was rejected in the Lower Chamber by the center-right-conservative opposition and Catalan separatists pressing for self-determination in their northeastern region.
Polls a week ago found that about one third of the nearly 37 million eligible voters hadn’t decided how they would vote. Their decision, and the expected high turnout, could swing the result between the left and right wing blocs that have taken shape during the electoral race.
The anti-austerity Unidas Podemos (United We Can) party, has offered to enter a coalition with the Socialists, but they might need to rely on smaller parties, including the Catalan separatists.
On the splintered right, three parties are competing for leadership: the once-dominant conservative Popular Party (PP), the center-right Citizens, and the nationalist and anti-migrant Vox party, which looks set to enter the lower house of Parliament for the first time. Its arrival would mark a big shift in Spain, where the far right has not played a significant role since the country’s transition to democracy following the death of dictator Gen. Francisco Franco in 1975.
Voting stations opened at 9 a.m. (0700GMT) Sunday and will close at 8 p.m. (1800GMT), with results expected a few hours later.