THE INDEX – June 2, 2010

Many local elections in South Korea are turning out to be too close to call. Despite projections that the ruling Grand National Party (GNP), would retain control, the opposition Democratic Party is making strong gains. Of 16 gubernatorial and mayoral contests, each party had taken five in the latest tally. The remainder are still too close to call.

The Korea Times, reports that many voters backing the opposition chose not to reveal their voting intentions to pollsters prior to the election. As a result, these “hidden votes,” as the Times refers to them, swung the balance back to the middle.

This election reflects the confusion faced by South Koreans—with a stronger emphasis on national security due to growing tensions with North Korea after a torpedo attack allegedly ordered by Pyongyang killed 46 South Korean sailors in March. While such crises often help the ruling conservative party, in this case voters may be opting for more flexible leaders.

The Korea Herald is suggesting that while elections are typically an assessment of the current leadership, given the relations with the North Korea, the it is difficult to tell at this point what is driving this time.


The Egyptian government has extended a controversial law that allows it to hold any person in prison for 90 days without charge or trial. The Emergency Law has provoked a strong reaction from government opposition despite Egyptian authorities stressing that the measure is being taken solely as an anti-terrorist device.

The Jerusalem Post says the law has been extended for the next two years. After parliamentary elections on Tuesday, Egypt will face more parliamentary elections in October, followed by a presidential election next year. Critics believe the timing of the extension is no coincidence.

According to Atef Al-Banna, professor of constitutional law at the University of Cairo, those arrested under the Emergency Law are frequently re-arrested on the day of their release, effectively allowing the government to imprison the accused, often merely political opponents, for an indefinite period. The law was originally passed in 1981 following the assassination of then-President Anwar Sadat.

United States Secretary of State Hillary Clinton expressed her disappointment over the law’s extension, after Egyptian authorities had vowed to enact permanent anti-terrorism legislation in place of the Emergency Law.

"This extension is regrettable, given the pledge made by the government to the Egyptian people in 2005," said Clinton .


At least 700 people are trapped and at least 18 have been killed after massive flooding in South China’s Guangxi Zhuang region. Initially, two children—students at Beigeng Middle School in Laibin City—were reported as missing as a result of the flooding. However, the AFP is now reporting that 10 bodies have been found and as many as 16 more people may still be buried. Eight people in other parts of the region have been confirmed dead as well, bringing the death toll to 18. China National Radio said the floods, which occurred after days of heavy rain, have caused some $88 million worth of economic damages.

"I woke up at 3 a.m. and saw the room was flooded," Wei Yanting, a girl living in a school dormitory told Xinhua. "We all climbed on to the top bunk beds and sat there watching the water cover the lower ones."

Firemen helped evacuate the local schools. Some 57,000 people have been taken to safer ground, China National Radio said.

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