Chileans protest fare increases and structural poverty
On Oct. 1, the Chilean Panel of Public Transport Experts approved a four4 percent% fare increase for public transportation across the country. The initial demonstrations began following an approximately four percent4% fare increase for public transportation. In response to this fare increase, Chileans began evading fares altogether, eventually culminating in escalating clashes with police. As of Oct. 25, over 21 people have died, with approximately 2,400 injured. Police have detained nearly 4,400 Chileans, after the president declared a state of emergency to broaden police powers.
After weeks of ongoing protests, President of Chile Sebastián Piñera has cancelled the planned fare increase and dismissed nearly all of his cabinet in an attempt to deescalate the situation. The concessions have done little to satiate the protestors. The Chilean government has deployed over 10,000 troops throughout the country, something that has not been seen since the end of the Pinochet regime. Although this price increase is a seemingly minor issue, the real problem lies much deeper: Chile is known to have extreme poverty and income inequality, and therefore it is unlikely that the protests will end without sweeping structural change.
Largest uprising in Lebanon history over taxes, corruption
Lebanon is currently experiencing perhaps the largest political uprising in its history, as millions of citizens have taken to the streets to protest widespread government corruption and the tax increases. Beginning on Oct. 7, citizens blocked off streets in the Lebanese capital of Beirut, eventually resulting in an altercation between the bodyguards of a high-ranking government official and the protestors. The bodyguards fired their guns; although they missed the protestors, the act was illegal and the lack of consequences prompted more intense action.
Within days of this incident, the protests had spread across several cities, as citizens assembled outside the headquarters of nearly every major political party. Protesters began burning tires and trash, until they eventually were forcefully dispersed by police. On Oct. 31, President Michel Aoun delivered a speech detailing his commitment to halting corruption and addressing the country’s concerns. However, protests began almost immediately after and it is unclear if anything short of resignation will improve the government’s position.
Parliamentary elections set for December after Brexit extension
For the third time since the infamous referendum three years ago, the EU has granted Britain’s Parliament an extension period to approve a deal that would formalize Brexit. That extension pushes the deadline to Jan. 31 after it was set to expire on Oct. 31. The European Parliament approved a Brexit deal last month, but Johnson was unable to rush that deal through his own legislature before the cutoff day for an extension request. After failing at first, Johnson did however muster enough support in the House of Commons to call for a general election before the next scheduled one in 2022.
This election will take place on Dec. 12 and could give Johnson the numbers he needs to finally push a Brexit deal through, or it could cut his numbers enough to make all of this even less clear. Johnson has stated that, “There is only one way to get Brexit done in the face of this unrelenting parliamentary obstructionism…and that is to refresh this Parliament and give the people a choice.”
Johnson’s biggest threats come from the center-left Labor Party, the centrist Democratic Liberal Party or a coalition between the two should the results of Dec. 12 make such an alliance the majority.