World this week
Turkish voters will head back to the polls on May 28 for a runoff election to decide if conservative President Recep Tayyip Erdogan or his main rival will lead a country struggling with sky-high inflation as it plays a key role in NATO expansion and in the Middle East. The second round of the presidential elections will allow Turkey to decide if the nation remains under the increasingly authoritarian president for a third decade, or if it can embark on the more democratic course that Kemal Kilicdaroglu has claimed he can deliver.
The nationalist Erdogan has led a highly divisive campaign. He portrayed Kilicdaroglu, who had received the backing of the country's pro-Kurdish party, of colluding with "terrorists" and of supporting what he called "deviant" LGBTQ rights. Erdogan has had the backing of conservative voters and courted more Islamists with his anti-LGBTQ rhetoric. His performance in the first round was stronger than many expected, even though he just fell short of the 50% needed to win outright.
Thousands of Jewish nationalists, some of them chanting "Death to Arabs" and other racist slogans, paraded through the main Palestinian thoroughfare of Jerusalem's Old City, in an annual display that caused new friction between Jews and Palestinians in the tense city. The marchers, who were overwhelmingly male Orthodox teens and young men, were celebrating "Jerusalem Day," marking Israel's capture of the Old City 56 years ago. The Palestinians see the event as a provocation. Two years ago, the parade helped fuel an 11-day war between Israel and Hamas militants in the Gaza Strip.
Israel's gains during the Six Day War in 1967 are considered illegal under international law. In several cases, the boisterous crowd chanted slogans such as "Death to Arabs," and "May Your Village Burn" at Palestinian onlookers. Several lawmakers in Israel's new far-right governing coalition, including National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir, joined the procession.
Thailand's opposition racked up a stunning victory in the race for the House of Representatives, dealing a major blow to the establishment, and the former general who has led the Southeast Asian country since seizing power in a 2014 coup. The results of the election were a strong repudiation of the country's conservative establishment, and reflected the disenchantment of young voters who want to limit the influence of the military and reform the monarchy.
The Move Forward Party, led by 42-year-old Pita Limjaroenrat, emerged as the big winner, capturing a projected 151 seats. A close second was Pheu Thai, the party founded by the exiled ex-prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra, whose total is projected at 141. The party of incumbent Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha, the former army general, was reduced to just 36 seats. Thailand's parliament consists of 500 elected seats in the lower house and 250 unelected positions in the Senate appointed by the military. Limjaroenrat said his party had secured an alliance with seven other parties that give them at least 313 of the 376 votes needed.
More than 20 rivers burst their banks in Italy, leaving 13 people dead and forcing thousands from their homes after six months' rainfall fell in a day and a half. More bodies were found on Thursday after almost every river flooded between Bologna and the north-east coast 115km (70 miles) away. Some 280 landslides have taken place. Many villages and towns flooded in the province of Emilia-Romagna, not just from rivers, but overflowing canals too.
More evacuations took place west of Ravenna on Thursday (May 18)and more bodies were found, including a couple in a flat in the village of Russia, which was flooded hours before. Many are warning that Italy needs a national plan to respond to the effects of climate change. Civil Protection Minister Nello Musumeci said tropical conditions had already reached Italy, with 20cm of rain falling in 36 hours, and in some areas up to 50cm.
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