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Second referendum in Scotland / General strike in Guyana / 20th edition of Korrika

24 to 30 March

2017 Korrika starts.
2017 Korrika starts. Author: AEK
WEEKLY ROUNDUP. In the same week the UK government has triggered the formal Brexit process, the Scottish Parliament has mandated the Scottish government to ask a second referendum on independence. These are turbulent times in the UK, where Northern Irish self-government could be endangered in the short term. Turbulence, of a quite different nature, is also being experienced in French Guyana, hit by a huge social mobilization of many faces. A more festive time is taking place in the Basque Country as the race for the Basque language —the Korrika— reaches its 20th edition.

NEWS HIGHLIGHT

Scottish government receives mandate to negotiate 2nd independence referendum. The Scottish Parliament has approved with 69 votes for (SNP and Greens) and 59 against (Labour, Conservatives, Liberal Democrats), to give the mandate to the Scottish government to open negotiations with the UK government to hold a new vote on secession. MSPs have decided on the issue in the same week that the UK government has triggered the process to withdraw from the EU. Scottish first minister Nicola Sturgeon insists that the referendum should be held when Brexit terms are clear. Therefore, Sturgeon wants to have the vote organized at the end of 2018 or beginning of 2019. UK prime minister Theresa May rejects the call for a second referendum.

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General strike in Guiana. The French overseas territory belonging is witnessing one of the largest mobilizations in its history. Dozens of unions, movements and groups are denouncing high unemployment rates, insecurity, cost of living, low wages, and bad governance. Meanwhile, SMEs are calling for a "Marshall Plan" for the territory. A sense of abandonment from metropolitan France is feeding the protests, Guianese people say. Main pro-independence party MDES has welcomed the mobilizations, and has proposed self-government as a solution to the ills affecting the South American country.

Deadlocked government formation in Northern Ireland. The Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) and Sinn Féin have exhausted the legal deadline (until 27 March) to reach an agreement to form a new government after the 2 March election, blaming each other for the failure. Sinn Féin withdrew from the talks as agreements on the rights of Irish language speakers and gays were not reached, among other issues. UK secretary of State for Northern Ireland James Brokenshire has given the parties more time to strike a deal. If a new government cannot be formed, the UK government might find itself forced to suspend the Northern Ireland autonomy and reimpose direct rule.

20th Korrika starts. The race for the Basque language is running, 30 March to 9 April from Otxandio to Pamplona, through all the herrialde (historical territories) of the Basque Country. As usual, the Korrika has a twofold goal: on the one side, to raise funds to help AEK euskaltegis (Basque language schools); on the other, to raise awareness for the use of the language. Gara newspaper has released a special report.

Party of Bulgarian Turks loses ground in election. In the 26 March Bulgarian parliamentary election, the Movement for Rights and Freedoms (DPS) has won 9% of the votes and 26 seats, 12 less than in 2014. The DPS has seen how the Turkish vote has this time been divided after new party DOST has also targeted votes from that community. With 2.86% of the votes cast, DOST has not managed to get any seats. The election was won by conservative GERB (95 seats, not enough to achieve an absolute majority). Second placed was social democratic BSP (80 seats).

Bessarabia and Romania Union Day declared new national holiday. Following a Parliament’s proposal, Romanian president Klaus Iohannis has signed a decree which declares 27 March a new national holiday. On that date in 1918, the union between the Kingdom of Romania and Bessarabia —the latter, until then, under the power of the Russian Empire— was proclaimed. The Bessarabian territory, broadly speaking, matches that of the current independent state of Moldova.

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