The Week Ahead: Big Apple will choose its Big Cheese

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The Independent Online
NEW YORKERS go to the polls tomorrow to choose the man who will control their city and its multi-million dollar budget for the next four years. The race, marked by much name-calling and raking over old coals, is a re- run of the 1989 election, pitting the incumbent, David Dinkins, a black Democrat, against Rudolph Giuliani, a white Republican who made his reputation as a tough guy prosecuting Mafia bosses.

Mr Dinkins bears the liberal standard; a believer in local government as the instrument of social change, he boasts of reductions in infant mortality and says the homeless have a right to housing. By contrast, Mr Giuliani has proposed a 90-day limit on stays at homeless shelters, and wants to privatise four city hospitals.

However, the winner could find his empire has shrunk: the residents of Staten Island, a predominantly white area 30 minutes by ferry from Manhattan, will decide tomorrow whether to secede from New York City. Voters in Boston, Miami, Detroit, Atlanta and Pittsburgh will also choose mayors, while Virginia and New Jersey are to elect governors.

On Saturday, New Zealanders vote in a general election and a referendum on electoral reform, while in Canada, Jean Chretien is due to be sworn in as Prime Minister on Friday. The Greek New Democracy party holds a leadership poll on Wednesday, after the resignation of Constantine Mitsotakis, who led it to defeat last month.

The new Russian draft constitution is scheduled to be presented to President Boris Yeltsin on Wednesday. He is thought likely to approve it since he dictated most of it.

On Thursday, a court in Cairo is to resume deliberations in the case of Dr Nasr Hamid Abu Zaid, a Cairo University professor accused of apostasy by the fundamentalist Muslim Brotherhood. The Brothers claim the professor's writings are heretical to Islam, and that he should therefore be separated from his wife.

In Mexico - and in the many Mexican districts across the United States - people celebrating the Day of the Dead tomorrow will commune with the souls of departed friends and relatives by eating bone bread and skull sweets, and visiting cemeteries to leave libations for the dead.

In Tehran on Friday, citizens are expected to turn out for the annual demonstration marking the seizing of hostages at the United States embassy in 1979.

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