The World This Week: Votes for president or a king

SEVERAL peoples vote this week in polls that reveal how deeply political crises have shaken constitutional foundations. More than 100 million Russians will be asked on Sunday whether they support President Boris Yeltsin and his economic reforms and whether they want the country to hold early presidential and parliamentary elections.

Mr Yeltsin has conducted a low- key campaign so far and his prospects for victory are dimmed by rules laid down by conservative MPs in the Congress of Deputies: they say he must win 50 per cent of the votes of the entire electorate, not just of those voting. 'It would be unwise to be sure of victory,' Mr Yeltsin warns.

More than 80 million Brazilians vote on Wednesday on whether to keep their presidential republic, adopt a parliamentary republic or restore the monarchy. After the Fernando Collor de Mello debacle, in which the country's first directly elected president for 33 years was chased from office for corruption, the monarchists are gaining support.

There is no shortage of pretenders: they include Joao Henrique Maria Gabriel Gonzaga de Orleans e Braganza, ('Joaozinho'), a restaurateur and accomplished surfer, who is a distant cousin of King Juan Carlos of Spain and a descendant of Brazil's last emperor, Dom Pedro II.

A black priest, Ogan Neninho de Obaluaye, says he should be king, citing the precedent of the 17th-century slave Zumbi who formed an isolated community or quilombo of escaped slaves in the north-eastern tip of Brazil. The precedent does not augur well, however. The Portuguese invaded and destroyed the quilombo in 1695. Then there is Alcides de Souza, a Funio Indian who wants to be 'Brazil's chief' and promises an 'indigenous form of government - just, uncorrupt and pure'.

The Brazilians, none the less, will probably stick with their presidency. The Eritreans, by contrast, who vote on Sunday on whether to declare independence from Ethiopia, are expected to do so overwhelmingly to become a new, albeit poor, African state.

Commemoration of the 50th anniversary of the Warsaw Ghetto uprising reaches its climax today when the US Vice-President, Al Gore, joins the Israeli Prime Minister, Yitzhak Rabin, and President Lech Walesa at a ceremony in Warsaw at the foot of the Ghetto Fighters Monument. France will be represented by the Health Minister, Simone Veil, a former deportee to Auschwitz. Visa charges have been waived to encourage thousands to travel to Warsaw for the event. The rebellion of a few hundred Jews against the Nazis in 1943, crushed only by burning the ghetto to the ground, is a symbol of the Holocaust in which millions of Jews died. A Museum of the Holocaust is inaugurated in Washington on Thursday before the German Foreign Minister Klaus Kinkel and Mr Walesa among other international leaders. The Polish President, who will be in Washington on Wednesday and Thursday, is to hold talks with members of the US's large Polish community. Breaking the mood, the Ku Klux Klan hold their own counter-demonstration at the Holocaust Memorial in Miami on Saturday.

The Pope makes the first papal visit to Albania on Sunday to consecrate four bishops. He will be welcomed in the recently restored cathedral of Shkodra which Enver Hoxha had turned into a sports hall.

And Red Hot Television strikes back: on Friday it sues Britain for its plans to ban the decoders needed to receive the company's hard-core pornography from Denmark.

Suggested Topics
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Psychology Teacher

Main Teacher Pay Scale : Randstad Education Leeds: Teacher of Psychology An en...

International Promotions Manager - Consumer Products

competitive + bonus + benefits: Sauce Recruitment: A global entertainment busi...

Data Warehouse & Business Intelligence Co-ordinator

£35000 per annum: Ashdown Group: This new opportunity has responsibilities des...

Geography Teacher

£19200 - £33600 per annum + pre 12 week AWR : Randstad Education Manchester Se...

Day In a Page

How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?

A crime that reveals London's dark heart

How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?
Meet 'Porridge' and 'Vampire': Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker

Lost in translation: Western monikers

Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker. Simon Usborne, who met a 'Porridge' and a 'Vampire' while in China, can see the problem
Handy hacks that make life easier: New book reveals how to rid your inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone

Handy hacks that make life easier

New book reveals how to rid your email inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone with a loo-roll
KidZania lets children try their hands at being a firefighter, doctor or factory worker for the day

KidZania: It's a small world

The new 'educational entertainment experience' in London's Shepherd's Bush will allow children to try out the jobs that are usually undertaken by adults, including firefighter, doctor or factory worker
Renée Zellweger's real crime has been to age in an industry that prizes women's youth over humanity

'Renée Zellweger's real crime was to age'

The actress's altered appearance raised eyebrows at Elle's Women in Hollywood awards on Monday
From Cinderella to The Jungle Book, Disney plans live-action remakes of animated classics

Disney plans live-action remakes of animated classics

From Cinderella to The Jungle Book, Patrick Grafton-Green wonders if they can ever recapture the old magic
Thousands of teenagers to visit battlefields of the First World War in new Government scheme

Pupils to visit First World War battlefields

A new Government scheme aims to bring the the horrors of the conflict to life over the next five years
The 10 best smartphone accessories

Make the most of your mobile: 10 best smartphone accessories

Try these add-ons for everything from secret charging to making sure you never lose your keys again
Mario Balotelli substituted at half-time against Real Madrid: Was this shirt swapping the real reason?

Liverpool v Real Madrid

Mario Balotelli substituted at half-time. Was shirt swapping the real reason?
West Indies tour of India: Hurricane set to sweep Windies into the shadows

Hurricane set to sweep Windies into the shadows

Decision to pull out of India tour leaves the WICB fighting for its existence with an off-field storm building
Indiana serial killer? Man arrested for murdering teenage prostitute confesses to six other murders - and police fear there could be many more

A new American serial killer?

Police fear man arrested for murder of teen prostitute could be responsible for killing spree dating back 20 years
Sweetie, the fake 10-year-old girl designed to catch online predators, claims her first scalp

Sting to trap paedophiles may not carry weight in UK courts

Computer image of ‘Sweetie’ represented entrapment, experts say
Fukushima nuclear crisis: Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on - and may never return home

Return to Fukushima – a land they will never call home again

Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on from nuclear disaster
Wildlife Photographer of the Year: Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize

Wildlife Photographer of the Year

Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize
Online petitions: Sign here to change the world

Want to change the world? Just sign here

The proliferation of online petitions allows us to register our protests at the touch of a button. But do they change anything?