Finland's First Female President Elected to Second Term
Finland President Tarja Halonen, a political leftist, won reelection over the conservative Sauli Niinisto by a small margin in a runoff vote held Sunday. Halonen will serve another 6 years, where her primary role will continue to be shaping the Baltic countryís foreign policy. It is expected that Halonen will continue her policy of non-alignment and neutrality, reports the Financial Times.
The runoff became necessary when Halonen earned only 46 percent of the first round vote, while Niinisto won 24 percent, according to the Associated Press. Halonenís victory in the second round was by such a slim margin that she would not accept her win with 80 percent of the vote counted and her opponentís concession, reports Reuters. According to the AP, Halonen won 51.8 percent of the runoff vote and Niinisto earned 48.2 percent, with 77 percent of the countryís eligible voters voting.
According to the AP, it is the prime ministerís role, and not the presidentís, to attend to all aspects of national politics. However, the presidential runoff carries greater weight than it might ordinarily, as does the victory of Halonenís Social Democratic Party, because Finland is slated to assume the presidency of the European Union in July, as Professor Tuomo Martikainen of Helsinki University told the Financial Times. The AP reports that, even though presidents must forgo their party ties once elected, every Finnish president from 1982 to the present has come out of the Social Democratic Party.
Media Resources: AP 1/29/06; Financial Times 1/30/06; Reuters 1/29/06
8/28/2015 Alaska Court Protects Abortion Access for Low-Income Women - The Alaska Superior Court struck down a state law yesterday that would have severely limited abortion access for low-income women in Alaska.
The state's Superior Court also struck down a Department of Health and Social Services regulation that placed narrow specifications on Medicaid coverage for abortions, requiring that Medicaid-funded abortions be determined by a physician to be "medically necessary." Last year, the Center for Reproductive Rights, the American Civil Liberties Union, and Planned Parenthood sued on behalf of the Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest, claiming that the narrow definition of "medically necessary" arbitrarily established conditions designed to restrict the ability of low-income women to access abortion services.
The law was temporarily blocked last July by an Alaskan state court judge.
Superior Court Judge John Suddock ordered yesterday that the state be blocked from implementing this regulation, ruling that it placed an undue burden on low-income women seeking abortion services in Alaska.
"By providing health care to all poor Alaskans except women who need abortions, the challenged regulation violates the state constitutional guarantee of 'equal rights, opportunities, and protection under the law'," the ruling read.
"We applaud the superior court for striing down these cruel restrictions on women's health and rights that violate the Alaska Constitution," said Chris Charbonneau, CEO of Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest and the Hawaiian Islands. . . .
8/26/2015 Saudi Women Prepare to Vote for the First Time - The fight for gender equality is making slow but notable progress in Saudi Arabia, where women will be allowed to vote for the first time in upcoming December elections.
This shift in Saudi law came in 2011, when a royal decree announced that women would be allowed to vote and run in local elections beginning in December of 2015. . . .