A review of the headline-grabbing events of the week...
Troubled political developments in the Republic of Moldova
2019 was a year of turmoil in politics in the ex-Soviet neighboring Republic of Moldova. Towards the end of February, parliamentary elections were held, won by the Party of Socialists, followed by the right-wing ACUM bloc, and the Democratic Party of controversial businessman Vlad Plahotniuc. Right after the vote, a political crisis sparked in the Republic, lasting three months. In June, the Socialists and the ACUM bloc managed to strike a deal and form a government, led by pro-European leader Maia Sandu. Discord soon ensued, and the socialists quit the alliance, and in November, joined by the Democrats, voted down the Sandu executive. Pro-Russian president Igor Dodon appointed a new PM in the person of a former adviser of his, Ion Chicu. Also in 2019, for the first time since Moldova gained its independence in the early 1990s, the mayoralty of the capital Chisinau was won by a left-wing party member, Ion Ceban.
European Parliament elections and the Brexit
In the EU, the year 2019 was the year of European Parliament elections, held between May 23 and 26, which were won by the Popular Party, followed by the Socialists and Liberal centrists of the Renew Europe group, formed on the ruins of the former ALDE group. In July, leaders of member countries announced the names of the new holders of the top positions in the Union, which are: President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyden, President of the European Council Charles Michel, the President of the European Central Bank, Christine Lagarde, and the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Josep Borrell Fontelles. The European Parliament also elected its president, David Sassoli. Ms. Van der Leyen's term, which started on December 1, will be full of challenges, among the most important being the Brexit. Exiting the EU, voted by Brits in a referendum, initially scheduled for March 29, 2019, was postponed three times, lacking a consensus on the conditions of the divorce. MPs in London rejected the settlement reached with Brussels by PM Theresa May, who resigned in June. Also rejected was the agreement negotiated by her successor, Boris Johnson. He managed to obtain early elections, which his Conservative Party won by the half of December. Under these conditions, Brexit is supposed to occur on January 31, 2020.
Donald Trump and US foreign policy
In early August 2019, American President Donald Trump announced that the US was withdrawing from the Cold War medium range nuclear missile treaty with Moscow. In fact, under his famous slogan 'America First', the White House and the president personally kept making throughout the year very surprising announcements: withdrawal of troops from northeast Syria, withdrawal from the environmental Paris Treaty, or the trade war with China. In late September, Democrats in the House of Representatives initiated impeachment on two articles. The most powerful man on the planet was alleged to put pressure on Ukraine to investigate the son of his most important political rival, Joe Biden, the most likely counter-candidate for him in the 2020 elections. Donald Trump dismissed the accusations as ridiculous.
Street protests all over the world
2019 was the year of street protests all throughout the world. Some of the most notable were the ones that started in June in Hong Kong. The former British colony is going through the most serious crisis since 1997, when it was taken over by China once again. The protests, some violent, against what protesters say is Beijing's authoritarian attitude, slowed down since the election of pro-democracy candidates in November. Another city that saw ample protests which left many dead and wounded was Paris, along other French cities. The so-called Yellow Vests were angry at the social and fiscal policies promoted by President Macron and his government.
Global warming and environmental activism
July 2019 was the hottest month ever recorded, with top temperatures in Europe and the North Pole alike. In August, Iceland said farewell to the first glacier to go extinct, with 400 more threatened. In September, Swedish activist Greta Thunberg held a very tough and emotional speech at the UN, referring, among other things, to the deadly fires that consumed the Amazon in 2019. In December, the controversial young activist was named Time magazine Person of the Year.
Also in 2019...
To wrap up, let us recall that in April, the roof of Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris was consumed by a raging fire. French firefighters managed to save the Gothic edifice, thanks to a crowd effort, while safeguarding most of the priceless works of art and relics inside. The fire caused emotional reactions across the world, which resulted in donations worth 900 million Euro for reconstruction. Let us also recall that in 2019 we said farewell to former French president Jacques Chirac, the great Italian director Franco Zefirelli, famous designer Karl Lagerfeld, Austrian former Formula 1 star Niki Lauda, and writer Toni Morrison, the first African American woman to win the Nobel for literature.