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LETTER N° 21

From 21 to 27 May

21

Italy

Referendum on electoral reform.reported that voter apathy defeated Italian Prime Minister Giuliano Amato's plans to reform electoral law and left his government in disarray Monday. With turnout figures between 31.9 and 32.5 percent, depending on the question, fewer than one third of eligible voters bothered to cast ballots in seven referendums held Sunday. According to the interior ministry only 32.4 percent of eligible voters approved the abolition of a provision still distributing the remaining 25 percent of parliament seats under proportional representation. The figure was well below the more than 50 percent needed for the result to be valid.

21

Haiti

First-round legislative and local elections. Turn out : 60%. Second turn scheduled on June, 25.

21

Switzerland

Referendum on relationship with the European Union. Swiss voters overcame their traditional isolationism Sunday to back a broad new cooperation with the European Union, but the government said it had no quick short-term plan to join the EU. More than 67 per cent of those who cast their ballots on Sunday gave their blessing to the seven bilateral deals, which herald most notably a reciprocal and progressive opening up of Swiss-EU markets and labour forces.

21

Syria

Former prime minister (1987-2000) Mahmoud Zuabi commits suicide.

21

Ecuador

Finance Minister Jorge Guzmán resigns. Agriculture Minister Mauricio Davalos becomes acting finance minister.

25

Surinam

Parliamentary elections. Suriname's general elections went peacefully, despite confusion caused by the omission of hundreds of people's names from voter lists. About 260,000 people in the former Dutch colony of 440,000 in South America were registered to vote for two national assemblies and local offices. In recent polls, former President Ronald Venetiaan's New Front coalition was leading. Results were expected Friday.

27

Germany

Congress of the Greens ("Grünen") in Münster.

27

China

Murray MacLehose, Lord MacLehose of Beoch, former Hong Kong governor (1971-82, as Sir Murray MacLehose), dies.