Italy at long last got a new government. Nominally headed by a non-political lawyer, Giuseppe Conte, it is in reality an uneasy coalition formed from the populist left-wing Five Star Movement and the nationalist Northern League. It is promising both tax cuts and benefit increases, which could rapidly clash with the EU’s budget rules. See article.
Spain got a new government, too. Its prime minister, Mariano Rajoy, was ousted by a censure motion related to old corruption charges against his party. The new prime minister is Pedro Sánchez, of the Socialist party, which controls only 24% of the seats in the lower house. See article.
In Slovenia, an anti-immigrant party won the most seats in a snap election, but fell short of a majority. Forming a government may prove difficult or impossible, since other parties refuse to deal with it.
A volcanic disaster
Scores of people died and nearly 200 were missing after the eruption of the Fuego volcano in Guatemala. Fast-moving pyroclastic flows of gas, ash and lava engulfed nearby villages. The eruption sent plumes of ash 6km (3.7 miles) into the atmosphere. Guatemala declared three days of mourning. See article.
Nicaraguan security forces killed nine people in the city of Masaya. That brings to at least 127 the number of people who have been slaughtered since protests began in April against the authoritarian rule of President Daniel Ortega. See article.
A strike by lorry drivers in Brazil, which blocked roads and led to shortages of fuel and food, ended after ten days. The government agreed to subsidise diesel for 60 days to placate the drivers, whose strike was provoked by rises in fuel prices. Pedro Parente resigned as the chief executive of Petrobras, the state-controlled oil company, which sets fuel prices. See article.
A Mexican federal court ordered the government to start a new investigation into the disappearance in 2014 of 43 students in Iguala in the state of Guerrero. The court said an earlier investigation by prosecutors, which found that police had turned over the students to drug gangs, had not been independent. The new one is to be overseen by a truth commission, which will be led by the victims’ families and a human-rights group.
Thousands of people protested in Jordan against the government’s plans to increase taxes and cut subsidies, part of an IMF-backed programme. King Abdullah responded by sacking the prime minister. He told the new government to review the entire tax system. See article.
Iran is to build new centrifuges at the Natanz nuclear site, increasing its capacity to enrich uranium. But it said it would stay within the limits on enrichment set by the nuclear deal in 2015 with world powers, which America pulled out of last month. Highly enriched uranium is needed to produce nuclear weapons.
Saudi Arabia issued driving licences to ten women, weeks before a decades-old ban on female drivers is lifted. Meanwhile, Saudi prosecutors said 17 activists had been detained, with eight released “temporarily”. Some had been campaigning for women’s rights. See article.
Ethiopia’s government said that it will implement a peace deal, signed in 2000, that ended a bloody two-year war with Eritrea. Ethiopia had refused to withdraw its troops from disputed territories awarded to Eritrea in 2002 by a border commission that was created by the deal. Abiy Ahmed, Ethiopia’s new prime minister, also lifted a state of emergency, which was imposed by his predecessor following protests. See article.
More than 1,000 people in the Democratic Republic of Congo were given an experimental Ebola vaccine, as health workers try to stop the spread of the disease.
The golden prize
More primaries were held to choose candidates for America’s mid-term elections. California held a “jungle” primary, where the top two vote-getters go through to November regardless of party. Despite a crowded field that threatened to split the party’s vote, Democratic candidates in the seven seats it is targeting in the state made it through. Gavin Newsom, a former mayor of San Francisco, became the Democratic candidate for governor. See article.
In a 7-2 decision, the Supreme Court ruled in favour of a Christian baker who refused to fashion a same-sex wedding cake (though he offered to sell the couple any cake off the shelf). The court found that officials in Colorado had not given the baker a fair hearing. But it did not spell out how lower courts should balance concerns about discrimination, compelled speech and religious freedom in future cases.
Getting ready for a date
North Korea removed three generals from their posts, prompting speculation that they opposed the forthcoming summit between Kim Jong Un, the country’s dictator, and Donald Trump. The White House announced that the meeting will take place at a hotel on the Singaporean island of Sentosa. See article.
Malaysia’s new government appointed an attorney- general. Tommy Thomas, an ethnic Indian, is the first non-Malay to hold the job. He promised there would be “no cover-ups” in the investigation into the 1MDB scandal, in which billions of dollars were siphoned out of a development fund. Separately, the governor of Malaysia’s central bank resigned.
A court in Hong Kong sentenced two pro-independence politicians and their three former aides to four weeks in jail for trying to barge into a meeting at Hong Kong’s Legislative Council in 2016. The politicians had been elected as legislators but had been barred from taking their seats for not taking their oaths properly.
Police in the Chinese city of Chengdu raided an underground church and detained its pastor and several other people to prevent a planned service in commemoration of the violent suppression of the Tiananmen Square protests of 1989. America’s secretary of state, Mike Pompeo, called on China to “make a full public accounting” of the massacre.
Rodrigo Duterte, the president of the Philippines, drew howls of protest from feminists for kissing a woman on the lips at an event for overseas Filipina workers. Mr Duterte said it was his “showbiz” style. The woman in question said “it meant nothing.”
This article appeared in the The world this week section of the print edition under the headline “Politics this week”