The New York Times 2024-07-07 16:10:15

Is This Vibrant Democracy in Japan, or Has the Circus Come to Town?

When voters in Tokyo cast their ballot for governor of the world’s largest city on Sunday, they will be spoiled for choice.

Fifty-six candidates are contending for the office, a record. One who styles himself “the Joker” has proposed legalizing marijuana and says polygamy can address the nation’s declining birthrate. Another is a pro wrestler who hides his face on camera and vows to use artificial intelligence to complete governmental tasks. There’s a 96-year-old inventor who says he will deploy gas-fueled cars that do not emit carbon, and a 31-year-old entrepreneur who took off her shirt during a campaign video and promised “fun things.”

It might look like democracy run amok. But in fact, the race is profoundly status quo and the incumbent is projected to win a third term.

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‘A Little Scary’: Ukraine Tries to Stay Neutral in U.S. Political Dogfight

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Ukraine, which depends on American military aid for its survival, has long tried to maintain bipartisan support in the United States. That has never been easy, but it is getting harder, especially with the increased possibility that Donald J. Trump, no great friend of Ukraine, will return to the White House.

Ukraine’s president, Volodymyr Zelensky, is asked in nearly every interview what a second Trump administration would mean for Ukraine. While Mr. Zelensky chooses his words carefully, sometimes the emotional weight of the assumption behind the question — that Mr. Trump could end American military assistance, allowing Russia to succeed in destroying the Ukrainian state — spills into view.

Mr. Trump’s claim last week during his debate with Mr. Biden that he alone knew the path to peace is “a little scary,” the Ukrainian president said in an interview with Britain’s Channel 4 News.

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Farage, Anti-Immigrant Icon, Could Reshape Britain’s Tory Trajectory

At first, Nigel Farage kept his cool. When protesters disrupted an election victory speech by Mr. Farage, Britain’s veteran political disrupter, anti-immigrant activist and ally of former president Donald J. Trump, he ignored them.

But as the chaos persisted at the media conference on Friday, Mr. Farage began heckling back, drowning out critics by shouting “boring!” into the microphone no fewer than nine times.

With Mr. Farage around, things are rarely boring, however, as Britain’s center-right Conservative Party has just discovered to its cost.

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Hopes for a Diplomatic Opening Rise Under Iran’s New President

With the election of the reformist candidate Masoud Pezeshkian as president, Iran may see a softening of its absolutist foreign policy and even an opportunity for a new diplomatic opening, current and former officials and experts say.

Mr. Pezeshkian, a cardiologist, member of Parliament and former health minister, has little direct experience in foreign policy. But he has pledged to empower Iran’s most elite and globalist diplomats to run his foreign agenda, raising hopes of a warmer relationship with the West.

Mr. Pezeshkian “represents a more pragmatic posture and less confrontational posture toward the outside and the inside,” said Dennis B. Ross, who served as a special assistant to President Barack Obama and is a longtime Mideast negotiator.

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France’s Snap Election Enters Its Final Hours

Voters in France will cast ballots on Sunday in the final round of snap legislative elections. The results could force President Emmanuel Macron to govern alongside far-right opponents or usher in chronic political instability weeks before the Paris Summer Olympics.

Mr. Macron called the elections for the 577-seat National Assembly, France’s lower and more prominent house of Parliament, last month in a risky gamble that appeared to have largely backfired after the first round of voting last week.

Most polls close at 6 p.m. local time on Sunday, or as late as 8 p.m. in larger cities. Nationwide seat projections by polling institutes, based on preliminary results, are expected just after 8 p.m. Official results will come in throughout the night.

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