America Votes as Austria Reels from a Terrorist Attack
As U.S. citizens vote, Austrian police hunt assailants after a terrorist attack in central Vienna.
Here is today’s Foreign Policy brief: voting in the 2020 U.S. presidential election ends, but the wait for results might drag on, Vienna suffers a terrorist attack, and police arrest Tanzanian opposition leaders.
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A Long Day of Voting and Long Weeks of Counting Ahead
Polling stations are opening across the United States this morning in the final day of voting in the U.S. presidential election and, although we may not know the full outcome for weeks, U.S. President Donald Trump seems to have already given up on a clean victory.
Speaking to reporters in Charlottesville on Monday, Trump said that as soon as polls close on election day, “we’re going in with our lawyers,” a strategy that has not yet yielded concrete results. On Monday, a judge rejected a Republican-led request to toss out nearly 127,000 votes cast in Texas at drive-in voting locations in a largely Democratic-leaning county.
A poll by CNBC/Change Research, one of the last major polls released before the election, showed former Vice President Joe Biden ahead of Trump by a 50 percent to 46 percent margin across all six swing states. In Arizona, Florida, and North Carolina, Biden’s lead was just 3 percent over Trump.
When will we know the result (or should I just go to bed?) The decentralized U.S. election system means that the speed of election returns varies from state to state and many are not planning to announce preliminary results until Wednesday. The New York Times has a helpful tracker on when to expect results from each state. Texas, a state that has become too close to call, is expected to make a projection on election night. In Florida, results of early voting (expected to favor Democrats) will be known by 8:30 p.m. ET.
Not just the presidency. A third of U.S. Senate seats and all of the seats in the U.S. House of Representatives are up for grabs today. FP’s Jack Detsch and Robbie Gramer broke down the key races to watch in the foreign-policy world.
Watch along with FP. On Election Night and throughout Election Day, Foreign Policy will be hosting a pop-up election live blog providing round-the-clock coverage, with short dispatches from FP correspondents and analysis from around the world. It’s already begun, catch up here.
What We’re Following Today
Terror in Vienna. At least four people are dead and 15 have been injured following a terrorist attack in downtown Vienna involving multiple gunmen at six locations across the city. One of the attackers was killed by police. Austrian authorities have not divulged how many assailants were involved, nor have they said what may have motivated the attack. Austrians—who are due to begin a partial coronavirus-related lockdown today—have been asked to stay indoors while the remaining attackers are at large. “We are still in battle against the would-be terrorists,” Interior Minister Karl Nehammer told Austrian radio.
Tanzanian government rounds up opposition. Tanzanian opposition leader Tundu Lissu has been released from detention after being arrested by regional police on Monday. Lissu’s arrest came hours after authorities had detained other opposition figures, including the chairman of opposition party Chadema. Police in Dar es Salaam said the opposition leaders were trying to organize demonstrations against the government and that those arrested “admitted that they were organizing criminal activities such as setting petrol stations, markets, vehicles and some government offices on fire.” Lissu has called on the Tanzanian government to end its “tyrannical behaviour.”
Islamic State claims Kabul attack At least 22 people were killed and a further 22 wounded after Islamic State militants attacked Kabul University on Monday morning. It is the second attack claimed by the Islamic State in Kabul in the space of a week: 24 students were killed and more than 100 were wounded after an attack on a tutoring center on Oct. 24. Writing in Foreign Policy, Stefanie Glinski reported from Kabul on Monday’s grisly attack and heard first-hand from some of the survivors.
Zelensky awaits key parliamentary vote. The Ukrainian parliament votes today on whether to dissolve a constitutional court that had blocked President Volodymyr Zelensky’s anti-corruption measures. Zelensky has portrayed the vote as integral to Ukraine’s future, saying IMF loans and a deal with the European Union on visa-free travel depend on the measure passing. If it does not pass, it’s possible that Zelensky will dissolve parliament and call snap elections. On Monday, he wrote on Twitter, “Whether the Verkhovna Rada [parliament] will continue to work will depend on the conclusions made by our deputies.”
Keep an Eye On
Fires in the Amazon. The number of fires recorded in Brazil’s Amazon rainforest has increased by 25 percent compared to last year, and there were twice as many fires during the month of October than in the same month in 2019. Environmental group WWF-Brasil blamed the jump in fires on the government of President Jair Bolsonaro. “With the rate of deforestation increasing in recent years, the government has ignored the warnings of researchers: deforestation and forest fires go together,” WWF-Brasil’s Mariana Napolitano said.
Oman to bring in income taxes. Oman is planning to introduce an income tax on top earners, beginning in 2022, in what would be a first for Gulf nations. The move comes as Oman attempts to narrow its budget deficit from 19 percent of GDP today, to closer to 2 percent in four years’ time. Up until now, Oman, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates, have been taxing their populations slowly, using a value-added tax on purchases rather than taxing income. Omani authorities have not stated which income bands will be taxed and at what rate.
Odds and Ends
Not content with conquering American shores, the Korean cultural wave (or “Hallyu”) has hit India. The popularity of Korean cultural products is surging: K-pop megastars BTS have jumped 60 slots to number eight on the JioSaavn music streaming service and Indian traffic to a Korean television streaming service has increased by 46 percent. There has also been an explosion in the number of Indians wishing to learn Korean. According to the language app Duolingo, the number of Indian users learning Korean on the app has shot up 256 percent since the pandemic began.
That’s it for today.