Resolution for Palestine’s U.N. membership bid, 64% voter turnout during Phase 3 Lok Sabha Polls, and more | The week in 5 charts

Here are five charts that will help you understand some of the key stories from last week

Published - May 13, 2024 02:15 pm IST

(1) UNGA adopts resolution supporting Palestine membership

In a fillip to Palestine’s bid for United Nations membership, the General Assembly of the international body passed a resolution urging the Security Council to reconsider its April vote against Palestine becoming a member state. According to the resolution, Palestine’s membership would give it a place at the United Nations table but without voting rights. The resolution passed with 143 countries in favour, 25 abstaining and nine against.

The United States opposed the resolution, keeping with its stance last month in the Security Council when it vetoed against Palestine’s membership. India, on the other hand, backed the resolution.

However, a country cannot become a United Nations member unless its application is accepted by the Security Council with nine votes in favour and no vetoes by the five permanent members. The United States is one of these permanent members.

The United States has always used its veto power to block resolutions criticising Israel. Since 1972, the U.S. has used its veto power over 50 times to strike down resolutions critical of Israel in the UN Security Council. Even during past resolutions in the General Assembly, the United States has voted against those critical of Israel, abstaining only in one resolution concerning assistance to Palestine refugees. In the Security Council, too, it has vetoed against calls for ceasefire, saying that it did not take into account the release of Israeli hostages.

(2) Arvind Kejriwal granted interim bail

The Supreme Court on May 10 granted interim bail to Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal until June 1 in a money laundering case stemming from the alleged Delhi excise policy scam. He has been asked to surrender to the prison authorities by June 2.

Hours after the Supreme Court order, Kejriwal walked out of the Tihar Jail after spending 50 days in judicial custody. He thanked the Supreme Court judges for granting him interim bail and the people for their blessings. “We have to save the country from dictatorship, I will fight with all my might but need the support of 140 crore people,” he told the media.

Mr. Kejriwal was arrested on March 21, barely days after the Model Code of Conduct for the general election was declared on March 16. He is currently lodged in the Tihar jail on his sixth stretch of remand till May 20. 

The court barred Mr. Kejriwal from visiting the Chief Minister’s office or the Delhi Secretariat. He would not sign any official files unless it was required and necessary for obtaining clearance or approval of the Lieutenant Governor of Delhi.

The eight-page order rejected an argument by the prosecution agency, Directorate of Enforcement (ED), that releasing Mr. Kejriwal on interim bail to canvas votes would create an impression among the public, worse still, a judicial precedent, that politicians were a separate class, higher in status than the ordinary citizen and immune from arrest.

In its order, the Bench reasoned that interim bail was granted on the facts of each individual case.

“Arvind Kejriwal is the Chief Minister of Delhi and a leader of one of the national parties. No doubt, serious accusations have been made, but he has not been convicted. He does not have any criminal antecedents. He is not a threat to society,” the court listed points in favour of Mr. Kejriwal.

(3) Lok Sabha Polls: Phase 3 records over 64% voter turnout

At least 64.45% of the electorate in 93 constituencies cast their votes on May 7 in the third phase of the Lok Sabha election, which has now crossed the halfway mark, with voting complete in 282 out of 543 seats.

Till 8 p.m., a 56.86% voter turnout was registered in Gujarat, where all of the State’s 26 Lok Sabha seats were in play during this phase, except Surat, where the BJP candidate won unopposed. Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Home Minister Amit Shah were among the voters in this phase, with the latter also in the fray.

Of the 265 candidates in the fray, heavyweights included three Union Cabinet Ministers — Mr. Shah, Mansukh Mandaviya and Parshottam Rupala — and one Minister of State Devusinh Chauhan.

The four seats that went to the polls in West Bengal recorded a voter turnout of 73.93%, according to the data available at 8 p.m., with the figures expected to rise.

Though the polling was largely peaceful, tensions were high in the Murshidabad Lok Sabha seat as there were instances where the Congress-supported Left Front candidate Mohammad Salim came face-to-face with Trinamool Congress supporters. Mr. Salim alleged that voters were intimidated by TMC supporters and that fake polling agents were made to sit inside polling booths.

Read more about how India voted during Phase 3 of the 2024 Lok Sabha Elections here.

(4) U.K. exits recession with 0.6% GDP growth

Britain’s economy grew by the most in nearly three years in the first quarter of 2024, ending the shallow recession it entered in the second half of last year and delivering a boost to Prime Minister Rishi Sunak ahead of an election.

The Office for National Statistics said gross domestic product expanded by 0.6% in the three months to March, the strongest expansion since the fourth quarter of 2021 when it grew by 1.5%.

May 10th’s data will be welcome news for Mr. Sunak who said the economy had “turned a corner”, although the opposition Labour Party, which has a large lead in opinion polls, has accused Mr. Sunak and Finance Minister Jeremy Hunt of being out of touch to think voters are feeling better off.

Britain remains one of the slowest countries to recover from the effects of the coronavirus pandemic.

At the end of the first quarter of 2024, the country’s economy was just 1.7% bigger than its level in late 2019, before the pandemic, with only Germany among the G7 faring worse.

(5) Vladimir Putin begins his fifth term as President of Russia

Vladimir Putin began his fifth term on May 7 as Russia’s President at a glittering Kremlin inauguration, setting out on another six years in office after destroying his political opponents, launching a devastating war in Ukraine and concentrating all power in his hands.

Already in office for nearly a quarter-century and the longest-serving Kremlin leader since Josef Stalin, Mr. Putin’s new term doesn’t expire until 2030, when he will be constitutionally eligible to run again.

Since succeeding President Boris Yeltsin in the waning hours of 1999, Putin has transformed Russia from a country emerging from economic collapse to a pariah state that threatens global security. Following the 2022 invasion of Ukraine that has become Europe’s biggest conflict since World War II, Russia has been heavily sanctioned by the West and is turning to other regimes like China, Iran and North Korea for support.

The question now is what the 71-year-old Putin will do over the course of another six years, both at home and abroad. Check the timeline below for all the significant events that have marked Mr. Putin’s 24 years in power in Russia:

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