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The European Bison, A Model Of Democracy In The Animal Kingdom

When moving as a group, each bison in a herd can "vote" on which direction to take, and the decision will depend on the majority, just like in elections, according to a report published by scientists in the forthcoming issue of Animal Behaviour.

Researchers concluded this while observing the herd movements of about 30 European bison in Southern France's Monts d'Azur reserve. This species of bison, also known as wisent, is more slender than its American cousin and prefers forests over plains. It nearly became extinct in the 20th century, and small herds are now being reintroduced across Europe. Because farmers were concerned that the herbivores could damage their land, scientists launched this research to better understand the animal's movements.

Thanks to hours of observation backed by statistical analyses, they found that, whatever its age or gender, any bison could suggest the herd's next direction. But the results show that the "votes" of female adults are both most frequent and most successful. This could be explained by the need among female bison to conserve energy for their milk production.

"Only when a sufficient number of animals express their preference will the movement be launched," Le Temps quoted researcher Cédric Sueur as saying. According to the study, a suggested direction is also more likely to be approved if the leading bison chooses the direction most of the herd was already facing. In the human world, this could almost be labeled a Hobson's choice.

Such behaviors, which have also been observed in hamadryas baboons, Tonkean macaques and African buffalos, help maintain group cohesion and stability. "If the organization was too despotic, some animals would leave the group, and it would lose its benefits, especially regarding protection against predators," Sueur told Le Temps.

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Geopolitics

What Lula Needs Now To Win: Move To The Center And Mea Culpa

Despite the leftist candidate's first-place finish, the voter mood in Brazil's presidential campaign is clearly conservative. So Lula will have to move clearly to the political center to vanquish the divisive but still popular Jair Bolsonaro. He also needs to send a message of contrition to skeptical voters about past mistakes.

Brazilian votes show a polarized national opinion with two clear winners: former president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva and sitting president Jair Bolsonaro

Marcelo Cantelmi

-Analysis-

The first round of Brazil's presidential elections closed with two winners, a novelty but not necessarily a political surprise.

Leftist candidate and former president, Luis Inacio Lula da Silva, was clearly the winner. His victory came on the back of the successes of his two previous administrations (2003-2011), kept alive today by the harsh reality that large swathes of Brazilians see no real future for themselves.

Lula, the head of the Workers Party or PT, also moved a tad toward the political Center in a bid to seduce middle-class voters, with some success. Another factor in his first-round success was a decisive vote cast against the current government, though this was less considerable than anticipated.

The other big winner of the day was the sitting president, Jair Bolsonaro. For many voters, his defects turn out to be virtues. They were little concerned by his bombastic declarations, his authoritarian bent, contempt for modernity, his retrograde views on gender and his painful management of the pandemic. They do not believe in Lula, and envisage no other alternative.

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