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This Happened

This Happened—November 27: Helen Clark Shatters A Glass Ceiling

Helen Clark became the first elected female Prime Minister of New Zealand in 1999.

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Who is Helen Clark?

On Nov. 27, 1999, Helen Clark became the 37th prime minister of New Zealand, and the first woman to ever be elected to that office. She would go on to serve three terms as prime minister until 2008. Since leaving office, Clark has served in the United Nations and the World Health Organization.

What is Helen Clark’s background?

Helen Clark was born on a farm, leading her to later take an interest in rural political behavior and representation. She quickly became an active member of the New Zealand Labour Party, acting first as a member of the party’s national executive committee, then making a successful bid to become a member of parliament in 1981. In 1990 she became the leader of the opposition party, where she suffered from a low personal approval rating, but was able to turn things around through a series of debates.

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Geopolitics

The Trumpian Virus Undermining Democracy Is Now Spreading Through South America

Taking inspiration from events in the United States over the past four years, rejection of election results and established state institutions is on the rise in Latin America.

Two supporters of far-right Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro dressed in Brazilian flags during a demonstration in Belo Horizonte, Brazil.

Bolsonaro supporters dressed in national colours with flags in a demonstration in Belo Horizonte, Brazil, on November 4, 2022.

Ivan Abreu / ZUMA
Carlos Ruckauf*

-Analysis-

BUENOS AIRES — South Africa's Nelson Mandela used to say it was "so easy to break down and destroy. The heroes are those who make peace and build."

Intolerance toward those who think differently, even inside the same political space, is corroding the bases of representative democracy, which is the only system we know that allows us to live and grow in freedom, in spite of its flaws.

Recent events in South America and elsewhere are precisely alerting us to that danger. The most explosive example was in Brazil, where a crowd of thousands managed to storm key institutional premises like the presidential palace, parliament and the Supreme Court.

In Peru, the country's Marxist (now former) president, Pedro Castillo, sought to use the armed and security forces to shut down parliament and halt the Supreme Court and state prosecutors from investigating corruption allegations against him.

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