World and Nation

Shorts (right)

Proposed quota for women in boardrooms is at risk

LONDON — A planned European Union law to impose penalties on companies that do not allocate 40 percent of the seats on their boards to women has drawn enough opposition from Britain and other countries to face being blocked before it is officially proposed.

Nine EU countries have signed a letter to the European Commission, the bloc’s executive agency, opposing the proposed law, which is scheduled to be published in draft form next month.

The proposal has been championed by Viviane Reding, vice president of the commission, who has been pressing European companies since last year to improve the representation of women in top management or risk being penalized.

The signatories argue that although barriers to success for women in EU companies are “unacceptable,” national governments should determine what sanctions should be applied to companies that fail to improve.

Under EU voting rules, the proposed law requires the support of a weighted majority of member states in a system based broadly on the size of a country. The opposition of the nine countries that signed the letter could therefore be sufficient to scuttle the proposal.

—Stephen Castle, The New York Times

In India, maverick chief minister may bring down coalition

KOLKATA, India — When Mamata Banerjee, a 5-foot-tall dynamo in flip-flops, finally defeated the Communists last year after decades of misrule here, she became one of the most powerful but unpredictable politicians in India. Now the country is left to guess whether she will announce Tuesday that she intends to try to pull down India’s governing coalition.

Banerjee is the chief minister of West Bengal, a state more populous than Germany, and she leads a regional party with 19 ministers in parliament, a crucial bloc of votes for the governing United Progressive Alliance. Indeed, she is so influential that Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton paid her a special visit on a recent trip to India, a highly unusual honor for any regional leader.

On Thursday and Friday, the government pushed through several sweeping policy changes, including one that would allow Wal-Mart and Ikea to set up shop in India. Banerjee has repeatedly opposed plans to open India up to more competition. She is in some ways more leftist than the Communists she replaced.

—Gardiner Harris, The New York Times

Restore Our Future spending $1.5 million on Romney ads

Mitt Romney may have had a difficult time in the polls in recent weeks, but he still has supporters who are bullish about his chances in some states that President Barack Obama won handily in 2008.

Restore Our Future, a super PAC that supports Romney, the Republican presidential candidate, is investing $1.5 million in advertising in Michigan and Wisconsin, according to a media buyer who monitors spending in battleground states.

The investment suggests that for all the advantages Obama has had coming out of the nominating conventions, Romney can rely on one clear advantage over Democrats: outside groups with much more money to spend supporting his candidacy and tactically placing their bets in states where they believe he has a chance to win.

Restore Our Future’s $720,000 investment in Michigan is particularly remarkable. Romney’s campaign and other allies seemed to have all but given up on the state, even though the candidate grew up there and his father, George Romney, was once its governor. The Romney campaign itself, which is running state-specific advertisements in states it apparently considers to be the most in play, left Michigan off that list.

—Sarah Wheaton, The New York Times