Bated Breaths: Government-Change Across The World

Posted in America, China, Current Affairs, Media, politics by Anuraag Sanghi on June 18, 2012

Probably never in history have so many government changes happened in unison. To this add the global crisis in leadership.

A ballot box as a defibrillator?  Revive the Egyptian economy?  |  Cartoon by Luojie from China, Politicalcartoons.com  |  Click for image.

A ballot box as a defibrillator? Revive the Egyptian economy? | Cartoon by Luojie from China, Politicalcartoons.com | Click for image.

Between April 2012 and March 2013, four of the five P5 nations with the Security Council veto at UN, will have a change in government. This probably more than in any similar period in history.

For a world, in the middle of The Great Recession, with a global leadership crisis, this period of uncertainty and change, does it mean hope? With empty agendas, greater resentments and despair is more probable.

Take Russia for instance.

A wooden-faced Putin, probably after a botox treatment, has become President amid street protests and allegations of vote rigging – purportedly, engineered by the US.

Vladimir Putin was sworn in as Russian president on Monday in a glittering Kremlin ceremony that took place less than 24 hours after protesters opposed to his rule had battled police in downtown Moscow.

Putin’s motorcade had sped through empty streets locked down by a heavy security presence on its way to the Kremlin State Palace, where some 2,000 guests had gathered to witness his inauguration for a six-year term.

Those assembled included Putin’s predecessor, Dmitry Medvedev, and Patriarch Kirill, head of Russia’s powerful Orthodox Church. The patriarch later blessed Putin’s inauguration in a Kremlin service. Former Italian prime minister, Silvio Berlusconi, was also in attendance.

Police made 120 arrests as some 200 people, including Yeltsin-era deputy prime minister Boris Nemtsov, protested Putin’s return to the presidency at separate locations near the Kremlin.

Over 400 people were arrested and scores injured as Sunday’s rally against Putin’s rule turned violent when protesters briefly broke through police lines in a bid to take their protest to the Kremlin walls.

Putin was forced to step down in 2008 by a Constitution that forbids more than two subsequent terms, but is silent on further presidential stints. He shifted to the post of prime minister after installing Medvedev in the Kremlin, but remained by far Russia’s most powerful politician.

Russia’s Constitution was amended in 2008 to increase the presidential term of office from four years to six.

The amendment means that Putin could remain in power until 2024, longer than any Russian or Soviet leader since dictator Joseph Stalin. (via Putin Returns to Kremlin Amid Protests | Russia | RIA Novosti).

Soon after Vladimir Putin, it was the turn of France to have a new head of State. Right in the middle of a Euro-zone currency and banking crisis, a new French President has taken over.

Unlike the earlier German-French consensus over austerity, Hollande has made some noises against the austerity-led agenda. This opens a new wave of uncertainty across Europe – and the world.

What can embattled Euro-bankrupts expect? A taste of austerity? A helping hand with growth? What will Euro banks get? A haircut or a debt-cut? Euro-Corporations are left struggling with an over-valued Euro-currency, a stagnant home market and a weak global market.

In the meantime France and Germany are discussing how to manage European crisis.

Socialist Francois Hollande has defeated Nicolas Sarkozy in the French presidential runoff by just over 1 million votes. He won 51 per cent of the vote against his rival’s 49. The president-elect has already pledged “to finish with austerity.”

Hollande will be the first French socialist president of France since 1995. He will be sworn in as new president of France on May 15.

Francois Hollande capitalized on France’s economic woes and President Sarkozy’s unpopularity. He has also promised to raise taxes on big corporations and people earning more than €1million a year, and lower the retirement age to 60.

Sarkozy, who has been in office since 2007, had promised to reduce France’s large budget deficit through budget cuts. It is only the second time an incumbent president has failed to win re-election since the start of France’s Fifth Republic in 1958. (via Hollande wins French presidency with 51.7% of votes — RT).

But Angela Merkel’s problems at home may make her more accommodating – or indecisive.

At the recent State elections, in May 2012, for North Rhine-Westphalia or “NRW” region, Europe largest state, also Germany’s most populous (13m), said a resounding ‘nein’ to Merkel’s party – the Christian Democrats.

This could either mean that Merkel becomes more flexible or worse, diffident. Soon after this wave of government changes across the world, Germany itself will be facing elections – between 27 August-27 October 2013.

These elecxtions are likely to be less than likely to be stabilizing  |  Cartoonist Yaakov Kirschen of DryBones at Politicalcartoons.com  |  Click for image

These elecxtions are likely to be less than likely to be stabilizing | Cartoonist Yaakov Kirschen of DryBones at Politicalcartoons.com | Click for image

But the Egyptians don’t have wait for so long. On Saturday, 16th June, Egyptians voted

in the first free presidential election in their history to make what many find an unpalatable choice between a military man who served deposed autocrat Hosni Mubarak and an Islamist who says he is running for God.

Reeling from a court order two days ago to dissolve a new parliament dominated by the Muslim Brotherhood, many question whether generals who pushed aside fellow officer Mubarak last year to appease the pro-democracy protests of the Arab Spring will honor a vow to relinquish power by July 1 to whoever wins.

“Both are useless but we must choose one of them unfortunately,” said Hassan el-Shafie, 33, in Mansoura, north of Cairo, exasperated like many who picked centrists in last month’s first round and now face a choice between two extremes.

With neither a parliament nor a new constitution in place to define the president’s powers, the outcome from Saturday and Sunday’s run-off will still leave 82 million Egyptians, foreign investors and allies in the United States and Europe unsure about what kind of state the most populous Arab nation will be. (via Egypt makes stark choice for president – Yahoo! News).

Free and fair elections? Secret ballot? | Cartoonist - Marian Kamensky from Slovakia; source & courtesy - cartoonblog.msnbc.msn.com | Click for image.

Free and fair elections? Secret ballot? | Cartoonist – Marian Kamensky from Slovakia; source & courtesy – cartoonblog.msnbc.msn.com | Click for image.

Reports are Egyptians are already missing Hosni Mubarak.

While the Egyptian vote will be talking point in the Islamic world, for the Euro-zone, the election in Greece is more important. The day after the Egyptian election, on Sunday, June 17, 2012, the Greeks voted

in an election that could decide whether their heavily indebted country stays in the euro zone or is forced towards the exit, potentially unleashing shocks that could break up Europe’s single currency.

Opinion polls are banned in the final two weeks of the campaign but party officials’ own estimates on election day showed the radical leftist SYRIZA bloc, which wants to scrap the punishing austerity package demanded by international lenders, neck and neck with the conservative New Democracy party, which broadly supports it. (via Greek voters to decide euro future – Yahoo! News).

The one change in Government that is the most difficult to call is in China. The Chinese duo of Hu-Wen, who have presided over the biggest expansion in China’s economy, are at the verge of retirement.

Though they won’t be saying zai jian 再见 – good-bye, see you soon! Sometime between September 2012-November 2012, 3000 delegates of the Chinese Communist Party of China (CCP), will be meeting

For the new nine-member Politburo Standing Committee to be endorsed at the congress, which marks a transition of power after 10 years of rule under President Hu Jintao and Prime Minister Wen Jiabao.

People’s Daily, the CCP’s flagship newspaper, said on May 3 that “at present, the elections” of the 2,200-plus deputies to the 18th party congress are going as scheduled. By April 27, 12 provinces including Beijing, Guangdong, Jiangsu, Jilin and Shandong have already decided on their deputies (who in fact are not really “elected” democratically but nominated by grassroots party organs and decided by higher authorities).

The People’s Liberation Army (PLA) Daily also reported that deputies to the 18th party congress representing the PLA and the paramilitary People’s Armed Police (PAP) have been nominated for the final approval of the Central Military Commission (CMC). There is no problem for other “constituencies” to complete their selections of deputies before June 30 – the set deadline.

The 18th party congress will be held “in autumn of this year”, in contrast to the official announcement of the CCP Central Committee that it would be held “in the latter half of 2012”. In China, autumn is generally considered to run from September to November.

It will be held in autumn or before the end of November following the party’s tradition. According to party rules and adopted practice, the current central committee will hold its last plenary session to endorse the agenda of the 18th congress shortly before its convention. (via Asia Times Online :: Rumor aside, a smooth transition is assured).

It is the economy stupid!  |  Caetoonist:  Nate Beeler of The Columbus Dispatch at Politicalcartoons.com  |  Click for image.

It is the economy stupid! | Caetoonist: Nate Beeler of The Columbus Dispatch at Politicalcartoons.com | Click for image.

Definitely, the most widely covered government-change in the world, the American elections in November has set off an avalanche of speculation in world media.

Speculation has been let loose.

A nuclear deal with Iran? An organized retreat from Afghanistan? The eurozone picking up a little bit of steam? Stable oil prices? Forget it. The crucial foreign elector recruited for Obama II at the White House is one Osama bin Laden. Call it the “Obama nails Osama” winning strategy.

No wonder the winning strategy has been subcontracted to the Hollywood/Pentagon combo. Washington lost the Vietnam War, but won it in on screen. Oscar-winning director Kathryn Hurt Locker Bigelow had already started the process of “winning” the Iraq War on screen – at least morally. Now it’s time for her new project – an as yet untitled movie – on the “Get Osama” May 2011 Abbottabad raid and the events leading up to it. With POTUS (that’s president of the United States) as the hero of his own action movie. (via Asia Times Online :: How Osama re-elects Obama).

Obama is definitely worried about an asteroid like Euro-zone crisis derailing his campaign  |  Cartoonist: Christopher Weyant of The Hill, Politicalcartoons.com  |  Click for image.

Obama is definitely worried about an asteroid like Euro-zone crisis derailing his campaign | Cartoonist: Christopher Weyant of The Hill, Politicalcartoons.com | Click for image.

Hollywood has been roped in. The hottest of Silicon Valley ‘brains’ have been called in. But, even then,

If the European crisis explodes or an attack on Iran drives up oil prices, the U.S. economy may tank and render moot all of Messina’s careful planning. Or the recovery could pick up steam, or the old gaffe-prone Romney could return and hand Obama an unexpectedly easy win. (via Messina Consults Jobs to Spielberg in Crafting Obama’s Campaign – Bloomberg).

Analysts have been reading the election-motive in the Chicago-Summit or the G* summit that Obama called for , in Chicago.

It believed that a worried

Barack Obama is to press German chancellor Angela Merkel to support a growth package to help bail out Europe at the G8 summit this weekend amid fears in the White House that the eurozone crisis could damage the president’s re-election chances.

Obama is scheduled to meet Merkel, the new French president François Hollande, the Italian prime minister Mario Monti and British prime minister David Cameron at Camp David on Friday evening.

But foreign affairs analysts said that Obama’s leverage with the European leaders is minimal on this issue. Although the US has the economic muscle to help Europe out of its mess, the Obama administration took the strategic decision not to become involved directly.

Instead, Obama is to use the Camp David summit for some quiet diplomacy, hoping to sway Merkel to endorse some immediate actions to help growth. The problem for Obama is that most of the initiatives being discussed in Europe are medium-term or longer, too late to help him if the European crisis impacts on the US economy in the fall, just ahead of the election in November. (via G8 summit: Obama to press Angela Merkel on eurozone growth package | World news | guardian.co.uk).

Soon after the US President is sworn-in to office by February, Pakistan will go for elections. Unless there is an army coup. Or a US invasion.

Probably, Pakistani Government is the only Government in history, which has taken the help of a foreign government, to invade its own country. It all boils down to

cessation of drone strikes is one of the two preconditions of Pakistan for ending the present standoff that has gone on for more than six months and has caused much tension. The second pre-condition is an apology by the US for the November 26, 2011, airstrike at Salala in North Waziristan that killed 24 Pakistani soldiers. After this ghastly “friendly fire”, Pakistan had closed the transit route for supplies to Nato troops in Afghanistan. It remains shut because US President Barack Obama has refused to apologise, and it is doubtful that in an election year he can change his mind.

Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari also faces election some four months after the presidential poll in the US. He is in no position, therefore, to give up either of the two preconditions prescribed by an all-party committee of Pakistan’s Parliament. The man most pleased with this intractable situation must be the all-powerful Army Chief, Gen. Ashfaq Kayani. Ever since the US attack on Abbottabad that killed Osama bin Laden 13 months ago, the Pakistan Army has felt humiliated but has successfully turned the public anger over its failure to prevent the incident against America. The anti-American feeling within the Pakistan Army may not be as strident as among the public, especially the jihadis, but it is strong enough. The general can, therefore, sit back while the weak President is left holding the baby.

It is in this context that one must view also the big blow at the Nato Summit on Afghanistan in Chicago last month to the heavily fraught US-Pakistan ties. The US had seen to it that the invitation to Mr Zardari was delivered at the last minute, when it seemed to Washington that Nato supplies through the southern route would be resumed by the time the Pakistani President arrived at the summit.

When this did not happen, Mr Obama gave Mr Zardari a cold shoulder. At the opening of the summit, he did not even acknowledge Mr Zardari’s presence while welcoming Afghan President Hamid Karzai and even “officials” from Russia and Central Asian republics. Moreover, he denied Mr Zardari a one-to-one meeting. In Chicago, there was understandable concern that the widening gulf between the US and Pakistan might “complicate” the planned exit of Western combat troops from Afghanistan by the end of 2014.

From then on, bilateral talks between America and Pakistan — which have not broken down even though there are senior members in both establishments who would like to end them — are focused on inducements to Pakistan to reopen the supply line. (via US-Pak: Separated, not divorced | The Asian Age).

On most matter, finally, Pakistan has the last word. Here also we will let Pakistan have the last word.

And a very important word, it may turn out to be.

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  1. admin said, on June 18, 2012 at 7:32 am

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