Category: Politics

An inherited economic-mega-mess for Argentina’s next leader?

  • New president (final round of election on Nov 22) will have to deal with mess of an economy left by incumbent Cristina Kirchner and her predecessor husband Nestor (who together ruled for 12 years).
  • Slow growth + dwindling foreign exchange reserves in wake of colossal economic mismanagement and end of commodity boom.
  • One of the world's highest inflation rates (officially at around 14.5%) and huge fiscal deficit (over 7% of GDP).

Poland 2015 parliamentary election result?

  • Swing to the right - conservative opposition Law and Justice party wins big victory.
  • First time since 1989 (when democracy was restored) that there's no left-wing party in parliament, and that a single party has won enough seats to govern alone.
  • Expect Poland to become a more socially conservative country, mildly Eurosceptic and more inward-looking.

Explain South Africa’s student protests?

  • Widespread protests against proposed higher tuition fees - President Zuma capitulates and agrees to a cap of fee increases.
  • Protests seen as barometer of broad dissatisfaction with post-Apartheid government's apparent failure to address economic inequalities.
  • Economic backdrop unsupportive: Growth still weak, unemployment high, fiscal deficit widening.

What is Peronism?

  • Populist Argentine political movement based on the legacy of former President Juan Domingo Perón and his 2nd wife Eva.
  • Still dominates politics in Argentina today, traditionally drawing its support from the working class and unions.
  • Half of candidates in first round of 2015 Presidential poll (25 Oct) were Peronists.

Are Palestinians Sunni or Shia?

  • Estimates of total (Gaza + West Bank + diaspora):
  • Sunni 85%, Shia 7%, Christian 6%, Druze 1%, other 1%.
  • Gaza is significantly more homogenous than the West Bank.

Explain the looming potential US debt default?

Explain the looming potential US debt default?

  • Government doesn't have enough dosh to pay for stuff, so will need to borrow more on 3 Nov, beyond a pre-agreed debt ceiling.
  • So either the US defaults (i.e. stops paying for things like interest obligations on previous borrowings), or it raises the debt ceiling.
  • Only way to avoid default is if Congress agrees to raise or suspend the debt ceiling.

Describe what Republicans & Democrats are thinking re a potential 03 Nov default?

  • Republicans don't want to raise debt ceiling, i.e. they want smaller and not bigger government.
  • So they are proposing prioritising payment of some (but not all) obligations (i.e. debt service, military and some welfare), or a raising of the debt ceiling in exchange for a reduction in social spending (Medicare, food stamps, social security).
  • The Democrats simply want the debt ceiling raised.

The “Hollandisation” of the UK that irks the US?

The “Hollandisation” of the UK that irks the US?

  • The US worries that their major ally is becoming like Holland (abandoning pursuit of power & withdrawing from the international geo-political stage).
  • UK reducing military expenditure as % of GDP, absent from Ukraine Minsk negotiations, absent from Libyan crisis, and tepid response to China's handling of Hong Kong pro-democracy protesters.
  • UK appears to be kowtowing to China to attract trade and investment, plus was the first G7 country to join China's rival to the US-dominated World Bank.

Macrosnap Canada Election?

Macrosnap Canada Election?

  • Massive defeat of decade-long Conservative rule (under Harper) by Liberals (under Trudeau).
  • Vote for change in policy: Away from right, to centre-left, i.e. translates as rejection of fiscal austerity.
  • Vote for change in political vibe: Away from negative (US-style politics of enmity) to more positive/collaborative politics.

UK vs. US approach to dealing with China?

  • UK: Tactical (short-term) accommodation with strategic (long-term) economic aim (securing trade & investment relationship).
  • US: Tactical & strategic balance between accommodation (e.g. economics), pressure (e.g. human rights) & resistance (e.g. to Chinese maritime claims).
  • US concerned about UK sacrificing principle for commerce and withdrawing from international geopolitical stage.
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