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Monday, 2 January 2012

Manning Democracy

Democracy has many weaknesses, some of which have recently become apparent.

Greece and Italy have had 'technocrats' slotted in as Prime Ministers, because their constitutional procedures did not deliver people for the top jobs who were acceptable to those who control the two national economies.

Politics in the USA are more bitterly polarised than at any time since the US became a global power. The Democrats are obliged to support their incumbent president, though it is doubted whether he will carry mass support into the next election to match the pile of money that has been promised by both loyalists and those who judge it a worth-while investment in the incumbent standing for re-election. His Republican opponents [who absolutely loathe Obama] are bitterly divided, with a leading candidate suffering the almost terminal disability of being a Mormon: this division is so profound that the 'Grand Old Party' has been seen as a probable looser  since long before the General Election campaign begins. Meanwhile the debt and the deficit are increasing enough to improve the prospects for Prophets of Doom; who are probably the only group of Americans who can look forward with confidence and are able to ignore the undoubted underlying strength of the economy.

Angela Merkel knows that she would face electoral suicide if she promised any significant amount of real support over the long haul to Greece and other struggling eurozone states. No significant commentator, and no opinion poll, indicates that Nicholas Sarkozi will be re-elected in this year's French election; leaving the field open to a Socialist machine-man and a woman from the far right. Vladimir Putin has massively lost support ahead of this year's election, entirely due to his own actions, but there is no credible opposition candidate: so Putin will almost assuredly win: but the lesser a proportion of the vote he gets, the more chance there will be of his taking notice of his need to project a different image.

Elections in Egypt will be a test of whether the Muslim Brotherhood and their allies really do aim to achieve "one person, one vote, once"; followed by a very different regime.

In China almost excessively elaborate succession planning will produce a hugely different array of personalia in the top political posts by the end of 2012, but they will be expected to continue with an agreed evolutionary programme. The names that appear to be in the frame for advancement include some that are associated with dogmatic assertions of communist - basically Maoist -  principle who counterbalance the Party's willingness to continue with sophisticated macro-economic management of a rampantly capitalist economy. The percentages may change from year to year but spectacular economic progress is essential: if growth falters too much the Party's monopoly  over politics will be challenged.

Nowhere is politics likely to produce genuinely popular outcomes that could give people new confidence in the direction that the country will take in the coming years. Charismatic leaders who become self indulgent and wilful are a danger to their own people, and often disastrous for their neighbours. Dull politicians who keep to the constitutional rules and who try to implement the policies on which they stood for election remain dull; but if they try to perpetuate their tenure they can mutate into oppressive dictators  More and more obviously politics produces unimpressive governments, precisely at the time when the consequences of the failure of Economics have matured into a new crisis of sovereign debt which can only be resolved through appropriate Political Economy applied by confident and competent governments. This big issue will be of major concern to this blog throughout 2012. On early signs, China will probably manage the political succession most effectively in 2012, and again western doomsters who predict catastrophe for the Chinese economy will not be vindicated.

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