23 December 2012, 10:14

2012 Recap: New leaders, old problems

2012 Recap: New leaders, old problems

Incidental or not, for many countries in various parts of the world, the outgoing year was a year of changes. In many countries, new leaders came to power. Finland, Egypt and France now have new presidents. In Finland, it is Sauli Niinisto, in Egypt - Mohamed Morsi, and in France - Francois Hollande. Vladimir Putin, once Russia’s President, occupied this post again.

Considerable changes also took place in the composition of parliaments in Georgia, Ukraine and Greece as a result of elections. Besides, Barack Obama was reelected as the US President, and Hugo Chavez – as Venezuela’s President.

In November, China’s ruling Communist Party held a congress, as a result of which many of the party’s and of the state’s leaders were substituted by younger ones. In particular, the party’s Secretary General Hu Jintao was substituted by Xi Jinping.

For many countries, the last few years were years of economic or political crises – or both. Now people in the countries where new leaders came to power are expecting – some with hope, some with a certain amount of skepticism – what these new leaders will do to save their countries from the results of these crises.

In Egypt, for example, the advent of a new president has not yet brought the end of a crisis of power. Mohamed Morsi, a representative of a moderate Islamist movement “Muslim Brothers”, has not yet spent half of a year at the president’s post – and, within this time, clashes between his supporters and opponents never stopped. The Egyptian opposition is demanding that the so-called Constitutional Declaration (a temporary document which substitutes the constitution and which endues President Morsi with large authority) should be abolished and the Constitutional Committee (a committee that is working out a permanent constitution) should be dissolved.

“At present, Mr. Morsi is so engaged in solving multiple political and economic problems that he has no time to think about ideological issues,” Russian analyst Grigory Mirsky says.

“Mohamed Morsi and his team came to power at a time when their country is in a deep crisis both from the point of view of politics and economy. In such a situation, Mr. Morsi has, first of all, to think about how to save Egypt’s economy. Issues like how, for example, Egypt should build its relations with Israel have to be moved to the background.”

The new leaders of China’s Communist Party are facing a lot of problems as well. When the party’s former head Hu Jintao was leaving his post, he asked his successor Xi Jinping to take some measures to bridge the increasing gap between the rich and the poor in the country, to fight against corruption and to do something to make Chinese-made goods to be in larger demand in China (this, as Mr. Hu believes, would prevent China from falling into an economic crisis).

Xi Jinping seems to be trying to fulfill these tasks. During the first press conference which he held as the party’s leader, journalists noted that he speaks in a way quite understandable for common people, without the Communist jargon which his predecessors used. Some journalists were even optimistic enough to interpret this as a sign that China may expect positive changes in the nearest future.

Meanwhile, France’s new President Francois Hollande seems to have more problems in finding a common language with his people than the new leader of the Chinese Communist Party. Mr. Hollande has never hid it that he does not support the policy of tough economizing, which has been proposed to European countries by Germany as a means to overcome the economic crisis and to which President Sarkozy adhered. Soon after entering the president’s post, Mr. Hollande started a policy of supporting the three European countries that have suffered from the crisis most of all – Italy, Spain and Greece, which made quite a few French people regret that they had voted for him.

Speaking about the US, one may suppose that with the reelection of President Obama, Americans should not expect any radical changes in their country, in contrast with the situation that would have most likely set in in the US with the victory of Mr. Obama’s irreconcilable rival Mitt Romney. But it would be probably wrong to make such a conclusion. The faults that Mr. Obama committed during his first presidential term probably taught him something, and now, he will probably try to make his second term be more beneficial for the country’s welfare. However, this task will most likely be quite uneasy for him.

In a situation of global political and economic crises, it is very hard to predict what the world will be like in just a few years from now. But let us hope that the new leaders who came to power in many countries in the outgoing year will find some ways to ease the situation.

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