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Politics

Elections in Russia: World Awaits for Putin to Reclaim the Kremlin

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vladimir_putin russia electionsPeople elect their leader and the world watches, it happens in US and Russia. When Obama became the President of America, the kind of promises and pledge he had taken, it looked he is not becoming the president of America, but the President of the World.

Though Putin and other candidates for President of Russia did not make any such statements, but who will become the president keeps lots of importance. Some analysts even said that the fate of middle east, particularly Iran and Syria, remains on the presidential election of Russia.

While Russian people are going out to vote at this time of the day, the enthusiasm which they had in the past few elections wasn’t as strong this time, knowing they can’t change anything even though they possess the power of selecting their leader. And the reason is very simple: no alternative to Vladimir Putin.

Russian Presidential Candidate list
Candidate Document, taken by Eka for TWR

Western media was successful in showing the world how Russians on the street of Moscow protested and rallied against the come back of Vladimir Putin, but they failed to showcase the “major half” of the Russians who were demonstrating their support for Vladimir Putin in public. Anatoly Karlin, an Analyst on Russia says “it’s undeniable that the pro-Putin Meeting enjoyed substantially higher attendance than the Bolotnaya one – at least half as much again, and probably double or even triple. [Read: Far More People Protested FOR Putin Than Against, But You Wouldn’t Know It From The Western Media].

It is not a coincidence that most of my Russian friends admire Putin, while we, sitting in India or America, see the other picture on news. It is true that Russians do not have any other choice, but it is also true that most of them do not want any other choice except Putin.

Putin keeps a strong image of himself, as a person who takes interest in various things. Don’t get surprised if you see him flying Sukhoi, playing Piano, singing, or in fighting ring. Many Russians believe he has the ability to bring the change required and he has the ability to bring back the glory which was lost after the collapse of the Soviet Union.

Editor of Power & Politics world, and our close friend Gabriela Ionita describes Putin’s possible come back as Batman’s Return in her recent article, as it was US diplomats who, back in November 2008, cruelly dubbed Putin as Batman and Medvedev as his Robin. In her article she analyzes the polls and predicts the winner of the elections. [Read: The Batman′s return – The light battle for the Kremlin]

According to latest figures from Russian News Agency RIA Novosty, Putin secures 63.71% after 99.5% of Ballots counted. This means a big victory for him.

What Putin’s Come Back means to the World?

Putin’s come back means a troubled time for the western world, not because he is a threat to them, but is indeed a threat to their growing aspiration of spanning entire Europe and Central Asia under their influence. Putin had never digested the presence of NATO in the former Soviet States and will not allow the possibility of America installing missile shield in East Europe.

Russia, which had maintained a low profile after the collapse of Soviet Union, was seen much more active in recent years in the new geopolitics developments in the world. This is a clear indication that Russia is working to gain back its lost status, and is set to drive the world towards multi-polarity from uni-polarity. This means, in future, it won’t be so easy for the western world to wage war against countries like Afghanistan, Iraq and Iran.

Vladimir Putin and Barack Obama
American President Barack Obama with Vladimir Putin

Also, in an article, determined to help Europe in financial crisis, he suggested European Union should be made Union of Europe and there should be free trade from Lisbon to Vladivostok. In the article, Vladimir Putin looked like dictating terms to EU as he continues, “We will strive to ensure a new world order, one that meets current geopolitical realities, and one that develops smoothly and without unnecessary upheaval.  Russia proposes moving toward the creation of a common economic and human space from the Atlantic to the Pacific Ocean – a community referred by Russian experts as “the Union of Europe,” which will strengthen Russia’s potential and position in its economic pivot toward the new Asia.”

Recently Putin has declared an extensive re-arming of Russia’s military. He said, “Russia must be strong and self reliant to repel the outside pressure; if a country is weak than other countries would come to advice you what to do to gain their interests.”

Citing the importance of regaining the military might, he also stressed on advancement of already stable Russian economy. Increasing standards of living and economic growth was another main point in his speech. He aims at becoming the top 5 economy in the world and making the gross Domestic Product (GDP) (per capita) reach more than $35,000, that is more than what France and Italy has now. [Read: Russia Ready for an Extensive Re-Arming]

Seeing Russia’s aggressive diplomacy on Syria and Iran, there is more to see when Vladimir Putin arrives in Kremlin.

What Putin’s Comeback Means to India?

Vladimir Putin’s return to Kremlin means restored ties with India. During Medvedev’s time, India had disappointed Russia many times and till today it continues to do so, as India seemed going western way. On the international platform, India voted many times in the favor of west on many issues like Iran, Libya, Syria.

While present Indian government doesn’t look like taking interest in India’s relations with Russia, it is the same congress in whose time the seeds of Indo-Soviet relations were sown. During NDA government period also, India and Russia enjoyed good relations.

Putin understands the importance of India and proposes a trilateral cooperation of Russia, China and India on various international issues. Last month in February, 2012, Vladimir Putin said Russia has closer defence ties with India than with any other country, including China.

“As far as joint [defence] projects are concerned, we have advanced farther with India than with any other country, including China,” Mr. Putin said, citing the Brahmos supersonic cruise missile, the Akula class nuclear submarine leased to India, the multi-role transport aircraft and the fifth-generation fighter plane.

“It is now clear that we will have the fifth-generation aircraft. Two or even three planes are already up in the air, and more planes will join them this year. Technological problems have all been solved; it is quite obvious that we’ll make the aircraft and make it quite fast. We needed a partner to bring down the final cost of the plane; they [Indians] will buy it in large numbers. The T-50 is shaping to be superior to the American fifth-generation plane.”

Vladimir Putin with Manmohan Singh
Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh with Vladimir Putin
© RIA Novosti. Alexey Nikolskiy

Putin was responding to a suggestion from a defence analyst to “engage actively” with India, China, Iran and other countries, and to pursue issue-specific alliances to uphold Russia’s security interests. “We’re engaging India full thrust, we’re in fact doing it all as you say,” replied Putin. [Read: We’re engaging India full thrust: Putin]

In December, in a meeting with Putin, Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh wished him success in Elections. “I wish you success in Russian presidential elections in March next year. Let me congratulate the people of Russia on the successful State Duma elections and the victory of United Russia.”

It is clear that after America’s elections which attracts most of the world’s attention, it is Russian elections which draws attentions of intellectuals around the world. It is already believed by most of the analysts that Vladimir chances of coming to Kremlin is almost concrete. Before signing off We also wish him success or rather say congratulate him. Good Luck Vladimir Putin!

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Sanskar Shrivastava is the founder of international students' journal, The World Reporter. Passionate about dynamic occurrence in geopolitics, Sanskar has been studying and analyzing geopolitcal events from early life. At present, Sanskar is a student at the Russian Centre of Science and Culture and will be moving to Duke University.

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Economy

Weathering the Storm: How Political Climates Affect the Financial Markets

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There are numerous factors that can potentially have an effect on financial markets and which traders have to be aware of. They can range from extreme weather events, terror attacks, corporate announcements, all the way to the political climate of a country. In most of these scenarios, the ramifications for an economy and the subsequent reflection in the stock markets can be relatively predictable – we expect to see a drop in stock prices when a disaster hits , for example. When it comes to the political climate, however, things become a whole lot less predictable. This is due to various reasons, not least because of the inherently fickle nature of politics itself and the sometimes vast differences in the political cultures and traditions of different countries.

To get a sense of just how a country’s political climate can affect various aspects of a nation’s economy and its financial markets, we’ll take a practical recent example of the USA following President Donald Trump’s election in November 2016. It serves as an interesting case study due not only to its unexpected nature which highlighted the basic unpredictability of political climates, but because it brought about some very interesting reactions and results from businesses and the financial sector in general.

Growth Expectations

A general statement can be made to the effect that a country’s political climate and its economic environment are closely related. Investors, no matter how large their risk appetite, like to have a reasonable assurance of their money’s safety, which is why stock markets are usually the first industries to react to any political climate changes. In fact, research suggest that stock markets follow a predictable general pattern along a four-year cycle punctuated by the Presidential Elections in the USA and perhaps many other countries worldwide, with the market showing signs of increased caution as election season comes around.

Following President Trump’s unexpected victory, many organizations held the hope that the bold fiscal proposals he had talked about during the campaign – including increased spending and tax cuts – would serve to boost the country’s economy. The Federal Reserve actually went ahead and increased interest rates in anticipation of the changes, showing how even the promise of a policy change will directly be felt on the financial market.

Anticipated Regulatory Changes

When a country undergoes a significant political change of pace, it is expected that this will come with significant regulatory standards and practices. It is widely acknowledged that increased government regulation and bureaucratic interference in a country’s economy and industrial activity will usually result in a slowing down of the economy in question.

President Trump had poised to relax the regulatory framework in the country as well as consolidating the numerous bodies tasked with formulating the regulations to make it easier to do business in the country, and this came as good news to organizations and their stakeholders.

Political Stability Concerns

Political stability has a very real effect on the state of businesses within an economy, as we can all agree. While many business owners and stakeholders were encouraged by the promise of deregulation and fiscal policy reform, many were also given cause for concern when it came to the President’s apparent pattern of unexpected and inconsistent policy decisions.

His stance on immigration, promise to wall of the USA’s southern border with Mexico, and his abandonment of previous trade deals all went into fueling anxiety and a sense of uncertainty in the financial markets. This was especially felt in the case of organizations with a global business presence. These feelings decrease investor confidence and often lead to a depreciation in stock market values as the more risk-averse investors keep away.

In Conclusion

When looked at in totality, countries all over the world face the same types of political risks. We’re not talking about complete government collapses such as might occur in times of a coup, but relatively smaller yet high-impact moves and policies by governments on matters such as regulation, currency valuation, taxes, spending, minimum wage laws, labor laws, environmental regulations, and the like.The financial market of a country, being highly sensitive to such shocks, can register an impact when such actions are merely proposed, without their implementation having taken place yet. The impacts may be long or short-term, but they are definitely felt throughout the financial markets.

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China

What a Rising Xi Jinping Means for China and the World

Manak Suri

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Xi Jinping China

Source: en.kremlin.ru

“Watch this man.” These were the three words used by the founding father of Singapore Lee Kuan Yew to describe a relatively unknown Xi Jinping while he was yet to become the President of the People’s Republic of China. Today, in addition to being China’s “paramount leader”, Xi is arguably the most powerful man in the world, and even if leaders across the world were doubtful about it till now, the developments in the previous week were sure to make them think again.

19th Party Congress: How it unfolded

Xi today, Xi forever?

The Communist Party of China assembled the previous week for its 19th Party Congress, a political summit that takes place every five years to decide upon the country’s future and the future is precisely what Xi has fixated his eyes upon. According to the current rules, Mr Xi must step down as the leader when his term ends in 2022 and as tradition dictates, a successor must be appointed. While only time will reveal whether Mr Xi steps down from the presidency at the end of his term, it increasingly looks that he is not keen to do so, having failed to hint towards any successor for the time being. His apparent intentions to stay put were further solidified with the appointment of the new members to the Politburo Standing Committee, the highest decision making authority in the country after the president. Each of the members appointed to the body is over 60 years of age, which means that they are highly likely to retire when their term comes to an end with the next meeting five years later. Interestingly, two-thirds of them are also known to be Mr Xi’s loyalists.

Xi Jinping Thought: A force to be reckoned with

“Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era” or the “Xi Jinping Thought” for short was written into the party’s constitution at the end of the Congress. The thought consists of 14 principles calling for deep reforms, conserving the environment, the party’s complete control over the army, and the importance of the unification of the country. The development was highly publicised and with good reason. With the “Xi Jinping Thought” embedded in the constitution while still being in power, Xi Jinping has drawn comparisons from all over the world to Mao Zedong himself. Moreover, he has ensured that anyone that opposes him will do so at the cost of their removal from the party. When Xi asked the delegates at the end of his address for any objections, shouts of “meiyou” which means “none” rang through the Great Hall of the People.

Mr Xi has declared the start of a “new era” for China, and undoubtedly for the entire world. It is therefore important to ask what significance these developments hold for the country and for the world at large.

What this means for China

The inclusion of Xi’s thought in the constitution means that the same will be taught in schools, colleges, and other institutions throughout the country, infusing his ideology among the Chinese on a cultural level. Abraham Denmark, director of the Asia program at the Wilson Center puts it aptly when he says that the move “greatly increases, … broadens, and deepens Xi Jinping’s personal power within the Chinese system”.

The president has already found a wide support of the Chinese population with his push for modernisation and his crackdown on corruption has been hugely popular among the masses. Since his election in 2012, Mr Xi’s anti-corruption drive, famously known within the country as the “tiger and flies campaign” has either disciplined or expelled nearly a million party members. As his stance on corruption remains as stern as ever, many have come to view it as a political tool used by him time and again to get rid of political rivals. However, the corruption drive has undoubtedly proved to be effective and fruitful for the country’s business climate.

While Mr Xi’s crackdown on corruption has garnered immense coverage, the crackdown on humans rights activists and NGOs has not received its fair share. China has struggled for decades in its battle for free speech. In 2015, many human rights lawyers were detained and many international NGOs faced stricter curbs to keep them from functioning. As the president has left little room for any opposition within the party, the authoritarianism and censorship are by no means expected to be relaxed, ensuring that there is no opposition from outside the party as well.

Powerplay: China’s standing on the global stage

Donald Trump was among the world leaders who wished the Chinese president when he congratulated him on his “extraordinary elevation”. The reverence he holds for Mr Xi was quite apparent when he said: “some people might call him the king of China.” The surprise, however, came when North Korea’s Kim Jong Un congratulated the president on his “great success” since the two leaders are not known to be fond of each other. The intent here is clear. Both sides need a China that is continuously growing in power on their side in their stand against each other, and that means a closer association with Mr Xi. Chinese influence in the world is unlikely to stop there.

While speaking to CNN, James McGregor, author of “No Ancient Wisdom, No Followers: The Challenges of Chinese Authoritarian Capitalism”, mentioned that “given the chaos in Washington and also the dysfunction in Europe, the world is looking for leadership.” Mr Xi enjoys a great level of stability and largely unquestioned authority in a time where the leaders of Western democracies face intense competition at home. As such, his message to his party and to the world is clear: in the coming decades, China will “stand proudly among the nations of the world” and “become a leading global power. ” However, it will do so on its own terms, emphatically rejecting the Western political models.

These intentions are perhaps best evidenced by The Belt and Road initiative, China’s attempt at connecting Europe, Asia, and Africa with each other through a modern take on the Silk Route, into which it has already pumped hundreds of billions as loans and aid to countries across all three continents. While the project has been met with opposition from Japan, India, and the USA, many of China’s neighbours have expressed their support for it, which speaks of its influence on the global stage.

With the people’s army under the control of the party, Mr Xi also looks to achieve the twin goals of increasing the military might and the protection of China’s sovereignty. “We will not tolerate anyone, using any means, at any time to separate one inch of land from China”, he said in his address which is seen as a warning to both Hong Kong and Taiwan. Enhancing combat capability is also linked to the Chinese interests in the South China Sea, where its activities of building and militarisation of islands have received backlash from the international community.

“If one is big”, Mr Xi said on the final day of the Congress, “one must act big.” There’s no doubt that Mr Xi intends to put these words into action at the global level. Lee Kuan Yew once rightly pointed out about China that the world would do well to remember:  “The size of China’s displacement of the world balance is such that the world must find a new balance. It is not possible to pretend that this is just another big player. This is the biggest player in the history of the world.”

References:

http://www.cbc.ca/news/world/china-congress-xi-jinping-petricic-1.4371251

https://www.theatlantic.com/china/archive/2013/03/interview-lee-kuan-yew-on-the-future-of-us-china-relations/273657/

https://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2017/10/china-xi/544035/

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/asia/xi-jinping-china-communist-party-constitutional-amendment-ideology-enshrined-superpowers-future-mao-a8017111.html

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Europe

UK Attempts To Bypass European Commission On Brexit Blocked By Brussels

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Brexit European Union

Via geographos

As the UK and EU draw deeper and deeper into uncharted waters, Brexit negotiations are becoming increasingly erratic. As negotiators from both states met this week to discuss items such as the Northern Ireland Border, the rights of EU citizens currently residing in the UK and the notorious ‘divorce bill’, there have been numerous reports of frustration within the British camp.

Frustration

Recently it was revealed that Prime Minister Theresa May, believing talks to be at an impasse, intended to go over the heads of the EU’s Brexit negotiators and appeal directly to world leaders such as Angela Merkel and Emmanuel Macron. When questioned about this, however, Brussels officials close to the negotiations intimated that Mrs May would not be able to circumvent the negotiations process.

The officials pointed out that both French and German leaders had agreed prior to the talks that negotiations would come “as a single package” where “individual items cannot be settled separately” and that no member state would abstain from negotiations in favour of individual agreements.

One year on…

It has been over a year now since the UK referendum in which the country voted (at a rate of 52% to 48%) to leave the European Union in an unprecedented political and economic chain of events, the repercussions of which will take years to fully realise but which the world glibly knows as Brexit. It’s a small name for such a political leviathan. Many of the world’s leading bankers and economists still aren’t sure what to make of. Recently CEO Lloyds Bank Antonio Horta-Osorio (who has been lauded for restoring the bank’s profits to pre-financial crisis levels) expressed doubt and uncertainty over the long term economic effects of Brexit. It’s somewhat telling that former Prime Minister David Cameron resigned shortly after the vote, claiming that his involvement in the ‘Remain’ campaign put him at odds with the will of the people but it’s possible that he had the prescience to realise that he had no hope of taming this wily and unpredictable beast. One year on, the beast only seems to have become further enraged by the negotiating process.

Difficult negotiations

Theresa May has gone into Brexit negotiations with some questionably aggressive negotiating tactics. The first round of talks were mired by her strangely audacious assertion that “no deal is better than a bad deal”. The frustration has clearly been felt on both sides with chief negotiator Michel Barnier urging Mrs May to begin negotiating “seriously”. The French government also demonstrated an unwillingness to circumvent negotiations earlier this week, stating that it “fully supports, on the substance as well as on the method, Michel Barnier’s negotiating mandate” and asserting that claims that Mrs May can somehow bypass the procedure “are founded on absolutely nothing and do not reflect reality”. Brexit Minister David Davis, however, retains an optimistic tone, stating;

“Our goal remains the same: we want to agree a deal that works in the best interests for both the European Union and the United Kingdom and people and businesses right across Europe. We’re ready to roll up our sleeves and get back to work once more…”.

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