Tuesday, January 1, 2008

December pt. 2

It has now been officially one year since I started Head of State Update. It's been a lot of fun, and a lot of work. It's no secret that my dedication in keeping the thing consistently updated has notably declined, largely because of of the other professional obligations in my life.

Are you interested in seeing Head of State Update continue for another year? Post your comments.

Anyway, let us finish DECEMBER

Solomons Stabalize Sans Sogavare

The parliament of the Solomon Islands voted no-confidence in their Prime Minister on December 13, booting him from office. Mr. Manasseh Sogavare had been in office for little over a year, taking office in May of 2006.

The Solomons is a very unstable and dangerous country, fraught by considerable turmoil. There are 27 islands in all, and their various tribal populations have taken to killing each other with renewed intensity over the last decade or so. There was a coup in 2000, and the Australians dispatched peacekeepers shortly after, helping stabilize the country.

The first post-coup elections were held in 2006, which resulted in a crazy mess of parties getting elected. The parliament only has 50 seats, but there are nine different parties represented more or less equally, which has made the country virtually ungovernable. They couldn't even decide who to elect as governor general, let alone prime minister.

They've now gone through four prime ministers in three years. The new guy's name is Derek Sikua. He used to be a member of the Sogavare administration, but jumped ship as that regime began to go downhill. The hope is that Prime Minister Sikua, a western-educated professor, will finally bring a clean, accountable, and stable government to the Islands, though I suppose it's just as likely that some scandal will end up turning the parliament against him, in time, and the Solomons will become the Pacific's new Nauru (see last post).

Not Much New in Kyrgyzstan

Igor Chudinov was elected as Prime Minister of Kyrgyzstan on Christmas eve, a week after his political party swept to victory in the parliamentary elections. This is a bit of a non-event, and is unlikely to change much. Prime Minister Igor is an ally of the sitting president, a man who is accused of rigging elections, consolidating power, and basically betraying all the principles of the 2005 pro-democratic revolution that brought him to power.

New Presidents, one left, one right

Bigger news was to be had in South Korea, where former businessman Lee Myung Bak of the "Grand National Party" was elected president on December 19. A pro-business conservative, President Bak hopes to usher in greater economic growth in his nation's already very strong economy, through a series of reforms he (seriously) refers to as "Myung Baknomics."

Slovenia also got a new president that week, with Danilo Türk taking office as head of state of the Republic on December 22.

President Türk is a professor, and a career diplomat who has served time at both the UN and EU. I've noticed some news reports have been referring to him as an "independent," but that's only half-true. In the Slovenian system of government, which has a ton of political parties, the presidential candidates are always nominally independents. They then have to win the endorsement of numerous political parties in order to win the national election. So, in Mr. Türk's case, he was able to win the endorsement of most of the left-wing parties, while his opponent, Lojze Peterle, had the backing of the conservative ones.

There has been some concern that the leftist Mr. Türk will not be able to work well with a parliament controlled by conservative parties. The Prime Minister even speculated about resigning, rather than work with the new president. But cooler heads have prevailed and the country will now try its hand at embracing government by bi-partisanship. How's that been going in the US, by the way?

Death in Pakistan

Lastly, the most dramatic, and sad news of the month (if not year) was the December 27 assassination of former Pakistani Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto.

Ms. Bhutto was the two-time PM of Pakistan during the brief periods in which the Prime Minister was the highest office in the country (the Pakistani constitution has been amended to shreds, and they've changed from being under presidential rule to prime ministerial rule a couple of times). When she was first elected in 1988, it marked the first time ever that a woman had been placed in charge of a Muslim country.

Of course, Ms. Bhutto had the advantage of being the daughter of Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, the guy who ruled Pakistan for much of the 1970's before being overthrown and sentenced to death by one of Pakistan's many military governments. When he died, Ms. Bhutto became "leader for life" of his political party, and emerged as a critic of the military regime, eventually sweeping to power once the generals stood down and democratic elections were held.

As I cartooned about on my other site, history is sort of repeating itself now, but in the Marxian way, with the first time as tragedy, and the second time as a farce. The new leader-for-life of the Bhutto party is 19-year-old Bilawal Bhutto, Ms. Bhutto's son. The young Mr. Bhutto is hardly ready for the role that history has thrust upon him, however, and he's too young to even legally hold elected office in Pakistan anyway. So his succession is largely symbolic, and it remains to be seen as to who the true "new Bhutto of Pakistan" will be.


iod said...

Don't kill HoSU!

I, for one, absolutely love it. Even if updates are few and far apart - it's better than trying to keep tabs on everything myself...

ExecutedToday said...

What iod said -- writing daily, I'm nothing if not sensitive to the workload. If you can possibly keep it alive even in an intermittent form, that would just be aces.

Recruit a co-writer or two and make it a group thing?

Good luck in all events

Ricardo said...

Yes, I would like to see it stay too. Yours is one of the few blogs I read anymore. I can respect your workload though, so do what's best.

Psudo said...

Keep the blog! Even an average of 3 posts a month is A-OK by me.

I only read 3 blogs, and 2 of them are yours.

Hadleigh Roberts said...

I'd be interested in seeing this blog continue. Maybe it would be easier for you to manage the updates not by putting several changes into one post, but to have lots of smaller posts. That would help you keep it constantly updated.

j_major said...

I read your blog from Ecuador, via RSS, that's why normally l don't get to comment here but l read every post and let me tell you they're pretty fine!

it's quite interesting to read regularly from political changes throughout the world, and for me it´s not too important to read them as soon as the news on regular newspaper sites.

the added value of this blog is your opinion and the background story to understand the current update (like, right now l'm reading about Nauru on wikipedia), so l think a monthly post would be perfect and l guess it won't take much of your time.

finally, let me tell you l have the same problem with updating my blog about the current ecuadorian assembly (here we're right now changing out just-10-years-old constitution for a new one). hey! maybe you could use a brief overview of recent latin american updates. let me now here or at www.asamblea-blog.ec (spanish)

Walker said...

I really dig the blog and hope you can find time to keep it up, even if it is as infrequent as it's been lately. I learn a lot here and I appreciate getting a point of view that is less US-centric.

s said...

Saying that Bhutto's son is an "emo teenager" is a little fucking harsh. His Mom was just assassinated! Trading sympathy for a few laughs is so very low...

Armand said...


Evan said...

The blog is great. It's a wonderful way to keep track of the largely ceremonial but always interesting changes in the world. Please keep it going!

nicka said...

I echo the other comments - namely, if you can keep it (regardless of the update schedule), then please do it. I come here every day regardless of updates!

joseph said...

Please keep your blog. It's a wealth of info. Plus, you cover elections and changes in heads of state that are ignored or not covered much bye the western media.

Matthew said...

I enjoy the blog, and check it out once a week for updates; I'd definitely miss it if you weren't here! Your research is fun and interesting to read.

mhc said...

Do keep it going; even in a monthly format it's good to just see how things are progressing throughout the world. Well done on it, by the way.

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