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March 2004 Country Archive



We bring the first of our free monthly reports on INDIA, a major player on the world's geopolitical and economic stage, where upcoming elections really could change the government. Unlike…

RUSSIA, demonstrating in this election what a raw recruit it is to the ranks of the world's democracies, is now about to 'anoint' Vladimir Putin in his second term as president, that is, unless more than half of the electorate don't bother to turn out for a foregone conclusion*. If not, he and the other candidates are all disqualified - end of Putin? But this IS Russia. Stalin famously said that it doesn't matter WHO votes, what matters is who COUNTS them. *It could happen (see SERBIA below) - and only 51 percent turned out in the hard-fought Bush v Gore US election four years ago.

IRAN has had its travesty of an election while the world yawned at the obvious outcome. The grotesquely un-representative parliament means that the priests, having trampled on democracy, are unquestionably in charge. They have hurled back the progressives but now THEY have to deal with the problems of running a modern economy with an unhappy and fast expanding population. More, all the signs are,after what has emerged from LIBYA, that IRAN 'spoke with forked tongue,' on what they had admitted about their nuclear weapon program. International Pariah status beckons?

It does not look good in IRAQ since al-Qaeda's strategy there is to set Shia and Sunni at each other's throats. Sunnis, a minority in that country, have not missed this example of Ayatollah government in next-door IRAN and the implications for them, given real prospects of a priest-led Shia majority in the democratic self-rule that the west is supposed to eventually bring them in IRAQ.

SERBIA, the predatory 'victim', or so it sees itself, that after two attempts cannot get a president elected for lack of a national quorum (see RUSSIA above), seems in its new parliamentary alliances to be sliding back into the darkness of militant nationalism. It is fast heading back to being Europe's biggest problem state and into a further pariah period.

Astonishingly, in Europe's other problem state BELARUS, some brave souls have set up a coalition to fight parliamentary elections against the dictator, 'death-squad' Lukashenka. In SLOVAKIA, Vladimir Meciar, that nation's rather milder proto-dictator, is back as a presidential candidate.

NORTH KOREA sat around a table once more - we have the report.
LIBYA, is attracting back Big US Oil ahead of sanctions being lifted. In AFGHANISTAN - Presidential elections of a kind now, look more likely.
The PHILIPPINES report exactly describes the pre-election predicament of what seems to be a failed democracy.
But on a high note for TURKEY at least, EU prospects have been much enhanced, not only by prospects for accord in Cyprus, but by the German Chancellor.

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Clive Lindley - Publisher 

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