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GEOPOLITICAL BULLETIN

MARCH 2016

EU: "A SHIFT TO THE RIGHT IN EASTERN EUROPE"; WORLD AUDIT: NEW WORLD DEMOCRACY RANKINGS INCL. NEW CORRUPTION DATA; NORTH KOREA: "NUCLEAR DEFIANCE MEANS SUNSET FOR SUNSHINE

 

Concerns about Hungary’s lurch to the Right have been overtaken by new and similar worries about Poland. Sara Bielecki addresses the questions as to why this has happened and what now should the EU do about it?

World Audit Democracy Tables are updated to include newly received World Corruption data. For the first time, THREE nations out of 150, share the honours of equal First place.

Aidan Foster Carter analyses the storms in North Korea and signals ‘Full Steam Astern’ for the most spectacularly undemocratic nation in the world.


Clive Lindley - Publisher/Editor


EU: "A SHIFT TO THE RIGHT IN EASTERN EUROPE"

Up until recently in eastern Europe, the extreme right wing was visible only, if alarmingly, in the form of Viktor Orban's Fidesz regime in Hungary. In power since 2010, under his tenure, Hungary has shifted away from a democratic, European direction, and the tone of mainstream political life has become ultraconservative, xenophobic and worryingly popular (the party maintaining its two thirds majority in the elections of 2014). In October 2015, however, Poland, at 38 million people, the biggest country of the former eastern bloc now in the EU, followed in Hungary's path, when the Law and Justice (PiS) party, a repository of arch-Catholic, traditionalist values won an absolute majority in the general elections. Whilst the President is Andrzej Duda and the Prime Minister Beata Szydło, it is widely believed that the party's leader, and one time Prime Minister, Jarosław Kaczyński pulls the strings. Kaczyński has made no attempt to hide his admiration for Viktor Orban, once promising to “bring Budapest to Warsaw”.

In the few months the party has been in power, it has already generated a rap sheet of some length in terms of contravening European standards on freedom of speech, gender equality and the neutrality of the judiciary.   [
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WORLD AUDIT: NEW WORLD DEMOCRACY RANKINGS INCL. NEW CORRUPTION DATA

Recently received data on Corruption, from Transparency International, a key component of democratic status, cause us to recast the current World Democracy tables, as published on the World Audit website. The newly updated figures are available at worldaudit.org

Our last world audit was as recently as 1st January 2016. The 150 nations listed, all exceed a minimum population of one million, of which there are 150 in the world.

Readers may already know that we use the criteria of Civil Liberties & Political Rights to establish in which of four Divisions a nation should be listed. Within those Divisions, the ultimate ranking 1-150 for Democracy, is determined by a nation’s freedom of speech for which we use Press Freedom as the criteria; and Corruption ranking - methodology is described in more detail in a sidebar note on P1 of the World Democracy report).

World Audit started with the millennium and since that beginning, data has been shared with us by two main sources: Freedom House (the US’s first NGO), and by Transparency International, to both of whom we continue to be most grateful. Since our 1st January ’16 report, new data have been received from Transparency International, becoming the most recent corruption data available, enabling us to recast the individual national scores, resulting in some changes in rankings from those published in January.

‘World Audit’ reports are brought to you by this, our companion publication, ‘New Nations, the Monthly Geopolitical Report’. Both publications are a part of World Concern, a UK reg’d charity.  [
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NORTH KOREA: "NUCLEAR DEFIANCE MEANS SUNSET FOR SUNSHINE

NewNations’ latest update on North Korea is well timed. As of February 2016, the DPRK’s relations with the wider world have taken a tangible turn for the worse. Pyongyang’s double whammy of a nuclear test on January 6, then a satellite launch – which partly covers as a test of ballistic missile technology – on February 7, were arguably nothing new. The Kim regime has conducted both kinds of test regularly for a decade, each time condemned and sanctioned by the UN Security Council UNSC). This routine, though deplorable, has grown familiar; so there was no reason whatever to suppose or hope Kim Jong-un was about to change his spots.

The difference now is that two major interlocutors have lost patience. South Korea and the US have had enough of North Korea’s recidivism. To general surprise, including in Pyongyang, Seoul reacted by shutting the Kaesong Industrial Complex (KIC): the last remaining inter-Korean joint venture, just north of the Demilitarised Zone (DMZ), where 54,000 Northern workers worked very cheaply for 124 Southern SMEs. The US Congress, with rare speed and bipartisan unanimity, passed a new bill imposing bilateral sanctions far tougher than before; including secondary sanctions similar to those judged effective in pressing Iran into nuclear compliance, targeting not just DPRK entities but also foreign firms doing business with them.

Meanwhile a laggard UNSC had yet to issue its own sanctions, hobbled by the usual discord – and an all too public blame game – between Washington and Beijing on how severe those should be. On February 26, as NewNations went to press, reports suggested that Beijing has accepted a US-drafted resolution stronger was expected; possibly in return for US concessions on deploying a Terminal High Altitude Area Defence (THAAD) missile defence battery in South Korea, something the PRC vigorously opposes as threatening its own security. All this should be clearer by mid-March, when the formal text of the new UNSC resolution will be known, discussed and approved.  [
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