Home > Uncategorized > Politics this week: 21st – 27th July 2007

Politics this week: 21st – 27th July 2007

Highlights from this week’s edition of The Economist
Demography | Sovereign-wealth funds | Five years of Sarbanes-Oxley | After Turkey’s election | Urbanisation in China | Gadgetry and aid workers | America’s prisons | Britain inundated, again | Congo threatens a return to chaos | Outsourcing grows up | How to make wind power hum | Mohammed Zahir Shah, last king of Afghanistan

Politics this week

Jul 26th 2007
From The Economist print edition

Getty Images
Getty Images

The Justice and Development (AK) Party won Turkey’s general election, handing prime minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan a second term in power and a mandate to continue with his reforms. The election had highlighted the tensions between Turkey’s secular establishment and the Islamic AK Party, but America and the European Union hailed the result as proof that Turkey’s democracy was maturing. See article

Unions in Italy accepted a pension-reform package drawn up by the government. Italy has Europe’s oldest population and the minimum retirement age will now rise to 60 in 2011. See article

A new round of negotiations on the future of Kosovo got under way after Russia stymied a United Nations Security Council vote on a plan drafted by its mediator, Martti Ahtisaari. Serbia’s parliament passed a resolution that threatened to cut ties with any country that recognised Kosovo’s independence. See article

Vladimir Putin, Russia’s president, said that the behaviour of Britain over its request to extradite the suspect in the murder of a former Russian agent in London last year was “clearly a remnant of a colonial mindset”. Russia expelled four British diplomats last week in a tit-for-tat response to the expulsion of four Russian diplomats from Britain over the Litvinenko affair. See article

Britain endured its worst flooding in decades, with towns and villages along the Severn and Thames rivers and their tributaries being particularly hard hit. It is the second bout of severe flooding in Britain this summer, caused by seemingly endless rain. See article

The Tour de France was beset by doping and other scandals. Michael Rasmussen, the Danish race leader, was dismissed by his Rabobank cycling team for allegedly lying about his whereabouts during training, which the sport’s rules require him to reveal.

Brazil’s president, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, sacked the defence minister after a plane crash last week killed 199 people at São Paulo’s Congonhas airport. The crash followed months of chaos in Brazil’s air traffic system, which is run by the air force. The government announced restrictions on flights at the airport, the country’s busiest, and hundreds of flights were cancelled or delayed because of safety fears over its use
in bad weather.

Venezuela’s leftist president, Hugo Chávez, said that foreigners who publicly criticised him while visiting the country would be expelled. He also said that a new draft constitution would allow indefinite re-election of the president, but not of state governors.


The Democrats held another debate. In an unusual format, the candidates took questions from video clips sent to YouTube, which co-hosted the event. Hillary Clinton was thought to have won. The only heated moment came when she disagreed with Barack Obama‘s position on talking to the leaders of hostile countries. See article

George Bush issued an executive order, required by legislation passed last October, setting out the legal boundaries of CIA interrogations. The order complies in broad terms with the Geneva Conventions’ ban against “degrading treatment”. Human-rights groups criticised it for its lack of detail about actual interrogation techniques.

The House Judiciary Committee found Joshua Bolten, Mr Bush’s chief of staff, and Harriet Miers, the former White House counsel, to be in contempt for not testifying to Congress about last year’s sacking of nine federal prosecutors. The committee’s findings will be sent to the House as a whole to vote on and could lead to a showdown with the president.

The minimum wage in America increased by 70 cents to $5.85 an hour, the first rise since 1997. The legislation was promised by the Democrats in last year’s mid-term election campaign.

Libya freed five Bulgarian nurses and a Palestinian doctor who had been sentenced to death (their sentences were recently commuted to life in prison) for, it was claimed, deliberately infecting 400-plus children with HIV/AIDS. The European Union said ties with Libya should be strengthened and encouraged its members to pay into a fund already worth $460m to help the children’s families and Libya’s health service. See article

Iran and the United States, in their second direct meeting on Iraq, agreed to set up a three-country security committee to find ways of ending the mayhem. But the Americans were cool about a suggestion from Iran’s foreign minister to involve more senior people in the talks.

Just after the start of celebrations to mark Iraq’s victory in a football match against South Korea, enabling it to reach the Asian Cup final for the first time, suicide bombs in Baghdad killed at least 50 people in two separate crowds of jubilant fans.


Britain’s former prime minister, Tony Blair, made his first foray to Israel and the Palestinian territories as envoy for the international quartet (America, Russia, the European Union and United Nations) trying to make peace there. See article

Ethiopia’s prime minister, Meles Zenawi, pardoned 38 opposition politicians and campaigners who had been sentenced to life imprisonment on charges such as “armed rebellion” arising from protests against flawed elections in 2005.

Cameroon’s ruling party won a landslide victory in elections. Opposition parties alleged “massive fraud”; the president, Paul Biya, is likely to stay in office.

In a blow to General Pervez Musharraf, Pakistan’s president, the Supreme Court reinstated the chief justice, Iftikhar Chaudhry, whom the general had tried to remove. Opposition parties in parliament demanded Mr Musharraf’s resignation. See article

India swore in its first female president, Pratibha Patil, an ally of the ruling Congress party and a controversial choice for a post traditionally above the political fray. See article

Taiwan formally applied for United Nations membership under its own name. The UN threw out the request on the ground that it infringed the organisation’s long-standing one-China policy.

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