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Inicio arrow Análisis arrow Mundo arrow The Political Situation in the World: October 2014

The Political Situation in the World: October 2014 PDF Imprimir E-Mail
Nov-03-14 - by Rosendo Fraga

1. In American politics, the term lame duck was coined to refer to the last part of the second term of a President who has no re-election chances. If a President normally governs eight years - two periods of four - as it has happened with Clinton, Bush Jr. and Obama, the last two years are the hardest, because having no chances of re-election, power is diluted in the face of the coming office. In this regard, politics is like the market: there's a present as long as there's a future. If the future is lost, the present is lost too. As a result, if the President loses the mid-term election of the second period, the "lame duck" will intensify. It is in this context that the outcome of the legislative election in November will mark the political conditions in which Obama will exercise the power in that period: a defeat will make it more difficult; a victory, easier. Although a few days are still to go, a prognosis is not easy. There is no trust in the Republican opposition, but the Obama administration points to political erosion. Republicans dominate the House of Representatives. In the Senate with Democrat majority, the risk for Obama would be to lose it. Having the two Houses in the hands of an increasingly harsh Republican opposition against the President, the Obama administration may be complicated. However, most analysts see it little likely to be so.

2. Foreign policy has once again become a matter of the domestic political agenda with the beheadings of the Islamic State, and this gives the Republican opposition renewed arguments to criticize. It should be noted that while 71% support bombarding the Islamic State, two-thirds of the public believe that it is not effective in solving the problem. Electorally, perhaps most likely is that the current situation is maintained in 2015-2016: a House of Representatives in the hands of the opposition and a Senate controlled by the ruling party. But anything can happen in politics and American elections have given more than a surprise. What is clear is that both houses of Congress in Republican hands will make more difficult the end of Obama. But his party is brewing a nomination, Hillary Clinton's, with the ability to compete correcting the weaknesses that many think Obama has had. In recent days, several of the Democratic candidates have avoided photos with the President. Economic growth does not translate into perception of social progress. In addition, Obama has caused disappointment in the "progressive" sectors, who voted for him with enthusiasm for six years and with resignation two years ago. An explanation for this is the statement of the Federal Reserve Chairwoman (Yellen), who said that despite the recovery of growth and low unemployment, inequality is the biggest in a century.

3. A few days to go before the election, people appear influenced by two fears: the attacks from ISIS and the spread of Ebola. In the first case, there's a combination of the traditional method of terror with its spread through social networks: a slain American hostage and the subsequent dissemination causes a strong impact on the public opinion and this has led Obama to intervene militarily in Iraq and Syria. But his decision to intervene only with air actions and without the use of ground troops not only may not be effective, but it may even fail. The weak image of the U.S. facing global challenges allows Republicans to criticize the weakness of the global leadership of Obama. The measures taken to prevent the spread of Ebola within the territory of the country are also cause for criticism, although it is not very justified. While Obama ordered the non-participation of ground troops against the ISIS, he ordered otherwise with Ebola and ordered the deployment of 4,000 men of the armed forces in Africa to combat the epidemic. Today, ten servicemen - including a General--who were the first to be deployed in Africa, are being held in a base of NATO in Italy under ‘watch' to prevent contagion risk. This prevention is also a reason of criticisms.

4. Obama also bears the cost of presiding the US in a period in which his relative decline as the sole global leader is inevitable. The country has had an outstanding global role between the fall of communism and 2014, when the IMF announced that according to the calculation of "GDP per purchasing power", China's economy is 16.7% of the worldwide GDP and that of the U.S. is only 16.5%. The withdrawal of the United States as the only superpower was already raised by Bush Jr. in the election campaign of 2000, when he proposed to reduce the participation of his country in the peace forces. The terrorist attack of September 11, 2001 altered this intention and forced the US to remain the only superpower during the first decade of the 21st century. In the document called "The world in 2020" presented by the Intelligence Council of the United States for the second term of Obama, it is assumed that by then the country will have ceased to be the only superpower and will only be the "first among equals", i.e. the most important three or four powers on the world scenario. Just as the ranking of China as first economy is taking place faster than anticipated until few years ago, the same thing is happening with a shared global power. Presiding the country in times like this is not easy -that is what Obama faces- and this is linked to the perception that he exerts a weak leadership in the global scenario.

5. To conclude:

1) The mid-term election will start what in American politics is called "lame duck": the power loss of the president in the last two years in office without re-election chances.

2) Foreign policy has been added to the domestic agenda after the ISIS beheadings and this allows the Republican opposition to criticize the president for failing to give an effective answer.

3) Criticism is also issued against the effectiveness in managing the spread of Ebola epidemics.

4) Obama presides the country in times when it is no longer the global superpower, which it has been since the Wall fall, and this is not easy for any American president.

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