despairing of global politics

I think the UK political system is a joke: two similar parties changing hands every few years with the help of a patently undemocratic voting system, and a lower chamber that beggars belief in the year 2015. But I can’t complain too much. This political system delivers a relatively stable economy, a low crime rate and a reasonable standard of living.

Having lived in Argentina, I know things can be a lot more frustrating. In a country where serious corruption and mismanagement is expected at every level, and where economic ruin is potentially round every corner, it’s easy to see why outgoing president Cristina Fernández de Kirchner is going to be missed by many. There were genuine efforts to help the many poorer members of society, with improvements in welfare and education. But, apart from scarcely avoiding economic ruin for the country, what else did she do?

  • The family’s personal wealth has increased dramatically since her husband took power in 2003. Official figures after his death indicated 700%. That’s official figures, five years ago.
  • She refused to have any kind of open questioning, either from the press or from other politicians in her eight years in power, but would broadcast scripted speeches from the government-funded channel.
  • They gave football to the people, in the form of openly broadcast matches on the free, government-funded channel. But the advertisement slots were filled with government propaganda.
  • The prosecutor who was investigating her for corruption this year was randomly killed by a gun in his apartment. It looked like suicide, then it looked like murder. Nothing to do with her.
  • In what must be a power-drunk, petty strop, she actually refused to attend the hand over of power to her democratically elected successor, after a surprise election victory for an opposition candidate.

But Argentina isn’t the only South American country to be questioning the corrupt left-wing establishment, in favour of the undoubtedly equally corrupt right-wing establishment-in-waiting.

In Venezuela, President Nicolas Maduro is furious that he has lost his majority in the National Assembly. In an ensuing battle against him to release political prisoners (yes, political prisoners) he has announced to the public on his news channel: “I wanted to build 500,000 housing projects next year, but now I’m doubting it. Not because I can’t build them, but I asked for your support and you didn’t give it to me.” This is the man who believes the dead former President Chavez visited him in the form of a bird to bless his bid for the presidency, so I’m not really surprised he would ‘punish the people’ for not voting the way he wants.

In Brazil, President Dilma Rousseff is involved in a corruption scandal and is facing possible impeachment. Tens of thousands took to the streets in Sao Paolo yesterday in protest against her.

So, is anywhere in the world showing a beacon of light for global politics? Probably not. But a couple of examples that don’t leave me in total despair are:

  • Aung San Suu Kyi‘s party recently won democratic elections in Myanmar/Burma, after years of brutal dictatorship which has been dislodged by long-term international political and economic pressure, and peaceful protest by Aung San Suu Kyi under house arrest.
  • Uruguay said farewell to President Jose Mujica this year, an inspiring man of principle, who gave 90% of his salary to charity, and oversaw the kind of economic and social stability that neighbouring countries so painfully lack.

If anyone else can give me some positive examples from current global politics, I’d be most grateful. (It’s difficult to be positive when we only have five hours of gloom a day. Don’t live in Scotland if you value daylight.)

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