Trump to renegotiate Paris climate change accord

June 2, 2017

President Trump returns from his eight-day humiliation tour of the Middle East and Europe to announce he would be pulling out of the Paris environmental treaty

“They won’t be laughing now” he said, arguing that earlier global arrangements had taken America as suckers.  Not laughing, maybe, but weeping in frustration.

Make the Planet Great Again, Justin Trudeau tweeted.

President Obama was able to overcome political opposition at home in signing up America for the Paris accord.  The two countries yet to sign are Syria and Nicaragua.

Donald Trump is sticking to his election pledge to create jobs in the rust-belt states. This may not create the kind of jobs the displaced coal miners voted for. Opponents argue that growth in jobs will come to workers able to retrain for new skills.

China and the EU are seen as moving more closely together on this issue. President Trump’s announcement was early justification of Chancellor Merkel’s claim this week that the EU could no longer take for granted shared interests with the USA and the UK on climate change.

Timing bad for Theresa May?

More locally, Theresa May, an early ally of President Trump, is regretting the timing of the announcement. She is a week away from a General Election she called, fighting on the basis her strong and stable leadership as she negotiates the UK’s departure from the EU. An earlier lead in the polls is shrinking. Attacks on labour leader Jeremy Corbyn seem to have failed to exacerbate his earlier woeful ratings as a future Prime Minister.

The Prime Minister’s non-show at a televised debate this week gave opponents the chance to weaken her case further, by describing her as weak and wobbly. Caroline Lucas, co-leader of the Green party, had a particularly positive impact on the audience.

The Prime Minister called the Trump decision disappointing.  She could have been referring to the effect it could have on the final election result.

Advertisements

Charismatic leader of the Month: Alexis Tsipras

September 30, 2015

Alexis TsiprasAlexis Tsipras survives as the new protector of Greece’s austerity programs. He becomes Leaders We Deserve charismatic leader of the month

On September 20 2015, Alexis Tsipras becomes the leader elected by his country to implement the austerity programmes he was elected in January to oppose.

His story illustrates the success of a charismatic leader in retaining trust regardless of sudden shifts of policy he may make.

Background

The Greek election of 2004 had seen the success of Kostas Karamanlis of the New Democracy party, defeating George Papandreou of PASOK. It was very much business as usual, as the two were from the dynastic tradition in Greece, of political families providing the country’s leaders since the new era of democracy in 1944.

Syriza as a political party emerged in 2004 as a coalition of left wing groups (implied in its acronymic type name) challenging this tradition. The coalition held six seats but its members were engaged in various power struggles (hardly surprising as the radical alliance could count around twelve groupings within it).

After several years of internal struggle, a young Athenian politician Alexis Tsipras eventually gained the leadership of the Greek parliamentary opposition. His track record was as a student activist who had considerable media visibility through his energetic campaigning efforts which demonstrated his considerable personal charm and audience appeal.

Greece and the domino theory of collapse

Greece went on to suffer from increasing financial difficulties exacerbated by the global economic crisis which called for austerity measures imposed externally. By 2012, had Greece became the first domino within the theory of the collapse of the EU. The financial crises had a Darwinian feel to then, with the weakest national economy facing tough austerity measures or default from the club.

According to the domino theory, the default on the weakest economy would increase pressures via creditor institutions, on the next weakest. The IMF, the European Central Bank, and the World Bank were in complex ways influencing financial and political measures taken by national governments. The weakest economies would face increasingly painful decisions which acquired the euphemism of taking austerity measures. Opposition to such measures were simplified into anti-austerity policies. The next dominos included Spain, Portugal, Italy and even France. The most secure economy in the European Union was Germany. Increasingly German economic power was seen as dominant, and Angela Merkel seen as the most powerful political figure in Europe, and chief architect of the austerity measures being imposed on Greece. Greece was seen as fragile enough to make its exit from the EU (‘Grexit’) likely.

By then, Tsipras was attracting international attention for his anti-austerity speeches. Across Europe more extreme parties on the left and right were gaining ground. Disenchantment with austerity measures and the old political alliances was high. The country faced pressing demands to implement further demands in order to renegotiate a financial bail-out, needed to protect the very viability of the internal banking system.

Promise of a heroic rescue

Tsipras promised a heroic rescue. The Greek voters turned to Syritza and Tsipras’s anti-austerity proposals in an election of January 2015. He was sworn in as Prime Minister with a mandate to renegotiate the resented austerity measures.

Tsipras became the poster boy of youthful political protest around the world. At 40 he was the youngest Prime Minister of Greece and arguably the leader of opposition to the EU’s austerity programmes. His election promises had been greeted with incredulity in European leaders concerned with the wider financial stability of the Eurozone and their own internal political pressures. His success in the election was even more of a surprise.

The young hero flung himself into the battle with the forces of austerity. Any sympathy for his cause was weakened in the EU by his lack of diplomatic concealment of his contempt for his perceived protagonists. He was further weakened by the even more abrasive style of his chief financial negotiator.

In the first month of difficult negotiations Greece’s European lenders agree to extend its second bailout by four months with additional evidence of good faith by the newly appointed Greek government.

Neat footwork or stumble?

By June, the EU negotiators appeared to have been making progress, when Tsipras found a way of wrong-footing his opponents (although possibly wrong-footing his own cause as well). Facing unacceptable demands, he announces a hasty referendum on a possible bailout agreement. In July The electorate again supported Tsipras in rejecting the EU latest terms Tsipras assured the voters that the result would not be ‘Grexit’.

The timing resulted in further pressures on the Greek economy, but Greece agrees a bailout deal allowing more austerity measures. The government is in disarray and destabilised by defections.

Another snap election

Then in another piece of wrong-footing, Tsipras resigns and declares he needs a mandate for implementing the deal. A snap election is called for September, as he seeks a new mandate.

On 20 September, Alexis Tsipras wins but without a majority of seats. He is able to form a coalition and survives as the new protector of Greece’s austerity programs which he originally came to power by opposing.

He becomes Leaders We Deserve charismatic leader of the month for September 2015.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


NATO Conference to take place in a fortress around a golf course

July 11, 2014

A security fortress is being built around The Celtic Manor golf course and hotel in South Wales for The NATO conference, September 4-5, 1914

The Celtic Manor resort last hit the headlines when it hosted the Ryder Cup in 2010. The event was a success, despite atrocious weather. A few years later, and the the venue has been selected for a very different event. The 2014 NATO conferencepromises to be a target for social activists. Locally, schools and businesses are preparing for major disruptions.

A little local knowledge

The Celtic Manor is located in South Wales, close to the township of Newport, and the M4 motorway which connects London to Cardiff and West Wales. It was recently voted the best hotel in the UK for the fourth time in succession.

Travelers will know of the notorious delays around the area, with its two underpasses, and the dreaded Coldra Roundabout which makes tackling the peripherique a dawdle. Security is estimated to cost £50 million. Police and security forces will be coordinated as best as can be achieved.

The Protestors

The event will be the highlight of the year for activist groups. These will have the advantage of a structure of uncoordinated coordination through social networks.

The NATO participants

The NATO participants will be headed by sixty political leaders from around the world including Barack Obama and Angela Merkel. In the event of any medical problem, The delegates have been offered the opportunity to experience the expertise of the National Health Service, although many of the leaders are likely to bring their own medical teams with them.

To be continued


A tumultuous weekend reveals the leadership morass in the Ukraine

February 24, 2014

I have hesitated in commenting on the vital issue of Ukraine’s leadership dilemmas, as all seems confusion as regime change takes place

[DEVELOPMENTS WILL BE FOLLOWED AS THIS POST IS UPDATED]

Background

A decade ago, in 2004, Viktor Yanukovych, then Prime Minister, was declared the winner of the presidential elections. The results caused a public outcry regarding illegalities. This resulted in the peaceful Orange Revolution, bringing Viktor Yushchenko and Yulia Tymoshenko to power, leaving Viktor Yanukovych in opposition. Yanukovych returned to a position of power in 2006, when he became Prime Minister until snap elections in September 2007 made Yushchenko Prime Minister again who fell out with Yulia Tymoshenko who was imprisoned on corruption charges.

Disputes with Russia over natural gas added to the political tensions far beyond Ukraine. Viktor Yanukovych was again elected President in 2010, although again with charges of electoral illegalities.

Ukraine’s leadership morass

In the space of a few days in late February 2014, bloody events in Kiev have left over a hundred fatalities. These were followed by the flight out by President Yanukovych, release from prison of opposition leader Yulia Tymoshenko, and implicit acceptance by the authorities and police of the success of the demonstrators.

As can be observed from afar

As much as can be observed from afar, there is little of the triumphalism that accompanied the events of the Arab Spring of 2011. Perhaps the extended and bloody outcomes in Egypt and elsewhere provide a tempering of the mood of the articulate demonstrators willing to speak to Western journalists.

Not as simple

Nor is the story being offered as a triumphal return of an imprisoned heroine who would advance the process of escape from oppression. After her release from prison, Yulia Tymoshenko’s first public appearance and appeal to the people [23 February 2014] received a mixed reception by the crowds in Kiev. it was hardly the return of the savior, which tends to be one in which rationality is secondary to uncritical acclaim.

East is east?

Nor is it as simple as ‘East is East and West is West’ although the geo-political story of a convenient division marked by the Dneiper has been discussed.

Dilemmas

I seek some understanding by wondering about dilemmas facing the various leaders and their supporters.

President Putin would have wanted time to bask in the un-bloodied success of the Winter Olympics at Sochi before permitting Ukraine to take the global headlines.

Angela Merkel who would like to signal support for a new relationship with the West on behalf of the EC, without provoking unwanted reactions from President Yanukovych.

Deposed President Yanukovych would be considering what options are open to him to return to power, or maybe avoid criminal charges.

Yulia Tymoshenko, is street smart enough to know there is no easy route to power, and also for dealing with some unanswered questions about her own track record of corruption for which she was imprisoned.

Vitali Klitschko, best known as former world heavyweight boxing champion. Now an opposition party leader active in the Kiev demonstrations in which over a hundred people were killed. Charismatic? At least very media savvy. He has to assess who might be his most valued allies. I can’t help thinking of former world chess champion Gary Kasparov, whose political career in Russia remains unfulfilled.

February 24th 2014

Arrest warrent made for former President Yanukovych

February 26th 2014

Liberation or mutiny?

February 28th 2014

The southern province of Crimea becomes potential flashpoint for new regime with pro Russian demonstrations

Tuesday March 3rd 2014

Events have moved swiftly. Deposed President calls for Russian help. Russian troops invade Crimea. US, EC, UN seek revolution fearful of escalation into military conflict. Russian finance markets also in turmoil.

Thursday March 5th 2013

War of words between Obama and Putin over Putin’s actions

Monday March 10th

Western Press reports a lack of clear strategy for Crimea coming from Kiev


Angela Merkel ‘s leadership success falls outside conventional leadership cases

September 23, 2013

Angela MerkelA documentary by the BBC on the eve of the German Presidential elections sensibly stuck to biographic facts without too many attempts to compare Angela Merkel to Margaret Thatcher.

Angela Merkel is increasingly described as the most powerful woman in the world. Information about her in the popular media in the UK has been restricted to scraps about her humble life style, her student days studying science in the then Democratic Republic of [East] Germany, her rise to political power in the period of reunification. From time to time she has been presented as a latter-day Margaret Thatcher, a description she easily avoids accepting or rejecting.

As the BBC’s Andrew Marr put it

Quite a lot about her biography seems to echo that of Margaret Thatcher. Merkel comes from the edges – East Germany, rather than Lincolnshire – and was brought up by an abnormally self-certain and pious father. Something of a loner, she became quite a serious scientist before choosing politics.

Inside her party, she was picked up as a useful female talent by a somewhat patronising mentor – Kohl, rather than Edward Heath – and surprised everybody by her ruthlessness in ousting him, and eventually taking power herself. Like Thatcher, Merkel is a ferociously hard worker, excellent on the detail and a wily political operator.

Yet the differences matter much more than the similarities. Coming from her East German background she believes in social solidarity and working with trade unions; in a coalition-based political system, she is a mistress of consensus and, when it suits her, delay.

Our ignorance of this, the most important female politician in the world, is little short of shocking. Angela Merkel has mattered much more to us and the full European story than perhaps we’ve realised.

In December 2011 David Cameron travelled to a The Brussels summit to fight (‘like a British Bulldog’ he assured his anti-European MPs) for British interests. The British press understandably focused on the significance of Cameron’s intervention.

The New York Times evaluated the outcome as follows:

Cameron was perceived as having made a poor gamble in opposing the push by Mrs. Merkel and President Nicolas Sarkozy of France, embittering relations and possibly damaging his standing at home. Though some other countries, including Denmark and Hungary, initially shared Britain’s skepticism of the German-led agreement, only Britain ultimately rejected it.

As Cameron continued to struggle with the Anti-European wing of his party he sought to improve personal relations with Merkel. She responded by inviting him and his family into her home. According to Marr, a warm friendship has ensued.

Merkel favours winning support over defeating opponents. It is a style which has served her well.

Angela Merkel ‘s leadership mystery

There really should be no mystery. The puzzlement is mainly to those who subscribe to popular stereotypes of what a leader should appear to be. Merkel is utterly non-charismatic. She has also been criticized for the time it takes her move policy forward as she seeks to build consensus. Maybe Germany from bitter experience realizes the significance of the concept that a society ends up with the leaders it deserves. In other cultures the political question seems often to be “does he (or she) look like a leader?”


ONE THOUSAND POSTS: TEN INSPIRING WOMEN LEADERS

September 6, 2013

Leaders We Deserve has always regretted the gender bias in leadership cases. For our one thousandth post, here are ten female leaders in political life who deserve mention

Maybe this the shortest blog post ever in Leaders we deserve, but one pointing to a a serious bias in leadership cases. <a href="Takepart website“>The list of ten political leaders originally appeared on the Take Part web site which supplies excellent images of all ten women. They represent various shades of political opinion, sexual orientation, private and public controversies, education, background, and numbers of assassination attempts survived. Your editor intends to include them in the next edition of the textbook Dilemmas of Leadership.

How many of the leaders can you match with their countries without further web-surfing?

The Leaders:

Ellen Johnson Sirleaf
Angela Merkel
Dalia Grybauskaite
Dilma Rousseff
Johanna Sigurdardottir
Sheikh Hasina Wajed
Tarja Halonen
Laura Chinchilla
Julia Gillard
Cristina Fernández de Kirchner

The Countries:
Argentina
Australia
Bangladesh
Brazil
Costa Rica
Finland
Germany
Iceland
Liberia
Lithuania

Acknowledgements

Takepart website where you can find images of all ten leaders.

Sean Gardner ‏@2morrowknight for his tweet which alerted me to the site.


EU Crisis Summit leaders take an historical step to reshaping the European Union

December 10, 2011

The Brussels summit avoided the disaster scenario of spooking the world’s financial markets. International reaction suggests a triumph for Angela Merkel, and more isolation for the UK’s position in Europe

In the UK, the story was presented as David Cameron heading to Brussels to fight (‘like a British Bulldog’ he assured his anti-European MPs) for British interests.

An internal dilemma

He is seen as struggling with a leadership dilemma of protecting his position against those in his own Party who would like radical moves to regain sovereignty from ‘Europe’

Foam-flecked warriors

His most vehement opponents to the European project are sometimes described as obsessive to the point of madness. A more balanced account of the anti-European perspective comes from the Right Wing Spectator under the title Dave’s big push.

The Mercozy plan

The entire crisis has been reduced in the UK to a story of one dominant leader, Angela Merkel imposing a German vision of the future of Europe achieving (perhaps reluctant) acceptance by Nicholas Sarcozy. This is the ‘Mercozy plan’ as it was being called this week.

The fall-back position

David Cameron arrived and opposed the plan seeking concessions. This seems to have been anticipated by the majority of other leaders. He was quickly rebuffed. A Press statement by Sarcozy made it clear that unanimity among all 27 leaders would be not necessary. Agreement within the 17 members of the Eurozone (countries with the Euro currency)would be possible, even if it meant excluding any of 10 additional members of the European Union who had not espoused the common currency. In the event, only Britain chose to be excluded.

The Wall Street Journal captures the story at the end of the first day [Friday 11th Dec 2011]

European Union leaders failed to get all of the bloc’s 27 members to back a change in the EU treaty to tighten their fiscal coordination as a decisive summit in Brussels ended its first day in the early hours Friday [Dec 9th 2011]. The leaders, who are still deeply divided over key elements of their crisis strategy, decided they would move to form a pact among at least 23 of the members to tighten rules on fiscal policies.

But details of the proposed treaty remained to be settled. The U.K. stood aside —after Prime Minister David Cameron failed with what officials said was a “shopping list of demands” designed among other things to protect national supervision of its banks—while Hungary, Sweden and the Czech Republic reserved their positions.

An Asian perspective suggested that the crisis in Europe had for the moment left China curiously more as a spectator than a major player in the economic outcome.

Debt-infested Europe

In India, a fall in its currency was attributed problems in the debt-infested region of Europe:

The Rupee ..was weighed down by pessimistic investor sentiments over growing concerns ahead of a summit later in the day to tackle the region’s festering debt crisis.

Decisions and outcomes

Exit David Cameron to polarized opinions in the UK. Within hours, the isolation of his position was clear as the leaders of the other 26 European countries of EU committed to action.

Immediate international reaction suggested that Angel Merkel’s view (even her ‘vision’) prevailed. The summit an agreement which at least averts the immediate fiscal chaos within the Eurozone.

Cameron’s ‘poor gamble’

The New York Times later evaluated the outcome as follows:

David Cameron [has been perceived as having] made a poor gamble in opposing the push by Mrs. Merkel and President Nicolas Sarkozy of France, embittering relations and possibly damaging his standing at home. Though some other countries, including Denmark and Hungary, initially shared Britain’s skepticism of the German-led agreement, only Britain ultimately rejected it.

To be continued…