The year of 2008 was dominated by the US Presidential elections and as we Americans are finally taking a break from constant campaign coverage and rhetoric many other states, both friends and foes to the US, are about to have their own electoral shake-up. RealClearWorld has done a nice job breaking down what they see as the world’s five most crucial elections in 2009. Let’s go over them (in no particular order):
1. Israel – This Tuesday the people of Israel will vote for a parliamentary majority just days after the recent war in Gaza, which has no doubt helped shape the domestic political landscape. It has been predicted that former Prime Minister Ben Netanyahu and his Likud party will be able to form a right leaning parliamentary majority, but Tzipi Livni’s Kadima party and Ehud Barak’s Labor party may crash the parliamentary party. Whoever wins will be in charge of trying to rehabilitate the peace process and decide what to do with an Iran charging toward a nuclear weapon.
2. Iran – Speaking of the Islamic Republic, Iran’s Ahmadinejad is up for reelection against the most recent other president of the country, Mohammad Khatami. Khatami’s 8 year term as president promised major changes which plain and simple did not occur. It will be interesting to see who the Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamanei endorses as he is the true decider on the country’s direction. If Khamanei puts his support behind Khatami it could mean a possible rapprochement with the US, emphasis on ‘possible.’
3. Japan – Here the Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) looks primed to unseat the Liberal Democratic Party for just the 2nd time in five decades. Incumbent Taro Aso of the LDP will face the popular Ichiro Ozawa for a parliamentary majority. Though neither party will likely change Japan’s foreign policy or the US-Japanese alliance very much, the economic future of the powerful island nation will be a key issue to watch.
4. Germany – Leader of the Christian Democrats and Chancellor Angela Merkel faces off against Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier of the Social Democrats (SPD) for a clear parliamentary majority in late September of 2009. Merkel’s reputation has taken hit during the current economic downturn and this election could led to another grand coalition where the SPD and CDU share an uneasy power structure with Merkel likely staying on top. Merkel has made it a priority to strengthen US-Germany/EU relations in four years while at the same time acquiescing to an aggressive Moscow.
5. Afghanistan – We have previously discussed the delay of the Afghan presidential election here. The election which was constitutionally set for this spring, has been pushed back to the fall as more time was needed to get the country on a stable footing. Hamid Karzai, who’s rule has been under fire from DC and from the Afghan citizenry, will face off against two former government ministers Dr. Abdullah Abdullah and Ashraf Ghani, but still figures to remain in power as he holds to the key most financial and security apparatuses. It will be interesting to see how much or little the Obama administration backs him in the months ahead. In any case, it appears that the US is primed to reach beyond the Afghan government in dealing with the Taliban insurgency.
Which upcoming election do you deem the most important? Which one will have the greatest impact on the United States? Other Great Powers?