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  • Publication Date: 01-2002
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Oxford Analytica
  • Abstract: This week's piece examines the ECB's monetary and communication policy. The Governing Council of the ECB has appeared fairly unmoved either by widespread criticism of its communication policy or by growing pressure for lower interest rates. The ECB has no choice but to remain committed to its price stability mandate, despite the change in economic climate. However, in doing so, it remains vulnerable to the dilemmas posed by the combination of strong independence and a narrow mandate.
  • Topic: Economics, Politics
  • Political Geography: Europe
  • Publication Date: 12-2001
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Oxford Analytica
  • Abstract: This week's piece examines the impact of Argentina's economic difficulties on Chilean firms. As well as its macroeconomic impact in Chile, reflected principally in currency volatility and a reduction of capital inflows, the Argentine crisis is affecting Chilean firms with investments in or exports to Argentina. It will also have an impact on Chile's tourist industry. Following the exit of many Chilean firms from Argentina over the last two years, those that remain are either in export sectors or have a long-term strategy under which they appear willing to ride out the present crisis. However, many will sustain short-term losses and some smaller investors, particularly in consumer sectors, may be forced out of the market.
  • Topic: Economics, International Trade and Finance, Politics
  • Political Geography: Argentina, South America, Chile
  • Publication Date: 10-2001
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Oxford Analytica
  • Abstract: Pacific Rim leaders on October 21 signed an accord to re-invigorate progress towards free trade and investment in the region. The Shanghai Accord marks the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum's effort to stimulate a flagging liberalisation agenda and to show leadership in promoting regional recovery. However, the accord may exacerbate the risk of further fracturing the diverse grouping. It will be difficult for APEC to move forward on trade liberalisation given that the organisation's own formulation of consensual, unbound liberalisation has proved unsuccessful in periods of economic crisis. The pathfinder initiative may re-energise the process but at the risk of APEC's fragmentation and without addressing the problems of some members' hesitation and lack of political will for domestic structural reform.
  • Topic: Economics, International Trade and Finance, Politics
  • Political Geography: Shanghai, Asia
  • Publication Date: 07-2001
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Oxford Analytica
  • Abstract: The outlook for trade ties between the EU and Mercosur. EU-Mercosur trade negotiations earlier this month gave a vigorous push to commercial negotiations between the two regions. The EU presented a detailed proposal for liberalising EU-Mercosur trade during the next ten years. Trade talks between the EU and Mercosur have now reached a more advanced stage than the talks on the Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA).
  • Topic: Economics, Politics
  • Political Geography: Europe
  • Publication Date: 07-2001
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Oxford Analytica
  • Abstract: India and Iran have proposed the construction of a natural gas pipeline connection. While the project would be a major engineering achievement, the principal challenge will be gaining Islamabad's consent for it to traverse Pakistani territory. Pakistan's parlous relations with Tehran and Delhi, the latter little improved by last weekend's summit, will make this difficult.
  • Topic: Economics, Energy Policy, Politics
  • Political Geography: Pakistan, South Asia, India, Asia
  • Publication Date: 07-2001
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Oxford Analytica
  • Abstract: Despite the continuing fragility of the economy, prompt policy action and the resilience of the US consumer are likely to prevent a full-blown recession, thereby shaping the probable path of the US economic downturn. Therefore, the risk of negative balance sheets and potential inflationary problems could arise from too rapid a recovery.
  • Topic: Economics, Politics
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Publication Date: 07-2001
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Oxford Analytica
  • Abstract: The rotating EU presidency this week passed from the Swedish to the Belgian government. The Belgian presidency faces a considerable test of nerve as it attempts to square its constitutional ambitions for further political integration with the increasing unpredictability of European public opinion. The new public mood of caution towards European integration has resulted in a notable ambivalence on the part of Verhofstadt. While stressing the importance of a completely open debate, Verhofstadt is also using the more closed approach of close consultation between governments and their representatives in preparing keynote proposals for the Laeken European Council, which, in reality, is the only way of reaching solutions.
  • Topic: Government, Politics
  • Political Geography: Europe
  • Author: Caspar Fithin
  • Publication Date: 06-2001
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Oxford Analytica
  • Abstract: Opposition Peronist party governors and trade unions this week broke off institutional dialogue with the federal government over recent economic measures and pending debts. The fourteen governors in question, their minds on mid-term legislative elections, believe that the political cost of supporting the government will be greater than the cost of being seen to scupper its initiatives, and that opposition constitutes a more effective means of pressing their demands. Their decision puts the prospects for Argentina's economic recovery at risk. The Peronist governors' decision to distance themselves from the government both reflects and compounds the weakness of the federal administration. While their new approach to force concessions from the government could ease social problems in the short term, there is a danger that it will do so at the expense of economic recovery and political stability in the longer term.
  • Topic: Economics, Government, Political Economy, Politics
  • Political Geography: South America
  • Author: Caspar Fithin
  • Publication Date: 06-2001
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Oxford Analytica
  • Abstract: President Mohammed Khatami was re-elected on June 8 by a huge margin. Khatami's supporters are already talking about a renewed campaign for reform under a reorganised cabinet and a reinvigorated Majlis. However, the obstacles to such a programme remain formidable. Khatami is likely to press a little more strongly for reform, especially in the economic field. However, doubts remains that he or his parliamentary colleagues have the means to use the renewed mandate provided by the election to press for radical change. Any change is therefore likely to modest and incremental, though, in the Iranian context, significant.
  • Topic: Government, Politics
  • Political Geography: Iran, Middle East
  • Author: Caspar Fithin
  • Publication Date: 06-2001
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Oxford Analytica
  • Abstract: The new King of Nepal, Gyanendra Shah, promised an inquiry into the massacre that killed almost the entire royal family on June 1. Given the former king's legacy as adored head of state and symbol of stability, his violent death has created extreme political uncertainty. It has occurred at a time of general political unrest in the form of strikes and demonstrations in the towns and an increasingly violent Maoist insurrection in the countryside. In the short term, violent demonstrations over the unsatisfactory nature of official explanations of how the royal family died will continue. They may do so even after the findings of the independent inquiry into the deaths are announced. A return to calm depends largely on King Gyanendra's ability to govern in the same manner as his murdered brother.
  • Topic: Government, Politics
  • Political Geography: South Asia, Nepal
  • Author: Caspar Fithin
  • Publication Date: 05-2001
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Oxford Analytica
  • Abstract: The proposed takeover bids directive may be lost unless the differences between the European Parliament (EP) and the Council of Ministers are resolved by June 6. The ongoing negotiations between the Council and the EP in the conciliation committee may be made more difficult by Germany's recent decision to renege on the Council common position on the directive. The move was received with incomprehension in other EU member states. Germany so far stands alone in its attempt to change the directive. Nevertheless, its decision could give MEPs enough ammunition to avoid a compromise in the conciliation committee, and hence to allow the directive to fail. More importantly, Germany's decision also draws attention to the various level-playing field issues still to be addressed in the area of corporate control through greater harmonisation of company law.
  • Topic: Government, Politics
  • Political Geography: Europe, Germany
  • Author: Caspar Fithin
  • Publication Date: 05-2001
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Oxford Analytica
  • Abstract: The outcome of last Sunday's general election is now clear. Although the centre-right has won substantial majorities in both houses of parliament, both the Alleanza Nazionale and the Northern League suffered setbacks. The League failed to pass the threshold needed to qualify for a share of the quarter of seats in the Chamber of Deputies allocated by proportional representation. For the time being, Forza Italia, and therefore Berlusconi, who dominates the party, is in firm control of the centre-right coalition. If Berlusconi can retain his authority over the coalition for the next five years, it could assist in stabilising a still highly-fractured and potentially unstable party system.
  • Topic: Government, Politics
  • Political Geography: Europe, Italy
  • Author: Caspar Fithin
  • Publication Date: 05-2001
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Oxford Analytica
  • Abstract: UN High Commissioner for Refugees Ruud Lubbers yesterday began a visit to western Afghanistan to assess the country's deepening humanitarian crisis. Extreme drought and an intensification of the country's chronic war following a winter lull in fighting are likely to exacerbate famine and displacement of population. However, despite the emergence of a disaster which the international community will find difficult to ignore, UN sanctions against the Taliban, which controls 90% of the country, have done nothing either to curtail the movement's depredations against the population under its control or dampen its enthusiasm for a spring offensive. Peace for Afghanistan remains unrealistic as it enters its ninth year of civil war. Indeed, in the short term the total collapse of the country's agricultural system is likely to produce an influx of new recruits for this cycle of violence. However, evidence of a growing fractiousness within the Taliban could result in an emergence of a more moderate faction amenable both to dialogue with the international community and an accommodation with opposition forces.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Migration, Politics, United Nations
  • Political Geography: Afghanistan, Asia
  • Author: Caspar Fithin
  • Publication Date: 04-2001
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Oxford Analytica
  • Abstract: The ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) will elect a new president on April 24. Given that the LDP is the largest party in parliament, its president will also become the country's prime minister. While the media and the public are demanding genuine leadership from the government, the LDP's structure militates strongly against forthright policy-making.
  • Topic: Economics, Government, Political Economy, Politics
  • Political Geography: Japan, East Asia
  • Author: Caspar Fithin
  • Publication Date: 04-2001
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Oxford Analytica
  • Abstract: China said yesterday it would release the crew of the US EP-3 surveillance aircraft that was forced to land in Hainan Island on April 8, following a mid-air collision with a Chinese fighter. The Bush administration will welcome resolution of the dispute, especially as opinion polls released yesterday showed that a majority of US citizens regarded the crew as 'hostages'. Had the 24 crew members not been released before the Easter holiday, the crisis would have become far more significant for the White House, and inflamed anti-China sentiment in Congress. In the short term, resolution of the crisis will result in a scaling down of the criticism of some conservatives that the White House has been unduly accommodating towards China. However, in the longer-term, the episode will strengthen the conservative 'anti-China' lobby in Washington, which could hamper Bush's future attempts to improve relations with Beijing.
  • Topic: International Relations, Politics
  • Political Geography: United States, China, Washington, Beijing
  • Author: Caspar Fithin
  • Publication Date: 03-2001
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Oxford Analytica
  • Abstract: On March 15, Defence Minister George Fernandes resigned. Fernandes' resignation follows last week's revelations about cash-for-influence exchanges with journalists posing as arms dealers. Although the Union coalition government is likely to survive the affair, its prestige has been severely damaged. The most serious potential of the Tehelka scandal is the government's loss of the moral authority to forge ahead with its economic reform programme. Opponents of liberalisation, both on the right and the left, are attempting to draw political capital from the affair.
  • Topic: Economics, Government, Politics
  • Political Geography: South Asia, India
  • Author: Caspar Fithin
  • Publication Date: 03-2001
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Oxford Analytica
  • Abstract: President Aburrahman Wahid yesterday visited Central Kalimantan, the scene of violent clashes between local Dayaks and Madurese settlers. The crisis has its origins in the ill-conceived transmigration policies of the Suharto era. Despite its localised and specific nature, there is a significant risk that it will embolden other outer-island communities to move more decisively against non-indigenous sections of local populations. This would place further strains on the thinly-stretched security forces. With Wahid's authority already weakened, the crisis in Central Kalimantan will strengthen the position of hard-line elements in the military who are opposed to the president. Nonetheless, Megawati's ability to gain political capital will be limited by the fact that she herself has a leading role in formulating policy towards the regions.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Ethnic Conflict, Government, Migration, Politics
  • Political Geography: Indonesia, Southeast Asia
  • Author: Caspar Fithin
  • Publication Date: 03-2001
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Oxford Analytica
  • Abstract: The Party of Moldovan Communists (PCM) has won full control over parliament following the February 25 general election. The decisive result has broken the country's political stalemate and allows the PCM to select the president, premier and parliamentary speaker without needing to form a coalition in the chamber. However, uncertainties over the PCM's economic policy and political priorities persist. While the PCM has a monopoly on power, this could be undermined by continued economic decline, internal party splits and a nationalist backlash against its pro-Russian orientation. The PCM will seek allies in domestic politics, and will seek to find the external partner, whether Russia or the IFIs, best able to assist in the long-term revival of the economy.
  • Topic: Communism, Government, Political Economy, Politics
  • Political Geography: Moldova, Eastern Europe
  • Author: Caspar Fithin
  • Publication Date: 03-2001
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Oxford Analytica
  • Abstract: The past month has seen an escalation of elite political conflict in Jakarta, with enemies of President Abdurrahman Wahid engineering an investigation into allegations that he was involved in two financial corruption scandals. This investigation culminated in the endorsement by a majority of members of the House of Representatives on February 1 of a 'memorandum' concluding that the president was indeed implicated in corruption and demanding that he account for his actions. Many opposition legislators also called for the convening of a special session of the People's Consultative Assembly (MPR), the 700-member supra-parliamentary body which elected Wahid as president in October 1999 and has sole power to remove him.
  • Topic: Government, Politics
  • Political Geography: Indonesia, Southeast Asia
  • Author: Caspar Fithin
  • Publication Date: 02-2001
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Oxford Analytica
  • Abstract: A combination of good fortune and some skilful planning have allowed the Bush administration to make a successful start in office. These factors will probably allow the president to pursue much of his agenda effectively this year. However, difficulties will be encountered once Washington politics becomes preoccupied by the 2002 congressional elections.
  • Topic: Government, Politics
  • Political Geography: United States, Washington
  • Author: Caspar Fithin
  • Publication Date: 02-2001
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Oxford Analytica
  • Abstract: Likud leader Ariel Sharon's resounding victory in last Tuesday's election for prime minister has produced a chaotic political situation. The Knesset is likely to remain as dysfunctional as it was before the election campaign and Sharon will face immense difficulties in his attempts to form a government and pass the budget. Even should he succeed, it is possible that the government will fall before the next scheduled election, and that he will face a credible challenge from former prime minister Binyamin Netanyahu.
  • Topic: Government, Politics
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Israel
  • Author: Caspar Fithin
  • Publication Date: 02-2001
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Oxford Analytica
  • Abstract: Opposition deputies, led by former justice minister Serhiy Holovatiy, have called on President Leonid Kuchma to resign over his alleged involvement in the murder of a journalist. The scandal has provoked popular protests and divided Kuchma's non-left majority in parliament, although the work of the reformist government has not been adversely affected. The case has highlighted the absence of the rule of law and the executive's control over supposedly independent state organs. Kuchma's fate depends on his ability to retain the support of oligarchic interests, some of which have already defected. His departure would enable the popular Yushchenko to campaign for the presidency while enjoying the benefits of incumbency, albeit in a temporary capacity.
  • Topic: Government, Politics
  • Political Geography: Ukraine, Eastern Europe
  • Author: Caspar Fithin
  • Publication Date: 02-2001
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Oxford Analytica
  • Abstract: Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, Peter Mandelson, resigned in acrimonious circumstances last week. Mandelson was a key figure in the reconstruction of the Labour Party in the 1990s and the most prominent partisan of early euro entry in the UK cabinet. While Mandelson's departure will be felt within the Labour Party and comes at a critical time in the Northern Ireland peace process, the most substantial impact is likely to be on the internal debate within the cabinet over euro-area entry, with the consequence of a diminishing likelihood of an early referendum on the issue.
  • Topic: Government, International Trade and Finance, Politics
  • Political Geography: United Kingdom, North Ireland
  • Author: Caspar Fithin
  • Publication Date: 01-2001
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Oxford Analytica
  • Abstract: Newly inaugurated President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo installed herself in Manila's Malacanang presidential palace on January 22. Macapagal-Arroyo's elevation from vice-president to president represents the culmination of a long campaign by opposition politicians and civic figures to unseat Joseph Estrada from the presidency. While Macapagal-Arroyo's administrative style is likely to differ markedly from her predecessor, her accession also represents the return to political prominence of elite groups closely associated with the presidencies of Corazon Aquino and Fidel Ramos. The ouster of Estrada significantly diminishes the political and economic uncertainty and instability which has plagued the country for several months. However, as the euphoria of 'people power' fades, factional politics within the new administration, and the regrouping of pro-Estrada forces in a new opposition, are likely to present Macapagal-Arroyo with significant challenges.
  • Topic: Government, Politics
  • Political Geography: Philippines, Southeast Asia
  • Author: Caspar Fithin
  • Publication Date: 01-2001
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Oxford Analytica
  • Abstract: Senior Palestinian officials this week rejected US President Bill Clinton's peace proposals. All the Palestinian factions have now rejected the proposals designed to end the conflict with Israel. This is a sign of the overwhelming domestic pressure Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat is under. However, his position remains one of conditional acceptance as he awaits further US interpretations and clarifications. Arafat's conditional acceptance of the US proposals is an attempt to improve his diplomatic position. He hopes to make use of the enhanced Arab engagement in the Palestinian-Israeli peace process to improve on the terms of a future peace agreement. This will be essential if he is to win domestic approval of any deal.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Diplomacy, Ethnic Conflict, Politics
  • Political Geography: United States, Middle East, Israel, Palestine
  • Author: Caspar Fithin
  • Publication Date: 01-2001
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Oxford Analytica
  • Abstract: Striking parallels exist between post-Soviet Russia and Weimar Germany (1918-33) with regard to their international position, socio-economic conditions, sense of defeat and humiliation, and political situation. The analogy implies that a fascist regime is likely to come to power in Russia. However, the underlying causes of economic distress, the structure of the political system, and the cultural context in post-Soviet Russia and Weimar Germany also differ. Thus, contemporary Russia has weak fascist movements. The regime that emerges will probably be authoritarian and nationalist in character, and may to some extent exhibit fascist tendencies, but is very unlikely to be fully fascist in the classical sense.
  • Topic: Government, Politics
  • Political Geography: Russia, Germany
  • Author: Caspar Fithin
  • Publication Date: 11-2000
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Oxford Analytica
  • Abstract: Leftist Ion Iliescu and far-right leader Corneliu Vadim Tudor will contest the second round of the presidential election on December 10. Tudor has a real chance of defeating Iliescu. He came a strong second in the first round, owing to disgust with the outgoing coalition, a popular anti-corruption platform and a shift away from extremist rhetoric. The PRM is an unpredictable, potentially destructive force with links to the Ceausescu era and dubious security circles and, now, the ability to obstruct reforms in parliament. Iliescu's weak credentials on reform and minority questions may hinder his attempts to form a common front against Tudor.
  • Topic: Government, Politics
  • Political Geography: Eastern Europe, Romania
  • Author: Caspar Fithin
  • Publication Date: 11-2000
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Oxford Analytica
  • Abstract: Congressional criticism of 'Plan Colombia's' military component, and the advent of a new administration in Washington, are likely to lead to a strategic review of US policy. The outcome may be a policy that is less military focused, more regionally oriented, and based on closer cooperation with other aid donors. It has become increasingly clear that Plan Colombia can only be implemented if the EU and its member states are prepared to increase their financial contribution. This will give the Europeans considerable leverage, and they are likely to use it to insist on a less militarised approach. However, even with a change in policy emphasis, the prospects of success will remain poor.
  • Topic: Government, Politics
  • Political Geography: United States, Europe, Washington, Colombia
  • Author: Caspar Fithin
  • Publication Date: 11-2000
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Oxford Analytica
  • Abstract: Israel this week launched missile attacks against Palestinian security targets in Gaza in retaliation for the bombing of a school bus carrying settlers. Tel Aviv and Washington have blamed Palestinian National Authority President Yasser Arafat for the current crisis, saying he could reduce the violence. In fact, the uprising is a spontaneous revolt against the terms of the Oslo peace process. Far from being undermined by the crisis, Arafat is using it to maximise his political and diplomatic position in the event that negotiations resume. The crisis marks a decisive shift in the Palestinians' conditions for peace with Israel.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, International Relations, Security, Diplomacy, Ethnic Conflict, Peace Studies, Politics
  • Political Geography: Washington, Middle East, Israel, Palestine, Gaza
  • Author: Caspar Fithin
  • Publication Date: 11-2000
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Oxford Analytica
  • Abstract: Government spending is increasing in the run-up to general elections next month and attempts to liberalise the cocoa trade appear half-hearted. The effectiveness of liberal economic reforms will be constrained as long as Ghana remains vulnerable to fluctuations in the prices of a narrow range of exports. Moreover, anti-corruption measures will lose their bite if they are seen to be directed in part against the government's opponents.
  • Topic: Economics, Government, Politics, Reform
  • Political Geography: Africa, Ghana
  • Author: Caspar Fithin
  • Publication Date: 10-2000
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Oxford Analytica
  • Abstract: Finance Minister Paul Martin announced new tax reductions in his annual economic statement this week. The mini-budget is part of the Liberal government's preparations for a general election that is expected to be called later this week. In order to secure another majority in the House of Commons, the federal Liberals will need to maintain their popularity in Ontario and increase their support in Atlantic Canada. If the Liberals fail to regain their majority, they will probably rely on the support of New Democratic legislators. If this happens, the new government would place less emphasis on tax cuts and debt reduction, and more stress on spending, than would otherwise have been the case.
  • Topic: Economics, Government, Politics
  • Political Geography: Canada
  • Author: Caspar Fithin
  • Publication Date: 10-2000
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Oxford Analytica
  • Abstract: This week, the Majlis approved a government bill authorising immediate use of the 2000-01 budget surplus. The windfall surplus, largely the result of increased oil revenues, should amount to 6-10 billion dollars by the end of the fiscal year in March. It will certainly transform Iran's external finances, but its impact on the domestic economy will be less immediate, and it will do little to ease investor concerns. Khatami's efforts to attract greater foreign investment depend on reform of the judiciary and other key changes to the regulatory climate. In the meantime, continuing political turmoil will deter all but those investors prepared to take a long-term view of Iran's economic potential.
  • Topic: Economics, Government, International Trade and Finance, Politics
  • Political Geography: Iran, Middle East
  • Author: Caspar Fithin
  • Publication Date: 10-2000
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Oxford Analytica
  • Abstract: The recommendation reflects a conflict between the bank and the finance ministry over whether or not the economy is overheating. Increasingly, the conflict is being fought in public circles after months of low-key clashes. The uncharacteristic rift between the monetary and fiscal authorities is likely to widen over the final two months of the Zedillo administration, as signs of overheating continue to accumulate. While pressure for a substantial fiscal adjustment is likely to be irresistible when Fox takes over on December 1, concerns are growing regarding his capacity to execute such a policy.
  • Topic: Economics, Government, Political Economy, Politics
  • Political Geography: North America, Mexico
  • Author: Caspar Fithin
  • Publication Date: 09-2000
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Oxford Analytica
  • Abstract: Although the transition from Nelson Mandela's to Thabo Mbeki's presidency has been marked by continued political stability and conservative economic management, Mbeki's political judgement is increasingly being questioned in several key policy areas. Unless Mbeki succeeds in allaying concerns about his leadership, the stability of South Africa's present political arrangements will be undermined.
  • Topic: Economics, Government, Politics
  • Political Geography: Africa, South Africa
  • Author: Caspar Fithin
  • Publication Date: 08-2000
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Oxford Analytica
  • Abstract: Vice-President Al Gore officially accepted the Democratic presidential nomination at the party's National Convention in Los Angeles on August 17. A continued deficit in the polls forced Gore to use the convention as a platform to consolidate his base vote. He also sought to differentiate himself from the Clinton presidency, despite the fact that he has adopted similar positions to the outgoing administration on many key issues. If Gore is to win in November, he must convince voters that the current expansion, and the benign political climate that it has fostered, would be imperilled by a Bush presidency.
  • Topic: Government, Politics
  • Political Geography: Russia, United States
  • Author: Caspar Fithin
  • Publication Date: 08-2000
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Oxford Analytica
  • Abstract: An analysis of Texas Governor George Bush's record as a modest tax cutter and education policy activist suggests that these issues would probably shape his policy preferences if he were elected president. A Bush White House would probably settle for smaller tax cuts than those the governor is currently proposing. It would also be likely to focus on achieving a series of moderately conservative education and crime reforms.
  • Topic: Government, Politics, Reform
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: Caspar Fithin
  • Publication Date: 07-2000
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Oxford Analytica
  • Abstract: In the initial burst of euphoria that has accompanied the end of virtual one-party rule in Mexico, the magnitude of the challenge facing the incoming government is in danger of being overlooked. For those concerned with furthering democracy, it is enough that former Coca-Cola executive Vicente Fox will become the country's first president from outside the Partido Revolucionario Institutional (PRI) in more than seven decades. Investors, who sent the peso and the Mexico City bourse soaring after Sunday's election, are just happy that a clear winner emerged and that the feared collapse of governability has apparently been avoided.
  • Topic: Government, Politics
  • Political Geography: North America, Mexico
  • Publication Date: 06-2000
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Oxford Analytica
  • Abstract: This year's Senate elections will be only modestly affected by the outcome of the presidential election. The Republicans currently hold a 55-45 seat advantage in the chamber, a margin that will be extremely difficult for the Democrats to overturn this November. The Democrats will therefore hope to gain three or four seats; a surge which would enable the party to launch a strong challenge to the Senate Republicans in 2002. Although more Republicans are seeking re-election this year, the Democrats are defending four of the five seats in which the incumbent senator is retiring (so-called 'open seats').
  • Topic: Government, Politics
  • Political Geography: United States, New York
  • Author: Oxford Analytica
  • Publication Date: 06-2000
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Oxford Analytica
  • Abstract: With the presidential primary season having ended this week, the race for the White House now heads for the party conventions. Since effectively securing the Republican nomination, Texas Governor George Bush has regained his poll lead over the de facto Democratic nominee, Vice-President Al Gore. If Bush retains a clear poll lead by the convention season, the current signs of apprehension amongst Democratic leaders will become more apparent. If Gore can more closely identify himself with the economy's exceptionally strong performance, he is perfectly capable of staging a full recovery and securing victory in November.
  • Topic: Government, Politics
  • Political Geography: United States, China
  • Author: Oxford Analytica
  • Publication Date: 06-2000
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Oxford Analytica
  • Abstract: Immediately following the first round, US pressure was influential in eliciting the delayed official announcement that Fujimori had failed to secure outright victory, and that he would have to contest a run-off against leading opposition contender Alejandro Toledo. However, from Toledo's point of view, the US pressure is likely to yield only limited benefits. While it may persuade Fujimori to ensure that the organisation of the second round is unimpeachable, or at least not too openly corrupt, it will not of itself end Fujimori's regime. On the contrary, it is likely to boost the Fujimori campaign by allowing the incumbent to appeal to strong nationalist sentiments in the Peruvian electorate.
  • Topic: Democratization, Government, Politics
  • Political Geography: United States, South America
  • Author: Oxford Analytica
  • Publication Date: 06-2000
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Oxford Analytica
  • Abstract: Attorney General Janet Reno yesterday ordered the Miami-based extended family of Elian Gonzalez to hand him over to his Cuban father. Reno's actions are expected to bring an end to the custody drama surrounding Elian, who was brought to the United States after coastguards found him floating in the Atlantic Ocean after a failed attempt to escape from Cuba with his mother. Although superficially a dispute between the United States and Cuba, argument about the case has centred upon the demands of the Cuban-American community in Florida, a section of the electorate of sufficient importance to oblige Vice-President Al Gore to make his most public break with the administration in which he serves.
  • Topic: International Relations, Politics
  • Political Geography: United States, Washington, Cuba
  • Author: Caspar Fithin
  • Publication Date: 03-2000
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Oxford Analytica
  • Abstract: Vice-President Al Gore and Texas Governor George Bush officially secured the Democratic and Republican presidential nominations respectively yesterday. Both candidates have won the nominations exceptionally speedily and the ensuing presidential campaign promises to be one of the longest ever. Providing that the economy continues to perform strongly, Gore should be considered the modest favourite to win November's ballot.
  • Topic: Government, Politics
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: Oxford Analytica
  • Publication Date: 03-2000
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Oxford Analytica
  • Abstract: While the region has now emerged from recession, economic reforms remain incomplete and politically contentious. There is a risk that complacency and intransigence will weaken the momentum behind reforms before their full benefits can be felt. For countries not immediately enveloped by it, the East Asian crisis laid bare the risks associated with postponing economic reform without necessarily producing change.
  • Topic: Economics, Political Economy, Politics
  • Political Geography: East Asia
  • Author: Oxford Analytica
  • Publication Date: 01-2000
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Oxford Analytica
  • Abstract: Russia's new State Duma ended its first day's work in an uproar on January 18. An unlikely alliance of pro-Communist and pro-Kremlin parties was in control of the chamber's agenda, while an equally improbable alliance of smaller factions vowed not to participate in the running of the chamber until their demands for a greater say were met. This unpromising start presents acting President Vladimir Putin with both a short-term boost and a fresh political challenge. It also highlights one of Boris Yeltsin's more surprising political legacies.
  • Topic: Government, Politics
  • Political Geography: Russia, Europe, Asia
  • Author: Oxford Analytica
  • Publication Date: 01-2000
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Oxford Analytica
  • Abstract: The formal position of the United Kingdom government that it favours entry into the European single currency 'in principle', but subject to five economic tests and popular sanction in a referendum, masks increasingly deep splits among senior ministers as to what exactly this formula means in terms of practical timing. A profound disagreement between the treasury and the foreign office, personified and led by their respective politicians, exists and is likely to intensify both in the run-up to the next UK election and throughout the next parliamentary term.
  • Topic: Government, International Trade and Finance, Politics
  • Political Geography: United Kingdom, Europe
  • Author: Oxford Analytica
  • Publication Date: 01-2000
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Oxford Analytica
  • Abstract: Later this month, the US presidential primary season will commence. The opening contests—the Iowa caucus and the New Hampshire primary—provide the best opportunities for either former Democratic senator Bill Bradley or Republican Senator John McCain and Republican Steve Forbes to prevent the present front-runners, Vice-President Al Gore and Texas Governor George Bush, from securing the Democratic and Republican nominations respectively. If Gore or Bush win clear victories in both these early polls, they will be extremely difficult to defeat in later contests. Both of the leading candidates are currently encountering more difficulties in New Hampshire than in Iowa.
  • Topic: Government, Politics
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: Oxford Analytica
  • Publication Date: 12-1999
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Oxford Analytica
  • Abstract: Croatia is preparing for two elections—parliamentary polls on January 3 and, following the recent death of President Franjo Tudjman, a presidential contest on January 24. Thus, the population has an opportunity to choose real change, and to set Croatia firmly on the path of economic transformation and European integration, after a period of stilted political and economic development, marked by cronyism, under Tudjman. However, this scenario is by no means certain.
  • Topic: Government, Politics
  • Political Geography: United States, Eastern Europe
  • Author: Oxford Analytica
  • Publication Date: 10-1999
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Oxford Analytica
  • Abstract: Compromise and accommodation are the watchwords of the new Indonesian government. During the past two weeks, the top legislative and executive positions have been distributed to the leaders of four of the country's five major political parties. The new cabinet, announced on October 26, continues this trend. Active and retired members of the military hold six seats, giving them a larger representation than any single political party. Not only President Abdurrahman Wahid, but all of Indonesia's political leaders, are hoping that by sharing power, rather than struggling for supremacy, conflict can be minimised and some measure of reform achieved. However, it is likely that governmental splits will emerge in the medium term.
  • Topic: Government, Politics
  • Political Geography: Southeast Asia
  • Author: Oxford Analytica
  • Publication Date: 10-1999
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Oxford Analytica
  • Abstract: Russia's military operations in the North Caucasus have, so far, received broad domestic support and enhanced the popularity of Prime Minister Vladimir Putin. This stands in contrast to the 1994-96 conflict. The difference can be explained by the successful characterisation of the enemy as terrorists combined with the low level of conscript casualties. Moscow politicians have united broadly behind the military strategy, with opposition limited to extreme reformist groups. Two key consequences emerge from this situation. Firstly, Putin's political future is tied to the continued success of the campaign. Secondly, the nationalist fervour sparked by the conflict has reduced international investor confidence and led to domestic calls for increased defence spending.
  • Topic: Security, Defense Policy, International Trade and Finance, Nationalism, Politics
  • Political Geography: Russia, Caucasus
  • Author: Oxford Analytica
  • Publication Date: 10-1999
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Oxford Analytica
  • Abstract: Daily demonstrations calling for Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic to resign have, over recent weeks, been poorly attended. In part this reflects the opposition parties' failure to resolve their differences. This has led to growing scepticism in the West about the Serbian people's ability to bring about political change. In these circumstances, the international community may alter its policy towards the country. However, greater efforts to support the democratic opposition could prove counter-productive in the short-to-medium term due to anti-Western sentiment in the aftermath of the NATO air campaign. In the longer term the West will need to reconsider its policy towards the Balkans if it wants to play a constructive role in regional democratisation.
  • Topic: International Relations, NATO, Democratization, Politics
  • Political Geography: Mongolia, Eastern Europe, Serbia, Balkans
  • Author: Oxford Analytica
  • Publication Date: 09-1999
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Oxford Analytica
  • Abstract: The Indonesian army has, so far, failed to derail President BJ Habibie's plans for East Timorese self-determination. Nevertheless, military leaders have reasserted themselves as key players in domestic politics by imposing a high cost on politicians who fail to take sufficient account of their agenda. Civilian contenders for political power are actively courting army support. A likely consequence will be the emergence of a civilian-led government with close ties to the military. Opposition leader Megawati Sukarnoputri is the front-runner for the presidency, possibly with Army Chief General Wiranto as her vice-president.
  • Topic: Defense Policy, Government, Politics
  • Political Geography: Indonesia, Southeast Asia
  • Author: Oxford Analytica
  • Publication Date: 09-1999
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Oxford Analytica
  • Abstract: Debate surrounding the US elections in 2000 has centred on the contests for the presidency, and control of the House of Representatives. Far less attention has been placed on the partisan balance within the Senate. During the past two decades, the upper chamber has increased its influence over policy direction, a trend that appears likely to continue. Growing senatorial influence will act as a moderating force in US politics regardless of who occupies the White House or which party holds a majority in the House.
  • Topic: Government, Politics
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: Oxford Analytica
  • Publication Date: 08-1999
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Oxford Analytica
  • Abstract: On July 28, the IMF's Board of Directors announced their approval of a 4.5 billion dollar loan to Russia. Rather than representing a breakthrough deal, the agreement is merely the latest chapter in the cycle of non–compliance and renegotiation that has characterised the Fund's relationship with Moscow. With presidential and parliamentary polls scheduled during the next twelve months, electoral pressures will almost certainly prevent the latest macroeconomic programme being implemented. Moreover, unless the root cause of Russia's economic problems—its dire GDP growth rate—is rectified, a further round of comprehensive renegotiations will be required.
  • Topic: Debt, Economics, Government, International Trade and Finance, Political Economy, Politics
  • Political Geography: Russia, Moscow
  • Author: Oxford Analytica
  • Publication Date: 07-1999
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Oxford Analytica
  • Abstract: Despite last week's crackdown on pro-reform demonstrations, there is still considerable momentum behind President Mohamed Khatami's political liberalisation drive. While the democratisation movement may have suffered a short-term setback and is likely to encounter further opposition from right-wing clerics, Khatami's reform coalition remains in place and is still likely to be buoyed by next year's parliamentary election results. Nonetheless, the president needs quickly to reassert his commitment to change in the run-up to the election.
  • Topic: Security, Democratization, Government, Politics
  • Political Geography: Iran, Middle East