By Joe Leahy in Rio de Janeiro
© The Financial Times Ltd 2014 FT and 'Financial Times' are trademarks of The Financial Times Ltd.
Once Indonesia has finally got through counting the votes and has separated the two presidential candidates, it will have a new leader. That puts the nation of 250m people in good company. In Asia, in the last 18 months, countries with approaching a total of 3bn inhabitants – including China, India, Japan and South Korea – have changed their leadership. Even the Thais have a new man in charge, though he had to organise a coup to get there.
One country that has not altered its leadership is the Philippines. Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino, has been president for four years. By the standards of his perennially disappointing country of nearly 100m people, his time in office has been a roaring success. Growth has stabilized above 6 per cent, inflation is low and debt and budget deficits have been brought under firm control. The economy is even creating jobs – something it has sorely lacked for years – in the booming outsourcing sector. Call centres in the Philippines employ more people than ones in India. Ratings agencies have responded to improving macroeconomic conditions, upgrading sovereign debt to investment grade. Philippine conglomerates have started investing significant sums at home. Read more
As François Hollande’s socialist government has taken a distinct turn to the right under Manuel Valls, his reformist prime minister, many have questioned the role of Arnaud Montebourg, champion of the left, fierce critic of globalisation and scourge of corporate bosses, both French and foreign.
Rumours have circulated in the French media that Mr Montebourg, promoted to economy minister when Mr Valls was appointed at the end of March, might soon quit the government to position himself for a potential presidential tilt in 2017 if Mr Hollande fails to recover from his current rock-bottom ratings. Read more
As the man himself sings:
“When the rain’s blowing in your face
And the whole world is on your case
I would offer you a warm embrace
To make you feel my love.”
Nobody was feeling the love in Dublin on Wednesday after Garth Brooks, the US country singer, cancelled his five live concerts in a dispute with a local residents’ organisation that has left everyone involved embarrassed, sorry, and counting the cost.
Mr Brooks was due to play the five gigs on consecutive nights later this month in Croke Park, Ireland’s 82,300-seat national stadium for the traditional games of hurling and Gaelic football. Some 400,000 tickets had been sold, at around €60 each. That represents nearly 10 per cent of the Irish population, and is a testament to the enduring love of country music in a country that gave the world U2, Thin Lizzy and, um, Big Tom. Read more
When the final whistle put an end to the drubbing, the winning team celebrated with unusual restraint.
Despite an incredible seven of Germany’s 14 shots ending up in the back of the net, there was little gloating at having delivered a stunning 7-1 thrashing to Brazil, tournament favourites, on their home turf.
The players’ wish to express their joy of securing a place in a World Cup final was delayed by pity – a sense that their opponents, and the Brazilians in the crowd, should not be embarrassed further within the dome of the Estádio Mineirão in Belo Horizonte.
That will have won them as many fans as the flair with which they played last night.
Back in Germany, however, the reaction was as euphoric as one would expect when the national team secures a shot at football’s ultimate prize in such emphatic fashion. Read more
Exactly 100 days after he was summoned to rescue François Hollande’s floundering presidency, France’s reformist prime minister Manuel Valls can claim to be making some progress – not least by confronting recalcitrant rebels among the president’s own political ranks.
On Tuesday, the government won an important vote in the National Assembly on measures to begin the implementation of Mr Hollande’s pro-business policy turn, facing down sometimes noisy opposition from a group of Socialist party dissidents who regard Mr Valls’s Blairite tendencies with deep suspicion.
Some 30-plus Socialist deputies abstained in the vote, slightly less than the number of rebels who abstained when Mr Valls set out his stall in a confidence vote in April. The government won by 272 votes to 234 against. Read more
It was a fateful moment in Colombia’s long and troubled history of drug-fueled violence. On July 2 1994 Andrés Escobar, captain of the national football team, was shot six times in the chest in the parking lot of a bar in Medellín.
The killing was supposedly retribution for Escobar scoring an own goal days earlier, which hastened the team’s departure from the World Cup in the US. As a historian friend says, there was always a lame excuse to kill someone in Colombia in those days. Read more
By Gideon Rachman
The headlines are dominated by regional crises – in Ukraine, in Iraq and in the South China Sea. But is there a common thread that ties together these apparently unconnected events?
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Commentary on international affairs, with Gideon Rachman and his colleagues