Turmoil in Turkey
Turkey suffered its worst terrorist attack at the weekend, but rather than uniting the country in grief, it has exacerbated suspicions that the ruling AK party is intent on stoking ethno-sectarian tensions ahead of next month’s elections. Ben Hall discusses the crisis with Daniel Dombey and David Gardner.
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
Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan (R) and his wife Emine Erdogan (L) greet supporters. (Getty)
Recep Tayyip Erdogan, reeling from allegations of graft and last summer’s urban rebellion against his socially intrusive authoritarianism, has won a popular reprieve from the only court he believes matters: the Turkish electorate.
With official results still to come, his ruling Justice and Development party (AKP) has nevertheless trounced Turkey’s enfeebled opposition – his sixth straight victory at the polls since 2002, leaving aside two referendum wins – the wellspring of Mr Erdogan’s hubristic sense of political immortality. Read more
Bill de Blasio (Getty)
By Luisa Frey
On Tuesday night 52-year-old Bill de Blasio won the New York mayoral election in one of the largest victories in the Big Apple’s electoral history.
De Blasio beat Joseph Lhota by a 49-point margin (73 per cent to 24 per cent), which is the widest in a mayoral election since Edward Koch won a third term in 1985 by 68 points. De Blasio is also the first Democrat to win in nearly 25 years. Read more
♦ China’s growth still contributes more to global demand than that of any other economy The FT looks at how rebalancing will generate winners and losers in different sectors.
♦ Turkey’s decision to raise its overnight lending rate for the first time in nearly two years underscores the dilemma facing developing economies as the end to US monetary easing draws near: focus on inflation or growth?
♦ Inflation has defied all predictions in the US during the past five years and it is making life complicated for the Federal Reserve.
♦ Haïdara Aïssata Cissé, the only woman standing for president in Mali’s upcoming elections, is an outsider, but she has improved her chances by going on walkabouts.
♦ Shaun Walker at Foreign Policy thinks Russian President Vladimir Putin should be worried about Alexei Navalny, especially as people start to compare him to Mandela and Lenin. Read more
♦ Detroit became the largest US city to file for bankruptcy. Time magazine looks at the decay of the city. The Washington Post’s Ezra Klein points out Detroit is not alone.
♦ Sunday’s election for the upper house of Japan’s parliament is expected to give Prime Minister Shinzo Abe a stronger platform from which to shoot the “arrows” of his radical economic reforms, but some fear he may also strike a more nationalistic tone.
♦ Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny was freed on bail Friday after being sentenced to five years in prison on embezzlement charges the day before. Our Charles Clover examines how his jailing tells you a lot about how political repression has evolved in Russia over the years. Masha Lipman looks at how the Putin government chose to eliminate their political opposition the hard way.
♦ The Guardian’s Patrick Kingsley examines the shooting of Muslim Brotherhood supporters outside the Republican Guards’ club in Cairo and finds that it was a coordinated assault on largely peaceful civilians.
♦ Marc Lynch at Foreign Policy argues that Washington should make a “much broader, more vigorous effort to engage publicly and privately across all Egyptian political groups and segments of the population” – but now is not the moment, with so much anti-American rhetoric swirling around.
♦ They were the irreplaceable loot from the art heist of the century. But to Olga Dogaru, a resident of a tiny Romanian village, burning them was the only way to save her son from prosecution. The problem is that he is the man charged with orchestrating the brazen theft last October of works worth hundreds of millions of dollars from the Kunsthal museum in Rotterdam. And the works were masterpieces by the likes of Picasso, Monet and Gauguin. Read more
♦ The FT argues today that Apple’s decision to borrow money in order to fund a dividend, despite being one of America’s most liquid companies, indicates a need for reform to the US tax system.
♦ Despite impressive economic growth, improvements in living standards in Malaysia have lagged behind those of its neighbours, building pressure for change ahead of Sunday’s election.
♦ North African governments are trying to stem the flow of young Islamic militants, heading to Syria to fight the regime.
♦ President François Hollande is struggling to please everyone and, in fact, anyone – leading to concerns that France might become the next European problem child. After a draft paper by the president’s party described Angela Merkel as “selfish”, Mr Hollande has had to reassure her that he still believes in a Franco-German relationship.
♦ William Finnegan discusses his article on Mark Lyttle, a US citizen from North Carolina who was deported to Mexico despite ample evidence that he was an American, and the soaring number of deportations.
♦ Dzhokhar Tsarnaev has told the FBI that he and his brother considered suicide attacks on July 4, but instead decided to strike on Patriots’ day.
♦ Politics and vetting processes mean that Barack Obama has yet to fill some long-empty posts in his cabinet.
♦ Evangelical Christians in California have struck up a debate over whether yoga is a religion or not – where is the line between the body and the soul?
♦ SAYA, a Jerusalem-based design studio, is trying to provide a architectural resolutions to territorial disputes: “you can’t stop terror with just a fence. We need to imagine structures that can build hope instead of fear and resentment.”
♦ When Alex Christodoulou tried to quit his job for life in the Greek public sector, he found the process harder (and more labyrinthine) than he ever thought it could be, especially when the government had committed to taking thousands of workers off the public payroll. “They wanted to rehire him so that they could fire him and include him in the number of public servants being laid off to appease Greece’s international creditors”.
♦ In a review of The Impossible State: North Korea, Past and Future, Richard Lloyd Parry argues against the idea that North Korea is a “zombie nation”, but wonders if the idea that the country is in a state of “political undeath” doesn’t perhaps suit some other states. Read more
The Austerity Debate
♦ Europe may have hit the political limits of how far it can go with austerity-led economic policies because of the growing opposition in the eurozone periphery, according to the president of the European Commission.
♦ Tim Harford tells the story of Thomas Herndon, the student who uncovered a mistake in a famous economic paper that has been used to make the case for austerity cuts, and considers what it means for austerity economics.
♦ Choking back tears in his inauguration address, Giorgio Napolitano, who at 87 reluctantly accepted an unprecedented second mandate as Italy’s president, slammed the country’s political parties for their failure to reach agreement and for the “unforgivable” lack of political reforms.
♦ Tony Barber argues that public outrage is not bred only by economic crisis, and that politicians in Italy (and elsewhere in Europe) should get their houses in order.
♦ Italy’s political and economic torpor is epitomised in the ruined and abandoned city of L’Aquila.
♦ In northwest Pakistan, militants are using bombs as campaigning tactics ahead of the May parliamentary elections.
♦ It’s the UK’s turn to host the G8 and Richard Dowden, director of the Royal Africa Society, wants to know if it will do anything to stop companies avoiding tax in poor countries: “More important than giving aid would be to stop doing bad things to poor countries. The worst thing we – the British – do is to maintain the world’s most iniquitous secret tax havens.”
♦ In the past year, two trillion dollars has not been reported to the IRS because “ordinary Americans have gone underground, and, as the recovery continues to limp along, they seem to be doing it more and more.”
♦ Kidnappings of ordinary Syrians are on the rise as lawlessness spreads.
♦ The byline was borne of a need to make reporters more responsible for what they wrote about the Civil War in the US. Read more
Italians cast their ballots in a tight election, with Brussels, Berlin and the markets looking on. By Tom Burgis, Lina Saigol, Ben Fenton and Shannon Bond with contributions from FT correspondents across Italy and beyond. All times are GMT.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu visits an east Jerusalem settlement in October 2012. (Moshe Milner/GPO via Getty Images)
Israelis go to the polls today in an election widely expected to return Benjamin Netanyahu as prime minister for a third term – an historic achievement in the turbulent world of Israeli politics. A hardliner who has not hidden his backing for settlement building on occupied land — despite issuing qualified support for a Palestinian state in 2009 — Mr Netanyahu has successfully portrayed himself as a strong leader who can protect Israelis in a tough neighbourhood in the face of widespread international criticism.
That the already hawkish Mr Netanyahu was outflanked on the right by a charismatic new candidate, Naftali Bennett, head of the Jewish Home party, has become the main theme of the election campaign. Mr Bennett makes no bones of his opposition to a two state solution with the Palestinians, and advocates the annexation of at least part of the occupied West Bank. His success in the campaign is part of a sharp shift to the right in Israeli politics.
In the FT:
- Naftali Bennett burst onto the political scene when he was elected leader of the right-wing Jewish Home party in November and he is emblematic of Israel’s rightward shift. He and his party campaigned hard in working class areas, underlining their support for Eretz Yisrael (Greater Israel, including occupied Palestinian land). His rise alarmed liberals and pushed Mr Netanyahu to the right on the campaign trail.
A new dawn for Greece? Photo AP
Welcome to our rolling coverage of the eurozone, following a narrow victory for parties supporting the bailout in Greece’s election. By Tom Burgis and John Aglionby in London and Shannon Bond in New York, with contributions from FT correspondents around the world. All times are London time.
23.40 Alright folks, we’re wrapping up for the night, but you can keep up with the latest developments on FT.com. Here are some of our top stories from Monday:
Daniel Garrahan reports from Athens on whether Sunday’s poll will produce a leader that can keep the country in the euro.
A family beg on a street on in Athens, June 13, 2012. Oli Scarff/Getty Images
On Sunday, Greeks will go to the polls for the second time in two months. The inconclusive election of May 6, in which no single party gained more than 20 per cent of the vote, reflected the views of an electorate deeply disillusioned with the two political parties that had taken turns to govern Greece since the end of military dictatorship in 1974 – New Democracy on the centre-right, and Pasok on the centre-left.
The far-left Syriza coalition, led by a young firebrand called Alexis Tsipras, surged into second-place, striking fear into the heart of Brussels with a promise to challenge the consensus that Greece had to stick to stringent austerity in order to please its European paymasters.
Billed as the election that could decide Greece’s fate in the eurozone, voters face an almost impossible choice this weekend – between the parties of an old, inept political order, and something new but untested. Here is some of the best news, analysis and comment on the subject from the FT and elsewhere: Read more
A boy checks the list of voters' names inside a polling station in Cairo on May 23. AP
Egypt’s “pioneering” role is hailed this morning by the press in the Arab world. And for good reason: the Egyptian presidential election is a historic moment for the region, the first time that Arabs are allowed to genuinely and freely choose their president. What happens in the largest Arab nation matters elsewhere – Egypt influences Arab public opinion and points to political trends.
I’ve heard much talk in recent months about how Egypt’s chaotic transition is damping hopes for political change and frustrating those who want to put pressure for political reforms in other Arab states. Between Egypt’s messy transition and Syria’s violence, many have lost faith in the Arab awakening. Read more
Welcome to our rolling coverage of the day’s developments in the eurozone.
Today the live blog comes from Paris, as France digests a surge of far right support in the presidential election, but we’ll also be updating you on news from around Europe. All times Paris time.
By Tom Burgis in Paris and Esther Bintliff in London with contributions from FT correspondents around the world.
17.27 That’s about it for our live coverage from Paris today. A quick round-up of the day’s developments.
We leave you with news of a rare moment of accountability in said crisis:
Geir Haarde, the former prime minister of Iceland, has been found guilty of one count of negligence in the run-up to the country’s 2008 banking crash but will receive no punishment. The FT’s Michael Stothard reports from Stockholm:
Geir Haarde, the former prime minister of Iceland, has been found guilty of one count of negligence in the run-up to the country’s 2008 banking crash but will receive no punishment.
A special court of impeachment designed to deal with criminal charges against Icelandic government ministers found Mr Haarde guilty of failing to hold dedicated cabinet meetings ahead of the crisis.
But the court cleared him of three more significant charges that could have carried a sentence of up to two years in jail.
The full story is here. À la prochaine… Read more
AP Photo/Ivan Sekretarev
We’ve all been there. You’re
on stage outside, you’ve just secured an impossible victory forgotten to wear a hat, and an icy wind is blowing in your face.
Suddenly you’re blinking away tears.
We’ll never really know what was going on when Russia’s freshly-reinstated president Vladimir Putin appeared to weep during his victory speech on Sunday night. Was it simply a physical reaction to the bitterly cold wind, as his spokesman later claimed? Some well-timed eye-drops? Or a natural emotional response at the end of a long week?