FP Magazine is on a list-making bonanza, and in its latest web-only feature, writes of the top five government leaders that deserve to fail, summarized and abridged below. (I don’t agree with the list, nor even understand where they’re going with this, as no alternatives are identified in any cases, and in some cases the alternatives are even dismissed, but it nonetheless makes for mildly interesting reading.)
GEORGIA: President Mikheil Saakashvili – The man brought the country into a calamatous war with Russia in August 2008, with Russia sent troops deep into Georgia after Tbilisi tried to retake the separatist regions. The conflict destroyed already tense relations with one of Georgia’s largest trading partners and slashed direct foreign investment more than 50 percent. The country is thus even more exposed to the continued and accelerated global downturn because Georgia requires more than $4 billion in support from foreign governments and organizations to stay solvent. And now thousands of protestors have shut down the capital.
THAILAND: Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva – Thailand has been in a state of political turmoil since the 2006 coup. How Abhisit is to blame for this the FT doesn’t say, but the collapse of the ASEAN talks, the military response to the protests, and the contracting economy all mean that Thailand is in for a rough few years.
NEPAL: Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal (“Prachanda”) - Following the fall of the monarchy, the rival factions in parliament have found it difficult to work together. Prachanda’s high-handed rule has meant that a series of ethnic flare-ups and far-left protests have risen to threaten the power of the state in the countryside, and even inside the capital there are journalist assasinations and flight of foreign capital. Nepal risks catastrophe if the violence continues to spread.
RUSSIA: Prime Minister Vladimir Putin – Despite his lasting popularity, Putin has failed to enact economic policies that would have aided Russia through the financial crisis. Although Russia benefited richly from the global rise in stock and commodity prices, but as these prices have collapsed, Russia is backpedaling on its dependency on the mega power companies to drive the economy. Stock prices are down more than 50 percent, debt delinquency has skyrocketed, unemployment is up, the economy will contract in 2009, the ruble’s in trouble, and yet Putin remains in power as Prime Minister and takes no blame or responsibility for the troubles, and has even tightened his control over Russia’s “managed democracy.”
GERMANY: Chancellor Angela Merkel – Germany’s economy did well over the last decade as it exported its way out of the 2001 recession. But with global demand weak, slowdowns in the industrial market, and woes in its banking sector, Germany’s economy is due to contract about 5 percent this year. Merkel may govern conservatively and prudently, but she has regularly pointed fingers are allies and naysayed other countries’ economic policies, spurring a chilly response from leaders of the US, Britain, France, and Japan, among others.