How international donors can help Georgia
December 21st, 2012
12:45 PM ET

How international donors can help Georgia

By Nino Evgenidze and Manana Kochladze, Special to CNN

Editor’s note: Nino Evgenidze is the executive director of the Economic Policy Research Center. Manana Kochladze is the executive director of Green Alternative, an environmental advocacy group. The views expressed are their own.

Georgians replaced their government through the ballot box for the first time in the country’s history in October. United in their demand for social justice and transparency, Georgians voted against the United National Movement’s closed-door approach to governance, which often led to the abuse of official powers – as epitomized by a recent prisoner abuse scandal.

The new government is prosecuting former officials, and some donors and Western supporters are treating these prosecutions as revenge. But the truth is that for decades, Georgian government positions have been viewed more as an entitlement than as a responsibility. The prosecutions are being spurred by ordinary Georgians who feel that they got no justice under the previous government, and the new government is responding by investigating the alleged wrongdoing. It is essential to see the investigations through, and ensure that no one stands above the law.

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Topics: Elections
Back to the future in Japan
December 3rd, 2012
12:43 PM ET

Back to the future in Japan

By Jeffrey W. Hornung, Special to CNN

Editor’s note: Jeffrey W. Hornung is an associate professor at the Asia-Pacific Center for Security Studies in Honolulu and an Adjunct Fellow with the Office of the Japan Chair at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, D.C. The views expressed in this article are his alone.

On December 16, Japan will hold elections for its House of Representatives. The current ruling party, the Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) is expected to lose. Polls indicate the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) will win the most seats, but not a majority. An LDP victory will mean the return of LDP President, and former Premier, Shinzo Abe. Unfortunately for Japan, there are reasons to be pessimistic for the Abe redux.

Abe is seen as a strong voice in Japan’s conservative camp. His past administration of 366 days over 2006-2007 was largely a failure as he focused on a conservative agenda that did little to address voters’ concerns over the economy. Instead, he promoted a jingoist concept of a Beautiful Japan, opposed amending the Imperial Household Law to allow female succession, and failed to continue the economic reforms that his predecessor Junichiro Koizumi worked hard to attain. In the end, he led his party to defeat in the House of Councilors election and abruptly resigned, citing a stomach ailment. Today, the ailment is gone and his LDP has released a 54-page document outlining policies. From this and speeches made by Abe about his vision for foreign and economic policies, it is possible to envision what an Abe Administration would look like.

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Topics: Elections • Japan
November 14th, 2012
11:58 AM ET

America’s election process an international embarrassment

By Global Public Square

For more What in the World watch "Fareed Zakaria GPS" this Sunday at 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. ET.

Imagine a country on election day where you know the results the instant the polls close. The votes are counted electronically, every district and state has the same rules and the same organized voting procedure. It is managed by a non-partisan independent body. Sounds like the greatest democracy in the world, right? Try Mexico. Or France, Germany, Brazil. Certainly not the United States of America.

America has one of the world’s most antique, politicized and dysfunctional procedures for its elections. A crazy quilt patchwork of state and local laws with partisan officials making key decisions and ancient technology that often breaks down. There are no national standards. American voters in more than a dozen states, for example, don’t need ID. But even India, with a GDP just 12 percent that of ours, is implementing a national biometric database for 1.2 billion voters. The nascent democracy in Iraq famously dipped voters’ fingers in purple to ensure they didn't vote again. Why are we so behind the curve?

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November 10th, 2012
03:26 PM ET

How campaigns target voters

Fareed Zakaria speaks with New York Times journalist Charles Duhigg about how the two campaigns steered people to vote in this week’s presidential election. For the full interview, watch "Fareed Zakaria GPS" this Sunday at 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. ET.

"One of the things that the campaigns have done is they’ve tried to vacuum up everything that they can, " Charles Duhigg tells Fareed Zakaria. "It used to be that when someone was running for office, they would get into the voter file, right? And it would say someone’s name, where they lived and their party affiliation and whether they ever have before.

"Now, each campaign has literally thousands of data points on you. They know what magazines you subscribe to. They know if you've ever declared bankruptcy or gone into foreclosure. They know how many kids you have. They know if you ever bought a boat, what type of insurance you own, where you send your kids to school.

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Topics: 2012 Election • Elections
2012: A year of elections (not just in U.S.)
November 3rd, 2012
11:19 AM ET

2012: A year of elections (not just in U.S.)

By Ravi Agrawal, CNN

Editor’s note: Ravi Agrawal is a senior producer on Fareed Zakaria’s Global Public Square. The views expressed are his own. You can follow him on Twitter @RaviAgrawalCNN

At the start of the year, GPS billed 2012 as “the year of elections.” It was to be a rare alignment of the electoral stars: the year China, Russia, France, and the U.S. would elect new leaders. Together, these four countries represent 80 percent of the U.N. Security Council and account for 40 percent of global GDP. There were also elections scheduled in Venezuela, Mexico, and Egypt. Unlike 2011 – which unleashed the sudden churn of the Arab Spring – 2012 was meant to bring a different kind of people power: planned change.

Democracy at its core is about the rule of the people; it is about free and fair elections. Yet democratic countries fall under a fairly broad spectrum – some proudly enshrine a range of freedoms, others impose restrictions. One would think the world is moving inexorably towards the freer end of this spectrum, but the data shows the opposite. Freedom House’s annual Freedom in the World survey scores countries on the political rights and civil liberties they offer. In each of the last six years, more countries have seen declines in their ratings than gains. On average, for every two countries that see an improvement, three fall back. Why is this happening? In part, it is because of the disproportionate importance we ascribe to elections. Fareed Zakaria predicted this trend in a 1997 Foreign Affairs essay, when he described illiberal democracy as a growth industry. “In the end,” he wrote, “elections trump everything. If a country holds elections, Washington and the world will tolerate a great deal from the resulting government … Elections are an important virtue of governance, but they are not the only virtue.”

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Topics: 2012 Election • China • Elections • Russia • United States
November 2nd, 2012
11:25 AM ET

How international election observers rile some states

By Jean MacKenzie, GlobalPost

Editor's Note: The following text is from GlobalPost, which provides views — importantmoving or just odd — from around the world. The views expressed are the author's own.

“If Obama is re-elected, we will move more and more toward one world,” said Bonnie Re, an election worker in Boca Raton, Florida.

The prospect did not excite the co-chair of the Boca Raton chapter of the Romney Express, an organization dedicated to helping the former Massachusetts governor become president of the United States.

America is special, she emphasized, and did not need to interact with other countries on the basis of equality. One act of Barack Obama’s really stuck in her craw.

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Topics: 2012 Election • Elections
The Venezuelan opposition’s silver lining
October 9th, 2012
04:46 PM ET

The Venezuelan opposition’s silver lining

By Christopher Sabatini, Special to CNN

Editor's note: Christopher Sabatini is editor-in-chief of the policy journal Americas Quarterly. The views expressed are his own.

For a brief moment last week, a few started to believe the impossible: that after 14 years, Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez would lose an election to a unified opposition led by a young, energetic former governor, Henrique Capriles Radonski. But when the results were announced on Sunday night, Chávez had won, again.

This time, though, the victory was more about Chávez as a personal figure than his self-named Bolivarian Revolution over a fractured, discredited (and smeared) opposition. For the first time, the Venezuelan opposition made the election a referendum on Chávez’s record, rather than – as it had too often in the past – on his personality. With a record as governor of Miranda state and as a fresh face, the 40-year-old Capriles separated himself from the shadow of the corruption and mismanagement that preceded Chávez, instead focusing on the dismal record of the Bolivarian Revolution.

And there is a lot to focus on: in the last 14 years, Caracas – with a murder rate of about 67 per 100,000 residents – has become one of the most violent cities in the world; profligate public spending has led to an inflation rate that topped 27 percent last year (again one of the highest in the world), and reliance on oil and the capricious expropriation of business has led to one of the lowest rates of economic growth in the region, registering a flaccid 4.2 percent last year compared to 6 percent  for Chile and 6.9 for Peru.

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Topics: Elections • Latin America • Venezuela
September 21st, 2012
01:19 PM ET

Clinton: It's all about the turnout

Fareed Zakaria speaks with former U.S. President Bill Clinton about Barack Obama’s chances of winning the presidential election in November. To watch the full interview, tune into GPS this Sunday at 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. ET.

If you look at the numbers, Obama is now leading in pretty much all of the swing states.  And if you've seen these polls that are reasonably accurate, it could translate into an electoral landslide. Do you think that's possible?

It’s possible. But we still don't know who's going to vote. You know, he won an enormous victory among people under 30. But they are disproportionately likely now to be unemployed or stuck in part-time jobs, to be frustrated.

I think for all kinds of reasons, they’re unlikely to vote in large numbers for Governor Romney, but will they vote?

How much will the vote be lessened or reduced by the fact that in Florida, except for four counties, the pre-election voting, the advanced voting, has been cut down to eight days and doesn’t include the Sunday before the election, which is an arrow aimed straight at the heart of the African-American churches, who pull up the church buses on the Sunday before the election and take elderly people who have no cars or people who are disabled to the polls so they can vote?

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Topics: Barack Obama • Elections • Mitt Romney • United States
Who was the least successful foreign policy president?
September 21st, 2012
05:01 AM ET

Who was the least successful foreign policy president?

In less than two weeks, President Barack Obama and Republican nominee Mitt Romney will square off in the first of a series of presidential debates that will include foreign policy. But who should they be drawing their inspiration from? And whose examples should they be avoiding?

Global Public Square asked a group of historians and commentators for their take on the most successful and least successful U.S. presidents, from a foreign policy point of view. Yesterday, we looked at the best. Today we are looking at the least successful. (All views expressed here are, of course, the writers' own.)

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Who was the best foreign policy president?
September 20th, 2012
09:10 AM ET

Who was the best foreign policy president?

In less than two weeks, President Barack Obama and Republican nominee Mitt Romney will square off in the first of a series of presidential debates that will include foreign policy. But who should they be drawing their inspiration from? And whose examples should they be avoiding?

Global Public Square asked a group of historians and commentators for their take on the most successful and least successful U.S. presidents, from a foreign policy point of view. Here, we feature their picks of the best, and on Friday, we'll highlight those considered the least successful. (All views expressed here are, of course, the writers' own.) Agree or disagree? Share your thoughts in the comments. FULL POST

GOP must wise up over immigration policy
August 30th, 2012
10:46 AM ET

GOP must wise up over immigration policy

By Marshall Fitz, Special to CNN

Marshall Fitz is the director of immigration policy at American Progress Action Fund. The views expressed are his own.

Even before Hurricane Isaac forced the reconfiguration of the Republican Party convention, party leaders were scrambling to confront a looming storm surge: The demographic wave rapidly reshaping the national electorate. Hispanics are the fastest growing group of voters in the United States and they will soon make up the majority of new voters in battleground states. Party influentials like Florida Governor Jeb Bush have started to sound the alarm, calling his party’s posture towards Latinos “stupid.”

But national polling shows Governor Mitt Romney on course to earn an even smaller share of this growing group of voters than the last GOP candidate, John McCain. A tracking poll released this week reveals Mitt Romney trailing President Barack Obama 26 percent to 65 percent among Latino registered voters. If Romney wants to close that gap, he’s going to need a better position on immigration than the recently released Republican Party platform, which adopts the most extreme measures.

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Topics: 2012 Election • Barack Obama • Elections • Immigration • Mitt Romney
August 27th, 2012
09:39 AM ET

Does world want Romney or Obama?

By Bruce Stokes, Special to CNN

Editor’s note: Bruce Stokes is the director of Global Economic Attitudes at the Pew Research Center. Full survey results are available here. The views expressed are his own.

At the Republican National Convention scheduled to take place this week and the Democratic National Convention beginning September 3, Americans will notionally be choosing their candidates for president of the United States. Effectively they will be deciding who will be the leader of the world for the next four years.

The world’s citizens get no say in this choice. Nevertheless, people outside the United States have definite opinions about Obama and some of the key issues in the campaign: about the state of the economy and what to do about it, climate change and how they think Washington should treat them.

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Topics: Barack Obama • China • Elections • France • Japan • Mitt Romney • United States
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