By Aakanksha Tangri
As India prepares to head to the polls in the next few months, much of the attention has been focused on the rise of regional parties and their potential impact on the national results. GPS intern Aakanksha Tangri speaks with Milan Vaishnav, an associate in the South Asia Program at the Carnegie Endowment, about the upcoming election and what he calls the “myths” about the rise of regional parties in the world’s biggest democracy.
You've spoken about the emergence of regional power centers in Indian politics. Could you elaborate on this and how you think these regional parties will impact the upcoming general elections?
Since 1989, no single party has been in a position to form a national government in Delhi without the support of key regional parties. The fact that this remains the case in 2014 is a true testament to their influence. Most so-called regional parties are actually single-state parties. But in India’s decentralized polity, holding just a few seats in parliament makes you an important player – like the All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam of Tamil Nadu, the Trinamool Congress of West Bengal, and the Samajwadi Party of Uttar Pradesh.
These parties will again be crucial in government formation, as neither of the two major national parties—the Indian National Congress or Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)—will win 272 seats (an outright majority) on their own. In the near term, both the Congress and BJP are looking to form pre-poll alliances with key regional actors to maximize their seat share in the elections. Once the results are declared, a second round of jockeying will take place when the party with the single largest share of seats tries to form a government. To do so, they’ll need to enter into a set of post-poll alliances with regional actors. And in order to join the government, regional parties will demand representation in the Cabinet or in key decision-making fora.
Seoul-based CNN correspondent Paula Hancocks answers GPS readers’ questions on North Korea’s ties with South Korea, the United Nations report human rights in North Korea and what it’s like reporting from outside Pyongyang.
Is there any optimism in South Korea that recent conciliatory moves by North Korea, such as allowing suggestion family reunions to go forward, are a sign of a broader thawing of ties?
There's no doubt relations are thawing, but there is a doubt about how long it might last. The atmosphere on the Korean peninsula is a million miles away from last year when tensions were so high Pyongyang effectively threatened a nuclear war against Seoul and Washington. This week, though, is crucial.
Family reunions should be taking place from Thursday with dozens of families on each side meeting relatives they have not seen in over 60 years. To say these reunions are emotional is a massive understatement as many of those who want to be part of them are in their 80s and 90s and time is running out. One 82 year-old told me he felt like he had been hit on the back of the head when the previous reunions were cancelled at the last minute in September and he had to be medicated.
Pyongyang's attempts to link the reunions to politics were rejected by both Seoul and Washington who see it as a purely humanitarian issue, so the fact they will go ahead with no conditions attached has to be considered progress. But not many in South Korea see the North through rose-tinted glasses. The last reunion was held in 2010, and since then North Korea has conducted a nuclear test, rocket tests, a brutal internal purge and there has been increasingly bellicose rhetoric. Any optimism felt here in Seoul and around the region is cautious.
North and South Korea this week started high-level talks, a dialogue that came at the suggestion of Pyongyang. The move came less than a week after North Korea threatened to halt family reunions it had planned to hold with South Korea over annual military drills the latter holds with the United States.
So, does this shift tone represent a potential breakthrough? What are the chances for peaceful ties moving forward? And how do South Koreans view their northern neighbor?
Seoul-based CNN correspondent Paula Hancocks is taking readers’ questions on this and other regional issues. Please leave your questions for Paula in the comment section below.
"Fareed Zakaria GPS," Sundays at 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. ET on CNN
GPS Digital Producer Jason Miks speaks with Zanny Minton Beddoes, economics editor for 'The Economist,' and Canadian member of parliament Chrystia Freeland about rising inequality – and how the West should respond.
You were elected as a member of parliament in Canada last year. How do you think the big debate going on over inequality in the United States compares with how it is unfolding in Canada?
Freeland: Basically, these are global phenomenon that are driving the surge in inequality. It’s globalization. It’s technological change. And there’s a political aspect, a set of political changes – deregulation, weakening of unions, privatization, changes in taxes. So this is really something that is happening in all of the Western industrialized countries, and also in a lot of the emerging markets – you see income inequality surging in China, Russia, India. So it’s a big issue in Canada.
Interestingly, I think it’s becoming a truth universally acknowledged, which it wasn’t before the crisis. Things have changed. Income inequality is higher than it has been. So if you think back pre-2008, people were still debating that. Now, we all get that this is the new reality, and I think what you are starting to see is people focusing on what part of all this is bad, and what can we do about it. And I think the focus rightly is narrowing in on really the big problem of the hollowed out middle class, the stagnant middle class jobs and there not being enough middle class jobs.
I think what you’re going to see increasingly is people saying that this is the thing we need to focus on, and also how do we improve social mobility?
After weeks of escalating rhetoric, tensions between North Korea and the United States appear to be easing. But what prompted Pyongyang’s recent provocative statements? How well did the U.S. handle the threats? And what happens now?
James Schoff, a senior associate on the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace’s Asia Program, is answering GPS readers’ questions on this and other regional issues.
Please post your questions in the comments section below, and we’ll select some of the best ones for James to answer.
Do you have a burning question about what's going on in the world? From the U.S. presidential race to unrest in Syria; from China's rise to diplomacy with Iran, events are rocking our planet. Submit your questions in the comment thread below.
Moammar Gadhafi was killed Thursday in his hometown of Sirte, Libya. CNN's Fareed Zakaria, who interviewed Gadhafi in 2009, discusses the man, the cult and the future of Libya in the Q&A below.
Q: When you heard Gadhafi was dead, what went through your mind?
Fareed Zakaria: I was not surprised. I never thought Moammar Gadhafi would give up because he was not a bureaucrat like Hosni Mubarak. He had not been standing in line in the regime and it became his turn to be the dictator. He was a revolutionary. He was a guy who had launched a colonel’s coup. He had always been a fighter – romantic, mad, crazy – so I always suspected he would go down fighting.
I also thought there was much less to his position than people made out. He did not actually have lots of tribes loyal to him. He had paid off a bunch of them. But once the money starts drying up, that kind of loyalty disappears pretty quickly.
I also thought it was a sad statement about the way in which he and his sons plundered the country – wrecked it economically – and were unable to provide some kind of transition to a decent next stage. FULL POST
Editor's Note: This interview was conducted by Kimberly Abbott, Communications Director for North America at the International Crisis Group.
Burhanuddin Rabbani, the former Afghan president and chief government negotiator with the Taliban, was killed in a Kabul bomb blast. Candace Rondeaux, Crisis Group's Senior Analyst for Afghanistan, analyzes the repercussions for peace talks. The following is a transcript of the Q&A:
This evening, there was news of an explosion in central Kabul, downtown Kabul, in Wazir Akbar Khan, in a neighborhood known for a lot of dignitaries, including Burhanuddin Rabbani who was of course the former president of Afghanistan and the chair of the High Peace Council, who was deeply involved in talks to the Taliban, trying to arrange some sort of reconciliation deal. It appears that he had arranged a meeting, along with his counterpart Minister Stanekzai, with a member of the Quetta Shura who arrived at his house for a very informal meeting and apparently had a bomb strapped underneath his turban, and when he went to shake Rabbani’s hand the bomb went off, and that was that. FULL POST
Editor's Note: Last Thursday, Fareed spoke with Andreas Mink of NZZ Online about debt, politics, President Obama and more. Here is a lightly edited transcript of the conversation.
Andreas Mink: What is happening now? Are we back at the cliff of 2008-9?
Fareed Zakaria: The U.S. system is much more stable than it was in 2008. The bank stress tests worked and the bailouts worked; the whole system is on much firmer footing. But the long-term issue of debt remains. This is true for Europe – by resolving Greece without solving the broader problem, Europe has left itself open to the danger of defaulting on debt, which is a small probability, but they have to contemplate it. Greece is a nano-state, but Italy has huge debt and it is too large to be bailed out. FULL POST
Do you have a burning question about what's going on in the world?
From the unrest in Syria to the rise of China, events are rocking the political, economic and social foundations of this planet.
You can send me questions through Facebook, Twitter and iReport and I’ll answer them over the coming days.
The best questions will be featured on the site along with answers from me and other foreign affairs thinkers.
Last time, I answered questions on Donald Trump, Greg Mortenson, what the Middle East will look like in 10 years, why America is so involved in the Middle East, the importance of Asia and, coming up today, prospects for Israeli-Palestinian peace.
Keep them coming.
By Barry Neild for CNN
What's behind the protests in Greece?
A huge financial mess. People are upset because the government has been trying to push through harsh austerity measures designed to help reduce Greece's huge budget deficit. Cuts imposed so far have led to public sector job losses and tax rises.
This has stirred public unrest and created a crisis for Prime Minister George Papandreou, who is scrambling to save his government in the face of political dissent over the terms of a European Union, International Monetary Fund and European Central Bank bailout. Unless a political agreement can be reached, it could block the release of funds agreed under the bailout package. FULL POST
Editor's Note: Matthew Waxman is Associate Professor at Columbia Law School and Adjunct Senior Fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations. The following is an edited transcript of an interview with Professor Waxman.
Amar C. Bakshi: A bipartisan group of House members said today they are filing a lawsuit that challenges U.S. participation in the Libya military mission. What does this lawsuit mean?
Matthew Waxman: The War Powers Resolution was enacted in the wake of the Vietnam War to prevent the President from engaging in wars and major military adventures without Congress’s explicit consent. It does so by requiring the President to withdraw U.S. military forces from armed hostilities within 60 days unless Congress expressly approves otherwise.
The following question has since arisen many times: What remedy exists if the President ignores the requirements set out in that resolution? What happens, for example, if 60 days passes and Congress hasn’t authorized the use of force but the President continues to direct military activities abroad? FULL POST
The Global Public Square is where you can make sense of the world every day with insights and explanations from CNN's Fareed Zakaria, leading journalists at CNN, and other international thinkers. Join GPS editor Jason Miks and get informed about global issues, exposed to unique stories, and engaged with diverse and original perspectives.
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Check out all of Fareed's Washington Post columns here:
Obama as a foreign policy president?
Why Snowden should stand trial in U.S.
Hillary Clinton's truly hard choice
China's trapped transition
Obama should rethink Syria strategy
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