Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Presidential Transition

In the last few days three nations shared a moment in history regarding the election process for their office of "President". The three nations I am thinking of and why their news is significant are noted below:

  • Nigeria -- long serving President Olusegun Obsanjo of Nigeria retired by helping his chosen successor, Uniaru Yar'Adua, get elected President. Since international observers considered this "landslide victory" to be a flawed election the price of oil went up today since Nigeria is a huge oil exporter.
  • France -- after "threatening" (my perspective) to run for another term as President of France, Jacques Chirac, opted to retire thus paving the way for a first round election of four major party candidates for president. The top two candidates -- conservative Nicolas Sarkozy (the leader of Chirac's party) and socialist Segolene Royal -- will now meet for the May 6th run off election.
  • Russia -- former Russian President, Boris Yeltsin, died at age 76. Like many people I have a vivid memory of him standing on top of a tank opposing the military coupe d'etat that tried to prevent the dissolution of the Soviet Union. However, I learned today via a USA Today article that Mr. Yeltsin nearly drowned when he was baptised as a child in 1931 because the village priest dropped him into the baptismal font.

So what do Nigeria, France, and Russia have in common in terms of presidential politics? I would have to say it is -- CORRUPTION. The reasons for my conclusion include:

  • Nigeria -- consistently ranks as one of the most corrupt nations in the world according to Transparency International (www.transparency.org)
  • France -- I have heard it consistently stated that Jacques Chirac campaigned to become President of France to shield himself from prosecution/investigation for the vast sums of money spent (perhaps stolen) during his reign as Mayor of Paris. (http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/europe/4019321.stm)
  • Russia -- Yeltsin's reforms worked to promote democracy but his "shock therapy" for the economy created the opportunity for oligarchs to rob the country of its vast resources. Given the vast power that the Russian mafia has today it is clear the corruption has grown.

As we watch successful (aka "non-violent" ) election results around the world we really need to offer yet another word of thanks to the Father of His Country, George Washington, who voluntarily walked away from power after serving eight years as President of the USA to which King George of England replied upon hearing this news (paraphrasing here) -- "if this is true then he surely is the greatest man who ever lived............."

Elections not coronations,


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