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Geopolitics

From Mexico To Venezuela, A Preview Of This Year’s *Other American Elections

Analysis: Elections are scheduled this year in the Dominican Republic, Mexico and Venezuela. In Mexico, the centrist PRI is favored to regain control of the government. In Venezuela, Chávez is looking to hang on to power – health permitting.

Enrique Peña Nieto, Mexico's front-runner for the 2012 presidential elections (World Economic Forum)
Enrique Peña Nieto, Mexico's front-runner for the 2012 presidential elections (World Economic Forum)



SANTIAGO
While the Western hemisphere remains caught up in the media frenzy surrounding elections in the United States, 2012 is an important election year throughout the Americas, both North and South. Venezuala, where President Hugo Chávez will try to extend his already 13-year-long grip on power, is among the many countries where candidates are campaigning for the presidency.

The region's first presidential contest occurs in the Dominican Republic, where polls favor Danilo Medina of the governing Partido de la Liberación Dominicana (PLD). Trailing him is ex-president Hipólito Mejías who led the island nation from 2000-2004 and is now running under the slogan "Llegó papá" (Daddy's home). The election is set to take place May 20.

Exactly six weeks later, Mexico – Latin America's second most populous country – will celebrate its own presidential election. Leading at this point is the centrist Partido Revolucionario Institucional (PRI), which held power in Mexico for 70 years before losing the 2000 election to the governing Partido Acción Nacional (PAN).

Last month the PRI selected Enrique Peña Nieto, the governor of the state of Mexico, as its presidential candidate. The more conservative PAN, which is running second in the polls, has yet to choose a candidate. Running a distant third is Andrés Manuel López Obrador of the left-wing Partido de la Revolución Democrática (PRD). López Obrador narrowly lost Mexico's last – and much disputed – presidential election to Felipe Calderón. Central campaign issues are expected to be Mexico's ongoing war on drugs, citizen security and economic reforms.

Six more years of Chávez?

Venezuelans go to the polls Sunday, Oct. 7. President Chávez, first elected in 1999, is favored to win despite his less-than-transparent battle with cancer. Last year the illness forced Chávez to spend several weeks in Cuba, where he received treatment. Venezuela's opposition will choose a single candidate via a primary scheduled for Feb. 12.

The front-runner, according to polls, is Henrique Capriles, governor of the state of Miranda. His challengers include the governor of Zulia, Pablo Pérez; current Deputy María Corina Machado; former ambassador Diego Arria; and left-wing leader Pablo Medina.

Should Chávez win, Venezuela will continue to have a personalist government that doesn't believe in the balance of powers. In Mexico, barring a sudden change of events, a party that held power for more than half a century will once again take the reigns of government. The country's tenuous status as one of the world's largest democracies will depend, in other words, on how the PRI handles that return to power.

Read more from AméricaEconomía in Spanish

Photo - World Economic Forum

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Geopolitics

The Taiwan Paradox: Preparing For War And Ready To Do Business With China

Large segments of Taiwan seem underprepared or indifferent when it comes to the possibility of Chinese invasion. But some are actively preparing, using Ukraine as a role model.

Taiwanese tanks fire cannons during a live-fire drill in Pingtung county, Taiwan, on Sept. 7 2022.

Taiwanese tanks fire cannons during a live-fire drill in Pingtung county, Taiwan.

Daniel Ceng Shou-Yi/ZUMA Press Wire
Lucie Robequain

TAIPEI — Hsu has just completed the required four months of military service in Taichung, central Taiwan. He had spread the training over the course of the past four years, training for one month every year. “Many guys go there during the summer. It’s like a summer camp: we go to a shooting range, we make friends,” he explains.

Yet these words seem somehow strange, incongruous, as his country is threatened by one of the most powerful armies in the world. “There is a kind of collective denial toward the Chinese threat. Many still think that the possibility of an invasion, in the short or medium term, remains very unlikely,” says Raymond Sung, a political expert based in Taipei.

In Taiwanese companies too, people remain overly confident. "What’s the point of worrying? Taiwanese are working on the technologies of the future! Thinking about war would just distract them," argues Miin Chyou Wu, head of Macronix, a company that makes memory cards.

Though relatively rare, some companies are even expanding in China. That’s the case with Delta, a Taiwanese flagship that produces equipment essential to a green energy transition (including charging stations and solar panels). Based in the outskirts of Taipei, not far from the Keelung River, Delta recently bought new land last May in Chongqing, southwest China. Their goal is now to expand their electric generator factories.

“We’re not very worried: we know that we won’t be the ones who will solve the conflict with Beijing," says Alessandro Sossa-Izzi, the head of Delta’s communication team. "But our grandchildren’s grandchildren will."

Of course, the Taiwanese government is more concerned.

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