With over 97% of ballots counted, Turkey’s president Erdogan and soon, quasi dictator, declared victory in the Turkish referendum and called the leaders of three political parties supporting changes to the constitution to congratulate them on the victory, Anadolu news agency reported, and added rather comically that “many world leaders send congratulatory messages to President Erdogan.” One wonders who exactly…
Absent some last minute fireworks, Turkey is now set to shift to a presidential system as the outcome of the referendum puts “Yes” votes at 51.3%, according to unofficial sources.
“Yes” votes were ahead at 51.3% or 24.598.880 votes, while “No” votes fell behind at 48.6% or 23,326,636 votes. “Yes” votes prevailed in four of Turkey’s seven regions, including southeastern Anatolia.
The reforms were approved by 339 deputies on January 21st, and Erdo?an signed the amendments on February 10th. Under the proposed changes, the post of prime minister is abolished and the president, vice president(s) and cabinet officials can be investigated by the parliament. The current system has no mechanism that monitors presidential conduct.
The embattled chief of a nationalist school operator in Osaka will testify in parliament this week, raising the specter of an ever-widening scandal entangling Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and other ruling party lawmakers.
Yasunori Kagoike, who plans to resign as principal of Moritomo Gakuen, has been summoned to the Diet to give sworn testimony on a shady land deal on Thursday.
The central controversy involves the sale of a 8,770-sq.-meter plot in the Osaka Prefectural city of Toyonaka, appraised at 956 million yen ($8.48 million). The Finance Ministry’s regional bureau sold the land to the school operator at a steep discount of 134 million yen, citing the cost of waste cleanup at the site, estimated at around 800 million yen. But the location of debris said to be buried in the lot has not be confirmed.
Opposition party Diet members say ruling Liberal Democratic Party lawmakers applied pressure to get Moritomo Gakuen the land at a cut-rate price. If Kagoike testifies that he gave cash gifts to lawmakers in hopes of winning a favorable deal or that politicians applied pressure on behalf of the school, the implicated lawmakers could be in trouble for using political clout for a private transaction.
The school operator has been soliciting donations by touting that the planned school, whose permit application has since been rescinded, would be named after the current prime minister. The school also said Abe’s wife, Akie, would serve as honorary principal.
After yet another round of inconclusive bailout talks in Athens, Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras said he believed a comprehensive deal with creditors could be reached by April while taking a dig at the International Monetary Fund over its tough stance on labor rights.
In comments to reporters at the end of a summit of European Union leaders in Brussels, Tsipras said he believed a technical-level agreement could still be reached in time for a March 20 Eurogroup, with a broader accord, including the specification of medium-term debt relief measures, coming in April.
Tsipras indicated, however, that tough talks on collective wage bargaining would be harder to conclude. “That issue can’t be solved at the technical level. There’s a disagreement,” he said, adding that the IMF must understand that Greece is a European country and that non-European labor models cannot be imposed on it.
In a related development, IMF chief Christine Lagarde said Tsipras asked the Fund “to stand by Greece” in its third bailout program.
“To commit to Greece, as the Greek prime minister has requested, in addition to reforms, the debt should be sustainable,” Lagarde told French newspaper Le Parisien in an interview.
The ruling Liberal Democratic Party decided Sunday to extend its term limit on party leaders, potentially allowing Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to remain in his role until September 2021.
Abe’s tenure as president of the LDP was set to run out in September next year before the rule change, which would have meant stepping down as prime minister even if the LDP was still in power.
The party, holding its annual convention at a Tokyo hotel, approved extending the limit to three consecutive three-year terms from the previous two consecutive three-year terms.
This means Abe can stand for re-election in the next party leadership vote in the fall of next year.
Abe, 62, served as prime minister for around a year before resigning in September 2007. He became prime minister again when the LDP returned to power in December 2012 after a three-year period in opposition.
Trump’s presidency might be second shortest in US history, says Ronald Feinman of Florida Atlantic University. William Henry Harrison holds the record for the shortest administration at 31 days. Trump looks set to beat that in just a couple of days; however, he has yet to outrule James A. Garfield, who was president for 199 days in 1881, but died “after terrible suffering and medical malpractice” when he was shot by an assassin.
If Trump manages to eclipse Garfield, the next contender to beat is Zachary Taylor, who served 16 months and five days for the third shortest presidential term in US history.
According to Feinman, who insisted that Hillary Clinton would win November’s presidential election with a 49 to 44 percent electoral majority, Trump will be either impeached or forced to resign in a matter of weeks. After that, Vice President Mike Pence will take the reins, according to US law.
So why would that happen, one might ask? According to Feinman’s blog post, the greatest sin of Donald Trump is failing to continue acting as US presidents did before him. Feinman cites the “abrupt ending of a phone call to the Australian Prime Minister, [US’s] loyal ally in four wars in the past;” Trump’s “seeming lack of respect for Germany’s Chancellor Angela Merkel;” and “lack of strong support for NATO” as reasons for a possible premature ending to his administration. Feinman does not trouble himself to speculate as to whether the aforementioned respect and support are justified, though. He also names Trump’s puzzling attitude towards the longstanding One-China Policy as another reason he won’t be around long.
The problem is uncomfortably familiar. Greece has a chunky payment due to its official creditors. Reports suggest that Greece has not completed much more than a third of the measures that had been agreed upon free up the next aid tranche from the 86 bln euro package.
Time is working against Greece. The elections in France and Germany do not provide a conducive backdrop for concessions, and public support for the Greek government is sliding. Given the political context, it is important that Greece’s measures are implemented ahead of the February 20 Eurogroup meeting.
If this window of opportunity is not met, the situation could deteriorate quickly. The more Prime Minister Tsipras enacts the reforms demanded by thecreditors, the less the public supports him. Many still suspect Greece is headed toward an election this year. Since in some respects, Tsipras speaks the language of populism, a change in governments would likely be in the direction of the center, such as the New Democracy.
Currently, the official creditors expect Greece to hit its fiscal targets this year. The problem is 2018. The key target is the primary surplus (budget balance before debt servicing). The primary surplus in 2016 was estimated at 2.3% (of GDP). Starting in 2018, the agreement calls for a goal of a 3.5% primary surplus. The IMF has been insisting that considerably more dramatic action by Greece is necessary if the other official creditors refuse to reduce the debt burden, which the multilateral lender says is unsustainable.
Special prosecutors in Seoul on Monday requested an arrest warrant for the de facto head of Samsung, the country’s largest company, as a corruption scandal that toppled president Park Geun-hye ensnared another powerful South Korean figure.
Lee Jae-yong, vice chairman of Samsung Electronics and heir to the company, is wanted on charges of bribery, according to prosecutors who grilled the country’s top executive during a marathon 22-hour interrogation late last week.
Samsung were unable to comment immediately. However, the development will likely be a stunning blow to the company as its attempts to solidify the succession of Mr Lee as chief and to reform its corporate governance structure.
The request to arrest Mr Lee comes amid allegations that the company donated millions to a close confidante of Ms Park in order to secure the government’s backing of a contentious merger between two Samsung affiliates.
The 2017 Vibrant Gujarat Global Summit’s inaugural ceremony on Tuesday looked like a shadow of its own past glory as the trademark big-ticket investment promises were missing.
Several chief executive officers attending the summit praised Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s “dynamic and visionary leadership” over the past two and a half years.
The PM’s speech, which was at least a quarter of an hour shorter than last year’s, showcased India’s growth story. “Despite the global slowdown, we have registered excellent growth. India is a bright spot in the global economy.” The World Bank, the International Monetary Fund and other institutions have projected even better growth in the coming days, he added.
Listing out India’s global rankings on various indicators, Modi said, “Creating an enabling environment for business, and attracting investments, is my top priority.”
Modi was called a transformational leader by many, including Executive Chairman of Cisco John Chambers and Chief Executive Officer of Fairfax Canada Prem Watsa. Calling Modi the Lee Kuan Yew of India, Watsa said the Prime Minister can transform the country. The late Singaporean leader was the city-state’s first Prime Minister and is credited with transforming Singapore into a developed nation in a span of 25 years.
Investment promises came only from a couple of people. Gautam Adani, chairman of the Adani Group, committed fresh investments worth Rs 49,000 crore over five years and Lulu Group promised Rs 12,000-crore investment.
Japan’s Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism Minister Keiichi Ishii said on Tuesday the number of foreign visitors to Japan rose around 20% last year to 24.039 million, marking a record figure and a five-year growth streak. Visitors from Southeast Asia notably increased.
Ishii stressed the record number “is a result of measures such as relaxation of visa requirements and improvements of consumption tax exemptions” as Japan considers the tourism industry a pillar of its growth strategy.
Plenty of travelers last year came from China and South Korea, but growth was slow compared with 2015, when visitors skyrocketed 50% on a weak yen and loosened visa requirements. The yen’s temporary surge and earthquakes in Kumamoto Prefecture hampered growth in 2016, as did the Chinese economic slowdown.
Visitors, however, rose significantly from Southeast Asian countries such as Malaysia, Indonesia, the Philippines and Vietnam. Tourism campaigns in those countries helped attract more travelers, as did added airplane routes.
Former Reserve Bank governor D Subbarao on Thursday termed demonetisation as “creative destruction and the most disruptive policy innovation since 1991 reforms” that has helped destroy black money.
“On November 8, the Prime Minister (Narendra Modi) and the Reserve Bank have demonetised 86 per cent of currency in circulation overnight, which is what is arguably the most disruptive policy innovation in India since the 1991 reforms,” he said.
“Demonetisation, in that sense, is creative destruction. But it is a very special type of creative destruction. Because what it has destroyed is a destructive creation — black money. So, you can understand that demonetisation is creative destruction of a destructive creation,” Subbarao said.
He was addressing an international conference organised by the Institute for Development and Research in Banking Technologies (IDRBT) in Hyderabad. He further said demonetisation is “arguably” leading to a flurry of innovations in Indian financial sector by way of digitisation of payments.