Encyclopedias

# Political Handbook of the World 2009

Encyclopedias

### Edited by: Arthur S. Banks, Thomas C. Muller, William R. Overstreet & Judith F. Isacoff Isacoff

• Front Matter
• Countries A-Z
• Political & Electoral Systems
• International Organizations

## Preface

The first victims of the economic tsunami of 2008 were poor people in developing countries, where prices for food, petroleum products, and other basic commodities rose by 75 percent or more. Demonstrations, often violent, erupted in more than 30 countries during the first half of the year. As would be expected, many of the protests occurred in particularly vulnerable sub-Saharan Africa (Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Côte d'Ivoire, Ethiopia, Guinea, Senegal, and Somalia), but significant unrest was also reported in North Africa (Egypt, Mauritania, and Morocco), Asia (Indonesia, Pakistan, Philippines, Thailand, Uzbekistan, and Yemen), and Latin America (Bolivia, Haiti, and Peru). Prime ministers in countries such as Haiti and Guinea lost their jobs over the difficulties, while several governments felt compelled to adopt politically unpopular measures, including rationing, deployment of troops to guard food supplies, and imposition of restraints on food exports, an important source of income for farmers. Meanwhile, Central and Eastern Europe struggled with higher natural gas prices and sporadic shortages as Russia exerted heavy-handed control of its gas exports. United Nations officials warned of “food wars” and worldwide political instability if the price increases were not addressed; their prediction proved prescient in light of bloodless coups in Mauritania and Guinea later in the year.

In the United States, where consumers appeared to realize the severity of the situation well before their elected leaders, economic angst during the first half of the year focused on the cost of gasoline, which more than doubled. However, that issue was but a precursor to the economic tidal wave that was gaining momentum due to a rapidly deteriorating home mortgage climate and other related financial pressures. The “credit crisis” washed over the global banking and financial sectors in September, wiping out sizable portions of personal and institutional wealth and forcing governments to rethink the basic underpinnings of their economies. With striking speed, bank nationalizations and bailouts became the standard approaches for combating the meltdown. For the average taxpayer—already bewildered by opaque discussions of “derivatives,” “short-selling,” “collateralized debt obligations,” “credit default swaps,” and other questionable market manipulations—the sizes of the rescue packages were surreally high: in the United States, $700 billion (to start); Germany,$760 billion; China, $586 billion; France,$480 billion. The public was hardly reassured when many government and financial leaders, having cited “easy credit” and excessive consumerism as precipitants of the economic calamity, nevertheless asserted that the solution required banks to loosen credit and thereby revive commercial and consumer spending.

Not surprisingly, the economic malaise of 2008 coincided with a discernible bias toward “change” in electoral results. Former opposition parties—often, but not always, left-leaning—took control in Taiwan, Barbados, Belize, Pakistan, Cyprus, Italy, Paraguay, Grenada, Nepal, Thailand, Slovenia, Lithuania, Maldives, New Zealand, and Bangladesh. Change was also clearly desired in Zimbabwe but was thwarted by strongman president Robert Mugabe, while the opposition in Kenya managed only a power-sharing agreement. Change in South Africa meant the resignation of long-time president and regional leader Thabo Mbeki. Some observers also predicted that Fidel Castro's formal relinquishment of governmental control in Cuba presaged less hard-line economic and political policies. And in the year's most watched election, Barack Obama's call for change in the United States carried him to the presidency in November, the ongoing financial disaster having apparently sunk the hopes of Republican candidate John McCain, who had incautiously described the nation's economic foundations as “sound” just prior to the Wall Street collapse.

For many in the United States and around the world, Obama's message was also one of hope, but a full review of events in 2008 illustrates the difficulties facing the world's new political leaders. A modicum of progress in Iraq was offset by deterioration in Afghanistan and the border regions of Pakistan. The military coups and ongoing rebellions in Africa underscored how shallow the commitment to stated democratic processes remains in a significant part of that continent. The violent reengagement of Israel and Hamas in Gaza showed once again that progress on the Palestinian question, and the intertwined issue of a comprehensive peace for the Middle East, remains subject to the actions not only of uncompromising militants but also of those who provide material support to extremists of all persuasions in the region. A recurring complication has been the havoc wrought on civilians, many of them trapped by economic circumstance as well as political geography, when a massive Israeli military response is unleashed. Conditions in Darfur also remained unresolved, even as prosecutors at the International Criminal Court charged Sudan's President Umar al-Bashir with genocide. In addition, severe fighting broke out again in resource-rich eastern regions of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, pirates seized a giant oil tanker and other ships off the coast of Somalia, and a handful of terrorists killed more than 170 people in coordinated attacks in Mumbai, India. Positive developments seemed less numerous, but optimists could point to the resumption of talks toward the reunification of Cyprus; continued, albeit halting, progress in regard to North Korea's nuclear program; and the installation of a democratically elected government in the former kingdom of Bhutan.

Traditionally, the Handbook editors have used these prefaces to welcome the emergence of newly independent nations, particularly when independence has been embraced by the international community through such actions as quick admission to the UN. However, no global consensus has been reached regarding Kosovo, which declared its independence from Serbia in February 2008 after years of conflict between the Muslim majority in Kosovo and the strongly nationalist Serbian population. Not surprisingly, most Serbians, still smarting from the independence of Montenegro in 2006 (to which Belgrade begrudgingly acquiesced), adamantly opposed the unilateral independence declaration from the recently elected, pro-Western government in Kosovo. Russia also immediately condemned the action, not only out of respect for its close Serbian ties but also, apparently, out of concern for the way ethnically based separatist movements in other sensitive areas, such as Chechnya, would view the world's reaction to Kosovo. China, facing several separatist movements within its borders, objected as well.

Ironically, the first major political outgrowth of Kosovo's decision involved two pro-Russian separatist regions in Georgia—South Ossetia and Abkhazia—which argued that Western rhetorical support for self-determination should extend to them. Many analysts viewed Russia's quick and heavy response to Georgia's military move into South Ossetia in early August as part of an effort by Moscow to convince the West that Russia would accept no further diminishment of its sphere of influence. Following the war, Russia quickly recognized the independence of both disputed regions, but by the end of the year its decision had been echoed by only one other country, Nicaragua.

For this edition, the Handbook editors decided to include a separate article on Kosovo. We based our decision primarily on the fact that more than 50 countries (most notably the United States, United Kingdom, France, Germany, and Japan) have recognized Kosovo. We also believe our readers are best served by having a consolidated analysis and history of the complicated developments concerning Kosovo. That decision should not be construed, however, as evidence that we support Kosovo's side in the recognition dispute with Serbia. We remain neutral on that issue, as we also do in regard to South Ossetia and Abkhazia, which, for this edition at least, remain covered in the article on Georgia.

In attempting to assess, in highly compressed form, the past and present politics of the global community, CQ Press and the editors of the Handbook continue a publishing tradition extending from 1928, when the Council on Foreign Relations prepared A Political Handbook of the World, edited by Malcolm W. Davis and Walter H. Mallory. Mallory became the sole editor in 1929 and continued in that capacity until 1968. The present structure of the work is based largely on the format introduced by Richard P. Stebbins and Alba Amoia in the 1970 edition. After 1975 the Handbook was assembled at Binghamton University, which, in 1985, also assumed the role of publisher until the 2005–2006 edition. This is the fourth edition published under the auspices of CQ Press, now a division of SAGE. The editorial team from the most recent editions has remained intact (with the addition this year of Judith F. Isacoff as a coeditor), and together with CQ Press has reestablished an annual publication cycle. Moreover, the Handbook is now available in an online edition updated annually. For this edition, the Handbook editors have attempted to cover national elections for all of 2008; this information is incorporated within the regular text whenever possible or in headnotes at the beginning of the country articles for elections that occurred in the latter part of the year.

The articles on individual countries are presented in alphabetical order based on their customary names in English. Their official names in both English and the national language or languages (the latter transliterated, where appropriate, into Latin-based script) are also provided. Where no official name is given, it is identical to the customary name that appears in the section heading. Each country's “related territories” (if any) are treated together at the end of the country article. In the case of politically divided countries, such as China and Korea, a discussion of matters pertaining to the country as a whole is followed by a detailed description of the distinct polities established within its territory. We have elected to include one territory without a permanent population and government (Antarctica) as well as a number of states whose international status may be, by choice or by tradition, somewhat impaired (see our earlier discussion of Kosovo). We have also included an article on the Palestinian Authority/Palestine Liberation Organization (PA/PLO), now no longer denied a territorial base, but whose status with regard to Gaza and much of the West Bank and East Jerusalem is still evolving. The current write-up, appearing at the end of the country articles, incorporates information presented in editions prior to 2008 in two locations—under the section on Occupied and Previously Occupied Territories in the article on Israel and in the long-standing separate article on the PA/PLO.

At the initial citation within each country section, the surname (or most important part of the name) of most persons in public life is rendered in full capitals.

In most cases, two population figures are presented at the beginning of each country listing: the most recent official census result and a 2007 estimate. In a few cases, the more recent figures differ substantially from collateral figures in the immediately preceding edition. This is usually due to the availability of new census data.

The intergovernmental organizations selected for treatment are presented in a separate alphabetical sequence based on their official (or, in a few cases, customary) names in English. A list of member countries of most organizations is printed in the body of the relevant article; for the UN and its principal associated agencies, the memberships are given in Appendix C. Non-UN intergovernmental organization memberships for individual countries are listed at the end of each country section, in conformity with the list of IGO abbreviations (see page ix). We have explicitly limited this section to groups that have memberships composed of more than two states, governing bodies that meet with some degree of regularity, and permanent secretariats or other continuing means for implementing collective decisions.

The preparation of a large-scale reference work of this kind entails a multitude of obligations, few of which can be acknowledged adequately in a brief prefatory statement. The present edition has been aided by a number of academic colleagues, at Binghamton University and elsewhere, who have served as a panel of area consultants. These consultants include Seifudein Adem (Eritrea and Ethiopia) and Adriana Buliga-Stoian (Romania). We are also indebted to a large number of diplomatic, governmental, and intergovernmental personnel (both U.S. and foreign), who responded with remarkable patience to innumerable appeals for vital information.

CQ Press gratefully acknowledges The Research Foundation of the State University of New York at Binghamton for its long-time support of this work and its integral role in maintaining the Handbook's strong legacy of readership and editorial standards. Special thanks are extended to Stephen A. Gilje, associate vice president for research; Paul C. Parker, associate vice president for research administration; Michael D. McDonald, former chair of the Department of Political Science; and David H. Clark, chair of the Department of Political Science.

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