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While Xi Jinping is imperially entrenched on the Chinese throne and Vladimir Putin rules Russia with a stainless steel fist, the West offers a stark contrast to a plethora of weak and limited leaders and governments. Here is a brief view of the situation.
Europe. Except in the case of France, where Emmanuel Macron enjoys an important political capital, the panorama is desolate. Angela Merkel has garnered the worst outcome in her party's history in the September election and is now embarking on complex negotiations to form a coalition government. In the United Kingdom, Theresa May lost the absolute Tory majority in the June elections, governs with the support of Northern Conservatives and is greatly weakened by internal coalitions over how to manage Brexit. She remains in power only because her party understands that it is not convenient to open an open war of succession now.
In Italy, since the resignation of Matteo Renzi last December following, Paolo Gentiloni came to power, a respected figure but without the backing of the ballot box or overflowing charisma. In Spain, Mariano Rajoy governs in minority, challenged by the biggest institutional contest in decades - the Catalan question - and the prestige by the wide stain of corruption on his party. In Holland, after seven months of paralysis, a government coalition has just been formed, which nevertheless represents a major political “acrobatics,” with liberals and ultraconservative Christians. Two ministers had to be appointed in several portfolios to reach an agreement. Austria also undertakes difficult government negotiations.
USA. The picture across the Atlantic is no better. Apparently, Donald Trump enjoys an unusual accumulation of power. He has a majority in both chambers; a Supreme Court is not hostile to him too. And yet he is a paralyzed leader. In the nine months since he took office, he has failed to pass a single law worthy of mention. He awakens the widespread mistrust of its international historical allies (except Israel) and a very consistent part of the world's public opinion.
Latin America. Expanding the focus to Latin America, the horizon is just gloomy. Here, the exception is Mauricio Macri (Argentina), who has just revalidated with a solid victory in the legislative proposals reform. The rest countries are not that successful. Brazil, the regional giant, lives submerged in an endless political crisis, nauseated by endemic corruption. The support of its president, Michel Temer, is constantly below 10%. Next year, Mexico will hold elections, and Enrique Peña Nieto is a lame duck in this situation. And there are no clear candidates on the horizon. In Colombia, Juan Manuel Santos is also out, Pedro Pablo Kuczynski suffers numerous challenges in Peru, and Chile also faces uncertain elections in November.
Justin Trudeau in Canada and Shinzo Abe in Japan join Macron and Macri category, that is the leaders with strength in the Western broad sense. Even so, the western panorama is quite discouraging. No doubt the Great Recession is among the factors that cause this fragility and political fragmentation.
It will be interesting to see in the future how much damage this political weakness will cause to the destinies of the affected societies. And what capacity for rebalancing will the admirable Western assets have: freedom and respect for the rule of law, which for a long time have been stimulating freedom of speech, free universities, entrepreneurship, innovations, and wealth. The accumulated GDP of the US and EU is still triple that of China and thirty times of Russian. The military expenditure of NATO is four times higher that the Chinese one, and NATO’s accumulated capacities is incomparably superior. All the students in the world dream of studying at Oxford or Harvard, and Silicon Valley is the epicenter of global innovation, Wall Street and the City are financial centers.