Wednesday, 30 November 2016

Sitrep - 30 November, 2016

Embattled South Korean President Park Geun-hye says she is willing to resign if the National Assembly agrees on a timetable and procedures to ensure an orderly transfer of power. Several staunch loyalists recommend that Ms Park step down. Opposition parties are drawing up a draft impeachment motion and expect to put it to a vote by as early as December 2.

Outside, hundreds of thousands of South Koreans continue to protest the administration since allegations of influence-peddling with a spiritual figure emerged earlier in the year. But the crisis is more than just political in the young democracy. It is economic, institutional, social and geopolitical factors. Most important is stagnating economic growth after decades of speedy expansion.

The compounding crises could push the East Asian country towards a reactionary popular response. Its largest companies are powerful, its politicians are blatantly corrupt and a division deepens every year between the economic winners and losers. Protectionism and a new regime are the least of South Korea’s worries even if Ms Parks party retains control.

A tough year of Brazilian political chaos is not over. An impeachment proceeding against replacement President Michel Temer has been filed based on accusations of improper influence, but it is unlikely to move. He is relatively popular with a majority of lawmakers and the opposition party would need to siphon off this support if the impeachment is to succeed.

However, a plea bargain being negotiated by engineering company Odebrecht in connection with the Petroleo Brasilerio corruption scandal – which deposed former President Dilma Rousseff – could be enough to break the Temer administration. The deal could include evidence of illegal campaign donations and wrongdoings of more than 100 serving lawmakers.

Political infighting will continue into next year as politicians manoeuvre to avoid jail and take power once the dust settles. And, just like South Korea, the country struggles to reinvigorate growth and control an influential and oligarchical business elite. Latin America’s largest economy isn’t finished with its slow motion explosion, but Brazil has survived worse.

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