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9 elections abroad to watch in 2012

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  • Greg Cannon
    http://www.politico.com/news/stories/0212/73073.html 9 elections abroad to watch in 2012 Hu Jinato, left, will relinquish power this year, and Nicolas Sarkozy
    Message 1 of 1 , Feb 20, 2012
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      9 elections abroad to watch in 2012

      Nicolas Sarkozy and Hu Jinato are pictured in a composite image. | AP Photo

      Hu Jinato, left, will relinquish power this year, and Nicolas Sarkozy is up for reelection. | AP Photo

      By KEVIN ROBILLARD | 2/20/12 8:18 AM EST Updated: 2/20/12 8:33 AM EST

      Before the U.S. holds its presidential election in November, voters (or party officials, in one case) around the world will have their chance to elect a new class of leaders. So whoever wins the White House will encounter a fresh challenge of personalities and policies in key countries, some U.S. allies, some not. Here are 9 foreign contests to watch:

      1. VENEZUELA: October 7 — Could it be the end of the fiercely anti-U.S. ruler Hugo Chavez? The Venezuelan opposition has selected 39-year-old Henrique Capriles Radonski, the governor of the county’s second-largest state, as its standard bearer against Chavez, who has ruled Venezuela since 1999. Capriles defeated a staunch Chavez ally to win the governorship in 2008, but Chavez has both state media and an ability to release a torrent of government spending on his side.

      2. EGYPT: May — An exact date for the vote hasn’t been set, but a government ministry announced it would be held by the end of May. (Elections were originally supposed to be held within six months of former President Hosni Mubarak’s downfall.) The results will be closely watched as concerns mount in the U.S. about the earlier successes of Egypt’s Islamic parties at the polls.

      3. RUSSIA: March 4 — Although Vladmir Putin’s grip on Russia may have been weakened by protests in recent months, he’s still expected to handily win this race, taking the presidency back from his protege, Dmitry Medvedev. Putin’s ascendancy could further increase strains with the U.S.

      4. MEXICO: July 1 — In a contest that could have implications for immigration and trade policies with America, Mexican President Felipe Calderon, whose war against the cartels has defined U.S.-Mexican relations for the past six years, is term-limited and can’t run for re-election. Calderon’s party, the National Action Party (PAN), is on track to lose power for the first time since 2000, likely to the PRI, whose nominee, Enrique Peña Nieto, told Univision in November that civil institutions need to start replacing the military in the war on the cartels. But if the PAN does hold on, the Mexican people will elect their first female president, current education minister Josefina Vázquez Mota.

      5. FRANCE: April 22; runoff, May 6 — Through an unlikely partnership with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, French President Nicolas Sarkozy has been instrumental in the continent’s management of the Euro crisis. But polls show Sarkozy trailing his Socialist challenger, Francois Hollande, who has promised to roll back many of Sarkozy’s reforms. A Sarkozy loss would cost the U.S. an important ally.

      6. CHINA: October — When China holds its party congress, President Hu Jintao and Premier Wen Jiabao will hand over power to Xi Jinping and Li Keqiang, respectively. Xi Jingping just spent several days in Washington, including meeting with President Barack Obama, as he prepares to take power.

      7. LIBYA: before June 23 — The country’s first post-Qaddafi elections will select a 200-member council that will run the country for the next year and draft the nation’s constitution. Like the Egyptian elections, observers will place close attention to Libya as they assess the direction of the Arab Spring movement.

      8. GREECE: April — As the ruling Panhellenic Socialist Movement (PAOSK) is forced to make round after round of austerity cuts to satisfy European creditors, its popularity has sunk to as low as 8 percent in one recent poll. There has been discussion of delaying the latest aid package to the country until after the elections, so an agreement can be reached with a new government.

      9. SOUTH KOREA: December 12 — Incumbent Lee Myung-bak is term-limited, and a wide-open election is expected. The current frontrunner is Moon Jae-in, a 59-year-old lawyer who has advocated closer relations with North Korea, which is now run by a young and inexperienced leader, Kim Jong Un. Jae-in’s main rival is the conservative Park Geun-hye, the daughter of the country’s longtime military ruler, Park Chung-hee.

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