James M. Lindsay

The Water's Edge

Lindsay analyzes the politics shaping U.S. foreign policy and the sustainability of American power.

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The World Next Week: Turks Vote and Belgians Wait

by James M. Lindsay
June 11, 2011

Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan's election campaign banner in Istanbul.

A campaign banner for Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan in Istanbul. (Murad Sezer/courtesy Reuters)

The World Next Week podcast is up. Bob McMahon and I discussed the upcoming parliamentary elections in Turkey; Belgium’s failure for more than a year to form a new government; a possible gas deal between Russia and China; and next week’s Republican presidential candidates’ debate in New Hampshire.

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The highlights:

  • Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s Justice and Development Party (AKP) is heavily favored to win Turkey’s parliamentary elections this weekend, which would give Erdogan his third term in office. One of his tasks will be to secure support for a new constitution, which most observers believe Turkey needs even if they don’t agree about what it should say.
  • Belgian voters went to the polls on June 13, 2010 to elect a new government. Nearly a year later, that government has yet to form. The impasse isn’t about economics; Belgium’s growth rate is higher and its unemployment rate lower than most European countries. The impasse is instead about language. Dutch-speaking Flanders wants a divorce from French-speaking Wallonia. One obstacle to making that happen is that Brussels, which is overwhelmingly French-speaking, is the capital of Flanders.
  • The proposed Russia-China pipeline deal has the potential to help both countries; China gets new energy supplies to fuel its economic boom and Russia makes money off its natural gas reserves. The deal could also help reduce emissions of greenhouse gases by allowing China to substitute cleaner burning natural gas for coal. But the deal could accentuate Russia’s dependency on energy as the main component of economy, making it even more vulnerable to swings in energy prices. The gas deal also provides a reminder to Washington that Moscow has potential dance partners besides the United States.
  • Seven GOP presidential candidates will face off in a debate at St. Anselm College in Manchester, New Hampshire on Monday night. Mitt Romney, who now holds the title of “Republican Front Runner,” will need to be prepared to rebut rivals looking to take him down a peg or two.
  • Bob named Secretary of Defense Robert Gates as his Figure of the Week. My Figure of the Week was 1,000,000,000. As always, you need to listen to the podcast to find out why.

The Wall Street Journal covers the upcoming Turkish election, and CFR’s Steven Cook analyzes their significance. The First Post discusses Belgium’s remarkable ability to continue operating without a central government, and the Wall Street Journal reports on the anniversary of Belgium’s elections. Bloomberg News evaluates the stakes in the possible Russia-China gas deal. The New Hampshire Union Leader has the details on the upcoming GOP presidential debate it is helping convene, and the Economist surveys the field.

Post a Comment 3 Comments

  • Posted by Nick Ottens

    Flanders doesn’t want to split from Wallonia. Some Flemish surely do but not the majority of them. Most do want greater autonomy. Also, it’s not about language. It’s about economics and culture. Flanders is the more industrialized part of the country where trade and commerce and centered. Politically, Flanders is right of center. Wallonia, which votes overwhelmingly Socialist, likes to keep its welfare state as it is — paid for by the Flemish, of course. Have a look at the vast divergence in income and unemployment between the Dutch- and French-speaking parts of the country and you’d realize that this has very little to do with just a language dispute.

  • Posted by Eric

    Great article; however, it is Saint Anselm College, not Saint Anselm’s College.

    See: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Saint_Anselm_College

  • Posted by Kate Collins

    Thanks Eric. It is now corrected.

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