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Year in Review: How democracies around the world were redefined in 2019

Business Standard compiles the list of key leaders and individuals redefining democracy in 2019.

Business Standard 

In 2019, anger towards politicians and democratic leaders, economic dissatisfaction and anxiety about the future have dominated minds of the people across the globe. From impeachment of US President Donald Trump to violent protests in Hong Kong, we saw anti-establishment voices growing bigger. Democracies in other parts of the world, however, made progress - US and China reached phase 1 trade deal, halting 18-month long trade war and Saudi Aramco, the world’s largest oil producer, launched its initial public offering (IPO) to raise $25.6 billion, the biggest IPO in history. Democracies in 2019 were also redefined by individuals like Great Thunberg and Sundar Pichai who helped the world realise the perils of climate change to importance of technological advancements.

Business Standard compiles the list of key leaders and individuals redefining democracy in 2019.

assumes office as Brazil President (January 1)

Jair Bolsonaro assumes office as Brazil President (January 1)
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An extreme right wing, former military officer, Jai Messias Bolsonaro, assumed office as President of Brazil. Among his many controversial political views, such as those on gays and women, is his agenda to turn over the Amazonian rainforests, the major global carbon sink, and tribal lands to agri-business.

Brazil's new far-right President declared a crusade against crime, corruption and leftwing ideology as he took office on Tuesday for a four-year term at the helm of Latin America's biggest nation. The 63-year-old former paratrooper and veteran lawmaker received swift congratulations via Twitter from US President Donald Trump, with whom he shares a similar, brash style and outlook. "Congratulations to President @jairbolsonaro who just made a great inauguration speech - the U.S.A. is with you!" Trump wrote. Bolsonaro responded by saying: "I truly appreciate your words of encouragement. Together, under God's protection, we shall bring prosperity and progress to our people!"  Read more..

Great Thunberg addresses UN Climate Action Summit (September 23)

Great Thunberg addresses UN Climate Action Summit (September 23)
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Teenage climate activist Greta Thunberg addressed the UN Climate Action Summit in New York, sharply criticising world leaders for neglecting climate change. She was trolled by the US President and climate-change denier in chief Donald Trump.

As countries reiterated old promises to control climate change, the youth, led by 16-year-old Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg, emerged as climate leaders. “I should be back in school on the other side of the ocean. Yet you come to us young people for hope. How dare you?” said Thunberg. Read more...

US withdraws troops from northern Syria (October 13)

US withdraws troops from northern Syria (October 13)
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In a controversial move, President Trump ordered the withdrawal of American forces from northern Syria, a decision that will effectively cede control of the area to the Syrian government and Russia, and could allow a resurgence of the Islamic State.

The said on Sunday it is poised to withdraw some 1,000 troops from northern Syria after learning that Turkey planned to extend a military incursion against Kurdish foes further south than originally planned. Another consideration in the decision, US Defense Secretary Mark Esper indicated, was that Washington's Kurdish-led ally, the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), were looking to make a deal with Russia to counter the Turkish onslaught. Outlining Turkey's goals, President Tayyip Erdogan said the incursion would stretch from Kobani in the west to Hasaka in the east, going some 30 km (19 miles) into Syrian territory, "in line with the safe zone map which we declared previously". Read more..

Hong Kong withdraws extradition Bill (October 23)

Hong Kong withdraws extradition Bill (October 23)
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After four months of sustained protests which saw military intervention from Beijing, the Hong Kong administration withdrew a controversial extradition Bill but demands for more democracy kept protests on the boil and a landslide win for a pro-democracy party in local elections in November has presented the Chinese regime with a major headache.

Hong Kong authorities are set to formally withdraw an unpopular extradition bill that sparked months of chaotic protests in the semi-autonomous Chinese city. The security chief is due on Wednesday to announce the bill's withdrawal in the city's legislature. Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam had proposed the amendments to resolve a case involving a man wanted for murder in Taiwan who could not be sent to the self-ruled island because there was no extradition agreement in place. Read more..

US-China reach phase 1 trade deal (October 31)

US-China reach phase 1 trade deal (October 31)
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After nearly 18 months of tariffs and counter-tariffs that affected businesses in both the world’s largest and second-largest economies, the Trump administration announced a draft agreement that included, among other things, a commitment for China to buy more American agri-products and for the US to lower duties on Chinese imports. The terms are under scrutiny but neither side has signed on yet. 2020 could be a watershed year.

The US and China have reached a historic agreement on a phase one trade deal, US President Donald Trump announced on Friday, in a big breakthrough in the over 18-month-long bruising trade war between the world's two largest economies that has threatened to roil the global economy. The phase one of the trade deal requires structural reforms and other changes to China's economic and trade regime in the areas of intellectual property, technology transfer, agriculture, financial services, and currency and foreign exchange. It also includes a commitment by China that it will make substantial additional purchases of US goods and services in the coming years. Read more...

Gotabaya wins presidential election (November 16)

Gotabaya Rajapaksa wins presidential election (November 16)
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Former defence minister Gotabaya Rajapaksa, member of a powerful family clan and ruthless architect of the defeat of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam, wins the presidential election raising new challenges for the island-nation’s Tamil and Muslim minorities. His early step was to appoint his brothers to an interim cabinet.

Sri Lanka's controversial wartime defence secretary Gotabaya will lead the country after ruling party candidate Sajith Premadasa conceded the hotly contested presidential poll on Sunday, marking the return of the powerful dynasty known for its pro-China tilt, amidst security challenges following the Easter Sunday terror attacks that killed 269 people. Rajapaksa, 70, defeated Premadasa, 52, by more than 13 lakh votes, according to the official results. Rajapaksa, who will succeed President Maithripala Sirisena for a five-year term, will be sworn in as the seventh executive president of on Monday at the ancient north central town of Anuradhapura. Read more...

Sundar Pichai become Alphabet CEO (December 4)

Sundar Pichai become Alphabet CEO (December 4)
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Larry Page and Sergei Brin, the Stanford graduate students who founded Google over two decades ago, announced they would step down from executive roles at Google’s parent , Alphabet. India-born Sundar Pichai (right), Google’s chief executive, will become the chief of both Google and Alphabet.

Google co-founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin have announced that they are stepping down from the leadership role of the parent company Alphabet. Google CEO Indian-American Sundar Pichai (47), will be assuming the role of Alphabet CEO, making him one of the most powerful corporate leaders of the world. Considered as a significant shakeup in the Silicon Valley company, an announcement in this regard was made by Page and Brin in a letter to the company employees, which also included a statement from Pichai. Read more...

Mohammed Bin Salman launches Aramco IPO (December 5)

Mohammed Bin Salman launches Aramco IPO (December 5)
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Two years after Crown Prince Mohammad Bin Salman announced it and three months after aerial attacks that damaged its key facilities, Saudi Aramco, the world’s largest oil producer, launched its initial public offering (IPO) to raise $25.6 billion, the biggest IPO in history. The share was listed on the Saudi securities exchange on December 11.

Saudi Arabia's state oil company Aramco launched its initial stock offering on Thursday, pricing at the high end of the target range and raising $25.6 billion, two sources told AFP. The sum raised by the oil giant surpasses the $25 billion garnered by the Chinese online trading group Alibaba in 2014 when it entered Wall Street. The market debut also puts the Saudi oil behemoth's value at $1.7 trillion, far ahead of other corporate giants in the trillion-dollar club: Apple ($1.2 trillion), Microsoft and Alibaba ($1.1 trillion). Read more...

PM Johnson wins historic UK election (December 13)

PM Johnson wins historic UK election (December 13)
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After a withdrawal agreement that was defeated multiple times in Parliament and the deadline to leave the EU was extended twice, Boris Johnson, the maverick politician who succeeded Theresa May as PM, called a general election which the Conservatives won by a massive 80-seat majority. This makes the UK exit from the EU on the January 31, 2020, more of a certainty, but the deadline for a new deal with the EU still looks challenging.

Minister won a resounding election victory on Friday that will allow him to end three years of political paralysis and take Britain out of the European Union within weeks. The divorce represents Britain's biggest political and economic gamble since World War Two, cutting the world's fifth largest economy adrift from the vast trading bloc and testing the integrity of the United Kingdom. For Johnson, who had faced gridlock in parliament and focused his campaign on a vow to "Get Done", victory was a vindication. Read more...

House of Representatives impeach President Donald Trump (December 18)

House of Representatives impeach President Donald Trump (December 18)
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Donald Trump becomes only the third US president to be impeached by the House of Representatives. The process followed a whistle-blower complaint that he sought to withhold Congressionally-approved money from the Ukrainian President in return for research on 2020 Democrat presidential opponent Joe Biden. Trump’s removal from office is contingent on a trial presided over by the Chief Justice in the Republican-dominated Senate, which is likely to vote in his favour. The latter process is at an impasse as the Democrats and Republicans argue over the format of the trial.

The US House of Representatives impeached President Donald Trump on charges of abuse of power and obstructing Congress, the culmination of an effort by Democrats that further inflamed partisan tensions in Washington and deepened the nation’s ideological divide. The historic votes on Wednesday evening, which won the support of almost all Democrats in the House chamber but not a single Republican, leave Trump as only the third president in US history to be impeached -- and the only impeached president likely to win his party’s nomination for re-election. The Senate will hold a trial early next year to decide whether the president should be convicted on the charges and removed from office, though the Republicans who have the majority in that chamber will almost certainly acquit him. Read more...


First Published: Sun, December 29 2019. 21:19 IST
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