Next week we need to know about . . . elections and congresses
The most interminable US presidential election since the last one will reach its climax on Tuesday, when the nation goes to the polls, but the United States won’t be the only superpower determining its leadership for the next few years. On Thursday, the 18th National Congress of the Communist Party of China begins in Beijing, at which power over the party, and country, will pass to a new generation.
The disparity between the two models could not be more stark. For all the money that distorts the US election, its citizens are enfranchised, and will choose whether Barack Obama should get another term or whether the Republican challenger, Mitt Romney, will get the keys to the White House.
In China, however, the successor to Paramount Leader Hu Jintao, premier since 2003, has already been effectively decided, and Xi Jinping (below left) is widely expected to assume the top job. The process will also see six new members of the all-powerful Politburo Standing Committee, with no input from the country’s 1.3 billion people.
In the US, national polls show the race neck and neck, though state polls show Obama has a better chance of winning the Electoral College, the byzantine process by which the president is actually chosen. That he will lose the popular vote but win the electoral college, as George W Bush did in 2000, remains a possibility.
China’s monolithic state apparatus has been shaken by the Bo Xilai scandal, revealing an underbelly of corruption in the party, but its internal politics will remain opaque as another apparatchik assumes leadership of the world’s most populous, and increasingly influential, state.