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Trevor Stone's Journal
Those who can, do. The rest hyperlink.
2008: The Year in Regime Change 
30th-Dec-2008 09:05 pm
transparent ribbon for government accoun
I just wrote the following summary of world elections, non-democratic changes in government, and other events relevant to changing who's in charge on this Boing Boing thread. The past 18 months have had some crazy political events. The list below only goes back a year, so it misses Burmese monk-led pro-democracy protests, the sack of Pakistan's judicial system, Venezuela's rejection of term extensions for President Chavez, and the Belgian situation I don't understand. But that was just lead up to a remarkable year of world politics that started with ethnic riots in Kenya and end with the son of a Kenyan preparing to take over the most powerful country in the world.

I'm sure there have been regime change events I didn't notice or don't remember. Such events were probably fairly quiet or happened while I was away from the radio for an extended period of time. Let me know if I've left anybody out.

In a combination of laziness and impatience, I haven't linked any of these to further details. If you're curious about any of them, visit the country's Wikipedia page and look for the words "election" or "2008."

January-February: Kenya: Ethnic violence breaks out across Kenya in the wake of a disputed presidential election between Raila Odinga and Mwai Kibaki.

January-February: Pakistan: Riots break out and elections are postponed after the assassination of Benazir Bhutto. Her party wins plurality in parliament. In August, lawmakers force out Pervez Musharaff and install Bhutto's husband, Asif Ali Zardari.

January-March: Taiwan: Kuomintang increases majority in parliament and wins the presidency (Ma Ying-jeou) with promises of closer ties with mainland China.

February: Kosovo: Declares independence from Serbia. Recognized by about a quarter of other countries.

February: Cuba: In a move that surprised no one, Fidel Castro passed control of the country to brother Raul.

March-May: Russia: In moves that surprise no one, Vladimir Putin's annointed heir, Dmitry Medvedev, elected president after opposition protest and complaints of suppression and irregularities. Medvedev nominates Putin to be Prime Minister.

March: Tibetans make little if any progress in local regime change efforts.

March-December: Zimbabwe: Officials in the ruling ZANU-PF party withhold election results thought favorable to the opposition MDC party. Presidential runoff election between president Robert Mugabe clinging to power and Morgan Tsvangirai is marked by intimidation, violence, and fraud. Several rounds of diplomacy have failed to create a workable power-sharing agreement. Meanwhile, the currency inflates to absurdity, food becomes scarce, and deadly diseases spread throughout the country.

April: Italy: With much deja vu, Silvio Berlusconi retakes the prime minister's office as head of a coalition government.

April: South Korea: Grand National Party wins parliamentary majority, adding to their recent presidential win.

April: Bhutan: Holds country's first parliamentary elections. In November, King Jigme Singye Wangchuck, who imposed the democratic process, is replaced by his son Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck.

April-May: Nepal: After ten years of civil war, Maoists win plurality in assembly. Assembly overwhelmingly votes to end the monarchy.

May: Lebanon: After six months without a president and after two weeks of violence between Hezbollah and government forces, parliament selects Michel Suleiman as president.

May: Myanmar: Amidst the chaos of a typhoon and over the objections of opposition groups, the Burmese military junta runs a new constitution.

July-August: Georgia: South Ossetia and Abkhazia push for local regime change. After a few weeks of warring, the regime situation remains as it was.

September: Japan: The second prime minister to resign in a year, Yasuo Fukuda is replaced by Taro Aso.

September-December: Canada: Between the U.S. political conventions and the U.S. election, Canada had an entire national election. Unhappy with a minority government yet again, Prime Minister Stephen Harper tries to hit the other parties in the pocketbook. They reject the plan. Governor General Michaelle Jean suspends parliament for a month and a half.

September-December: Thailand: Protesters blocking government buildings and airports oust not one but two prime ministers, Samak Sundaravej and Somchai Wongsawat.

October-December: Ukraine: President Viktor Yushchenko dissolves parliament after they try to curtail presidential power. Elections are not held because parliament won't pass funds for them.

November: USA: After two thirds of a billion dollars and well over a year of campaign speeches, negative ads, and endless talking points, the United States elects the first non-white president and also the forty-third white president (if you only count Grover Cleveland once). In contrast to previous elections, this one is decided by a significant majority and more than one state.

November: Greenland: Voters approve a resolution for greater local regime power, becoming more independent from Denmark.

December: Guinea: Long-time president Lansana Conte dies in office. The military declares a coup. Given the unpopularity of many in government, many people aren't especially upset about this turn of affairs.

December: Bangladesh: After two years of emergency military rule, largely free and fair elections are held with a minimum of pre- and post-election violence.
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