Angie 2.0 – March 26, 2006?

Update (2/11/05, 01:30 CET) – Maybe Angie 2.0 is actually a guy: two East German are now heading Germany’s biggest parties. The SPD crisis management team agreed late Tuesday evening to offer Brandenburg’s state premier Matthias Platzeck (German biography) the party’s chairmanship. Absent any surprises, this nomination will probably be confirmed by the upcoming party conference.

Update (1/11/05, 16:19) below the fold.

Does everybody really get a second chance? Or will it just be Angela Merkel? Not too surprisingly, Edmund Stoiber was the first to realise that the SPD’s power reshuffle after Franz Müntefering’s sort-of instant resignation, even in case a successor will be named quickly (currently, the only two candidates allegedly under consideration are the state premiers Kurt Beck and Mathias Platzeck), is leading to a situation in which the arithmetics of a grand coalition don’t really add up anymore, not simply because coalition talks with a SPD delegation headed by a combination of acting and designated leaders will suffer from a relative affluence in cooks dealing with the broth.
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Albania again

Former Prime Minister Sali Berisha won a surprise upset victory in the Albanian elections earlier this month.

This is not particularly welcome news for anyone outside of Albania. Berisha, who was Albania’s chief executive from 1990 to 1997, is remembered as a corrupt and erratic authoritarian who ran a government of cronies, best remembered for the “Pyramid” crisis of 1997 that left Albania in anarchy with hundreds dead.

Inside Albania, however, Berisha has been cultivating an image as a repentant reformer. He’s been aided in this by widespread dissatisfaction with the Fatos Nano government, which was seen as extravagantly corrupt and increasingly isolated from the concerns of ordinary Albanians.
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When You’re Done You’re Done

You know I’m sure most of you think my constant references to Argentina in the context of Italy’s economic problems is troubling, possibly even irritating. You may well be right. I have to say that I followed Argentina steadily from 1998, waiting to see the inevitable happen. The principal problem was, lets be clear, the 1:1 dollar peg. This was the epoch of the internet/ICT boom, and a rapidly rising dollar. It’s not clear to me at all that had Argentina pegged to the dollar in 2002 it would have had the same problems so quickly. One of the problems with being attached to a rapidly rising currency is that your imports get cheaper, and your exports dearer.

Now for an apochryphal story. Late in the crisis, before the geyser finally blew, back in early December 2001, a friend of mine visited Argentina. Seeing some nice shoes in a shop window he entered the shop (you will remember Argentina was famous for its leather products: all those cows). On asking where the leather came from, he was informed ‘it’s from Brazil, Argentinian leather is too expensive’. One month later it was all over bar the shouting. Well…..
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The morning after

Well, it’s been another quiet night in Ukraine, but the demonstrations have continued again today – the live feed shows that Independence Square is full of people again with hundreds of orange flags flying.

There have been a lot of updates on Maidan overnight, mainly of protests and rallies around the world, and still the rumours about Russian troops continue. The main news there, and at the Kyiv Post are of the call for a general strike by Yuschenko.
Louise Ferguson has an email from a Ukrainian academic that’s being forwarded around the world which makes for interesting reading. The key line, when talking about the election fraud is ‘I couldn’t remember such things even during the period of Soviet regime.‘ (the full text is below the fold)
BBC News has a short rundown of the faults with the election process identified by the election observers.
Elsewhere the EU/Russia summit will go on today with Ukraine on the agenda – it’ll be interesting to see what comes out of there, and I suspect much will remain on hold until that is over. However, the EU’s mediators should be in Kiev by now, which means things will be going on behind the scenes that we won’t notice.
On the ground, there are blog updates from Neeka, Obdymok, several from Le Sabot, Foreign Notes and continuing posts from Victor at the Periscope.

I’ll try and update the news as often as I can today, but I’m a lot busier today than I was yesterday, so hopefully some of my Fistful colleagues will take up some of the slack. I think it will be quieter today – though rumours will still fly – mainly because all the action will be taking place behind the scenes either in The Hague or Kiev.

Update: A couple of peope have asked for background information on the ethnic and nationalistic divisions in Ukraine. Well, like many issues of national identity in Europe, the answer is ‘do you want the long story, or the really long story?’ but for an overview there’s good article in today’s Independent and Wikipedia is a good web source – you can start with their Ukraine page and follow links from there.
In my roundup earlier, I also forgot to mention that Harry’s Place has links to articles on attempts by the current Ukrainian administration to get support in Washington. Harry also links to a good Timothy Garton Ash article in The Guardian.
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