Within a few days, we will be embarking upon a new year. Before that, let us step back and review our current year. 2012 seen the rise of new leaders, conflicts and milestones. Here is the list of the top 5 political events of 2012 (from most significant to least significant):
1. Leadership Transition- U.S Presidential Election and Communist Change
The death of Kim Jong-il brought about national mourning: state television channel newscasters cried on air and assemblies of students were recorded to have synchronised sobbings. His third son and apparent heir, Kim Jong-Un was officially declared the supreme leader of North Korea. Early November, incumbent President Barack Obama won his second term as the President United States against Governor Mitt Romney. Not quite as youthful as the 2008-poster-boy-for-change version of himself, Obama still managed to convince his fellow countrymen that he deserves to serve them for another four years. Two weeks after Obama’s victory, Xi Jinping was elected to the post of General Secretary of the Communist Party of China. Being the heads of three major countries in the international arena, their rise (or return, in the case of Obama) to power is definitely something to pay close attention to along with how they will manage domestic and international affairs in years to come.
2. Assasination attempt of Malala Yousafzai
An education activist and a strong advocator for women’s rights, Malala Yousafzai gained international spotlight when she was shot in head in an assassination attempt by the Taliban. At the age of 12, Malala wrote a blog for the BBC detailing her life under the Taliban rule which bans girls from attending school. The attempted assassination was to shut her up. She survived the attack, but remained unconscious most of the time until she was transferred to the United Kingdom for rehabilitation. The incident drew international coverage and produced floods of sympathy along with outflows of rage. Malala’s story served as a wake up call to the world, bringing attention to how severely oppressed the Swats are – especially the women – by the Talibans.
3. The Eurozone Crisis
The ongoing financial crisis within 17 European Union member states, who have adopted the euro (€) as their common currency, have led to major political shift in some of the countries. The unprecedented change of governments in countries like Italy and France are a telltale sign of the impacts of the crisis. In Italy, the Government of Silvio Berlusconi lost its majority, resigned and was replaced by the Government of Mario Monti. In France, 2012 was the first time since 1981 that an incumbent had failed to gain a second term, when Nicolas Sarkozy lost to François Hollande. The rocky economy of the Eurozone has been the source of great challenge to European leaders to retain the faith of the European people. Now the question remains, Can the Euro survive? George Soros famously quoted back in June 2012 that it had “only days to live”. Well, well, the euro is still here – but so is the crisis.
4. The conflict in Syria
The escalating violence caused by both government and opposition groups have caused an estimated 40,000 deaths and the internal displacement of a million more. In March, in an attempt to stop the violence, the United Nations appointed Kofi Annan, former Secretary General, to produce a “peace plan” but have failed after both the Assad regime and the opposition did not succeed in coming to a compromise. He later resigned, quoting “when the Syrian people desperately need action, there continues to be finger-pointing and name-calling in the Security Council.” While the violence continues, humanitarian needs are escalating and millions of refugees displaced.
5. London Olympics
Who can forget, the sight of Queen Elizabeth II and Daniel Craig apparently jumping off a helicopter (they were both stuntmen of course) and Rowan Atkinson reprising his role as Mr Bean even only for a few minutes. The Summer London Olympics was one of this year’s main highlights. Put aside the accolades, Wojdan Ali Seraj Abdulrahim Shahrkhani and Sarah Attar became the first batch of women athletes from Saudi Arabia to participate in the Olympics. After strong pressure from the International Olympic Committee, the Saudi Olympic Committee relented and broke its controversial grounds of male-only athletes to compete in the games. This marks the first ever Olympics in which every national team includes a woman which is a huge stepping stone for the representation of women in conservative countries.