First Past the Post: December 19

East and South Asia

Bookies aren’t as excited as pollsters about the BJP’s chances in Gujarat’s election (votes to be counted Dec. 20).

Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi and his road to Delhi.

The South China Morning Post four-part series on Bo Xilai focuses on his, uhhh, torture chambers.

Rising Chinese Communist Party star Hu Chunhua will replace Wang Yang as the party chair of Guangdong province.

So can Shinzō Abe save Japan’s economy?

The Democratic Party of Japan will choose a new leader on Dec. 22.

Has Abe’s new government already reached an accord with the Bank of Japan for a 2% inflation target?

North America

An independent inquiry finds fault with U.S. state department in Benghazi attack.

Foreign Policy notes its top books of 2012.

Latin America / Caribbean

Troubling signs about the Argentine government’s fight to break up media group Clarín.

Venezuelan president Hugo Chávez is recovering from surgery and a respiratory infection.


South African president Jacob Zuma has defeated deputy president Kgalema Motlanthe by nearly a 3-to-1 margin in the African National Congress leadership vote.

A profile of Cyril Ramaphosa, the man who will replace Motlanthe as deputy president.

More revelations about the Jubilee Alliance in Kenya.


Catalunya seems headed for a stable government and a referendum vote in 2014.

French president François Hollande goes to Algeria on the 50th anniversary of independence.

An ally of former rightist prime minister Silvio Berlusconi, economics spokesman Renato Brunetta, savages prime minister Mario Monti’s austerity, calls for lower taxes.

Ukrainian president Viktor Yanukovych cancels a trip to Moscow.

Middle East

Iraq’s Kurdish president, Jalal Talabani, has had a stroke.

Amr Moussa warns not to continue Egypt’s constitutional referendum on Dec. 22.

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