First Past the Post: January 31

East and South Asia

Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe will determine his government’s stance on the Trans-Pacific Partnership before summer upper-house elections.

Taking a closer look at South Korean president-elect Park Guen-hye’s prime ministerial blunder.

North America

Calculated Risk on why the United States should not be too worried about its apparent 0.1% contraction in 4Q 2012.

Jonathan Chait at New York Magazine on why the US should be worried.

Latin America / Caribbean

Rafael Correa has a commanding 56% lead in advance of the Feb. 17 Ecuador presidential election — businessman Guillermo Lasso is his nearest competition with 13%.

Efraín Ríos Montt will face trial for genocide and crimes against humanity conducted while leading Guatemala in the 1980s.

More Ríos Montt background here.  [Spanish]

One economist on the performance of Peruvian president Ollanta Humala.

AMLO loses his battle over the July 2012 Mexican presidential election.


Zimbabwe — the country — has apparently only $217 left in its coffers. (Kickstarter, anyone?)

The grammatical ‘boo-boos’ of Nigerian president Goodluck Jonathan.

Shell will pay some compensation to Nigerian farmers following largely pro-Shell Dutch ruling.  More here.

French forces have taken the key northern Mali town of Kidal.

Patrice Motsepe, Africa’s wealthiest black man, will donate half his wealth to the poor.

Looking at the next Malagasy election.


French voters lack confidence in president François Hollande by a 65% to 30% margin.

A look at where voters stand if snap Czech parliamentary elections occur, amid new pressure on Petr Nečas’s government on the EU fiscal compact.

Benjamin Elsner and Klaus F. Zimmermann publish research on migration to Germany in the decade following EU enlargement.

Felix Salmon at Reuters examines the soon-to-be-previewed European financial transactions tax.

Lady Ashton weighs in on the Russian ‘gay propaganda’ ban.

Yanukovych’s ‘family’ spreads its tentacles in Ukraine.

UK senior Tory Kenneth Clarke says that leaving the EU would be a fatal mistake.

Looking back on the rise of Adolf Hitler on its 80th anniversary.

Middle East

Egyptian military chief Abdul Fattah al-Sisi warns the political crisis could lead to state collapse. (How far are we from a ‘memorandum coup’ circa Turkey 1997?)

Israeli president Shimon Peres meets party leaders following last week’s elections.

Tunisian Salafists on the rise?

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