First Past the Post: March 5

Sukhumbhand Paribatra

East and South Asia

Chinese premier Wen Jiabao kicks off the National People’s Congress with an address and an official goal of 7.5% growth.

Malaysia strikes in Borneo — one of the most bizarre relationships in international affairs.

Incumbent Bangkok governor Sukhumbhand Paribatra (pictured above) of the Democrat Party won reelection on Sunday.

Haruhiko Kuroda begins confirmation hearings in Japan’s Diet to become the next Bank of Japan governor.

Another minister designee of South Korean president Park Guen-hye steps aside.

North America

A tough spell for Alberta premier Alison Redford — the populist Wildrose is once again leading polls.

The New Democrats seem set to win the British Columbia provincial elections in May.

Canadian MP Marc Garneau challenged Justin Trudeau for running a campaign without substance at a Liberal Party leadership debate on Sunday.

Latin America / Caribbean

Venezuelan president Hugo Chávez has a new respiratory condition — not a good trajectory for the cancer-stricken leader.

Francisco Toro and Juan Cristobal Nagel have compiled the best of the past decade of posts at their always-thoughtful Caracas Chronicles into a book.

Brazil’s economy grew by just 0.9% in 2012. [Portuguese]

Puerto Rican governor Alejandro García Padilla wants to boost the economy through energy and tourism.

Sub-Saharan Africa

Uhuru Kenyatta leads in the early Kenyan presidential results, but it’s still too early to know much of anything as of 1 a.m. EST (yes, the counting is very slow).

Full interactive results from Kenya’s IEBC here.

Forget ethnicity — Kenya has two tribes, rich and poor.

Some honest mocking of lazy Western media tropes on Kenya.

Djibouti’s opposition gets a warning from the government.

Keep an eye on western Kenya’s result, in particular.

Some kudos to outgoing Kenyan president Mwai Kibaki for remaining relatively above the fray in the current election.

Defeated Ghanaian presidential candidate Nana Akufo-Addo gets his day at the supreme court on March 14.

Nigeria is set to eclipse South Africa as the continent’s largest economy.


More than two-thirds of Swiss voters have approved curbs on executive compensation in a referendum.

Rumbles that the current governor of the Bank of Italy, Ignazio Visco, may lead a technocratic government.  I think that’s unlikely, but there it is.

Beppe Grillo’s army of newly-elected Five Star Movement deputies comes to Rome.

Germany will veto extending the Schengen free-border zone to Romania and Bulgaria later this week.

Labour still leads the Nationalist Party in advance of Maltese elections on March 9.

Former Polish president Lech Walesa is in trouble for making anti-gay remarks.

Charlemagne at The Economist checks in on Golden Dawn, Greece’s neo-nazi party.

Denmark’s conservatives would improve their poll standing if Lars Barfoed were to step down as leader.

Czech president Václav Klaus will face treason charges from the Czech senate in his final days in office over a pardon scandal.

Russia and Former Soviet Union

Fredrik M Sjoberg, writing at The Monkey Cage, argues why there might be something to claims of electoral fraud in Armenia by presidential loser Raffi Hovannisian.

Russian president Vladimir Putin and Ukrainian president Viktor Yanukovych are meeting to discuss natural gas and customs unions.

Middle East and North Africa

Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu spoke to the American Israeli Public Affairs Committee in Washington by satellite Monday.

It looks like Netanyahu will cave on including the haredim in his next government coalition.

More on Tunisia.

Tough interview with former UK prime minister Tony Blair on Iraq, a decade later (see below).

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