Domestic palace politics undermining G7 response to global crises


Marcia JordanMarcia Jordan | Updated: 16-11-2022 17:10 IST | Created: 16-11-2022 17:04 IST
Domestic palace politics undermining G7 response to global crises
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With soaring inflation setting off economic alarm bells, US voters took to the polls on 8 November in crucial midterm elections that will determine Congress's ability to tackle the looming crisis. Staving off the anticipated "red wave," the Democrats have held on to the Senate, although the Republicans will likely wrangle the House of Representatives from their control.

This split Congress would trigger a period of legislative gridlock, potentially leading to a revenge-fueled Biden impeachment witch-hunt that would waste precious time and resources at an economically perilous moment for citizens. This plague of palace politics has also infected other leading G7 powers, such as Germany and Japan, contributing to a dearth of leadership at a time when tackling urgent global economic, climate and geopolitical security challenges must be a priority.

US politics descending into chaos

Regardless of the outcome, the US midterms elections have displayed the disheartening extent to which its landscape has digressed into tribal hatred and mistrust. Donald Trump's endless "stolen election" refrain and Russia's persistent, openly-admitted election interference have eroded the fundamental faith in the electoral system on which all democracies rest. Meanwhile, radicalised armed fanatics are fueling a climate of political violence and fear created by the 6 January attack on the Capitol.

While senior GOP leaders have adopted an ambiguous impeachment stance in recent days, incessant calls for Biden's impeachment since his first day in office will not simply disappear. Far-right House representatives such as Marjorie Taylor Greene, Joe Kent, and Claudia Tenney have lent their voices to this cynical agenda, with the former all but staking her reputation on this politically-motivated payback. Republicans privately admit the dubious nature of this impeachment drive, but considering the MAGA base that its Trumpian figures have whipped into a frenzy and armed with the political means, it is doubtful that they would be able to resist the temptation.

Japan and Germany following suit

As the world descends into economic chaos and insecurity, the US's key G7 allies are equally allowing bitter internal divisions to divert attention from urgent global issues.

In Japan, the assassination of former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe last July has cast in the public eye the Unification Church, a South Korea-founded religious organisation that took root in Japan in the 1960s. The culprit was motivated by excessive donations coerced from his mother by members of the church, of which he believed Abe and his Liberal Democratic party (LDP) to be supporters.

This revelation has triggered a sharp dip in approval ratings for Prime Minister Fimio Kishida and his LDP party, prompting a government investigation into the Unification Church in October, fueling a climate of hysteria marked by a purge of Unification Church-linked MPs amid calls to further explore fears of church influence over policymaking. Worryingly, the political chaos and governmental instability this has caused risks undermining efforts to pass the government's much-needed economic stimulus package – potentially condemning Japan to a politically and economically weaker position in the region.

Meanwhile, Germany is grappling with its own bogeyman: nuclear energy. After over a decade of phasing out leading up to December 2022, Putin's weaponisation of Russian gas has ignited a fierce debate in the government over whether to continue nuclear energy production to get through the winter "energy crunch." The federal coalition government failed to agree on a temporary extension for three nuclear plants until April 2023, resulting in Chancellor Olaf Scholz passing an executive decision on 17 October.

But the dispute is far from over, with the third coalition partner, the Free Democratic Party (FDP) calling for continued nuclear energy beyond this new deadline into 2024, a proposition that the Greens are unlikely to accept due to irrational, ideological safety concerns, with party co-leader Ricarda Lang recently declaring that nuclear "is not the future," despite its vital role in fueling the green transition.

G7's avalanche of crises

This ideologically-fueled domestic infighting threatens to weaken the G7's collective response to an avalanche of global crises, from climate change and recession to geopolitical instability.

The World Health Organisation has identified climate change as the "biggest health threat facing humanity," which biblical floods in Pakistan and catastrophic droughts in Africa this year can attest to. Yet as many leaders at the ongoing COP27 summit in Egypt are highlighting, developing countries have not done nearly enough to finance climate adaptation and "loss and damage" desperately needed in the global South, where developing countries are bearing the brunt of climate change overwhelmingly fueled by emissions from industrialised countries.

And given the inflation crisis and looming recession, G7 countries like the US, Germany and Japan will become increasingly limited in their climate finance capacities. Inflation in the G7 is pushing 8%, with Germany and the UK both reaching 10%, fueled by soaring food and energy prices. The cost-of-living crisis, the Ukraine war, and the Covid-19 pandemic have created a perfect storm to impede economic development, with G7 countries looking at minimal, and even negative, growth in 2023. Persistently high prices and weak growth could result in long-term "stagflation," which would likely trigger a significant rise in unemployment, according to economist Nouriel Roubini.

Beyond the inflation crisis, Putin's invasion of Ukraine has also sparked an uptick in geopolitical tensions. Russia's key ally, China, emboldened with an enhanced military and aggressive defense policy, has increased hostility towards Taiwan in recent months with military drills and concerning rhetoric, with Xi instructing his army in November to "focus all its energy on fighting" ahead of a potential war. North Korea too has escalated Pacific tensions with provocative missile tests, developments which represent a major security threat to Japan and the US, its ally and regional security guarantor.

The coming months will require a level of political focus and cooperation to tackle these challenges entirely incongruous with palace politics. Faced with concurrent global crises, G7 leaders such as the US, Germany and Japan simply cannot afford to afford to veer off course amid domestic turmoil and abdicate their responsibilities to its citizens and the planet.

(Disclaimer: The opinions expressed are the personal views of the author. The facts and opinions appearing in the article do not reflect the views of Devdiscourse and Devdiscourse does not claim any responsibility for the same.)

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