In With the Old and In With the New

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This has been a hell of a roller coaster ride year for Europe. First, financial crisis had spread across the European Union, and sporadic riots sparked in countries such as Greece. Now we have two–err–one new president in France and a familiar face taking the helm in Russia. A socialist by the name of Francois Hollande has clearly nabbed Nicholas Sarkozy’s job, after edging him in this year’s election in France.

Francois Hollande clinches French presidency.

Meanwhile, in Russia, Vladimir Putin is once again the president after much criticism and protest on the streets of Moscow preceding the election. Vladimir Putin was the president from 2000 to 2008, then served as prime minister after handing the seat over to Dmitry Medvedev, the hapless president sandwiched by Putin’s past and present terms. Medvedev was practically a bench warmer whilst Putin waited to be eligible to run for presidency again. Many people say that Medvedev was but a mere puppet of Putin, a sort of Manchurian Candidate. Conspiracy theories abound, but in post-Soviet Russia, theories and reality are separated by a thin, blurry line.

The future of these two nations will be both exciting and worrisome to watch unfold. Politically and economically speaking, the new French president, Francois Hollande, will be on the radar of the international community. I’m eager to know how much other socialist leaders, such as Venezuela’s Hugo Chavez and Bolivia’s Evo Morales, rub elbows with Hollande. How will he react to such political flirtation? Will his actions deviate from his campaign promises? What will be his stance towards Iran and North Korea once France’s political allies ask him to go in their corner?

A more interesting question is if Putin will change or remain grounded in his stance towards Iran and North Korea, the latter a nation that also has a relatively new leader after the death of Kim Jong-il. Russia and China have a track record of going against the rest of the international community’s response towards the two “rogue states” with nuclear ambitions.

If Barack Obama doesn’t win in this year’s presidential election, Mitt Romney, the Republican Party’s nominee, will take over as Commander-in-Chief. How will his administration deal with a socialist Frenchman, since accusations of President Obama being a closet-socialist flew left from right during the Republican primaries?

The Mayan Doomsday prophecy regarding 2012 may not come true, but there are definitely major paradigm shifts this year that could very well affect the world beyond December 21st.