Murari Sharma: Why summer brings political turmoil

Is there a connection, if not causality, between tsunami in politics and summer? No one seems to have carefully studied the association or no one has bothered to post their findings on google. My google search returned anything but this association. But something must be there to explain as to why political activities reach their crescendo in the warm season.

July appears to be the month of political turmoil across the world this year. Not every turmoil has manifested in July, though. Some appeared before the month, but left behind a trail of perilous aftereffects for July. Some occurred in this very month. All of them have serious consequences, some for their countries and the wider world and others largely for their respective countries. Some political convulsions will emerge in the remaining days of this summer.

The most earthshaking tsunami has culminated in the United States. Started early this year, the presidential primaries have reached their apex. The Republican Party has coronated Donald Trump — reportedly a nativist, xenophobic, Islamophobic, Mexicophobic, and isolationist bigot and real estate tycoon with frequent records of bankruptcies and bullying — as its official candidate in its quadrennial convention in Cleveland last week.

The United States and the world have much to fear of global economic and political instability from the Manichean Donal Trump if he wins the presidential election in November this year. Even the fear of a Third World War is being bandied around.

The Democratic Party will crown Hillary Clinton — the former secretary of state and first lady, who has been accused by the opposition of lying and wheeling and dealing for money and power — as its bell weather in its congregation in Philadelphia later this month for the most powerful office in the world. Under Clinton, the United States and the world can expect the business as usual — no significant departure from the policies of her former boss, Barack Obama.

In the United Kingdom, politics and markets have been convulsed by the people’s decision in the referendum of last month to quit the European Union. Then Prime Minister David Cameron has lost his job and Theresa May has taken his place. The Labor Party is in the throe of selecting its own leader, as the majority of members of parliament was not inspired by Jeremy Corbyn’s campaign to keep Britain in the EU.

The result of the referendum has shaken the markets. The sterling has lost more than 10 percent of its value. According to the purchasing managers’ index prepared by Markit, a financial information company, business confidence in Britain has slid significantly and GDP is expected to follow suit. Britain’s divorce with the EU, when it happens, will hit European economies hard and may also have a wider impact across the world.

In Turkey, a section of the military staged a coup against the Islamist President Erdogan. Erdogan was able to crush the coup quickly. Now he has declared a state of emergency, partially withdrawn from the European Convention on Human Rights, and engaged in a witchhunt, arresting several thousand people, including military personnel, teachers, civil servants and others. It will further erode Turkey’s democracy and weakens its economy, reduce its chances to join the EU, and send negative ripples to the rest of the Middle East.

Japan held its general election on 10 July. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s Liberal Democratic Party not only secured a majority in the parliament, but also increased the number of seats. The election has strengthened the premier’s hand to revitalize the moribund economy for decades and to develop Japan as a military power. The actions of Japan, the third largest economy in the world, will affect the global economy and regional security.

Then there are other countries facing political storm, but they have only limited, local effect. Among such countries is Nepal, where political instability is a staple. This month, the government of Prime Minister KP Oli, of the Communist Party of Nepal (UML) collapsed following a no-confidence motion in the parliament.  Its impact will be limited to Nepal and to China and India. India and China have been in their strategic contest to win the political and economic soul of Nepal.

Why political storms, just like the hurricanes in the Southern Atlantic Ocean, rise in summer? Bhasin et al have found that vitamin D, most of which comes from sunlight, improves performance. Pilz et al suggest that supplementing vitamin D increases testosterone levels. On the other hand, Svartberg et al’s research leads us to believe that there is an inverse association between hours of daylight and temperature and testosterone levels. The science seems unsettled yet.

However, either because they have increased testosterone levels in summer or because they want to kill their ennui with political steroids, politicians organize conventions, elections and no-confidence motions to kill their ennui and bring in some vigor in their life. Long daylight and comfortable temperature give a greater opportunity for political scheming and conspiracies. People for the same reason participate in them.

July is just the beginning. Wait for more political turmoil in the remaining days of this summer.


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