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At G-20, leaders look to save economy – and their own jobs

The global crisis has led to political upheaval in many countries, unseating three prime ministers in Europe alone.

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The European parliamentary elections in June are, for the same reason, likely to throw up maverick results, she adds.

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Britain's Brown faces 'short, dark window'

Of G-20 nations, elections are due in Indonesia, India, South Africa, Mexico, Germany, Japan, and Argentina this year. But no G-20 leader is perhaps as vulnerable as the summit host himself, Gordon Brown.

Prime Minister Brown must hold elections before the summer of 2010, and experts say time is running out. A brief poll revival last autumn, when he looked measured and statesmanlike in the early throes of the financial crisis, has died out.

"The public now believe the Tories are best able to handle the financial crisis," notes John Curtice, professor of politics at Strathclyde University in Glasgow, Scotland. "Brown has to hope that the latest version of the financial bailout will finally be the last major financial initiative they have to take. Don't think the G-20 will solve anything: It won't instill confidence."

Wyn Grant, a politics professor at Warwick University central England, concurs that Brown's window of opportunity looks short, dark, and unpromising. "I would be very surprised if the economy makes any recovery this year or next. I'm skeptical that these measures will have the desired effect in that time frame."

German, Japanese leaders on solid footing

For other G-20 leaders soon to face voters, things are slightly easier.

German and Japanese leaders may be safe, but that is largely more because of the woes of the respective opposition than because of any great successes notched up in dealing with the crisis.

In India, which holds staggered legislative elections in April and May, the ruling Congress party can fall back on the fact that growth hasn't gone negative. But it is slowing sharply, posing a different but just as awkward problem. Lal Krishan Advani, the leader of the opposition Bharatiya Janta Party (BJP) in India's Parliament, recently said that job cuts due to the global recession were posing "more danger than terrorism." There's fear that mass layoffs could spark off social turmoil in this crowded democracy of 1.13 billion people.

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