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 deteriorating economy will certainly have an impact on the electorate," says Montek Singh Ahluwalia, the deputy chairman of India's Planning Commission.Skip to next paragraph
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Russia's Putin losing popularity
Job strife is proving unsettling even for leaders who don't face elections any time soon. The French have in recent weeks twice reminded the world why they are the best in the world at striking and marching. Three in four people support the strike action. President Nicolas Sarkozy has already signaled his concern by offering financial concessions.
Russia's sputtering economy is meanwhile of grave concern to Vladimir Putin, even though elections are not due for years and rarely trouble him.
Hundreds of thousands of job losses and a rash of small, short-lived protests, have provided the first real challenge to Putin's authority. "The country that could see the worst reaction is Russia," warns Mr. Duckenfield. "Vladimir Putin is not as popular as he was last summer."
Rising unemployment and growing restlessness poses problems for non-democrats too.
In China, more than 8 million recent university graduates are out of work, and more than 20 million migrant workers have been fired in the past four months from their jobs in the factories that powered China's export boom before the crisis dried up world demand for Chinese goods.
China has already seen small-scale riots and protests, and Prime Minister Wen Jiabao told the country's rubber stamp parliament in March that "we will improve the early warning system for social stability to actively prevent and properly handle all types of mass incidents."
"Contradictions in the economic arena have interacted with contradictions in other arenas," Chen Jiping, a top Communist party official, warned 'Outlook,' a party magazine, recently. "It will be a challenging task to maintain and control law and order in the country this year."
"If the economy keeps deteriorating, and if prices go up and migrant workers can't find jobs there might be problems," says Liu Shanying, a researcher at the government-run Chinese Academy for Social Sciences think tank in Beijing. "People's patience is limited and the pressures of life are real."