This month’s calendar, though slim, holds some interesting juxtapositions. The Jordanians, who have been contending with their own version of an Arab Spring movement in the form of Palestinians and town Arabs who want a greater voice in a Parliament that is weighted heavily toward the Bedouins (traditional supporters of the king), will be making their choices a day after the Israelis go to the polls to elect a new government. How far to the right Israel moves will help to determine the outcome of Jordan’s election: The further right Israel moves, the more pressure it will put on Palestinians in Jordan to clamor for a greater say. Above all, they want Jordan to open its borders to more refugees from Syria’s own Palestinian refugee camps, something Jordan is loathe to do lest it tip the population balance against the traditional balance even more. Thus, the election could well start Jordan down the road of internal conflicts it has avoided for decades. Not a pretty thought.
The other interesting juxtaposition is the Czech Republic and Austria. The Czech Republic Presidential race is a contest between two former Communist Party officials who have both been Prime Minister in the past – Jan Fischer and Milos Zeman. Both are running from the left for the largely symbolic position, which will, however, give the winner future control of the Constitutional Court. In Austria, the contest is likely to be fought on the right, with the primary issue being whether or not Austria should remain in the Eurozone or return to the schilling. Here, The Czech Republic provides some guidance: It maintains its own currency, the koruny, which has appreciated versus the Euro over the years, but has not crippled international trade as many in Austria worry that a shift out of the Euro might do.