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Time for a change

, June 23, 2014, 0 Comments

Time to change Spain & Middle East-MarketExpress-inSpain woke up to the surprise of King Juan Carlos abdication recently, after his almost 40 years in power and a number of corruption scandals over the last few years. His son Felipe seems to be next in line, despite the thousands of Spaniards that called for a public referendum in the streets of Madrid and Barcelona today.

But this is not the only recent change in monarchy. Only in 2013, Queen Beatrix of Netherlands, Albert II of Belgium, Sheikh Hamad Al Thani of Qatar and even Pope Benedict XVI quit their jobs. This however will not be the case of Queen Elizabeth II, who believes that their job is given by God and should be for life. Right.

The case of Al Thani is especially relevant, as the monarchies in the Middle East, unlike the Europeans, do matter. The Arab Kings (or Emirs or Sultans) are very active in foreign policy and in the finances of the country, with most of them sitting at the management and investment committees of their Sovereign Wealth Funds. The new Qatari Sheikh Tamim has already had some issues with his neighbors, and everyone is expectant to see his relationship with the upcoming monarchs once King Abdullah of Saudi and Sheikh Khalifa of UAE give way.

Besides the non-democratic changes, there will be a total of 40 national elections in the world during 2014, including South Africa (no change), India (Narendra Modi is the new prime minister – I was there last Monday as he was sworn in), the European Union (just happened), Turkey (Aug), Brazil (Oct) and the United States (Nov). To top it all, we will have two referendums for Catalonia and Scotland to become independent at the end of the year.

In some cases, the continuous financial difficulties have made people push harder for a revolution. There were a few surprises during the EU elections of last weekend, although economists expect little variation. In other cases, the elections have brought an opportunity to revitalize the hopes of countries like India (and maybe Brazil). Lastly, in the case of the Middle East, the changes may be coincidental but are happening at a crucial time in the global context.