The global economic crisis heightens the potential for social unrest in Asia, where millions of people suddenly out of work will demand governments take swift and decisive action, analysts say.
And while the prospect of regimes being overthrown is remote at the moment, they say, it will depend also on how long and how deep the financial turmoil goes, in a region not unfamiliar with major political upheaval.
“It’s impossible to predict at the moment but the historical record suggests that serious and protracted economic crises may have, in some cases, serious political impact,” said Tim Huxley.
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The executive director of the International Institute for Strategic Studies in Asia cited Europe’s experience during the Great Depression in the 1930s which fuelled the rise of far-right political movements in the run-up to World War II.
“At the moment there’s no reason to think that the present crisis will lead to major instability in any Southeast Asian country but it is simply too early to say,” Huxley said.
US intelligence chief Dennis Blair last week warned that the current crisis — the worst since the Great Depression — could lead to “regime-threatening instability” worldwide.