This article was originally published in The Economist on March 17th 2012
When Susan’s cousin died intestate in 2009, his 20-odd heirs were scattered in two countries and his property was spread across three. His death kicked off a lumbering international inheritance procedure. “We thought it would take a year,” Susan says (choosing to stay anonymous while the lawyers are still at work). It will probably last three.
Dealing with the belongings of the dead is a grim job, but trickiest when they cross borders. Two or more jurisdictions may claim the right to share out an estate (or all may deny responsibility for it). When a legatee lives in a third country it is harder still. “It’s like three dimensional chess,” says Richard Frimston, a lawyer. Read more
This article was originally published in The Economist on March 3rd 2012
IT WAS another good day for North Korea’s Workers’ Party. On July 24th 2011, amid music and gongs, the late Kim Jong Il shuffled past queuing throngs to cast his vote in the country’s local elections. Like everyone else, he voted for the ruling party; its 28,116 candidates were all elected unopposed on a 99.97% turnout.
Though such extreme cases are confined to the handful of remaining workers’ paradises, crude ballot-rigging is far from extinct. Alyaksandr Lukashenka, the Belarusian autocrat, has even admitted it publicly—he claimed he had ordered the result of the 2006 presidential election to be tweaked downwards in order to avoid an embarrassingly large majority. Of the 70-odd states holding national elections in 2012, Freedom House, a lobby, counts only 40 as full “electoral democracies”. Read more