Two important leadership processes will take place in coming months that will have significant implications around the globe.
The United States will conduct its 57th Presidential election on 6 November with incumbent Democrat President Barack Obama being challenged by Republican nominee Mitt Romney.
Later this year the Chinese Communist Party will hold the 18th meeting of its National People's Congress, which will oversee the generational change in the party leadership that only takes place once every 10 years.
Both leadership processes are taking place during a period of economic uncertainty, domestically and internationally.
The early stages of the campaign for the US presidential election have laid the groundwork for what is shaping up to be an acrimonious and personal campaign.
On the economic front, the recent release of employment statistics showed that the US economy remains in the doldrums despite trillions spent on stimulus and other efforts to generate growth.
Already Democrats are seeking to counteract the inevitable Republican assault on President Obama, with a coordinated attack on Romney's personal wealth (estimated at more than $250 million), his business dealings and his character.
Due for imminent release is a film made by a former Republican policy adviser about the President's half-brother George Obama, who lives in a slum on the outskirts of Kenya's capital city Nairobi.
The film reportedly seeks to compare the lifestyle of the President with that of an African slum in order to portray President Obama as heartless for not doing more to support his sibling.
While the US has a robust political system, the danger of this bare-knuckle campaigning is that it will deepen the existing enmity between the two major parties and reduce the potential for compromise on important economic policy debates.
This was reinforced in recent days when leading Democrats reportedly said they are prepared to take the US over a "fiscal cliff" whereby the Bush administration tax cuts will expire and large scheduled spending cuts are automatically activated.
While I do not subscribe to the theory that the US is in an irreversible decline, there is little doubt it faces tough times.
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