Country of The Year: Bangladesh almost won the accolade
12:00 AM, December 24, 2017 / LAST MODIFIED: 05:25 AM, December 24, 2017

Country of The Year: Bangladesh was seriously considered

Bangladesh came close to winning the Economist's “country of the year” title this year.

Three other countries -- Argentina, South Korea and France -- were also in contention for the accolade.

The London-based weekly news magazine put Bangladesh on its list, citing the country's giving shelter to the persecuted Rohingyas.

It also mentioned Bangladesh's rapid economic growth and a sharp fall in poverty rates.

“We make mistakes. In 2015 we picked Myanmar, for moving from 'larcenous dictatorship' to 'something resembling democracy'. We acknowledged that its treatment of the Rohingya minority was disgraceful, but failed to predict how much worse it would soon get. This year, after more than 600,000 Rohingyas fled their smouldering villages to avoid being raped and slaughtered by the Burmese army, we are tempted to name next-door Bangladesh as the country of the year for taking in so many of them.”

However, the Economist did not eventually select Bangladesh, saying, "Had it not crushed civil liberties and allowed Islamists free rein to intimidate, it might have won."

The magazine picked France instead as its country of the year for Emmanuel Macron's victory in the presidential elections in 2017, defying all expectations.

"The struggle between the open and closed visions of society may well be the most important political contest in the world right now. France confronted the drawbridge-raisers head on and beat them. For that, it is our country of the year," it mentioned.

Centrist Macron's win, without the backing of a traditional party, followed by his start-up Republic on the Move (LREM) movement winning the most seats in the National Assembly, was a "stunning upset".

Macron campaigned for a France that is open to people, goods and ideas from abroad, and to social change at home, the magazine pointed out, adding in six months he and his party have passed a series of sensible reforms, including an anti-corruption bill and a loosening of France's rigid labour laws.

The “country of the year” has been awarded since 2013, going to countries that have notably changed for the better over the past 12 months or made the world brighter.

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