Mexico’s political system faces a defining moment
Less than a year ahead of a presidential election, Mexicans have lost faith in the political establishment. Enter Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, who promises to end corruption and crony capitalism. He is leading the polls, but his unpredictability and criticism of free markets has business leaders spooked. The main parties will probably cooperate to keep him out of office – but can they clean up their act?
Central Europe is not less European or less democratic
Parties unfairly labeled “euroskeptic” and “populist” have won elections in Austria and the Czech Republic. But they only want to preserve sovereignty and regional diversity. Western Europe likes to look down on Central Europe as nationalist and backward, but the real political problems in Europe stem from established parties’ headlong push toward harmonization and their refusal to accept new ideas.
Opinion: Regional disparities strike back in northern Italy
Two northern Italian regions have voted overwhelmingly in support of more autonomy from Rome. They are two of the country’s richest areas, frequently paying more in taxes than they receive in public spending, and the vote laid bare the dissatisfaction over this disparity. Worse, the money being transferred to poorer parts of Italy has not lifted them out of poverty. Italy can no longer sweep these issues under the rug. Federalism is now back on the table.
Opinion: Catalonia, Kurdistan and the legitimacy of independence
Catalonia and Kurdistan will soon hold referenda on independence. The international community has been less than supportive of these regions’ right to make such a decision. But the right to self-determination is fundamental. Moreover, keeping regions in a country where they do not want to remain can be harmful. On the other hand, using democratic systems to allow independence votes can make governments more efficient and populations more unified.
Scenarios for the future of the EU-Turkey relationship
The relationship between Turkey and the European Union is on the rocks. Turkey cannot be considered eligible for membership, but the accession process remains officially ongoing. A collapse of the talks seems likely – but that would cause more problems than it would solve. Forging a new kind of partnership would have plenty of benefits, but would require ending accession negotiations. Sticking with the status quo gives both sides what they want, for now.
Olympic spending and democratic accountability
Rich, Western nations are less and less eager to host the Olympics. Dictatorships and countries with weak democracies are more than willing to take them on, however. That is because democratic societies have become aware of the costs, and their representatives are more accountable. Leaders in countries where freedoms are restricted see a chance to buff their image, and do not have to answer to the people.
Democracy in crisis
The liberal democratic order has been losing its appeal for years as politics has come to depend more on loyalty to a leader than adherence to ideology. As opposing sides coalesce around increasing the power of the state, they focus on attacking personalities rather than policies. This has led to polarization, a loss of democratic ideals and the rise of populism.