GIS Dossier: Corruption and political transformation
Graft has long been a feature of political systems where rewarding loyalty takes precedence over economic efficiency or the rule of law. But recent events in Latin America show that popular anger at corruption has become a force to be reckoned with – fueled by the power of global markets, the information revolution, and democratization movements. This report assesses the geopolitical implications.
Millennials and democratic socialism
Millennials are increasingly supporting socialism as a remedy for today’s political and economic ills. Just 30 years after the fall of the Berlin Wall, some might be surprised by this turn of events. A lack of academic rigor, cultural shifts and modern economic trends may all have contributed to the trend. So far, socialism has always ended in failure. Could the millennials’ version be different?
The Gambia’s critical moment
Two years ago, The Gambia managed to oust a dictator through a democratic election. It has opened up politically and economically, but the benefits are dribbling in slowly. Now its president, Adama Barrow, must decide whether to honor an agreement to stay in power for only three years or to serve out his constitutionally guaranteed term of five years. Both options pose risks for this West African state just getting back on its feet.
Opinion: Property rights and the challenges of transplanting institutions
Since the time of Adam Smith, economists have understood that the wealth or poverty of nations hinge on the quality of their institutions. Political, economic and social rules of the game can be inclusive, offering opportunities for prosperity to all, or extractive, protecting the rents of a few. But the international effort to introduce one such rule – formal property rights – shows that even simple changes can have complex and unwelcome effects in alien cultural settings.
Opinion: Populism as Reformation
Though it is popular to contrast “populism” with “democracy,” the two are more alike than different. Like the Reformation 500 years ago, today’s populist movements aim to wrest power from the elites and give it back to the people. Instead of petering out, variations on the democratic populist system are likely to multiply, and traditional democratic models may undergo a radical renewal.
Malaysia’s political transition: Mahathir to Anwar 2.0
Before his triumphant return to office at the unlikely age of 93, Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad made a deal to hand over power after an interim period to his former deputy-turned-bitter rival Anwar Ibrahim. Both men left the timing vague, intent to avoid any repeat of the falling-out that led to Mr. Anwar’s imprisonment in 1999. It might take Dr. Mahathir more than two years to clean up the previous government’s mess, but Mr. Anwar seems content to wait.
Opinion: Yellow Vests are a symptom of France’s dysfunctional democracy
With the Yellow Vest protests, France has finally fractured between its metropolitan areas and a resentful low-wage periphery. What started as a tax revolt has become a diffuse and unstructured uprising against an unaccountable ruling caste. Many of the movement’s demands would only perpetuate France’s administrative and social centralism, yet its appearance shows that this political model may no longer be sustainable.
Iraq at a crucial moment (Part 2)
Iraqi Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi’s to-do list reads like Mission Impossible. Staff his cabinet with honest officials; rebuild war-torn Sunni areas in the north; placate an angry Shia south that is desperately short of water and power; deal with Kurdish demands; reintegrate Iranian-backed militias into civilian life; balance carefully between Iran and the U.S. He must do all this without a secure parliamentary majority or even a solid support base. Mr. Abdul Mahdi’s position as an honest broker gives him great strength, but if he fails, Iraq could become Libya.
Iraq at a crucial moment (Part 1)
Iraq’s new prime minister, Adel Abdul Mahdi, was reportedly hand-picked at meeting in Beirut by the leaders of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards Corps and Hezbollah. Yet the man they chose is far from a radical. Close examination of Mr. Abdul Mahdi’s career shows him to be an experienced, honest and gutsy politician, friendly to the U.S. and hardly in Tehran’s pocket. The task he faces is gargantuan, but Mr. Abdul Mahdi has hidden strengths.
GIS Dossier: Europe as a global player: The Maghreb and sub-Saharan Africa
The most important part of Europe’s security perimeter in the 21st century may be its southern rim. The migration crisis of 2015 was only a foretaste of the demographic, economic and political pressures that are building up in the Maghreb and sub-Saharan Africa. Yet the approaches tried by European powers in this vital and growing region have generally failed. They need to get it right as new rival enters the neighborhood – China.