Thailand searches for a new balance between monarchy and modernity
Thailand has a wealth of geographic, historical and economic advantages, and yet it lags in terms of political liberalization. It is more monarchy than democracy, an arrangement that worked to its advantage during the Cold War but is now holding it back. At issue is whether the country can find a new balance between the forces of tradition and modernity. If not, Thailand may become too weak to resist China’s expanding influence in the region.
Scenarios for Chad’s President Idriss Deby
Chad’s President Idriss Deby leads an authoritarian government that is increasingly under pressure, both politically and economically. However, his regime has been a strong ally of the West. A new constitution that strengthened his grip on power was approved this year, but it could, ironically, further undermine his legitimacy.
Opinion: In Nicaragua, the opposition must unite to oust Ortega
Since April, Nicaraguans have been protesting in the streets for an end to the regime of President Daniel Ortega. One of the original Sandinista leaders who brought down the Somoza family dictatorship 40 years ago, Mr. Ortega himself now faces accusations of authoritarianism. He is losing support, but unless opposition groups unify, Nicaragua’s leader could hold on for months.
Opinion: The spirit of ’68 and its legacy
The street revolts of 1968 targeted authority and promised liberation from the traditional social order. What they brought was an age of unbridled consumerism. In today’s infantilized societies, perhaps the only way to avoid a dystopian, technocratic version of “bread and games” is for the social pendulum to swing back toward personal responsibility – assuming anyone is still interested in such old-fashioned values.
Uzbekistan’s reforms: Opening a new era in Central Asia?
Uzbekistan’s new president, Shavkat Mirziyoyev, has embarked on a series of far-reaching reforms. While some domestic initiatives – such as strengthening the rule of law and liberalizing the market – will take more time to show results, a new, proactive foreign policy is already having positive effects. How far Tashkent will take these reforms is still in question, but a stronger Uzbekistan will mean a less influential Russia in the region.
GIS Dossier: The Western Balkans
Of all Europe’s trouble spots, the Western Balkans have a solid claim to being the most troublesome. One hundred years after the end of World War I, the region is finally stable and – save for a violent flare-up or two – peaceful. But plenty of tensions remain, corruption runs rampant and the rule of law is unevenly applied. With all these potential stumbling blocks, the region’s road toward prosperity remains bumpy. This Dossier reviews GIS reports on this region, so critical to Europe’s lasting peace.
The other Russia: Siberia as a model
Some call Siberia Russia's blessing, others its curse. But this vast region’s real buried riches can be found in its political culture. The Siberian values of individual freedom and political autonomy have so far not been overcome by Russia's statist centralism. Once the country's current policies run their course, this essential Russian region could replace them with its own unique democratic principles.
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.