Modi’s economy faces the voters
The Modi government in India enters the last year of its term with mixed economic results. The prime minister has moderated inflation and carried out important reforms, but growth remains slow and many Indians are pessimistic about their financial situation. With elections coming next April and several external threats on the horizon, a second term for Narendra Modi is in doubt.
Algeria’s ‘system’ hangs tough
Algeria seems headed down a road already taken by other resource-rich authoritarian countries like Venezuela. Low oil and gas prices have made it harder for a crony oligarchy to buy off the public with subsidies and benefits. Their latest expedient to stave off reforms is to use the central bank to fund a government stimulus program, but that only delays the day of reckoning.
Opinion: Italy at risk
Italy’s new left-right government is a political experiment that could turn out in one of two ways: either a disguised version of business as usual, or a complete disaster. Many observers assumed that Lega leader Matteo Salvini would manufacture the disaster on purpose to take Italy out of the euro. Now, it appears more likely that the financial crisis – if and when it comes – will occur by accident rather than design.
Brazilian politics in turmoil as general election nears
With Brazil’s political class totally discredited and its key player, former President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, serving a 12-year jail sentence, all bets are off for the October general election. Assuming the incarcerated Mr. Lula doesn’t find a legal loophole allowing him to run, the current front-runner is a former Army captain, Jair Bolsano, with a far-right agenda. Brazilians are so angry that nearly half of them favor a return to military rule, under certain circumstances – but for now, that still seems inconceivable.
Before leaping at the opportunity to question the results of Sunday's election in Turkey, politicians and media in Europe and the United States would do well to consider the basis of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's appeal. Until Western leaders take into account Turkey's emerging regional role and interests, they cannot hope to have any influence on its politics.
Russia’s new government shows tensions beneath the surface
It has become clear that Russian President Vladimir Putin’s reelection means another term in office for Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev and his government. To some, the lack of new faces shows the regime is headed for a period of inertia and stagnation. This view is understandable, but it is wrong.
Italy – the West’s weakest link?
There is growing concern in Europe and the United States that Italy could turn out to be the weakest link in the chain of resistance to Russian misconduct. Its rising parties of protest, the Five Star Movement and La Lega, want sanctions against Russia dropped. But Italy has always fancied itself a bridge between East and West. When push comes to shove, it has generally toed the line set by NATO and the EU.
Turkey and the West – distant yet inseparable
Turkey’s growing estrangement from the West stems from its domestic and regional ambitions, as well as from a feeling of being unwanted in the European Union. There is also a deeper undercurrent, present since the founding of the Turkish Republic, that questions the Kemalist strategy of a radical alignment with Europe. Even so, a total break with its Western partners is not on the cards.
Opinion: Where is Italy headed?
For two months, Italy’s Five Star Movement and its leader Luigi Di Maio have tried to assemble a cabinet with the mainstream parties of the center-right (Silvio Berlusconi) or center-left (Matteo Renzi). So far, they have failed. But those who assume Italy is doomed to return to the polls underestimate the capacity of Italian politicians for compromise – especially since a weak government suits nearly everybody.
Corruption in Latin America
The Odebrecht scandal, which started off as the Petrobras scandal in Brazil, has sent ripple effects throughout Latin America. It has brought down some regimes and even landed powerful leaders in jail. Perhaps the most important result is voters’ distrust of the traditional political forces. Unsurprisingly, parties in power are set to lose several elections, and in some countries, “outsider” candidates claiming to clean up corruption are leading in the polls.