The next EU elections: Justified concerns, but for the wrong reasons
Europe’s dysfunctional political system has created a deep rift between centralized governments and their citizens. Trying to marginalize new parties that express this discontent will only make the problem worse.
Ukraine’s revolution nears a test
This may have been independent Ukraine’s last calm summer for a while. There will soon be a reckoning with what succeeded and what did not after the revolution of 2013-2014, during which the eyes of the world were on Kiev. Ukrainians will elect a president early next year, with parliamentary elections to follow in the fall. There are plentiful indications that their verdict on the post-Maidan political elites will be harsh.
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.
A new leader in Colombia
Ivan Duque, Colombia’s newly elected president, takes office with a clear mandate from his supporters. President Duque will likely try to slow the controversial peace accord reached with FARC guerrillas and address widespread public concerns over crime and corruption. But a factional political balance, and major challenges both at home and abroad, is already giving Colombia’s new leader a full plate of problems.
Migration and Europe
Judging by the declining numbers of new migrants, Europe is no longer facing an acute immigration crisis. But you would never know it from the decision by the European Council in June to set up holding camps for asylum seekers. Instead, the get-tough policy of EU leaders is increasingly driven by domestic political pressures.
Looking for a way out in Libya
The recent outbreak of fighting in Libya’s capital shows who are the real masters of the country – the militias. The international community’s focus on the reconciling the feuding governments in Tobruk and Tripoli ignores how they have already been captured by local warlords. Until the grip of these armed groups is broken, holding national elections is an enormous gamble.
Togo faces two years of turmoil
Togo is another instance of “third termism” in sub-Saharan Africa, as a long-time ruler determined to stay in power collides with an increasingly angry populace. President Faure Gnassingbe appears to be losing his grip ahead of the 2020 presidential elections, while his well-organized opponents may be able to count on outside intervention from ECOWAS, West Africa’s regional bloc.
In fractured Libya, it’s about oil
As Libya’s civil war sputters on, the country’s principal source of revenue remains its oil fields. The feuding Tripoli and Tobruk governments have allowed the National Oil Corporation to keep managing operations, with the Central Bank of Libya apportioning revenue among the various factions. Now, a power struggle is disrupting the flow of oil and cash as General Khalifa Haftar squares off against Fayez al-Sarraj’s Government of National Accord.
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.