GIS Dossier: The Italian case
Politically and financially, Italy has come to be regarded as a weak link in the European Union. Its shaky banks and enormous public debt almost blew apart the euro area during the debt crisis of 2010-2012, and could still do so. Its government, a marriage of populists on the left and right, claims to be the precursor of a protest wave that will sweep this year’s European Parliament elections. But as usual, it is hard to tell whether Italy is headed for disaster or more of the same.
Argentina: President Macri’s reelection will hinge on economic rebound
Argentina’s President Mauricio Macri is in a tight spot at the start of the election year. His government presides over cuts to public spending, including politically sensitive social protection programs, under the conditions of a lifeline deal with the IMF. Mr. Macri’s hopes for inducing growth by restoring Argentina to the good graces of the financial markets and attracting significant foreign investment are yet to materialize. But not all is lost for the pro-market reformer in Buenos Aires.
African migration: From polarization to win-win
With this year’s European Parliament elections, the EU may be approaching a watershed moment on migration. Voters and politicians are questioning the fundamental assumptions of globalized approaches like the UN Compact on Migration and the EU Trust Fund for Africa, which may do more to encourage than curb the migrant influx. But “outsourcing” management of migration flows to transit countries may only increase Europe’s vulnerability to political shocks in buffer states like Sudan, Libya or Algeria.
2019 Global Outlook: India turns inward
Ahead of parliamentary elections this spring, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has reinvented himself. Putting aside earlier economic reforms, his talk is mostly about social welfare. While the Indian leader focuses on wooing small-town voters, his government has put most foreign policy initiatives on hold. Whether Mr. Modi’s ruling BJP wins or loses, India may be due for a period of weaker government.
A year of change for the European Union?
The European Union, which still lacks a post-Brexit vision of itself, will be changing the leadership of almost all its leading institutions over the next few months. Candidates are already jostling for position to take over at the European Commission and the European Central Bank, and surprises could be in store. With non-mainstream parties likely to gain seats in the May European Parliament elections, the EU-27 seems headed for even less harmony and more dissension.
2019 Global Outlook: Europe’s year of living dangerously
There are plenty of signs of trouble ahead for the European Union in 2019. Unstable leadership, rampant populism, strikes and demonstrations, migration disputes, security challenges, Brexit, an economic slowdown and the makings of another financial crisis are just a few of the challenges that await. For EU institutions, perhaps the biggest test will come with the European Parliament elections in May, which could overturn the grand coalition that has governed the bloc since the 1980s.
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.
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.
Opinion: In the U.S., the 2020 presidential race is on
For U.S. President Donald Trump, Republican defeat in the 2018 midterm elections at least turned the GOP into his party. With economic successes to his credit and growing constraints on his power imposed by a Democratic Congress, the question is whether he will tone down the polarizing style that has worked so well for him. On the domestic front, this seems unlikely, but international policy may provide an arena where Trumpism’s theatrical conflicts could yield constructive solutions.