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.
In Mexico, disappointment with Pena Nieto fuels a desire for change
Mexicans seem set to vote for change in their country’s July presidential election, with Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador far ahead in the polls. The ruling party’s candidate is a distant third, and that reflects widespread disappointment in the current administration of President Enrique Pena Nieto. The government has notched up several successes in its reforms, but positive change is coming slowly, while a rise in violence and corruption have angered ordinary citizens.
Opinion: Separatism in Europe
Independence movements are on the rise in Europe. At the heart of this phenomenon is an ever-globalizing world, bringing with it inflows of foreigners and an outflow of traditional industries. Most of these movements have set aside violent measures in recent years, but there is no guarantee that will continue. If authorities in the EU and national governments do not deal with the challenges at the root of their grievances, it could lead to conflict at the local and national levels.
Liberia and Sierra Leone: post-conflict, focused on growth
Liberia and Sierra Leone went through painstaking a post-conflict restoration process after civil wars that ravaged them in the last decade of the 20th century. In 2018, newly elected leaders in Freetown and Monrovia face the task of restoring growth in the economies badly hindered by 2014-2015 Ebola epidemic and low commodity prices.
Opinion: Venezuela nears the breaking point
What will happen to Venezuela after the government tries to steal an unconstitutional presidential election on May 20? Everything depends on the cohesion of the splintered opposition and the determination of the international community. If either fail, the Western hemisphere could be faced with its most severe humanitarian crisis in more than a decade.
Peace process under strain as Colombia gears up for election
Colombia's peace agreement has not led to the immediate prosperity many in the country were hoping for. Violence is still common, the economy is lagging, and refugees from neighboring Venezuela are flooding into the country. The May presidential election could help the peace process move forward – or tear it apart, depending on which candidate wins.
Joseph Kabila will not be moved
For long-serving presidents in sub-Saharan Africa, there are few incentives to step down. That applies to President Joseph Kabila in the Democratic Republic of Congo, who has managed to extend his term beyond the constitutional limits. The country has been in a deep crisis since 2015, and conditions are primed to deteriorate in 2018. Even if long-promised elections do take place, they will hardly mark the beginning of a new era.