Opinion: The decline of social democracy
After a wretched result in last year’s general elections, Germany’s Social Democrats are now voting on whether to enter another grand coalition with the CDU/CSU. Whatever they decide, it may already be too late for the party to pull out of its tailspin. The SPD’s sad decline is part of a much broader eclipse of social democracy in Europe.
Cuba in transition
Cuba will get a new leader in April, after President Raul Castro hands over the presidency to First Vice President Miguel Diaz-Canel. As the country tentatively introduces decentralizing reforms and embraces globalization, the new leadership will have to answer the question of how much freedom it can allow while retaining a tight political and economic grip over the country.
The specter haunting Europe
The populist wave spreading across Europe is rooted in deep-seated grievances – globalization, falling real incomes, unemployment, torn safety nets – that have been channeled into anger against migrants. Instead of engaging with these real problems, establishment politicians have preferred to insult voters. This is not a winning strategy.
2018 Global Outlook: The Trump presidency, Year Two
After a year in the White House, Donald Trump is suffering as much from his own erratic personality as from the burden of office. Foreign policy in the traditional, institutional sense has ceased to exist, and the way the president and Congress operate suggests there will be little room for maneouver once domestic troubles start to mount. Miscalculation and overreaction become increasingly likely as the global arena grows more precarious.
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.
GIS Dossier: Shinzo Abe’s Japan
Shinzo Abe is not popular, but this consummate political insider has become just the second prime minister in Japan’s history to win three general elections. He managed this feat by skillfully juggling factions in the dominant Liberal Democratic Party, stirring life into Japan’s stagnant economy, and pledging vigorous leadership in the face of a nuclear-armed Korea. Can Mr. Abe turn around a country widely seen to be in irreversible decline?
Mongolia’s consensus-based governance shields democracy
Battulga Khaltmaa won the 2017 presidential race in Mongolia with the sort of discourse that has been also heard from populists in the West, but the country’s well-balanced constitutional system and its ingrained culture of consensus decision-making are shielding one of Asia’s rare democracies from backsliding into authoritarian rule.
More coalition options in Germany
Two things are taken for granted in German politics. First, that there is no realistic alternative to Chancellor Angela Merkel, and second, that the only possible government after the Social Democrats went over to the opposition is a black-yellow-green (Jamaican) coalition of the CDU/CSU, Free Democrats and Greens. But what if neither of these propositions is true?
In Chile, stagnation and stasis despite shifting politics
The old party coalitions are breaking down in Chile, while new rules could shake up congressional representation. With the economy stuck in low gear, voters are frustrated. But despite all this, the country looks likely to elect a familiar face in November – former President Sebastian Pinera. If he wins, it will mark unprecedented stasis in Chilean politics since the end of the Pinochet dictatorship.