GIS Dossier: Autumn of the patriarchs

Map of countries around the world with potential leadership transition risks
Even an incomplete survey of GIS coverage identifies 26 countries where long-term or aging incumbents pose a potential threat to political stability (source: macpixxel for GIS)
  • Zimbabwe’s Robert Mugabe is the latest example of leaders who hang on too long
  • Succession crises abound in Africa and the Middle East, and could breed wider wars
  • Longer-term, the big leadership uncertainties concern Russia, China – and the U.S.

GIS Dossiers aim to give our subscribers a quick overview of key topics, regions or conflicts based on a selection of our experts’ reports since 2011. This survey is devoted to how powerful, long-serving leaders and the succession crises that follow as they age may influence geopolitics around the world.

In many parts of the globe, the outlook for political stability in 2018 will depend on what happens to a small group of long-serving, often aging politicians. Some are leaders trying to hang on into their twilight years or arrange for an orderly transition, others have caught their second wind and are planning for the long run.

While such leaders can be spotted all over the world, they are more frequently found in centralized, quasi-authoritarian systems that often take the form of “managed democracies.” In terms of geography, they are most prevalent in Africa, the Middle East and the former Soviet Union.

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