Opinion: Property rights and the challenges of transplanting institutions
Since the time of Adam Smith, economists have understood that the wealth or poverty of nations hinge on the quality of their institutions. Political, economic and social rules of the game can be inclusive, offering opportunities for prosperity to all, or extractive, protecting the rents of a few. But the international effort to introduce one such rule – formal property rights – shows that even simple changes can have complex and unwelcome effects in alien cultural settings.
GIS Dossier: Europe as a global player: The Maghreb and sub-Saharan Africa
The most important part of Europe’s security perimeter in the 21st century may be its southern rim. The migration crisis of 2015 was only a foretaste of the demographic, economic and political pressures that are building up in the Maghreb and sub-Saharan Africa. Yet the approaches tried by European powers in this vital and growing region have generally failed. They need to get it right as new rival enters the neighborhood – China.
Opinion: African democracy’s long and winding road
Since the collapse of communism, Western powers have kept urging African countries to establish democracies by holding elections. Yet democracy is a complex institution that does not adapt well to multiethnic, impoverished societies – especially when it is imposed from outside. Too often the trappings of centralized democracy have been used to legitimize “elected autocrats,” yet there are signs the import will take if grafted onto native roots.
Catalonia, one year later
A year after Catalonia’s botched declaration of independence, pro-independence parties still cling to power in the regional government but find themselves increasingly at odds with each other. Political gridlock has taken its toll on the Catalan economy, while urban dwellers are tilting toward the anti-independence camp. The choice appears to be between continued stalemate or an accommodation with Madrid, which would require a political realignment of pro-independence moderates with unionists.
Essay: As Russian history repeats itself, Putin becomes Yeltsin
Russia’s pension reform continues to reverberate in domestic politics. For the first time ever, President Vladimir Putin has assumed full personal responsibility for an unpopular decision that directly infringes on the lives of most Russians. The effects are already visible in his slumping popularity and in the startling results of gubernatorial elections in several regions. Mr. Putin could be looking for an electoral out as he follows the downhill path of his predecessor, Boris Yeltsin.