Elections, coups, international relations, social movements, emerging states and influencers. Here find forecasts and potential scenarios for political trends from Geopolitical Intelligence Services (GIS) global experts.
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.
Oil and gas pins its hopes on new technologies
In our greening epoch, the challenge for the oil and gas industry is to continue delivering fuels that world economies still need while minimizing the impact of its activities on the environment and making consumption of its products more efficient. Advances in technology are making these ambitious goals possible.
Saudi Arabia’s key role in the Middle East
Journalist Jamal Khashoggi’s murder has upset the Middle East’s geopolitical balance in two dimensions: the three-sided rivalry between Iran, Saudi Arabia and Turkey, and the conflict between the Muslim Brotherhood and stable monarchies in the region. For the Saudis, the crisis poses an unexpected opportunity to improve governance. For the West, it presents a choice between triggering chaos and a possible radical takeover, or helping the kingdom make a difficult transition.
U.S. defense spending: A bellwether for Trump’s security policy
The Trump administration has signaled its plan to maintain “peace through strength” with significant increases in defense expenditures for 2018 and 2019. However, to sustain its readiness, the U.S. military says it needs much more. The White House faces a difficult political landscape, one that will likely resist further rises in defense spending. That means President Donald Trump’s plan to rebuild the military could stall.
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.
Zimbabwe’s Mnangagwa faces political, social and economic crises
Zimbabwe’s President Emmerson Mnangagwa has a daunting task ahead. He has indicated he wants to engage with the West, encourage investment and open up the country’s politics. But elements inside his own party are holding him back. The military wing of the ZANU-PF, led by Vice President Constantin Chiwenga, seems intent on continuing repression and backward economic policies. Until President Mnangagwa gains control of his party, he will be unable to implement any real reforms.
GIS Dossier: How Turkey scored big in the gas pipeline game
Sitting at the intersection of important energy transfer routes, Turkey is an active participant in the high-stakes pipeline game between the European Union, Russia and the Caspian region energy producers. Ankara has increased its geopolitical heft and secured earnings from gas transit fees but at the price of making Turkey more dependent on Russia. This has important implications for Europe.
The Italian challenge
Italy’s public finance troubles are making waves again, but the new government’s budget proposal does not spell disaster, nor should debt servicing create a big problem, considering today’s low interest rates. But Italy’s leaders have decided to transform their conflict with the European Union into a casus belli. Will the conflict end in an Italian crisis or a new EU architecture?
Opinion: The slow death of Germany’s political center
Recent elections in Bavaria were the latest to show the weakness of Germany’s centrist parties, the SPD and the CDU/CSU. These traditional mainstays of German politics have seen their bases move toward more radical movements of the right and left and parties that espouse more “modern” values. But the Social Democrats and Christian Democrats have delivered great economic prosperity – why are voters punishing them? The answer can be found in immigration and high incomes. The result could be a less internationally active Germany.