In postelection DRC, transition looks like restoration
After delaying elections for two years, former DRC President Joseph Kabila hit upon a clever stratagem to resolve his “third-term” problem. Borrowing a page from Vladimir Putin’s book, he appears to have arranged for a stand-in, nominally from the opposition, to win the presidency in a manipulated ballot. Mr. Kabila intends to run the country from a Senate seat or perhaps even as prime minister. The international community seems to be turning a blind eye to these shenanigans because it prefers stability to the prospect of turmoil and civil war.
GIS Dossier: Corruption and political transformation
Graft has long been a feature of political systems where rewarding loyalty takes precedence over economic efficiency or the rule of law. But recent events in Latin America show that popular anger at corruption has become a force to be reckoned with – fueled by the power of global markets, the information revolution, and democratization movements. This report assesses the geopolitical implications.
A new wave of unrest in North Africa
Street demonstrations have forced Algeria’s president to resign and Sudan’s to declare a year-long state of emergency. In both countries, these popular revolts are challenging entrenched regimes that successfully weathered the Arab Spring protests of 2011. Can this unexpected coda to the revolutions that opened an unhappy decade in the Middle East and North Africa lead to better results?
Opinion: Yellow Vests are a symptom of France’s dysfunctional democracy
With the Yellow Vest protests, France has finally fractured between its metropolitan areas and a resentful low-wage periphery. What started as a tax revolt has become a diffuse and unstructured uprising against an unaccountable ruling caste. Many of the movement’s demands would only perpetuate France’s administrative and social centralism, yet its appearance shows that this political model may no longer be sustainable.
GIS Dossier: Europe as a global player – the Middle East and North Africa
Europe’s influence as a great power is nowhere more apparent than in the attraction it exerts on the poorer countries to its south – in the Middle East and Northern Africa. This is the region where European Union member states, often without U.S. support, have deployed their full foreign-policy arsenal, from diplomacy and military intervention to financial aid and investment, with mixed success. Yet as migration and terror show, problems the EU fails to address “out there” tend to wind up on its doorstep.
Togo faces two years of turmoil
Togo is another instance of “third termism” in sub-Saharan Africa, as a long-time ruler determined to stay in power collides with an increasingly angry populace. President Faure Gnassingbe appears to be losing his grip ahead of the 2020 presidential elections, while his well-organized opponents may be able to count on outside intervention from ECOWAS, West Africa’s regional bloc.
Russia breaks its social contract
In two decades of rule, Russian President Vladimir Putin has ensured stability by offering Russians an implicit social contract – a modest but secure social safety net in exchange for carte blanche in politics. Now, the country’s deepening financial and demographic crisis has put an end to this, forcing the government to make plans for increasing taxes and raising the retirement age by as much as eight years. No matter how cleverly handled, these austerity measures could trigger a serious backlash.
Armenia’s velvet revolution poses long-term risks
On the surface, the overthrow of Armenia’s longtime ruler Serzh Sargsyan poses no threat to Russia’s geopolitical position in the South Caucasus. Opposition leader Nikol Pashinyan, elevated to the premiership by popular revolt, keeps stressing his exclusively domestic agenda and desire for close ties with Russia. But the long run, reforms that tackle corruption among the local political and business elites work against Moscow’s interests.
Opinion: In Nicaragua, the opposition must unite to oust Ortega
Since April, Nicaraguans have been protesting in the streets for an end to the regime of President Daniel Ortega. One of the original Sandinista leaders who brought down the Somoza family dictatorship 40 years ago, Mr. Ortega himself now faces accusations of authoritarianism. He is losing support, but unless opposition groups unify, Nicaragua’s leader could hold on for months.