All Briefings

With Elections Nearing, Iraq’s Maliki Confronts His Shiite Challengers

By Myriam Benraad
, on , Briefing

As Iraq gears up for general elections, the political constellation that has allowed Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki to stay in power for two terms is realigning in unexpected ways. The country’s more fragmented political landscape and heightened intracommunal competition should make the post-electoral bargaining even more challenging and difficult than in 2010, and the impact of the results harder to predict. more

Beating Expectations, China Moves Ahead With Substantive Economic Reforms

By Iain Mills
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China’s leadership has long vowed to clean up the country’s bureaucracy and break up government monopolies. But the state apparatus has seemed unwilling or unable to push through substantive implementation measures—until now. Xi Jinping is undertaking the most sustained and well-strategized attack on vested interests in at least 15 years, in a campaign that may yield substantive progress on critical issues. more

Marked by Strong Opposition, India’s Election Brings No Guarantee of Change

By Prashanth Parameswaran
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Over the next few weeks, more than 800 million Indians will vote in a general election in the world’s largest democracy. Early signs are that opposition candidate Narendra Modi will beat the ruling Congress party’s Rahul Gandhi. While this is testament to Congress’ poor performance during its decade in power, the election outcome—whatever that may be—could in fact bring more continuity than change for India. more

Modi Win in India Could Endanger Nepal’s Secular Transition

By Vishal Arora
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Nepal is keenly watching India’s ongoing parliamentary elections, where the presumed victory of Hindu nationalist Narendra Modi is raising questions about the future of the Himalayan nation’s transition from a Hindu monarchy to a secular democracy. With opinion polls pointing to a BJP victory in India, royalist parties in Nepal could find regional support for their calls to return Nepal to its Hindu identity. more

To Rebound After Defeat, El Salvador’s ARENA Must Move Beyond Fear

By Michael Allison, Christine Wade
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El Salvador’s FMLN won the country’s presidential election in March by a razor-thin margin, despite polls that indicated the party would score an easy victory over the right-wing Nationalist Republican Alliance (ARENA). Following ARENA’s relatively poor first-round performance, the party’s surge in the second round surprised many observers. Yet ARENA’s ability to reform and modernize remains in doubt. more

Australia’s Abbott Seeks to Balance Japan, South Korea and China on Asian Trip

By Roxane Horton
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Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott came to power in 2013 declaring that Australia was “open for business” and promising to fast-track stalled free trade agreements with Japan, South Korea and China. Abbott pulled off an impressive feat in Asia last week as he embarked on a three-nation tour of those countries, forging free trade agreements and announcing closer security relations on each stop along the way. more

Pressure Mounts as Deadline for EU-Africa Trade Talks Looms

By Stephen R. Hurt
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The first EU-Africa summit since 2010 was held in Brussels this month. Much of the media focus leading up to the summit was on Robert Mugabe’s failed bid to instigate a boycott of the meeting by African leaders. Beyond these headlines, however, trade relations between the two parties continue to be one of pressing importance, with negotiations for Economic Partnership Agreements one of the most divisive issues. more

NSA Leaks Fallout Will Fade Faster Than Hit to U.S. Pride

By James Andrew Lewis
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Americans are having a hard time coming to terms with the effect of Snowden’s leaks and the damage they have done to America’s status in the world. In part, U.S. leaders do not want to admit that the leaks were merely the final straw for the growing discontent with American global leadership that predated Snowden and has many causes. The unipolar moment was never popular—the leaks confirm that it is over. more

U.S. Failure to Clarify Interests in Cyberspace Weakens Deterrence

By Eric Sterner
, on , Briefing

Testifying before the Senate Armed Services Committee last month, Gen. Keith Alexander expressed misgivings about America’s deterrent posture in cyberspace, raising concerns about the lack of a threshold that, when crossed by cyberattackers, would prompt a U.S. response. Though the U.S. possesses deterrent capabilities and has used them in other domains, deterrence in cyberspace is more challenging. more

Hungary Risks Putinization, Isolation After Orban Re-Election

By Andrew MacDowall
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“The outcome of the elections is an obvious, unambiguous mandate for us to continue what we have begun.” So said Hungary’s populist Prime Minister Viktor Orban after his Fidesz party trounced the left-liberal opposition in an April poll that also saw the vote share of the far right top 20 percent. The continuation might entail more of Orban’s centralizing and nationalist policies, as well a tilt toward Russia. more