Domestic Politics Articles

Jokowi's Test: Managing Indonesia's Old Guard—and Civil Society's Hopes

By Sue Gunawardena-Vaughn
, , Briefing

With their central role in his successful campaign, Indonesian civil society groups’ expectations run high that Joko Widodo’s presidency will be marked by transparency, accountability, rule of law and respect for human rights. But it remains to be seen if Jokowi can deliver on all that, given Indonesia’s notoriously fractious politics, decentralized Kafkaesque bureaucracy and messy political infrastructure. more

Global Insider

Unstable Opposition Means Reform in Malaysia Unlikely

By The Editors
, , Trend Lines

Malaysia’s opposition coalition risks being torn apart after its leader Anwar Ibrahim sacked the chief minister of Selangor, the country’s most populous state. In an email interview, Clive Kessler, professor emeritus at the University of New South Wales, discussed the state of Malaysia’s opposition. more

Iran’s Rouhani Stokes Domestic Backlash With Attack on Critics

By Nader Habibi
, , Briefing

In an address last week to Foreign Ministry officials, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani did not hold back his frustration with critics of nuclear negotiations with the P5+1. Deviating from his usual calm and moderate tone, Rouhani told his critics to go “to hell.” The backlash could further polarize Iranian politics and bring deep-rooted tensions between reformists and conservatives to the surface. more

Global Insider

South Korea’s Economic Growth Holds Steady

By The Editors
, , Trend Lines

Last month South Korea unveiled a $40 billion economic stimulus package designed to boost a lagging growth rate. In an email interview, Dwight Perkins, professor emeritus of political economy at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government, discussed the state of South Korea’s economy. more

EU Strives to Overcome Its North-South, East-West Divides

By Maria Savel
, , Trend Lines

The current debate in the EU over how to respond to the Ukraine crisis highlights the political and ideological divisions between Eastern and Western Europe. Meanwhile, the economic division between Northern and Southern Europe stemming from the eurozone crisis are as strong as ever. The EU is taking steps to overcome these divisions and create a more united union, but lasting solutions are hard to come by. more

Hungary’s Orban a Threat to ‘Liberal Democracy’—and EU Norms

By David Klion
, , Trend Lines

In April, Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban’s conservative Fidesz party maintained its majority in parliament in national elections. Since then, Orban’s reactionary rhetoric has only increased, most notably in a speech last month in which he rejected “liberal democracy” as the model for Hungary. No head of state in the EU has ever so bluntly aligned with autocratic values.

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World Citizen

After Election Victory, Turkey's Erdogan Unlikely to Change Ways

By Frida Ghitis
, , Column

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan fulfilled predictions by winning the country’s first direct presidential election Sunday. But rather than putting an end to the divisive political battles that have roiled the country and the inflammatory stance that has strained Turkey’s relations with neighbors, Erdogan’s victory promises to usher in yet another era of contentious domestic and international politics. more

With Eye on Russia, Poland Reshapes Military Modernization Plan

By Tomasz Szatkowski
, , Briefing

Compared to other Central European countries, the Polish military might appear to be a giant, due to Poland’s size but also its relatively high fixed level of defense spending. But it still has to face a seriously deteriorated security environment with fewer expectations of help from its Western allies. Poland needs to craft a more cohesive military modernization plan to respond to an array of challenges. more

West Can Use Nagorno-Karabakh Tensions to Push Azerbaijan to Reform

By Aslan Amani
, , Briefing

Clashes between Armenia and Azerbaijan over the contested region of Nagorno-Karabakh have prompted worries of a full-fledged war. But Russia’s presence in Armenia suggests that the escalation has less to do with the two belligerent parties and more with Russia’s growing geopolitical ambitions. The West shouldn’t abandon Azerbaijan but must make clear that the usual way of doing business will not work. more

Nagorno-Karabakh’s Summer of Violence

By Laurence Broers
, , Feature

This year, while Europe commemorated 100 years since the beginning of World War I, a long-forgotten conflict on the edge of the continent rumbled on. Armenia and Azerbaijan have been locked in a contest for control over Nagorno-Karabakh for more than 25 years. Following a particularly dismal stretch of the peace process over the past two years, tensions have come to a head in a summer of violence along the front line. Yet while front-line casualties have dominated the headlines, the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict has also become a formidable weapon for both Armenia and Azerbaijan to securitize politics, exclude opposition and explain away the absence of domestic reforms. more

Chile’s Bachelet Tacks Center to Pursue Needed Reform at Home

By Eric Farnsworth
, , Briefing

Eyebrows arched in Chile late last month when President Michelle Bachelet canceled her participation in a MERCOSUR summit in Venezuela to focus on her domestic agenda, including education reform. Critics suggested this was because the signature reforms are in trouble. But Bachelet chose to remain in Chile to work on issues of real importance to Chileans, and to her own political fortunes and legacy. more

Global Insider

MERS Outbreak Shows Weakness of Saudi Arabia’s Public Health System

By The Editors
, , Trend Lines

Last month, scientists discovered that the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS), so far responsible for just under 300 deaths in Saudi Arabia, may spread through the air. In an email interview, Jeremy Youde, associate professor of political science at the University of Minnesota Duluth, discussed Saudi Arabia’s public health system and its response to the MERS outbreak. more

After Successful Visit, Modi Must Deliver on India-Nepal Relations

By Anuradha Sharma
, , Briefing

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to Nepal earlier this week ushered in a new chapter in relations between the two neighbors. Modi charmed the Himalayan nation with a rousing address in the Constituent Assembly—the first by a foreign leader—and announced a soft loan of $1 billion. But Modi must now try to regain the trust of the Nepalese, who hold a strong view that “India promises, China delivers.” more

Despite Political Shakeup, an Emerging Consensus in Ukraine

By David Klion
, , Trend Lines

Two weeks ago, Ukraine’s governing coalition, which had been assembled after the Maidan protests, was dissolved, and Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk offered his resignation. Last week, Yatsenyuk’s resignation was rejected by Ukraine’s parliament, the Verkhovna Rada. At first glance, the infamously dysfunctional Rada appears to be as chaotic as ever. But the situation in Kiev may be more stable than it seems. more

For Jokowi, Maintaining Indonesia’s Role Abroad Depends on Domestic Reform

By Prashanth Parameswaran
, , Briefing

Joko “Jokowi” Widodo’s victory in Indonesia’s presidential election is nothing short of historic. He is the first-ever president from outside the Jakarta elite, chosen by Indonesians to clean up the country’s politics and institute fundamental change. But his ability to deliver remains to be seen. He will face a host of challenges in trying to balance reforms at home and maintaining an active role abroad. more

World Citizen

In South Korea, Ferry Disaster Still Claiming Victims

By Frida Ghitis
, , Column

Last week, South Korea marked 100 days since the ferry disaster that left 304 people dead, most of them young high school students. The sinking of the Sewol, as the ship was named, has grown into much more than a heartbreaking tragedy. It has become a landmark event in the country’s history. More than anything, the Sewol has transformed the relationship between South Korean citizens and their government. more

Cambodia Power-Sharing Deal Could Usher In Wider Democratic Reform

By Kheang Un
, , Briefing

Last week, Cambodia’s ruling and opposition parties agreed to a power-sharing deal, ending a political crisis dating back to last year’s elections. The standoff included an opposition boycott of parliament and mass protests that recently culminated in violent clashes and the arrest of seven opposition lawmakers-elect. Although uncertainty remains, the deal could help move Cambodia toward a more meaningful democracy. more

Anti-Semitic Violence in France Part of Broader Political Unraveling

By Judah Grunstein
, , Trend Lines

The recent attacks against synagogues and Jewish-owned businesses on the margins of pro-Palestinian demonstrations in France have shocked many, despite being only the latest in a string of anti-Semitic incidents and violence in the country over the past few years. But to focus only on the anti-Semitic nature of the violence is to make the mistake of paying attention only to the tip of the iceberg. more

Bahrain’s Ongoing Political Impasse Imperils U.S. Interests

By Kristian Coates Ulrichsen
, , Briefing

The fallout from Bahrain’s expulsion of a senior U.S. diplomat illustrates the continuing political impasse in this deeply polarized Persian Gulf ally. While the danger to the ruling Al Khalifa family posed by the 2011 uprising has passed, positions on all sides have hardened, with little prospect of any political settlement to Bahrain’s deep-rooted inequalities. That has three troubling implications for the U.S. more

Global Insider

Election Loss by Senegal’s Ruling Party Signals Dissatisfaction With Rate of Change

By The Editors
, , Trend Lines

In early July, Senegalese President Macky Sall named his third prime minister after his ruling Alliance for the Republic party lost last month’s local elections. In an email interview, Paul Melly, associate fellow in the Africa Program at Chatham House, discussed Senegalese politics, the party’s future and the effectiveness of Sall’s reform program. more

In Need of Investment, Peru Rolls Back Environmental Standards

By Paul Shortell
, , Briefing

President Ollanta Humala recently unveiled reforms intended to stabilize Peru’s slowing economy and shore up investor confidence. Controversially, the new laws will roll back pollution standards and fast-track environmental licensing for new energy and mining projects. Such deregulation threatens to reverse positive environmental protections and will not alleviate broader challenges facing Peru’s economy. more