Domestic Politics Articles

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

By Michael Allison, Christine Wade
, on , Briefing

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

Turkey’s Rule of Law Eroding as Erdogan, Courts Clash

By Maria Savel
, on , Trend Lines

At a parliamentary group meeting today, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan slammed his country’s courts for acting as part of a parallel state undermining his government. With the dispute showing no signs of flagging, WPR spoke with Michael Koplow, a Turkey analyst who blogs at Ottomans and Zionists, via email to review the latest developments and what they mean for the rule of law in Turkey. more

Full-Spectrum Diplomacy: Restoring Trust in CIA Key After Senate Torture Report

By Heather Hurlburt
, on , Column

Of all the choices America made and all the things that went wrong in the years after 9/11, Americans have been more united in wanting to close the book on torture than on anything else—both in wanting it stopped, but also in wanting it forgotten. The Obama administration has done its best to oblige on both counts. It turns out, however, that torture has a hold on the imagination that doesn’t go away so easily. more

U.S. Struggles to Build Coherent Response to Ugandan Anti-Gay Law

By Matt Peterson
, on , Trend Lines

A panel discussion on Thursday organized by the Center for Human Rights and Global Justice at the NYU School of Law discussed options for U.S. policy toward Uganda, after relations were ruffled by a new Ugandan law signed in February that imposes harsh legal penalties, including life sentences, for homosexual acts. The question is whether the Obama administration can produce an effective response to the new law. more

Hungary Risks Putinization, Isolation After Orban Re-Election

By Andrew MacDowall
, on , Briefing

“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

Global Insider: With Air Force Arrests, Venezuela’s Maduro Puts Focus on Civil-Military Relations

By The Editors
, on , Trend Lines

Late last month, Venezuela’s government arrested three generals of the country’s air force, accusing them of plotting a coup. In an email interview, Harold Trinkunas, senior fellow and director of the Latin America Initiative in the Brookings Institution’s Foreign Policy program, explained the state of Venezuela’s civil-military relations. more

Global Insights: With Election, Afghanistan Strengthens Democratic Credentials

By Richard Weitz
, on , Column

The first round of Afghanistan's presidential election saw the country's political institutions perform much better than during the 2009 ballot, while the Afghan National Security Forces provided a relatively safe and secure electoral environment. The winners may not be clear until May, and a second round is likely. But already the results offer hope for Afghanistan's status as a functioning democracy. more

Cultivating Equality: Land Reform's Potential and Challenges

By Klaus Deininger
, on , Feature

The original rationale for redistributive land reform is that, at low levels of capital intensity, large farms operated by wage labor will be less efficient than small owner-operated ones. Colonial powers had often tried to restrict access to land to ensure a supply of cheap labor, despite the associated economic cost. Land reform is an effort to rectify this historical injustice and reverse the pattern whereby high inequality of land is associated with low agricultural productivity and overall economic growth. more

Political Economy: Conditioning Markets to Reduce Income Inequality

By Nathan Kelly
, on , Feature

Although income inequality cannot be completely controlled, policymakers have a variety of tools at their disposal to produce changes in how the economic pie is divided. Those that most readily come to mind fall into the category of explicit redistribution, which can be controversial. But a second set of tools, rather than explicitly redistributing income within a society, focuses on creating an economic context in which growth can occur and in which that growth can be distributed more equally. more

Global Insider: After Winning Big, Serbia’s Progressives May Take on Political Risks—and Rewards—Alone

By The Editors
, on , Trend Lines

Last month, Serbia held parliamentary elections in which the conservative and pro-EU Progressive party won a decisive majority in the legislature. In an email interview, Marlene Spoerri, U.N. officer at Independent Diplomat who has done research on democracy promotion and post-conflict statebuilding in the Western Balkans, explained what led to the victory and what comes next. more

As Afghanistan Selects New President, Its Insurgency May Change Too

By Kathy Gilsinan
, on , Briefing

On Saturday, Afghans will vote in the first round of an election that, if all goes well, will result in the first democratic transfer of presidential power in Afghanistan’s history. The elections will also be the first of the post-Taliban era to be secured entirely by Afghan forces. But for all its historic gravity, in some respects the poll will not represent much of a break with Afghanistan’s past. more

World Citizen: Obama Visit Offers Glimpse Into Saudi Arabia’s Future

By Frida Ghitis
, on , Column

When President Barack Obama arrived in Saudi Arabia last Friday, he briefly opened a window into the closest circles of power in Riyadh. One of the most striking images was that of Saudi King Abdullah breathing with the aid of an oxygen tank. Although the king appeared animated and energetic, the image of ill health betrayed the urgency of a royal succession process that has already gone into overdrive. more

Erdogan’s Kurdish Electoral Gamble Will Reverberate in Turkey and Iraq

By Hannes Cerny
, on , Briefing

Turkey’s ruling AKP under Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan racked up an astounding victory in municipal elections last Sunday, despite last year’s civil unrest and an ongoing corruption scandal. The AKP’s dominance has many political and socioeconomic causes, but in Turkey’s Kurdish southeast, Erdogan could count on one unexpected campaigner: the president of Iraq’s Kurdish autonomous region, Massoud Barzani. more

Cuba’s New Foreign Investment Law Is a Bet on the Future

By William M. LeoGrande
, on , Briefing

The new foreign investment law Cuba’s National Assembly passed unanimously last Saturday is a key component of President Raul Castro’s program to “update” the economy. The law offers better terms to foreign investors, with the aim of boosting direct foreign investment in Cuba’s chronically capital-poor economy. But important aspects of Cuba’s FDI landscape—including the U.S. embargo—have not changed. more

Global Insider: Ecuador Local Elections Show Correa’s Weakness More Than Opposition’s Strength

By The Editors
, on , Trend Lines

In late February, Ecuador’s municipal elections yielded gains for the opposition in an apparent setback for President Rafael Correa. In an email interview, Michael Shifter, president of the Inter-American Dialogue and adjunct professor of Latin American politics at Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service, explained why the opposition made gains and what’s next for Correa. more

Global Insider: Saudi Shiite Protesters Face Long Odds Against Repression

By The Editors
, on , Trend Lines

U.S. President Barack Obama visited Saudi Arabia last week, where simmering dissent and repression in the Shiite-majority areas of the Sunni-dominated country continue to claim the lives of protesters and police three years after the Arab Spring. In an email interview, Stephane Lacroix, an associate professor at Sciences Po who studies authoritarianism and Islamic social movements, explained the status of Shiites in Saudi Arabia. more

Beijing Finds Neither ‘Iron-Fisted Rule’ Nor Development Bring Order to Xinjiang

By Kendrick Kuo
, on , Briefing

On March 1, a group of Uighurs from Xinjiang attacked a train station in southwest China using foot-long knives, killing 29 and injuring 143. The attack was a spillover from Xinjiang’s internal conflict, the source of which is a matter of dispute. Beijing’s attempts to bring order to the region through development, repression and regional coordination have so far failed, leaving it looking for alternatives. more

Court Ruling Reinforces Thailand’s Coup Culture and Augurs More Turmoil

By Elliot Brennan
, on , Briefing

Thailand’s political deadlock has shifted from the streets to the courts. A March 21 ruling by the Constitutional Court invalidating the result of the country’s Feb. 2 election vividly highlighted the change of venue. When the court made a similar ruling in 2006, annulling an election result, the military installed a new, unelected government. The court’s most recent ruling has many concerned again. more

Time for U.S. to Come Off the Sidelines on Venezuela Repression

By Christopher Sabatini
, on , Briefing

The arrest of two mayors by the Venezuelan government last week demonstrated that repression is ramping up in the oil-producing and deeply troubled country. Sadly, Venezuela’s neighbors are unlikely to do anything about it, and this collective failure to protect democratic norms and human rights has placed the U.S. in the position of coming forward to defend what was once thought to be a hemispheric consensus. more

Global Insider: Signs of Discontent Grow in Gaza as Hamas Finances Deteriorate

By The Editors
, on , Trend Lines

Recent reports have indicated that Hamas, the Palestinian group that governs the Gaza Strip, is in the grip of its worst budget crisis since it took over the territory in 2007. In an email interview, Omar Shaban, the founder and director of the Gaza-based think tank Palthink for Strategic Studies, explained the origins of the crisis. more

Friend and Threat: Ukraine Crisis Confronts Belarus’ Lukashenko With Russia Dilemma

By David Klion
, on , Briefing

The crisis in Crimea has put world leaders in awkward positions, but perhaps none more than Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko. Lukashenko has just witnessed two of his worst nightmares in Ukraine, first as protests overthrew a fellow Putin client and then as Russia seized Ukrainian territory “to protect Russia’s interests,” establishing a precedent that could easily justify sending tanks to Minsk. more