Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez.

Spain is often lauded for being a great place to raise children. But UNICEF’s latest report card on child poverty among the world’s most affluent countries, released in December, shows a much less rosy picture. Spain sat near the bottom of the list, with more than 1 in 4 children living in poverty and little progress in the past decade.

A lithium battery factory in China.

Though notably quiet this year, China’s annual legislative “two sessions” were still helpful in confirming the direction of Beijing’s economic policies under President Xi Jinping. Rather than implement economic reforms, China will double down on manufacturing and exports, a decision that may exacerbate existing trade tensions.

Malaysian Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim.

In the days immediately following Hamas’ brutal attack on Israel on Oct. 7, Southeast Asian states mainly reacted either by expressing solidarity with Israel or expressing sympathy and trying to avoid taking sides in the conflict. Now, more than five months later, much of Southeast Asia has turned more sharply against Israel.

Special forces military police during a police operation in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

The suspension of a Brazilian judge last month as part of an investigation into his links with an organized crime group did not make headlines. But it is a worrying sign of the ever-growing influence of the country’s main drug-trafficking organizations, which have steadily accumulated wealth and power in recent years.

Former Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro.

Last week, Brazil’s Supreme Court published documents showing that the country came close to a coup in late 2022. Transfers of power are supposed to be routine formalities in democracies. Yet, from Brazil to Guatemala to the U.S., the hemisphere has seen incumbent presidents attempt to undermine democracy after losing elections.

Guinea’s interim president.

On Feb. 28, Guinea’s interim president, Gen. Mamady Doumbouya, appointed a new prime minister, an attempt to address mounting disillusionment toward his military-led transitional government at a time when Guinea’s transition back to an elected government seems to most activists and the political opposition to have stalled.

A special session of the Oakland City Council.

In recent months, city councils across the U.S.—from Chicago to Boston to San Francisco—have passed resolutions calling for a cease-fire in Gaza. And this is just the most recent occasion in which municipalities have waded into global politics by taking a stand on an issue of war and peace. Why do cities do this? And is it effective?

Torn electoral posters in Tehran.

On March 1, Iran held parliamentary elections that, as expected, were neither free nor fair. And yet, despite the ballot being an exercise that was entirely devoid of democratic legitimacy, the event and the results were far from meaningless. Iranians managed to make their voices heard, loudly rejecting the status quo.

President Joe Biden’s first priority upon taking office was to reassure U.S. allies of America’s ongoing security commitments, promising that “America is back.” Despite some missteps along the way, that effort has paid off during the current standoff with Russia over Ukraine. But Biden still has a lot of work to do when it comes to shoring up America’s security partnerships to deal with a rising China.

U.S. President Joe Biden greets Chinese President Xi Jinping.

Washington and Beijing have repeatedly stated their desire to prevent their relations from veering into a severe crisis or conflict. One way of doing this is for each side to offer credible assurances that it won’t threaten the most vital interests of the other. Unfortunately, despite some initial efforts, neither side has done so.

U.S. President Joe Biden.

As the U.S. enters an election year, concerns in Europe are growing over Washington’s ability to project power in Europe and the Middle East. Yet this focus often draws attention away from how much the foundations of U.S. global power are anchored in its ability to exert effortless dominance over the Western Hemisphere.

Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko.

With tightly controlled parliamentary and local elections in late February, Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko installed allied figures in seats of power across the country and rooted out whatever was left of Belarus’ political opposition, thereby extinguishing the last dying embers of his country’s democracy.

U.S. President Joe Biden.

Although President Joe Biden’s approach to Latin America has notched a few victories, pretty much nobody is happy with it. A few big challenges have dominated the agenda for the past few years, without any progress to show for it. They are fueling perceptions of a broader failure that will possibly worsen in the coming months.

A protester confronts riot police in Mayotte.

French President Emmanuel Macron wants to establish France and Europe as the world’s “third pole of stability” by building bridges with Global South countries. But his credibility is undermined by his consistently demonstrated inability to attend to France’s own Global South—its overseas departments, regions and collectivities.

Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador speaks during his daily press conference.

With less than a year left in his term, Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, or AMLO, has struggled to make good on his campaign promises to deliver radical transformation. Meanwhile, after spending the first two years in office playing catchup to Donald Trump’s quixotic threats linking trade and immigration, AMLO appears to have put U.S. relations back on solid footing, without entirely resolving some of the tensions in the relationship.

A banner showing Mexican presidential candidate Claudia Sheinbaum and President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador.

As the strong favorite to win Mexico’s presidential election, Claudia Sheinbaum owes much of her support to the popularity of her mentor, populist President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador. But the echoes of AMLO in Sheinbaum’s campaign conceal significant differences that will shape the path forward for Mexico under its next president.

Latvian Prime Minister Evika Silina.

The Baltic states are increasingly asserting themselves on the European and NATO stage. And Latvia is intent on not being left out. But while security concerns are paramount, the government of Prime Minister Evika Silina also has a substantial domestic policy to-do list that may dictate if Latvia can redefine its role in Europe.

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