Spain's newly re-elected prime minister, Mariano Rajoy, after the second and final confidence vote at the Spanish Parliament, Madrid, Spain, Oct. 29, 2016 (AP photo by Daniel Ochoa de Olza).

Mariano Rajoy of the conservative People’s Party was sworn in on Monday for a second term as Spain’s prime minster, bringing an end to 10 months of political deadlock that included two inconclusive elections. On Saturday, Spanish lawmakers voted 170 to 111 in favor of Rajoy, while 68 members of the Spanish Socialist Workers’ Party (PSOE) abstained. Saturday’s vote came two days before a deadline to avoid a third election in less than a year, which most parties and the public wanted to avoid. In late August, Rajoy brokered a deal with the center-right Ciudadanos party that shored up significant […]

Italian Premier Matteo Renzi and Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sissi at a press conference, Rome, Italy, Nov. 24, 2014 (AP photo by Alessandra Tarantino).

Earlier this month, Italy cooperated with Libyan military commander Gen. Khalifa Haftar to ensure the delivery of 700,000 barrels of oil from eastern Libya, despite the fact that the Italian government officially supports the United Nations-backed national unity government in Tripoli that Haftar opposes. In an email interview, Silvia Colombo, a senior fellow at the Institute of International Affairs, discusses Italy’s policies in North Africa and the Middle East. WPR: Who are Italy’s main partners in North Africa and the Middle East, and to what extent do hydrocarbons drive relations? Silvia Colombo: Italy’s foreign policy has always had a distinct […]

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban during the state commemoration ceremony of the 1956 Hungarian revolution, Budapest, Hungary, Oct. 23, 2016 (AP photo by Szilard Koszticsak).

Thousands of Hungarians took to the streets of Budapest to protest government corruption and the erosion of press freedoms earlier this month. The protest follows the closure of Hungary’s leading opposition newspaper, Nepszabadsag. The paper’s parent company cited falling readership as the reason for the closure, though many believe populist, right-wing Prime Minister Viktor Orban had a role to play in its shuttering. Miklos Hargitai, a Nepszabadsag journalist, told the AP that Orban’s government “doesn’t tolerate any control or criticism, not even questions.” Orban hadn’t given an interview to Nepszabadsag in 10 years. The newspaper’s closure is only the latest […]

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump campaigning at a recycling facility, Monessen, Pa., June 28, 2016 (AP photo by Keith Srakocic).

Editor’s note: This article is part of an ongoing WPR series inviting authors to identify the biggest priority—whether a threat, risk, opportunity or challenge—facing the international order and U.S. foreign policy today. For the past decade, globalization and anti-globalization perplexingly fell out of favor in the analytical narratives of most commentators on international affairs. The winners and losers of globalization, which defined the major debates about economic policies during the 1990s and early 2000s, simply ceased to be discussed. Perhaps it was because this particular framing was closely tied to debates about the World Trade Organization, protests against it, and […]

Lt. Gen. Sergei Rudskoi speaks in front of a map of Aleppo at a briefing at the Russian Defense Ministry's headquarters, Moscow, Oct. 19, 2016 (AP photo by Alexander Zemlianichenko).

Does Moscow care at all about international declarations of outrage over its behavior in Syria? Could threats of legal action against Russian officers involved in the siege of Aleppo affect their decisions? Over the past week, Western and Arab diplomats made a concerted push to shame Russia and the Syrian regime into curtailing their operations in Aleppo, with a flurry of meetings and statements in Brussels, New York and Geneva. But it is not clear that President Vladimir Putin and his advisers take all this sound and fury very seriously. The crisis may just exacerbate splits between Western and non-Western […]

Polish women protest against a legislative proposal for a total ban on abortion, Warsaw, Poland, Oct. 3, 2016 (AP photo by Czarek Sokolowski).

Editor’s note: This article is part of an ongoing WPR series on the status of women’s rights and gender equality in various countries around the globe. On Oct. 3, women in Poland staged a massive strike to protest a proposed law that would have criminalized all abortions, including in instances of rape or incest, and set punishments for women of up to five years in prison. Days later, lawmakers voted down the bill in parliament. In an email interview, Malgorzata Druciarek, the head of the Gender Equality Survey at the Institute for Public Affairs, discusses women’s rights in Poland. WPR: […]

German Chancellor Angela Merkel arriving at the national palace, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, Oct. 11, 2016 (AP photo by Mulugeta Ayene).

German Chancellor Angela Merkel visited Africa last week, traveling to Mali, Niger and Ethiopia. Issues of security dominated her visit to Mali, while migration was central to her trip to Niger. In Ethiopia, Merkel focused on security dialogue with the African Union, but her expression of support for greater democratization in the country was equally important. Merkel was notably blunter about Ethiopia’s authoritarianism than U.S. President Barack Obama and American diplomats, suggesting Germany’s potential as a mediator and advocate for political rights on the continent. Historically, Germany has not had nearly the same interest in Africa as France, Britain and […]

Birgitta Jónsdóttir, founder of Iceland's Pirate Party, Oct. 26, 2013 (photo by flickr user Flo, CC BY-NC 2.0).

Recent polls ahead of Iceland’s parliamentary election on Oct. 29 show the anti-establishment Pirate Party polling consistently around 20 percent, likely putting it in a position to form Iceland’s next government. In an email interview, Gunnar Helgi Kristinsson, a professor at the University of Iceland, discusses Iceland’s politics. WPR: To what extent has Iceland recovered from the 2008 financial crisis, what economic issues are still facing the country, and to what degree is the crisis and its aftermath still a political issue in the current election campaign? Gunnar Helgi Kristinsson: On Oct. 29 Icelandic voters will go to the polls […]

Brazilian President Michel Temer, Russian President Vladimir Putin, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Chinese President Xi Jinping and South African President Jacob Zuma at the BRICS summit, Goa, India, Oct. 16, 2016 (AP photo by Manish Swarup).

The most newsworthy thing about last weekend’s BRICS summit, judging from the dearth of media coverage of the gathering in Goa, India, was its lack of newsworthiness. As recently as last year, the BRICS summit was accompanied by headlines of the challenge the grouping of major emerging economies poses to America’s global position. As a coherent political bloc, the BRICS—made up of Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa—was always overblown. Now it seems it has already blown over. To be fair, Sputnik International, the Kremlin-financed Russian propaganda outfit, made a valiant effort this year to highlight the forum’s “expanding […]

Russian President Vladimir Putin and French President Francois Hollande during a news conference, Moscow, Russia, Nov. 26, 2015 (AP photo by Alexander Zemlianichenko).

Russia’s deepening role in the Syrian conflict continues to damage its relations with the West, as the brutal Moscow-backed Syrian offensive on Aleppo shows no signs of abating. On Tuesday, Russian President Vladimir Putin canceled a planned visit to Paris after his French counterpart Francois Hollande called Russian airstrikes in Syria “war crimes.” That followed Moscow’s veto of a French-backed U.N. Security Council draft resolution condemning the violence in Aleppo. Putin, whose visit was initially planned to inaugurate the opening of a Russian cultural center in Paris, reacted to Hollande’s comments that the trip would be downgraded to “a working […]

Belarus’ president, Alexander Lukashenko, as he casts his ballot during parliamentary elections, Minsk, Sept. 11, 2016 (AP photo by Sergei Grits).

In last month’s elections in Belarus, opposition members picked up seats in parliament for the first time since 1996. For most of its independence from the Soviet Union, Belarus has been under the firm control of Alexander Lukashenko, frequently described as Europe’s last dictator. Lukashenko claims no political party, and neither do most members of parliament, which functions as a rubber stamp for him. But the ascension of Anna Konopatskaya, of the United Civic Party, and Elena Anisim, a linguist with ties to opposition activists, sends a clear if symbolic message that Lukashenko is anxious, both about his own internal […]

Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev casts his ballot in a constitutional referendum, Baku, Azerbaijan, Sept. 26, 2016 (AP photo by  Vugar Amrullayev).

Azerbaijanis went to the polls last month to vote in a referendum on 29 amendments to the constitution that would strengthen President Ilham Aliyev’s grip on power. Azerbaijan’s Central Election Commission said that over 63 percent of Azerbaijanis came out to vote, more than the 25 percent necessary to validate the poll. Exit polls show that nearly 90 percent of those that voted backed all of the amendments. The official results are due to be announced on Oct. 21. The referendum included several controversial amendments, including one that would extend the president’s term in office from five to seven years. […]

Migrants and refugees walk toward the Serbian border with Hungary near Batajnica, Serbia, Oct. 4, 2016 (AP photo by Darko Vojinovic).

Nero famously fiddled while Rome burned. When it comes to the European Union, its leaders don’t even bother to treat us to music. Confronted with multiple crises on fronts both external and domestic, they seem content to drift nonchalantly toward the abyss. The question is not so much whether the EU as we know it will survive; it is already irrevocably altered by Brexit. The question is whether the ideals that the union has historically championed will continue to have any relevance in today’s political landscape in Europe and the world. The list of Europe’s many crises is well known, […]

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon meets with Antonio Guterres, New York, Dec. 21, 2015 (U.N. photo by Eskinder Debebe).

In this week’s Trend Lines podcast, WPR’s senior editor, Frederick Deknatel, and host Peter Dörrie discuss the cost of U.S. inaction in Aleppo, the attack on humanitarian aid workers in South Sudan, and Germany’s struggle to integrate more than one million refugees. For the Report, Richard Gowan joins us to talk about U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s legacy and the challenges facing the next secretary-general, Antonio Guterres. Listen:Download: MP3Subscribe: iTunes | RSS Relevant Articles on WPR: Can the U.S. Afford the Cost of Inaction in Aleppo? Attack on Aid Workers in South Sudan Was an Attack on Humanitarianism Itself Germany’s Asylum-Seekers […]

European Union High Representative Federica Mogherini speaks at a media conference, Brussels, Belgium, July 18, 2016 (AP photo by Darko Vojinovic).

In late May, amid the chaotic lead-up to the United Kingdom’s referendum on its membership in the European Union, British newspaper The Times published an article alleging that the EU was scheming to establish an “EU army,” but intended to keep its plans secret from British voters until the day after the June referendum. The story was among the flurry of articles published by British media eager to stoke skepticism toward the EU ahead of the Brexit vote. The report spread quickly, and other outlets seized the opportunity to embellish. “Britain will be forced to join an EU ARMY unless […]

Montenegro's prime minister, Milo Dukanovic, left, and NATO's secretary-general, Jens Stoltenberg, right, at NATO headquarters, Brussels, May 19, 2016 (AP photo by Virginia Mayo).

BELGRADE, Serbia—It is expected to join NATO next year and is in pole position to become the European Union’s next member. A Mediterranean paradise increasingly popular with the glitterati, it is forecast to have one of the world’s fastest-growing tourism industries over the next decade. It has also, in effect, been ruled by the same party since World War II. Critics say that it has chronic problems with organized crime and corruption that are intertwined with the political elite and state institutions. The past year has seen anti-government protesters take to the streets, accused of supporting Russia’s interest in derailing […]

Cabins inside a hangar are used as a temporary emergency shelter for asylum-seekers, Berlin, Germany, Dec. 9, 2015 (AP photo by Markus Schreiber).

BERLIN, Germany—One year on from a historic wave of migration to Germany, a myriad of challenges remain. And the stakes are high, not only for Angela Merkel’s increasingly unpopular chancellorship. In July, the first Islamist-inspired attacks by asylum-seekers on German soil trained an international spotlight on the country’s efforts to integrate more than a million new arrivals. Last year’s chaotic scenes, which saw hundreds of thousands of asylum-seekers and migrants cross German borders within a few months, have long since given way to a more sober approach. Responding to a perceived shift in public mood after foreigners attacked women in […]