A royal Thai army soldier © Null0 via Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

A Coup, the Crown, and Two Middle Classes

The man behind Thailand’s twelfth successful coup since 1932 made no mention of the Crown. By declaring martial law, he had already seized a royal prerogative, revealing both, the sorrow state of Thai democracy and the erosion of the monarchy. “I have decided to seize power,” Thailand’s army chief said on May 22, slamming his […]

Police escort in Karachi © Colin Cookman/Flickr (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)

Pakistan’s Violent Economy

Contrary to Western perception it’s not Islamic violence but economic misery that matters most to people in Pakistan. Yet, few believe that the government will soon put the country on a path of progress. I had only five days to shoot in Karachi for the “Secrets of Transformation” series, a joint project of Deutsche Welle […]

© María Alejandra Mora (SoyMAM)

Towards Political Participation and Social Justice?

Tahrir, Maidan, Taksim: What do the political protests across the globe have in common and how should governments react to the instability and the civil unrest? There has been a tendency in recent years towards an apparent increase in the spread of political protests across the world and, in some cases, political instability. However, according […]

Victor Orban during a debate in the European Parliament on the political situation in Hungary, January 2012 © European Union 2012 EP/Pietro Naj-Oleari

Good Voters and Bad Voters

Why some votes will not count in Hungary’s elections and why the BTI 2014 has classified the country as a “defective democracy.” Since it took office in Budapest and gained a two-thirds majority in the Hungarian parliament, the right-wing conservative FIDESZ government has acquired the nickname of “legislation factory” – and rightly so. The Orban […]

© Sime Simon via Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

An Appetite for Change?

While the Czech Republic shows signs of a new right direction to curb its corruption problem and bolster the rule of law, Russia is taking steps to bring its judiciary under even tighter control. This might also dim its economic future. On 13 June 2013, the Czech prime minister’s chief of staff, Jana Nagyova, was […]

© SERGEY NVENS / fotolia.com

The Art of Comparing Economic Growth

Turkey’s government argues that the economy has grown threefold during the past ten years. Are these numbers misleading the voters for the purpose of self-promotion? Comparison is an art. Just as statistics is the art of lying, comparison is the art of demoralizing. Theodore Roosevelt, often seen as one of the best U.S. presidents, once […]

The BTI team: Sabine Donner, Hauke Hartmann, Sabine Steinkamp & Robert Schwarz (from left to right) © Bock & Gärtner

“Conflict Management is at a Low Point”

The BTI team talks about the findings from the latest edition of the Transformation Index, the wave of civil protests sweeping the globe, and strategies for countries in transition. BTI Blog: What exactly is the Bertelsmann Stiftung’s Transformation Index, the BTI? Hauke Hartmann (Senior Project Manager at BTI): The BTI team is interested in observing […]

The BTI team: Sabine Donner, Hauke Hartmann, Sabine Steinkamp & Robert Schwarz (from left to right) © Bock & Gärtner

The Frog Jumps out of the Well

Tunisia, the BTI’s most-improved in democratic transformation (jumping from rank 100 in the BTI 2012 to rank 64 in the BTI 2014), has managed its transformation process like the frog who made it out of the well by taking two steps forward and one step back. After approving the constitution and establishing a new caretaker […]

São Paulo subway cars. © Luis F. Gallo (CC-BY-2.0)

Bridging the Corruption Gap in Brazil

Media and civil society in Brazil are quite successful at exposing corruption. The government should revisit laws, strengthen their enforcement, and engage in an anti-corruption forum with NGOs and businesses. The fight against corruption is an ever-present key issue in Brazilian media and society. It’s common knowledge that, despite Brazil’s vast economic potential and the […]

Chinese surveillance ships near the disputed Senkaku/Diaoyu islands in the East China Sea, April 2013 © Times Asi (CC BY 2.0)

Symbols for Competition

The disputes over islands in the East and South China Seas are as much about resources and territories as they are about reaffirming national sentiments. Yet the chances of outright conflict remain slim. China’s assertiveness in the East and South China Seas has been causing alarm from Washington to Tokyo. In the East China Sea, […]