Populists on Both Sides of the Wall?

Ahead of the Mexican election in July, a leftwing populist is the clear frontrunner amid exasperation with political corruption and snail-paced social reform. The Mexican presidential race was probably over the minute it began. Recent polls consistently put leftist populist Andrés Manuel López Obrador ahead, with a lead of at least 10 points versus the […]

Mercosur: Crisis-Ridden and Pronounced Dead but Still Alive

South American countries are far too busy with their scandals and crises to be making progress with economic and political integration. And yet those crises could be exactly what gives Mercosur its second wind. The news coming out of Brazil recently is reminiscent of a political thriller. A president deposed under questionable circumstances (Dilma Rousseff) […]

Partially Blurred Image of Iran on a Map

Compliance for a Treaty, Credibility for Partnership

So he really did it. On May 8, US President Donald Trump decided that the economic sanctions against Iran suspended under the multilateral nuclear agreement should be resumed and even tightened and unilaterally terminated the agreement. Europeans should try to save the deal – and someone should explain to Trump the diplomatic ABC of the […]

Latin America at the Crossroads Ahead of Big Election Year

Latin America’s bumper election year got into gear with a centre-left candidate sweeping to the top in Costa Rica. And with a slew of elections set to follow, experts are asking where the continent is headed. A spate of elections will make 2018 decisive for Latin America. As the world marches towards a more conservative […]

BTI Publication Triggers Fruitful Debates in Many Countries

The Bertelsmann Transformation Index 2018 met with a considerable response in the media in the first weeks following its publication. Most of the reactions were positive and substantive. The worrying findings of the Bertelsmann Transformation Index (BTI) 2018 on the state of democracy in developing countries and emerging economies did have quite an impact on […]

Election Polls Versus Opinion Polls in Hungary

There is a very strong probability that Prime Minister Viktor Orbán’s Fidesz party is going to defend its parliamentary majority in the national elections on Sunday. However, despite a disunited opposition, election laws that strongly favor Fidesz, and a political climate of intimidation and fear, there is nonetheless a minuscule chance for a political upset. […]

Built Upon Non-Interference: Can ASEAN Economic Integration Succeed?

In April 2018, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) will host its 32nd summit. The path to economic integration laid down by the foundation of the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) in 2015 holds the promise of increasing living standards and growth – but it also presents challenges to the group’s policy of non-interference in […]

Presidential Elections in Egypt: A Sense of Déjà-vu

Egyptians vote for their next president from March 26-28, 2018. According to the National Election Authority, more than 59 million voters are registered for this election. But do they have a choice? Remember Egypt’s last presidential elections in May 2014 when Abdel Fattah al-Sisi got 97% of all votes? When only one opponent, Hamdeen Sabahi, […]

Do Strongmen Govern Better?

In many developing and transition countries, people are looking for simple solutions and flirt with authoritarianism. This trend will have dire consequences because autocracies are hopelessly inferior to democracies in the long term. Within just a few days, the leaders of the two most influential autocracies, China and Russia, have set the course for continuity […]

Military Influence: the Hidden Power of Men in Uniform

Officers and generals have always been influential and powerful actors, who meddle with politics. Today not so much by coups and direct rule, but by pulling the strings in the background. A new dataset reveals these substantial but indirect political roles of the military. No political leader, democratic or autocratic, can survive in office without […]