The outbreak of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) crisis on 5th June 2017 led to dramatic polarization between United Arab Emirates (UAE), Saudi Arabia, Bahrain plus Egypt and, on the other hand, Qatar, due to Doha’s alternative foreign policy supporting Muslim Brothers’ political ideology, especially during the Arab spring revolts. On the other side of the GCC, Kuwait tries to multiply its mediator efforts and Oman has strengthened its commercial relations with Qatar to avoid its isolation.
The Gulf monarchies have been experiencing deep economic, social and generational changes; at the same time, open rivalries and subtle competitions are undermining the Arab Gulf (khaleeji) identity as a shared value. National history museums, art exhibitions, traditional festivals and military symbols are increasingly adopted by the governments as top-down tools of nation-building. What are the strategies to instil national awareness, and in which direction? How are concepts like citizenship, nationhood and belonging redefined in the post-oil era?
The 2019 elections coincide with an important milestone in South Africa’s history: it is also the 25th anniversary of the country’s first ever democratically-held elections. The country is approaching these elections in the wake of some shocking reports of state corruption and graft reaching to the highest offices of leadership. Continuing high levels of poverty and unemployment, skewed development, lack of progress on transformation and stagnant growth have all dampened enthusiasm for the upcoming polls.
South Africa will hold its sixth elections since its transition to democracy 25 years ago. The elections take on added significance in the corrosive aftermath of nine years under former president Jacob Zuma. This period undermined the embryonic foundations of constitutional rule through a destructive “state capture” project, with widespread systemic corruption, fraud, and abuse of power as the main manifestations.
On the eve of the 25th anniversary of democracy in South Africa, the African National Congress (ANC) still holds power in a nearly hegemonic way. Nevertheless, the popularity of the party is decreasing while economic and social inequalities are deeply entrenched in the country.
The economy is a central issue in South Africa’s 2019 elections. This reflects not only the generally disappointing rate of economic growth since 1994 but also the fact that the economy has grown (slowly) down a growth path that has not been pro-poor.
Real growth in the global economy over the last two years (2017 and 2018) was 3.7% a year, the advanced countries (led by the USA) managing 2.5% and the emerging countries around 5%, buoyed by the excellent (and continuing) performance of the south-east Asian economies, especially China and India. The International Monetary Fund expects a slow-down in 2019; but the question all observers are asking themselves is whether that slowing will take the unpleasant form of a world-wide crisis just as we had almost forgotten the last one.
The upcoming Brazilian elections are unprecedented in several different ways. On the one hand, never before has the country seen the degree of polarization that has come to define this presidential race.
In a financially fragile country, it may happen that the government does not share the logic of the financial markets, or the need to have an independent central bank. However, a government cannot afford to act against this logic. Otherwise, it would run the risk of suffering from currency turbulences, as it was the case of the Turkish lira last May.