Protesters in Bangkok, December 2013. Image: ilf_/Wikimedia
This article was originally published by ASPI Strategist on 4 May, 2015.
For many years Thailand was admired for its rapid economic growth. It was a good security partner for the US and Australia, and many foreigners liked visiting the country. The zigzag course of its political development, alternating between democratically-elected governments and military regimes, has prompted frowns at the appropriate times from Western governments, but the widespread assumption was that there was an underlying upwards trajectory. The election of Thaksin Shinawatra—a wealthy communications tycoon—as Prime Minister in 2001, held out the prospect of a more contemporary and business-oriented style of government. » More
The flag of the Lebanese Hizbullah party. Image: Wikimedia
This article was originally published by the LSE Review of Books, hosted by the London School of Economics and Political Science, on 23 March, 2015.
The Hizbullah Phenomenon: Politics and Communication. Lina Khatib, Dina Matar and Atef Alshaer. Oxford University Press. 2014.
In The Hizbullah Phenomenon: Politics and Communication, Lina Khatib, Dinar Matar and Atef Alshaer offer a comprehensive analysis of the group’s sophisticated political communication strategy since its inception in 1982. Although they offer no startling insights into the group’s socio-political aims and approaches within Lebanon or its relations with foreign powers, their contribution lies in their detailed analysis of how Hizbullah has continuously sought to legitimise and market itself to domestic and foreign audiences. This is a highly valuable contribution that sheds much needed light on a key causal dimension in the movement’s endurance. » More
Flag of the National Council for the Defense of Democracy–Forces for the Defense of Democracy (CNDD-FDD); a political party and former rebel group in Burundi. Image: MrPenguin20/Wikimedia
This article was originally published by IPI Global Observatory on 20 February, 2015.
Starting in May, Burundians are scheduled to go to the polls for the third time since the Arusha Peace and Reconciliation Agreement and subsequent cease-fire agreements ended the Burundian civil war in 2003. These are important elections with significant consequences for the consolidation of peace and economic recovery in the country, as well as for democracy in the wider Great Lakes region.
The ruling party, the CNDD-FDD, is a former rebel movement that belatedly signed a cease-fire agreement in 2003 and then went on to win the first post-war democratic elections in 2005, and the second ones in 2010. Complex power-sharing provisions were agreed upon during the Arusha peace negotiations and enshrined in the Burundian Constitution, which intended to ensure a certain degree of inclusivity in governance. While the civil war was fought partly over the issue of ethnic exclusion, the Burundian Constitution requires that executive and legislative organs are multiethnic. » More
Alexis Tzirpas. Thierry Ehrmann/flickr
This article was originally published by The Conversation on 9 January, 2015.
The calling of a snap election in Greece for January 25 has been met with great concern in political circles, prompted direct interventions by top European officials and alarmed markets and credit rating agencies.
This is all because Syriza, the Greek Coalition of the Radical Left, is being tipped to win the election. It is currently the largest opposition party in the Greek parliament and consistently leads the polls as the vote approaches.
According to the latest polls Syriza’s vote share could stretch anywhere between 36% to 40%, with the centre-right New Democracy trailing by at least three percentage points. Anything above 36% gives Syriza not only an electoral victory but an outright governing majority in the Greek parliament because the winning party is automatically handed a 50-seat bonus in the 300-seat parliament.
Opponents claim that Syriza would renege on Greece’s international obligations if it came to power and that efforts to reform the country would be halted. Political instability would ensue and the eurozone would again be plunged into crisis. Talk of Greece leaving the euro has been particularly prominent of late. » More