Plastic model of Iraqi regions, courtesy of Jan Sefti/flickr
This article was originally published by The Conversation on 10 September, 2015.
While global attention focuses on Islamic State (IS), recent mass protests throughout Iraq have prompted Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi to promise what many long believed impossible: tackling the systemic corruption endemic to the Iraqi political system.
Moving decisively to cut the fat, al-Abadi slashed the Iraqi cabinet by one-third. He abolished the positions of 11 ministers, three deputy presidencies, three deputy prime ministers and a total of four ministries altogether – although this, worryingly, includes the portfolios for human rights and women’s affairs. » More
Andrzej Duda, newly elected President of Poland. Image: Piotr Drabik/Wikimedia
This article was originally published by The Conversation on 7 August, 2015.
Where next for Poland? That is the big question following the swearing in of Andrzej Duda for a five-year term as the new president.
The 43-year-old lawyer’s shock victory in May’s presidential election has shaken up Polish politics. It means that for the first time since 2010, Poland’s president is from a different party to the prime minister. Duda represents the right-wing Law and Justice party, while prime minister Ewa Kopacz is from the centrist Civic Platform.
Duda’s victory prompted speculation about whether there would be a significant shift in Polish international relations. Up to a point, is the short answer. Real executive power lies with the prime minister, but the Polish president is not simply a ceremonial figure. According to the constitution, the president has informal oversight and a coordinating role over foreign policy. » More
The European Union’s (EU) separatist movements have never had it so good. Faltering economic conditions, unpopular austerity measures and ‘out of touch’ governments have combined to reignite secessionism like never before. As a result, separatist fervour has never been so vocal – both in public and the national corridors of power. And there’s more to come. » More
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