Analysis25 February

Back to a global green recovery plan?

A scenario of sustained high oil prices can no longer be discarded. If the uprisings in North Africa and the Middle East continue to spread to other countries over the next months, it is quite likely that oil prices will keep high, and may even reach new record heights. Not an unlikely development, particularly if protesters in Libya succeed in overthrowing Gaddafi. But instability will hardly stop with the overthrow of dictatorial rulers. Governance-building is a long process, with likely surges of instability. Attending the demands for jobs and income will not be easy. The global economy has not fully recovered yet, and the region’s troubled local economies need sweeping reforms before they can yield satisfactory results. Frustration of demands can refuel discontent and lead to new waves of instability. More »

Analysis24 February

Popular revolt and the digital conversation

Sergio Abranches

The uprisings in North Africa and the Middle East are unprecedented in many ways. There are no sufficiently comparable historical cases to help explaining them. They show a degree of spontaneous mobilization that can seldom be detected in social movements and political rebellions. Often political movements are characterized by high levels of militancy and the mediation of political organizations such as political parties and unions. Instead of a well defined political agenda, they have a clear, yet loosely articulated, set of primary demands: freedom; respect for human rights; jobs; income. More »

Commentary23 February

The myth of the bloody tyrant’s good son

Sergio Abranches

I was lucky enough to have had a bright and modest professor while at Cornell, decades ago, called Eldon (Bud) Kenworthy. He wrote a clever little essay on the use of “little well-known cases” to support fragile hypothesis in comparative politics. I would say that little well-known cases have been widely used to feed myths, especially about people from politically closed countries allies of Wester democratic nations. I recalled Bud’s paper reading about Gaddafi’s son, considered the more “liberal and modern” of the tyrant’s heirs. The same who confessedly ordered Tripoli’s bombing. More »

Analysis21 February

Climate change: G20’s meaningful silence

Sergio Abranches

Who can influence the most climate change policies? Top economic policy-makers or environmental authorities? In any country of the world, economic policy-makers have far more power to lead us to a low carbon economy, than environmental policy-makers, both public and private. Hence the silence of Finance ministers on climate change is far more meaningful than the eloquence of environment ministers. More »