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CFR experts give their take on the cutting-edge issues emerging in Asia today.

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Showing posts for "Democracy"

Democracy Suffers Again in 2013

by Joshua Kurlantzick
A supporter of the constitution gestures in front of a statue of Egypt's former Army Chief of Staff Abdel Moneim Riad near Tahrir square, during the final stage of a referendum on Egypt's new constitution in Cairo on January 15, 2014. (Mohamed Abd El Ghany/ Courtesy Reuters) A supporter of the constitution gestures in front of a statue of Egypt's former Army Chief of Staff Abdel Moneim Riad near Tahrir square, during the final stage of a referendum on Egypt's new constitution in Cairo on January 15, 2014. (Mohamed Abd El Ghany/ Courtesy Reuters)

In mid-January, millions of Egyptians voted in a constitutional referendum that won resoundingly, with a majority of 98.1 percent voting yes, according to the nation’s election commission. Egyptian leaders, and some outside observers, lauded this vote as a victory for the country’s democratic transition. Read more »

No Winners in Bangladesh

by Alyssa Ayres
People look at burnt textbooks after a primary school which was supposed to be used as a polling booth was set on fire, in Feni January 4, 2014 (Courtesy Reuters). People look at burnt textbooks after a primary school which was supposed to be used as a polling booth was set on fire, in Feni. Nearly 60 polling stations in Bangladesh were set on fire and three people were killed on the eve of Sunday's election January 4, 2014 (Courtesy Reuters).

I’ve been an optimist about Bangladesh for some time now—its national development miracle, amazing social entrepreneurs, strong civil society and women-led microfinance, 160 million-strong brand of moderate Islam, and consistent economic growth. Just a few years ago Goldman Sachs put this hardworking, against-all-odds country on their list of Asia’s “Next 11” ready for takeoff. But after Sunday’s election—and I write this with a heavy heart—I’m deeply worried. Read more »

Friday Asia Update: Top Five Stories for the Week of January 3, 2014

by Guest Blogger for Elizabeth C. Economy
cambodia-protest-police-clash A garment worker holds rocks as police officers stand with assault rifles in the background after clashes broke out during a protest in Phnom Penh on January 3, 2014. (Samrang Pring/Courtesy: Reuters)

Darcie Draudt, Will Piekos, and Sharone Tobias look at the top five stories in Asia this week.

1. Cambodian police fire on garment protesters, killing at least three. Police fired on garment workers and their supporters as they protested for higher wages on Friday. A spokesman for Phnom Penh’s police department said that three were killed and two wounded, while the United National special rapporteur to Cambodia claimed four were killed and dozens injured. Tensions began when police cracked down on a small demonstration outside a South Korean-owned factory on Thursday. Read more »

Indian State Elections Raise Questions About 2014

by Alyssa Ayres
Supporters of Arvind Kejriwal, leader of the newly formed Aam Aadmi (Common Man) Party, hold brooms, the party's symbol, after Kejriwal's election win against Delhi's chief minister Sheila Dikshit, in New Delhi December 8, 2013 (Anindito Mukherjee/Courtesy Reuters). Supporters of Arvind Kejriwal, leader of the newly formed Aam Aadmi (Common Man) Party, hold brooms, the party's symbol, after Kejriwal's election win against Delhi's chief minister Sheila Dikshit, in New Delhi December 8, 2013 (Anindito Mukherjee/Courtesy Reuters).

The results of four of the five state-level elections conducted in India over the past month were announced on Sunday, December 8. (Results from the smaller northeastern state of Mizoram were announced today, December 9, and Congress won). Since a series of pre-poll and exit poll surveys had predicted handsome gains for the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), the actual wins in the four states did not surprise as much as they might have absent the forecasting. But it was a rout for the Indian National Congress, the ruling party in the federal government, and many analysts are suggesting that a sense of BJP momentum will carry ahead to the national elections taking place by May 2014. Read more »

When Protests Halt Progress

by Alyssa Ayres
Smoke rises as a bus burns on a street after a nationwide strike was called, in Dhaka November 9, 2013 (Mahmud Opu/Courtesy Reuters). Smoke rises as a bus burns on a street after a nationwide strike was called, in Dhaka November 9, 2013 (Mahmud Opu/Courtesy Reuters).

If I were to describe a country that has achieved around 6 percent economic growth for much of the last decade, has the eighth largest population in the world, has delivered maternal and child health improvements on a scale comparable to the great Meiji restoration of 19th century Japan, is the world’s second largest exporter of ready-made garments after only China, and has achieved a 94 percent infant immunization rate, what place would come to mind? As much as it pains me to write this, I don’t believe the average Western reader would blurt out “Bangladesh, of course” after hearing that roster of accomplishments, as true as they are. Read more »

Myanmar on the Edge

by Joshua Kurlantzick
A Muslim man searches for his belongings left behind of his burnt home at Thapyuchai village, outside of Thandwe in the Rakhine state, on October 2, 2013. (Soe Zeya Tun/Courtesy Reuters) A Muslim man searches for his belongings left behind of his burnt home at Thapyuchai village, outside of Thandwe in the Rakhine state, on October 2, 2013. (Soe Zeya Tun/Courtesy Reuters)

Over the past two weeks, Myanmar authorities reportedly have arrested several men from Arakan/Rakhine State, claiming that they were planning to bomb mosques across the country. The reported plot, which comes on the heels of other bombings in October, highlights a serious problem.  Myanmar now faces growing insecurity and rising disappointment among citizens that reform has not brought higher standards of living. Interethnic and interreligious unrest now threaten to halt reforms altogether, depress much-needed investment, and even lead to broader regional tensions. Read more »

Nepal: Back on the Political Track

by Alyssa Ayres
A woman holds a ballot paper during the election campaign of Nepali Congress Party in Kathmandu November 15, 2013 A woman holds a ballot paper during the election campaign of Nepali Congress Party in Kathmandu November 15, 2013 (Navesh Chitrakar/Courtesy Reuters).

There have been a lot of elections in South Asia in recent days. On November 16 a run-off election produced a surprise result in Maldives, where Abdulla Yameen—the half-brother of former President Gayoom—narrowly succeeded over Mohamed Nasheed, who had led the previous two first-round elections. The Indian state of Chhattisgarh (the size of a small country, with about 25 million people) had its first phase of state-level polls on November 11. And on Tuesday, November 19, there will be two elections underway in the region—the second phase in India’s Chhattisgarh, as well as the long-overdue national Constituent Assembly elections in Nepal. Read more »

Framing Indian Power and Foreign Policy: State vs. Center? Or Rights vs. Realism?

by Alyssa Ayres
A man paints the logo of CHOGM 2013, ahead of the upcoming Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) 2013, in Colombo, November 11, 2013 A man paints the logo of CHOGM 2013, ahead of the upcoming Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) 2013, in Colombo, Sri Lanka November 11, 2013 (Dinuka Liyanawatte/Courtesy Reuters).

On Friday, November 15, the biennial Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) convenes in Sri Lanka. This year’s gathering of fifty-three Commonwealth members has been anything but routine, however. A number of countries have had heated internal debates about their attendance and its intended signals; three have elected to send delegations below the “head of government” level as a way to highlight concerns about Sri Lanka’s limited progress on post-conflict reconciliation, human rights and democracy, and accountability for violations at the 2009 end of the nearly thirty-year conflict with the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE). Read more »

Maldivian Do-Over

by Alyssa Ayres
A man casts his vote at a polling centre during the presidential elections in the Maldives September 7, 2013 (Dinuka Liyanawatte/Courtesy Reuters). A man casts his vote at a polling centre during the presidential elections in the Maldives September 7, 2013 (Dinuka Liyanawatte/Courtesy Reuters).

On Saturday, November 9, Maldivians will return to the polls, again, to vote for president. But instead of being an occasion for celebration of democratic consolidation following a difficult year and a half of political upheaval, Saturday’s presidential election represents an extraordinary and unprecedented do-over: they already held this election once before. Read more »

Disillusionment in Myanmar?

by Joshua Kurlantzick
Myanmar's Police Chief Zaw Win speaks at a news conference about the recent bomb blasts around the country, at the Yangon Division government office in Yangon on October 18, 2013. (Soe Zeya Tun/Courtesy Reuters) Myanmar's Police Chief Zaw Win speaks at a news conference about the recent bomb blasts around the country, at the Yangon Division government office in Yangon on October 18, 2013. (Soe Zeya Tun/Courtesy Reuters)