Isobel Coleman

Democracy in Development

Coleman maps the intersections between political reform, economic growth, and U.S. policy in the developing world.

Tunisia’s Election Results: Part II

by Isobel Coleman Wednesday, October 26, 2011

A woman walks past graffiti in Tunis the day after elections reading, "How beautiful is Tunisia without Ben Ali" (Zohra Bensemra/Courtesy Reuters).

The results of Tunisia’s elections on Sunday continue to be tabulated, with 159 of 217 seats definitively assigned. As of this writing, Al Nahda has won 65 seats (30 percent)  and is very likely to gain more. The Congress for the Republic (CPR) is tied with a dark horse party,  Al Aridha Ashabiya (the People’s Petition for Freedom, Justice, and Development) with 22 seats. Ettakatol is in third with 13 seats, and the Progressive Democratic Party trails with 7. Read more »

Tunisia’s Election Results

by Isobel Coleman Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Tunisian election workers count ballots at the end of voting for the election in Tunis (Louafi Larbi/Courtesy Reuters).

Last week, I wrote about some concerns in the lead up to Tunisia’s election: widespread voter pessimism, possible low turnout, and the potential for the manipulation of results or even conflicts on voting day. But Tunisians participated on Sunday in a remarkably large and peaceful election. People across the country waited calmly in line, sometimes for hours, to cast their vote. While the National Democratic Institute (NDI) recorded some challenges with voter registration and the tabulation of results, observers are generally impressed with the legitimacy and fairness of the elections. Ninety percent of 4.1 million registered voters cast ballots on Sunday, a high turnout by global standards. No incidents of violence at polling stations either between police and civilians or between political parties were reported.(Taking no chances, 40,000 policemen were deployed in advance of the elections.) Read more »

Missing Pieces: Doing Business Rankings, China’s Economy, and More

by Isobel Coleman Tuesday, October 25, 2011

A general view of Singapore’s financial district from Merlion Park, April 14, 2010 (Tim Chong/Courtesy Reuters).

In this week’s Missing Pieces, Charles Landow reviews a new World Bank report as well as developments from Africa, Asia, and Latin America. I hope you enjoy the selection.

  • Taking Care of Business: The World Bank last week released its 2012 Doing Business rankings, which assess countries on the ease of starting and operating a business. Singapore came in first, followed by Hong Kong, New Zealand, the United States, and Denmark. Morocco made the biggest improvement from last year, jumping 21 places to 94th. As David Bosco writes on foreignpolicy.com, the BRICS have historically fared poorly in the rankings. This year is no exception, though new member South Africa ranks a respectable 35th. Sundeep Reddy of the Wall Street Journal points out that many emerging economies have improved significantly over time, but they have a long way to go. Bosco and Reddy also note criticism of Doing Business, especially that it glorifies deregulation.

Read more »

Libya’s Post-Qaddafi Prospects

by Isobel Coleman Friday, October 21, 2011

Anti-Qaddafi fighters celebrate the fall of Muammar Qaddafi in Sirte, Libya, October 20, 2011 (Saad Shalash/Courtesy Reuters).

In the wake of Col. Muammar al-Qaddafi’s death, I posted an article on CNN.com this morning analyzing Libya’s economic and political prospects. I argue that of all the Arab countries affected by the region’s upheaval, Libya has the brightest economic outlook. It has a small, well-educated population and large reserves of oil. At the same time, its political challenges are formidable, including an absence of effective institutions and a strong distrust of government. Tensions are flaring between Islamists and secularists and between rebels who stayed and fought and more technocratic leaders who have returned from exile. There are also questions about how women, minorities, and former members of Qaddafi’s government will fare in the new order. Read more »

Tunisia’s Upcoming Elections: Part II

by Isobel Coleman Friday, October 21, 2011

Polling agents are seen at the head polling station during a simulation vote in Tunis (Zoubeir Souissi/Courtesy Reuters).

As Tunisians head to the polls this weekend, they are faced with a daunting array of choices. Over one hundred parties, fielding more than 10,000 candidates, are competing for seats in 33 constituencies. Six of those constituencies are not even in Tunisia – they are reserved for Tunisians living abroad. Only the four largest parties are running candidates in all 33 constituencies. Many small parties have nominated only one or two candidates. Read more »

Tunisia’s Upcoming Elections

by Isobel Coleman Wednesday, October 19, 2011

A man puts up electoral campaign posters of Islamist party Al Nahda in Tunis (Zoubeir Souissi/Courtesy Reuters).

This Sunday, October 23, Tunisians will go to the polls to elect a 217 person constituent assembly that will be tasked with writing a new constitution for the country within a year. Just as Tunisia led the Arab world in overthrowing its dictator, it continues to lead in moving toward a new political system. While Tunisians feel justifiably proud in their political progress, there is nevertheless considerable tension and pessimism in the lead-up to this symbolic election. Read more »

Yemen: A Brewing Humanitarian Crisis

by Isobel Coleman Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Yemenis stand next to empty gas cylinders awaiting gas supplies in Sana'a (Ammar Awad/Courtesy Reuters).

As anti-government demonstrations continue unabated in Yemen, there are few signs of resolution to its current impasse. Growing violence, in Sana’a and in the north and southwest provinces, threatens to dissolve into full-fledged civil war. This would not only be (further) destabilizing to the region, but runs the risk of precipitating a full-blown humanitarian crisis. Yemen already struggles with acute problems of food security, water shortages, and unemployment. A collapse of the state would reverberate across the Gulf, and demand further international involvement. Read more »

Missing Pieces: Reform in Burma, the Ibrahim Prize, and More

by Isobel Coleman Friday, October 14, 2011

Aung San Suu Kyi, leader of Myanmar's democratic opposition, smiles to supporters after the opening ceremony of the Aungsan Jar-mon Library at Thanatpin township near Bago, Myanmar (Burma), August 14, 2011 (Soe Zeya Tun/Courtesy Reuters).

Charles Landow highlights developments in Africa, Asia, and Europe in this week’s edition of Missing Pieces. Enjoy!

Prospects for Egypt’s Economy

by Isobel Coleman Thursday, October 13, 2011

Egypt's Finance Minister Hazem el Beblawi speaks to members of the media during a meeting of Gulf and Arab Finance Ministers in Abu Dhabi in September (Jumana El-Heloueh/Courtesy Reuters).

In a blow to the transitional government, the Egyptian finance minister and deputy prime minister, Hazem el Beblawi submitted his resignation to the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) on Tuesday in protest over the deaths of at least 17 Christian protesters over the weekend. The protesters died in a confrontation with the military near Tahrir square as they demonstrated in anger about an attack on a Coptic church in Upper Egypt. Disturbing videos of army vehicles running down protesters proliferated on the internet overnight, and protesters allege that live rounds were fired into the crowd. Read more »

Women and Mobile: A Global Opportunity

by Isobel Coleman Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Last week, I sat down with Cherie Blair, founder of the Cherie Blair Foundation for Women, to discuss how her organization is focusing on closing the mobile phone gender gap. Cherie was later joined by Maura O’Neill, senior counselor to the administrator and chief innovation officer for USAID; and Trina DasGupta, director of the GSMA mWomen Programme in a meeting that we hosted as part of the CFR-ExxonMobil Women and Technology Roundtable Series. I’ve invited Cherie, Trina, and Maura to explain in a guest blog post how they are working together to implement the mWomen Programme to increase women’s access to cell phones. Read more »