Coronavirus Politics Daily: Bolivia's endless "interim," Philippines' war on the media, EU asserts itself in the Balkans

Bolivia's endless "interim:" Coronavirus makes it hard to hold elections these days, and that seems to suit Bolivia's interim president Jeanine Áñez just fine. Áñez, an outspoken conservative, took power last fall after the Andean country's long-serving leftist president Evo Morales was ousted amid protests over election fraud. At the time, Áñez was expected to stick around for a few weeks to organize a new, fair election and then stand aside. But she quickly took bold steps to undo Morales' legacy and then, despite initially claiming no interest in the presidency, launched her own candidacy. The election was supposed to have been held last weekend, but was cancelled over public health concerns. Now parliament, still controlled by Morales' party, has voted to hold the ballot within 90 days. But Áñez, who is polling behind Morales' preferred candidate despite her well-regarded response to the coronavirus pandemic, says that's too soon to do it safely. That sets up a bitter fight in an already deeply polarized country, and it doesn't help that low oil prices are throttling Bolivia's gas-exporting economy. Until the elections issue is resolved, expect things to get ugly in the "interim."


Duterte's government gags the media: In an unprecedented move, the Philippines government ordered the nation's largest broadcast network, ABS-CBN, to shutter its operations Tuesday, leaving blank the screens of millions of Filipinos seeking news about the coronavirus pandemic. President Rodrigo Duterte, a rough-spoken populist who often targets the press, said the order to close down radio and television operations came from an independent commission. But critics, including some who are aligned politically with the president, say it's an attempt to muzzle any criticism of his response to the coronavirus crisis. Reporters have already documented inadequate protection for healthcare workers and poor social support amid lockdowns which has led to widespread hunger. During Duterte's tenure, the Philippines has become one of the most dangerous places in the world to be a journalist, ranking 136th in this year's World Press Freedom Index.

EU counters China and Russia in the Balkans: During a videoconference with six Balkan countries – Serbia, Kosovo, Montenegro, Albania, Bosnia, and North Macedonia – the EU delivered a clear message: stop falling for overtures from China and Russia. As protective equipment has been in short supply around the world in recent months, Beijing and Moscow have both enthusiastically sent gear to many countries, drawing praise particularly from Eastern European countries that have complained of insufficient support from Brussels. But during the videoconference, representatives from all 27 EU states pushed back on this narrative, reiterating that the 3.3 billion euros recently doled out to states from the West Balkans by the bloc far outweighs anything Moscow or Beijing have sent through. But beneath the great power geopolitics, are the Balkan states playing a shrewd game of their own? They want to join the EU, and they may wager that showering praise on Russia and China will spook Brussels into speeding those talks. Whether that approach will work during a pandemic and global depression is less clear.

The goal of Eni's High Performance Computing is to perfect and industrialize low carbon energy technologies developed in collaboration with research centers. Eni's efforts are helping to generate energy from waves and guarantee access to energy in remote areas thanks to light-weight and flexible organic photovoltaic panels


Watch Eni's new docuseries on HPC5

Facing the biggest economic crisis in the EU's history, the European Commission's president, Ursula von der Leyen, pulled out all the stops this week, unveiling an unprecedented plan to boost the union's post-coronavirus recovery.

The plan: The EU would go to international capital markets to raise 750 billion euros ($830 billion). 500 billion of that would be given to member states as grants to fund economic recovery over the next seven years; the remainder would be issued as loans to be paid back to Brussels. The EU would pay back its bondholders for the full 750 billion plus interest by 2058, in part by raising new EU-wide taxes on tech companies and emissions.

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Chile's miners caught in a COVID bind: Even as coronavirus swept their country, Chile's hardy copper miners, whose industry accounts for a full ten percent of Chile's economy, continued to go to work. But now, as their unions prepare for new contract negotiations and seek bonuses for having worked amid COVID-19 hazards, they might be stuck in a tight shaft. For one thing, coronavirus related economic shutdowns around the world, especially in copper-hungry China, have caused prices to plunge, putting copper companies in an especially tight-fisted frame of mind. For another, the pandemic has increased many companies' desire to replace more of their workers with robots — Chile's mining industry is particularly exposed. The outcome of the negotiations, which could shape life for Chile's miners for years to come, is an early bellwether of the kinds of issues that unions around the world may face as they seek to negotiate with employers in the aftermath of the pandemic.

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"A lot of people are going to die until we solve the political situation," one Brazilian medical expert said recently when asked about the deteriorating public health situation in that country. For months, Brazil has been one of the countries hardest hit by the coronavirus pandemic, steered by a President who has repeatedly dismissed the severity of the virus and rejected calls to implement a national social distancing policy. To date, two Brazilian health ministers have either resigned or been fired for pushing back against President Jair Bolsonaro's denialism. Meanwhile, Brazil has emerged as a global epicenter of COVID-19, with almost 27,000 deaths, though health experts believe the real toll is way higher. Here's a look at Brazil's surging daily death toll since it first recorded more than 10 deaths in one day back in late March.

Watch GZERO World as host Ian Bremmer talks to acclaimed foreign policy expert Richard Haass, president of the Council on Foreign Relations and author of "The World: A Brief Introduction." Haass explains that while the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted every aspect of life as we know it, the major issues confronting geopolitics in the 21st Century already existed.

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