This year, voters in dozens of countries will choose new leaders. With the human and economic toll of the COVID-19 pandemic as a backdrop, how will the worst global crisis in more than a hundred years play out at the ballot box? Here are a few key elections to keep an eye on in 2021.
What We’re Watching: Protests meet Thai king, AMLO’s anti-corruption push under fire, Brexit mess continues
Thais "welcome" king back: Thousands of pro-democracy activists rallied across Bangkok on Wednesday as embattled King Maha Vajiralongkorn returned to Thailand after spending almost seven months amid a growing youth-led movement calling to reform the monarchy. Police pushed away protestors trying to confront the king's motorcade, while hundreds of royalist counter protesters cheered him on. Although violence was largely avoided, animosity is rising as some of the pro-democracy activists are now openly calling to go beyond reform and outright abolish the monarchy, normally a taboo topic in Thailand. They are fiercely opposed by the royalist camp, which controls the government and the security forces. We're keeping an eye on whether the king's physical presence in the country will encourage wider protests and put pressure on Thai Prime Minister — and 2014 coup leader — Prayuth Chan-ocha to crack down hard against the increasingly bold activists. (So far, he has banned public gatherings and arrested over 20 protesters).
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On this edition of The Red Pen, where we pick apart the argument in a major opinion piece, Ian Bremmer is joined by Eurasia Group's Daniel Kerner, Carlos Petersen, and Ana Abad to take on an an op-ed from the FT about Andrés Manuel López Obrador, aka AMLO.
Today's selection comes from the Financial Times editorial board, an op-ed titled "Lopez Obrador Becomes Latin America's New Strongman."
It's about Mexico's president Andrés Manuel López Obrador, or AMLO as he's widely known. AMLO was elected in a landslide victory nearly two years ago by voters who were fed up with corruption in their nation. Now, a growing number have buyer's remorse as the economy continues to spiral downward and crime and corruption still remain high.
We're now six months into the worst public health and economic crisis most countries have seen in generations. But how is that affecting politics? We take a look at the leaders of the countries that currently have the five largest death tolls.
AMLO and Trump: an unlikely duo – When Mexico's populist president Andrés Manuel López Obrador, known as AMLO, shakes hands with President Trump at the White House on Wednesday to celebrate the new United States-Mexico-Canada trade deal, it will mark AMLO's first foreign trip since he assumed office nearly two years ago. In the run up to the meeting, both Trump and AMLO have boasted of warm personal ties, but the friendship is… an unlikely one. Recall when AMLO was elected in 2018, most analysts predicted that he would clash with Trump over immigration and trade (AMLO had long advocated for Mexicans' right to work in the United States, while Trump infamously referred to Mexican migrants as "criminals" and vowed to abolish NAFTA, the free trade agreement that was a boon for Mexico's economy.) But in endearing himself to Trump, AMLO may have calculated that, from Mexico's standpoint, a revised trade deal is better than no trade deal at all, and has thus been willing to appease the US president on issues like immigration. (As part of an agreement with the Trump administration, for example, AMLO deployed the National Guard to stop Central Americans trying to reach the US via Mexican territory.) Moreover, in flying to Washington now AMLO might also be keen to distract attention from his own poor handling of the coronavirus pandemic, which has seen Mexico's death toll surpass 30,000 in recent days, now one of the highest in the world.