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Ian Bremmer’s 2024 elections halftime report
Ian Bremmer’s halftime report on key 2024 elections | GZERO World

Ian Bremmer’s 2024 elections halftime report

2024 is fast becoming the most intense year of democracy the world has ever seen. Some 4 billion people, nearly half the global population, are casting ballots in at least 70 countries. With so many people voting around the world, 2024 has been dubbed “The Year of Elections.” And we’re now about halfway through, so how are things going?

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A protester holds a placard showing an image of burning PM Narendra Modi during a demonstration against the Manipur violence in Mumbai, India.

Ashish Vaishnav / SOPA Images/Sipa USA via Reuters Connect

Getting Modi to talk about Manipur violence

India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi has been reluctant to speak publicly about a surge of ethnic violence in the country’s Manipur province. An explosive viral video of a mob of men stripping and abusing a pair of women forced him to respond last week, but his political rivals say he’s done little to quell the broader conflict, which has killed at least 130 people and driven tens of thousands from their homes.

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Podcast: Modi's India on the world stage

Transcript

Listen: Is India a US ally? Based on the pomp and circumstance surrounding Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s state visit to Washington in June, the answer seems obvious, right? They love us! We love them! End of story. Right?

Well ... it’s complicated.

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Demonstrators drape the national flag of Israel on the walls of Jerusalem's Old City.

Reuters

What We’re Watching: Bibi’s defiance, US strikes in Syria, Lula’s China visit, Putin’s Hungary refuge, India vs. free speech

Bibi’s not backing down

Israelis waited with bated breath on Thursday evening as news broke that PM Benjamin “Bibi” Netanyahu was preparing to brief the nation after another “day of disruption” saw protesters block roads and strike over the government’s proposed judicial reforms.

The trigger for the impromptu public address was a meeting between Bibi and Defense Minister Yoav Gallant, also from the ruling Likud Party, who has voiced increasing concern that the looming judicial reform would threaten Israel’s national security, particularly as more and more army reservists are refusing to show up for training.

That never happened. While he talked about healing divisions, a defiant Netanyahu came out and said he will proceed to push through the reform, which, among other things, would give the government an automatic majority on appointing Supreme Court judges. This came just a day after the Knesset, Israel’s parliament, passed a bill blocking the attorney general from declaring Netanyahu unfit for office due to a conflict of interest over his ongoing legal woes and his bid to dilute the power of the judiciary. In response, the attorney general released a letter Friday saying Netanyahu's involvement in judicial reform is "illegal," suggesting a much-dreaded constitutional crisis may have begun.

Two things to look out for in the days ahead: First, what does Defense Minister Gallant do next? If he threatens to – or does – resign, it could set off subsequent defections and be a game changer. Second, how do the markets respond? Indeed, markets rallied Thursday before Bibi’s address in hopes that the government was set to backtrack on the reforms that are spooking investors, but the shekel value slumped after the speech.

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Scotland's First Minister and Scottish National Party (SNP) Leader Nicola Sturgeon.

Reuters

What We’re Watching: Sturgeon's resignation, NATO-Nordic divide, India vs. BBC, Tunisia’s tightening grip

Nicola Sturgeon steps down

Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon announced on Wednesday that she is stepping down. She’s been in the role for over eight years, having taken power after the failed 2014 independence referendum. Speaking from Edinburgh, Sturgeon said she’d been contemplating her future for weeks and knew "in my head and in my heart" it was time to go. A longtime supporter of Scottish independence, Sturgeon was pushing for a new referendum, which was rejected by the UK’s top court late last year. In recent weeks, she and her colleagues had been debating whether the next national election in 2024 should be an effective referendum on independence. Sturgeon will stay in power until a successor is elected — likely contenders include John Swinney, Sturgeon’s deputy first minister, Angus Robertson, the culture and external affairs secretary, and Kate Forbes, the finance secretary.

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Indian billionaire Gautam Adani.

Reuters

As Asia’s richest man falters, will his ties to Modi hurt the PM?

For years, India’s Adani Group, an Indian conglomerate and the world’s largest private developer of coal plants, faced repeated allegations of corruption, money laundering, and theft of taxpayer funds. Those claims tended to be of local origin, and they triggered low-level investigations that usually went away. Meanwhile, Gautam Adani, 60, continued to amass his wealth, becoming critical to India’s infrastructural expansion under powerful Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Known as “Modi’s Rockefeller,” Adani is now Asia’s wealthiest man.

US probe leads to scandal. Now, Adani’s family-run energy and transport empire has been slammed with a US-based investigation by Hindenburg Research. The New York-based financial forensics investigator has cited evidence of suspected money laundering, stock manipulation, and tax fraud, causing Adani Group’s market value to tumble. Crucially, the report also raises questions about Adani’s proximity to his friend and ally, Modi.

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Art imitates life, but politics quash both in India and Pakistan.

Luisa Vieira

Art imitates life, but politics quash both in India and Pakistan

As the hit 2022 film “The Legend of Maula Jatt”, the best-performing movie in Pakistan’s history, was set to be released in one of the world’s largest movie-watching markets last weekend, it was abruptly canceled. No official reason was given by India’s film authorities, but right-wing Indian politicians took credit for the change of plan.

Pakistani films have not been screened by India’s lucrative film market since 2011. Though there’s no official ban, New Delhi adheres to an unofficial prohibition aimed at reducing the presence of Pakistani art on Indian screens. This has been expanded under Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Hindu-nationalist rule to also exclude Pakistani actors from performing in India’s Bollywood.

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Indian PM Narendra Modi walks after inspecting the honor guard during Independence Day celebrations at the historic Red Fort in Delhi.

REUTERS/Adnan Abidi

Gearing up for a third term, meet Modi 3.0

Narendra Modi, 72, is stronger than ever. Last week, the Indian prime minister claimed the top prize in a three-pronged election by keeping his home state of Gujarat. Nabbing one of India’s richest states a sixth time in a row may propel him into a likely third term.

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