What We’re Watching: Peruvian presidential runoff, EU push to tax multinationals, Japan’s post-Olympics election

Peru's right-wing candidate Keiko Fujimori and socialist candidate Pedro Castillo wave at the end of their debate ahead of the June 6 run-off election, in Arequipa, Peru May 30, 2021.

Peru's divisive choice: Peruvians head to the polls on Sunday to choose between two deeply polarizing candidates in the presidential runoff election. One is Pedro Castillo, a far-left yet socially conservative union leader and teacher. Castillo wants to rewrite the constitution to curb the power of the business elite and distribute more mining wealth to social programs. The other is rightwing firebrand Keiko Fujimori, who says she would continue the free-market policies championed by her strongman father in the 1990s. Fujimori says the country needs a demodura ("hard democracy"), a somewhat milder version of the dictablanda ("soft dictatorship") her dad once led. Castillo is beloved by rural Peruvians and anti-establishment urban voters, but his embrace of Marxism and Venezuela may alienate moderates. Fujimori, for her part, is backed by big business, but very unpopular outside her base, and negatively associated with her father's authoritarian rule and corruption — not to mention her own multiple legal troubles. Castillo is currently leading in the polls, but Fujimori has a shot at victory if voter turnout is lower than expected.


EU's new law to tax multinationals: After five years of negotiations, the EU Parliament has reached an agreement on tax guidelines for multinational corporations operating within the 27-member bloc. Under the new law, American behemoths like Apple, Amazon, and Google that make more than $916 million annually in two consecutive years will have to report their income, taxes, and number of employees across all EU countries, as well as in certain non-EU states designated on a tax-haven "blacklist," like the Cayman Islands. For years, countries like France have been calling for stricter tax rules for large corporations — particularly Big Tech firms — that flood EU markets yet pay scarce taxes back to their governments. While this is a big development, the text of the law will now have to go through the labyrinthine Brussels bureaucracy, and ultimately get unanimous consent by all 27 EU member states. Given that EU countries like Ireland and the Netherlands have greatly benefited from operating as tax havens for multinationals to stash their profits, Brussels will need to engage in lots of bargaining to get the law through. Meanwhile, the Biden administration has been pushing hard for a global minimum tax. If the EU gets this done, it will surely push things in that direction.

Japan's snap election: Japan's Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga is planning to call a snap election after the Tokyo Olympics, set to begin next month. Suga was initially popular when he took over from his predecessor Shinzo Abe last summer, but his approval ratings have rapidly declined in recent weeks due to his insistence on holding the Olympics, despite widespread opposition amongst Japanese who fear the games will give rise to new COVID outbreaks. Japan's sluggish vaccine rollout has also hurt the ruling Liberal Democratic Party, which is now worried about losing its majority for the first time in almost a decade. And there's reason to be concerned: less than two months ago, the LDP lost all three special elections to fill parliamentary seats — seats that were vacated by LDP members implicated in bribery scandals at a time when the Japanese people are becoming increasingly frustrated with government corruption. Suga will now have to pull out all the stops — perhaps including a new stimulus package to revive Japan's pandemic-battered economy — if he wants to stay in power.

Ken Burns discusses Muhammad Ali's background and how the journey of boxing's greatest champion is just as relevant today—in sport, culture and beyond.

"He is speaking to us with a kind of force and clarity...that to me is just so enduring." - Ken Burns

In a frank (and in-person!) interview, António Guterres, the United Nations Secretary-General, speaks with Ian Bremmer at the UN ahead of the annual General Assembly week. Guterres discusses COVID, climate, the US-China rift, and the ongoing crisis in Afghanistan, and does not mince words when it comes to the dire state of the world. "We are standing at the edge of an abyss," Guterres warns. COVID is "defeating" the global community and a climate catastrophe is all but assured without drastic action. Amidst this unprecedented peril, there remains a startling lack of trust among nations. And yet, there is still hope.

No country in the Western Hemisphere is more closely associated with disaster and misery than the Caribbean nation of Haiti. Its latest upheaval centers on news that the country's top prosecutor wants Haiti's prime minister to answer questions about the murder of the president in July. Haiti is again locked in a power struggle among competing factions within its ruling elite.

Why is Haiti still so poor and disaster-prone?

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For Michael Chertoff, former US secretary of Homeland Security from 2005 to 2009, the fact that America has not experienced a single attack by foreign terrorists since 9/11 proves that the US was "successful" in its strategy to prevent terrorism. That "was not [an] accident and there was a deterrent effect to be honest — had we been lax, more would have tried." Although he admits the US government wasn't transparent enough about the intelligence it was collecting, Chertoff credits US intelligence agencies with helping to foil the plot to blow up airplanes mid-air from Heathrow to the US in 2006. The US mission in Iraq, or what came after was not clearly thought out, according to Michael Chertoff, who served as the Secretary of the US Department of Homeland Security under George W. Bush. The Iraq war made it difficult to focus on the US mission in Afghanistan and absorbed resources that could have been used more effectively elsewhere, he said.

Watch the full episode: Is America safer since 9/11?

Listen: In a frank interview on the GZERO World podcast, António Guterres, the United Nations Secretary-General, speaks with Ian Bremmer at the UN ahead of the annual General Assembly week. Guterres discusses COVID, climate, the US-China rift, and the ongoing crisis in Afghanistan, and does not mince words when it comes to the dire state of the world. "We are standing at the edge of an abyss," Guterres warns. COVID is "defeating" the global community and a climate catastrophe is all but assured without drastic action. Amidst this unprecedented peril, there remains a startling lack of trust among nations. And yet, there is still hope.

Subscribe to the GZERO World Podcast on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher, or your preferred podcast platform to receive new episodes as soon as they're published.


"Men make history and not the other way around. In periods where there is no leadership, society stands still." — Harry S. Truman

The former US president's warning feels particularly prescient as world leaders prepare to gather at the 76th United National General Assembly in New York City, the first such in-person event in over 18 months. The importance of apt leadership in determining societies' ability to cope — and survive — has been on full display since COVID-19 enveloped the globe, decimating communities and killing some 4.5 million people.

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As the 76th UN General Assembly gets underway, dealing with the pandemic is still the top priority for world leaders. But for John Frank, vice president of UN Global Affairs at Microsoft, COVID is not the only major challenge the world faces today.

One of them — included in the UN Secretary-General's new Common Agenda for strong, inclusive pandemic recovery — is a different way to measure economic growth beyond the traditional productivity-led GDP model by taking more into account the cost of pollution, one of the main causes of climate change.

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For UN Secretary-General António Guterres, the pandemic has made the world even more divided than it was before COVID. That's especially true on climate, in his view, because rich and poor countries simply don't trust each other anymore. If we want COP26 to succeed, Guterres says we must rebuild that trust — or face the consequences of inaction. "If you are on the verge of an abyss, you must be careful about your next step." Watch his interview with Ian Bremmer on the latest episode of GZERO World.

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UNGA 76: Vaccines, climate, crises

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UN Chief: Still time to avert climate “abyss”

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