Americas: Temer survives key threat to his presidency; more to come
Key Risks: political instability; civil unrest; corruption fallout
On 9 June in Brazil, the Supreme Electoral Tribunal (TSE) voted 4-3 to acquit President Michel Temer and former president Dilma Rousseff of charges of illegally financing their 2014 campaign in a trial that threatened to oust Temer. While the ruling is likely to help Temer retain his main coalition allies, whose support will be crucial in passing proposed fiscal reforms, the president still faces a Supreme Court investigation into alleged corruption, obstruction of justice and racketeering. This will continue to threaten both his reform agenda and his presidency, although surviving the TSE trial has increased his chances of being able to remain in office until December 2018, when his term ends. This, however, cannot be entirely guaranteed given ongoing investigations and Temer’s growing lack of popular support. He has vowed to remain in office, but further threats to his presidency loom.
Asia-Pacific: Bank of Japan’s monetary policy meeting may indicate future of ‘Abenomics’
Key Risks: stagnating growth
The Bank of Japan (BoJ) will hold is two-day monetary policy meeting from 14-16 June on the back of moderately positive economic news in recent weeks. Q1 2017 saw Japan’s GDP grow by around one per cent, the fifth consecutive quarter of GDP expansion and the most consistent growth the country has experienced in a decade. While deflation has been tamed, the BoJ is still far from meeting its two per cent GDP target. Of most significance is whether the bank reveals any plans for abandoning ‘Abenomics’, the country’s unprecedented programme of fiscal stimulus that was designed to kickstart a long-stagnant economy and has seen some success. However, ‘Abenomics’ is now in its fifth year, and questions are being asked about its sustainability.
Eurasia: Russians protest with renewed vigor, new US sanctions possible
Key Risks: civil unrest; sanctions
Thousands of Russians protested against alleged corruption on 12 June, although most leaders of opposition leader Alexei Navalny’s Anti-Corruption Foundation where prohibited from taking part. Navalny himself was arrested before the Moscow demonstration. The protests were the third major round of anti-government protests this year, a sign that opposition activity is likely to further increase ahead of next year’s presidential elections. While the opposition shows no signs of posing a major threat to the Kremlin yet, elite infighting, and displeasure with the Kremlin’s continued aggressive course, could increase should the US place additional sanctions on Russia, as numerous Democratic and Republican Senators have warned in recent days. However, given the present politicisation of Russia, including in relation to President Donald Trump, the bill currently being touted is likely to codify sanctions previously issued by Trump’s predecessor rather than include sweeping new measures.
Europe: Northern Ireland’s stability traded for Westminster’s
Key Risks: civil unrest; terrorism; political stability
British Prime Minister Theresa May is likely to agree a ‘confidence and supply’ agreement with Northern Ireland’s populist loyalist Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) later this week. Such an agreement would not be a formal coalition but would see the DUP support the Conservative minority government on budgets and confidence votes. While the DUP has long voted mostly in line with May’s Conservatives, the agreement is particularly remarkable given the 29 June deadline for a Stormont government to be formed. Without agreement, Northern Ireland would return to direct rule by Westminster. A return to Westminster rule in which the British government is dependent on the DUP is unacceptable to most Republicans,and at the least violates the spirit, if not the letter, of the Good Friday Agreements. While the pact may secure May’s short-term future, it risks the long-term stability of Northern Ireland.
MENA: Rif social justice protests spread to Rabat
Key Risks: civil unrest; political violence
On 11 June, several thousand people gathered in the Moroccan capital, Rabat, and marched towards the parliament building in solidarity with the ongoing protest movements in the northern Rif region. The Adl Wal Ihsan Islamist movement led the demonstration, although a multitude of social justice organisations and activists took part. Protests in al-Hoceima began in October 2016 after the death of a fish seller and have intensified in the Rif in recent days and weeks, making the grassroots al-Harik movement the largest single protest movement since 2011. The protests have avoided criticising the king, instead focusing on claims of corruption and demands for ‘dignity’. As demonstrations continue and the government faces criticism for its handling of the crisis, opposition movements are likely to become more active. The king is likely to intervene to stem public manifestations of discontent.
Sub-Saharan Africa: Record budget to be passed by Nigerian presidency
Key Risks: political instability; policy uncertainty; economic recession; succession crisis
Progress continues apace in Nigeria, despite President Muhammadu Buhari’s absence, as the presidency is set to sign a record 4.33trn naira (US$24.4bln) budget into law next week. Parliament’s upper house has already signed the budget, which stands in stark contrast to the 2016 budget which was delayed for several months as a result of disagreements between lawmakers and the executive. The budget will provide a vital fiscal stimulus to Nigeria’s economy, which remains in recession as a result of low oil prices. However oil output has increased in recent months, with Acting President Yemi Osinbajo’s attempt to engage militant groups in the restive Niger Delta and implement a holding ceasefire proving successful. While the progression of the budget is welcome news, political uncertainty will remain owing to President Buhari’s ill health and the divisive issue of succession.