Americas: Far-right, centre-right parties win vote to lead Chile’s constitutional rewrite
Key Risks: policy and regulatory uncertainty; political instability
In Chile, far-right and centre-right parties will lead the Constitutional Council which will draft the country’s new constitution – scheduled to be put to referendum on 17 December. On 7 May Chileans voted to choose 50 seats of the 51-seat council, with the far-right Partido Republicano securing 35.41 per cent of the vote – which translates into 23 seats. The party will have veto power and – alongside centre-right parties that secured 11 seats – an absolute majority. The results mark yet another political shift in the country and are a blow to left-wing President Gabriel Boric’s government and to the constitutional rewrite process – which Partido Republicano initially opposed. 24 experts appointed by Congress in January will submit a preliminary draft to the council, which will start working on the new constitution in June. Policy uncertainty and political instability will remain heightened throughout the process.
Asia Pacific: Thailand braces itself for a highly anticipated and hotly contested election
Key Risks: political instability; policy continuity; economic risks
In Thailand, on 14 May polls will open in a highly anticipated and hotly contested election that is widely expected to once again pit the ruling conservative establishment against a coalition of pro-democracy and populist forces aligned with the Shinawatra clan. Pheu Thai Party’s Paetongtarn Shinawatra – whose aunt was deposed by Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha eight years ago – remains the runaway favourite in preferred prime ministerial polls but in the country’s quasi-military system, winning an election is not a guarantee to forming government. This will be the first general election since the unprecedented 2020-2021 anti-government protests, led by youths disaffected with the country’s democratic regression and strict lese-majeste laws, among others. In the coup-prone country, there remains a latent risk for the outcome to not be honoured – which could unravel Thai politics and return it to instability.
Eurasia: Russian forces continue assault on Bakhmut amid Russian forces infighting
Key risks: war on land
In Ukraine, on 9 May Yevgeny Prigozhin, head of the Russian mercenary Wagner Group leading the assault on Bakhmut in Donetsk Oblast, claimed in a video that a regular Russian army unit had abandoned its positions in the city and threatened to withdraw from the area if his forces did not receive the ammunition needed to continue fighting. Prigozhin made a similar threat on 6 May. He appeared to backtrack his comments on 7 May, suggesting that his troops would stay after receiving concessions from Moscow, but later claimed that he had been told that his forces would be regarded as traitors if they withdrew. Although infighting between the Wagner Group and regular Russian forces has likely weakened Moscow’s efforts to seize the city, heavy fighting in the area is likely to continue.
Europe: Political crisis in Slovakia deepens as Prime Minister Heger steps down
Key Risks: political instability; policy uncertainty
In Slovakia, Prime Minister Eduard Heger stepped down following the resignations of Agriculture Minister Samuel Vlcan and Foreign Minister Rastislav Kacer on 4 and 5 May, respectively. Heger’s government operated in a caretaker capacity since it lost a no-confidence vote in December 2022 which did not allow for the appointment of new ministers. President Zuzana Caputova will now appoint a technocratic government led by central bank deputy governor Ludovit Odor, who will rule until snap elections are held in September. Heger’s resignation further deepened the ongoing political crisis and strengthened the position of the populist NATO-sceptic SMER party – which is currently leading the polls. The risk of political instability will persist at least until the September elections. SMER’s victory could undermine Bratislava’s relations with the EU as the party does not support sanctions on Russia nor military aid for Ukraine.
MENA: Arab League readmits Damascus; Tehran pledges further military aid to al-Assad
Key Risks: political stability; diplomatic tensions
On 7 May Syria was readmitted into the Arab League following a meeting held by member states in Cairo. Damascus’s membership was revoked after President Bashar al-Assad cracked down on demonstrators at the onset of the civil war in 2011. After al-Assad managed to assert control over larger parts of Syrian territory and emerge as the war’s victor, Arab states began normalising ties with Damascus. Some claimed the readmission will contribute to an ‘Arab-led political path’ towards peace in the country. This means al-Assad can attend the league’s next summit in Jeddah on 19 May, a major move toward a Saudi-Syrian rapprochement. On 8 May Iranian Defense Minister Hamid Reza Ashtiani offered al-Assad advanced weaponry during a meeting in Damascus. Syria’s readmission into the Arab League will likely stir actions by Tehran to secure its influence and presence in the country.
Sub-Saharan Africa: Nigeria’s appeal court stormed as challenge to election results begins
Key Risks: political stability; civil unrest
In Nigeria, on 8 May dozens of protesters attempted to storm the Appeal Court in Abuja to denounce the outcome of the 25 February election and to demand the Presidential Election Petitions Tribunal stop the 29 May inauguration of President-elect Bola Tinubu of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC). Protesters were denied entry into the building by security forces. Protesters had gathered in front of the court ahead of the pre-hearing session for the petitions challenging the outcome of the presidential vote. In March the leaders of several opposition parties – including Peter Obi of the Labour Party (LP) and Atiku Abubakar of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) – launched legal challenges to appeal the election results. The court has 180 days from when the petition was filed to issue a judgement, although the courts are unlikely to overturn the vote.