Americas: Electoral violence leaves at least 14 killed in Mexico’s Chiapas state

Sectors: all
Key Risks: political violence

In Mexico, on 13 and 16 May two mayoral candidates – Robertony Orozco and Lucero Lopez Maza – were killed in separate shooting attacks in Chicomuselo and La Concordia towns, Chiapas state, respectively. The shooting attacks resulted in a total of 14 people being killed. At least 134 people have been killed in politically motivated attacks nationwide so far in 2024. This came amid a surge of violence in Chiapas where warring cartel groups vie for power and territorial control. The attacks bring the number of killed mayoral candidates to 19 ahead of the 2 June general elections – set to be the most violent on record. During the last nationwide election in 2021 – including the run-up to the campaign and the campaign itself – at least 250 politically motivated killings were recorded. The victims included at least 89 politicians and 35 candidates, as well as their relatives, journalists and civil servants. The risk of political violence is expected to remain heightened at least until after the vote.

Click here to access Mexico’s Global Intake country profile.

Asia Pacific: Taiwanese President Lai Ching-te assumes office amid strained cross-Strait ties

Sectors: all
Key Risks: political uncertainty; policy continuity; government instability

In Taiwan, on 20 May Lai Ching-te was sworn in as president to succeed Tsai Ing-wen, beginning an unprecedented third term for the ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) following its win in the 13 January presidential election. Lai has emphasised continuity and stability, appointing members of the Tsai administration including in key defence and foreign affairs roles. In his inauguration speech, Lai called on Beijing to stop its “political and military intimidation” of Taiwan while reiterating calls for dialogue. Nonetheless, cross-Strait relations are likely to remain fraught as Chinese military activities around the island have intensified in recent weeks. Lai is expected to face a more contested domestic political environment after the DPP lost its parliamentary majority in the concurrent legislative election. On 17 May a parliamentary brawl broke out over opposition-led reforms to the chamber, raising the prospect of further legislative conflict and gridlock in the coming parliamentary term.

Click here to access Taiwan’s Global Intake country profile.

Eurasia: At least 29 injured in mob violence against foreign students in Kyrgyzstan’s Bishkek

Sectors: all
Key Risks: attacks on foreign nationals; diplomatic tensions

In Kyrgyzstan, on 17 May at least 29 people – including several foreigners – were injured in mob violence targeting foreign students in the capital Bishkek. While the nationalities were not immediately disclosed, reports emerged that Pakistani and Indian students were among those injured. The violence began after a mob entered a hostel, beating foreign students. The incident was reportedly triggered by a video showing foreign students clashing with locals on 13 May. On 19 May Deputy Foreign Minister Avazbek Atakhanovmet with Pakistan’s ambassador to the country to ease Islamabad’s concerns for its citizens. However, on 20 May the head of Kyrgyzstan International University reported that around 1,200 Pakistani students had left the country. Authorities will tighten security at hostels and universities. Further incidents targeting foreigners – particularly from South Asia – cannot be ruled out.

Click here to access Kyrgyzstan’s Global Intake country profile.

Europe: Wilders reaches three-party deal to form Dutch right-wing coalition government

Sectors: all
Key Risks: political stability; policy uncertainty

In the Netherlands, on 15 May leader of the far-right PVV party Geert Wilders reached a deal with the centre-right VVD, the new NSC party and farmers’ protest party BBB to form a coalition government following nearly six months of talks. PVV won the most seats in the 22 November 2023 elections but struggled to form a coalition as most parties refused to join Wilders’s cabinet over his controversial anti-Islam stance. Wilders forewent the role of prime minister and has yet to announce a new candidate for the role, but local media have speculated that it could be former Labour Party politician Ronald Plasterk. The coalition would be the country’s most rightwing government in decades. The coalition will focus on restricting migration and finding a way to opt out of EU asylum rules. Political instability risks are likely to persist amid likely tensions within the coalition.

Click here to access the Netherlands’s Global Intake country profile.

MENA: Iranian President Raisi’s death challenges political stability

Sectors: all
Key risks: political stability, civil unrest

In Iran, on 19 May President Ebrahim Raisi, Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian and seven others were killed in a helicopter crash in a mountainous area in East Azerbaijan province. While the cause of the crash remained unclear, adverse weather conditions are suspected to be the primary factor. The same conditions severely hampered search and rescue operations. On 20 May Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei confirmed that Vice President Mohammad Mokhber had assumed the role of interim president per the constitutional order of succession, with a mandate to organise a new presidential election within 50 days. Authorities are likely to increase security force presence in major cities, particularly in Tehran, as a precautionary measure to prevent unrest. Nevertheless, President Raisi’s passing is unlikely to significantly alter the country’s policy direction as Raisi’s ‘hardline’ factions maintain extensive control over the Iranian polity.

Click here to access Iran‘s Global Intake country profile.

Sub-Saharan Africa: South African top court blocks Zuma from contesting 29 May elections

Sectors: all
Key risks: political instability; civil unrest

In South Africa, on 20 May the Constitutional Court ruled that former president Jacob Zuma was ineligible to stand for a parliamentary seat in the 29 May general elections. On 28 March the electoral commission disqualified Zuma’s candidature because of his 15-month prison sentence for contempt of court in 2021. The constitution prohibits anyone given a prison sentence of 12 months or more from holding a parliamentary seat. However, on 9 April the Electoral Court nullified the commission’s decision and cleared Zuma to contest the polls. The Constitutional Court upheld the original decision of the electoral commission and stated that despite his early release from prison, Zuma is prohibited from running for parliament for five years following the completion of his sentence. The ruling will increase political tensions and the risk of election-related violence in the KwaZulu Natal province.

Click here to access South Africa’s Global Intake country profile.