Stories by Joshua Kurlantzick

Expert Voices

Thailand's least democratic actors gaining power ahead of elections

Thai Prime Minister, Royal Thai Army Commander in Chief and others salute a portrait of King Maha Vajiralongkorn
Thai Prime Minister, Royal Thai Army Commander in Chief and others salute in front of a portrait of King Maha Vajiralongkorn in Thailand. Photo: Jewel Samad/AFP via Getty Images

Thailand's forthcoming elections in March, the first since the country was taken over by a military junta in May 2014, are unlikely to bring much peace or stability to the kingdom, which has been in turmoil for more than a decade.

The big picture: Instead, undemocratic actors are likely to become only more powerful. While the junta is not popular — recent polling shows that the main pro-junta party is likely to get only a tiny fraction of the vote — the army will likely take tough actions if the anti-junta parties win.

Expert Voices

Autocrats meet growing resistance with harsher crackdowns

Autocratic-leaning populists — politicians who win at least relatively free and fair elections but undermine democracy upon taking office — have proliferated globally, from Hungary to the Philippines to Brazil. Several years into their tenures, some of these leaders now face increasing domestic resistance.

Expert Voices

Bolsonaro could be Brazil's Duterte

Jair Bolsonaro, Brazilian presidential candidate for the Social Liberal Party, during his political party in Sao Paulo, Brazil, on August 5, 2018.
Jair Bolsonaro, Brazilian presidential candidate for the Social Liberal Party. Photo: Dario Oliveira/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Jair Bolsonaro, the far-right candidate for Brazil’s presidency, is heading into this weekend’s runoff elections with a 14-point lead over his competitor, Fernando Haddad, after garnering a 46% plurality in the first round three weeks ago. Although Bolsonaro has drawn comparisons to a wide range of populist figures, including President Trump, he may have the most in common with Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte.

The big picture: The two come from different ideological backgrounds — Bolsonaro a conservative former army captain, Duterte a professed socialist and champion of some liberal social programs. But they share an authoritarian, populist style that promises tough action, simple solutions to complex problems, and a strongman’s determination to fight crime and right the economy — ignoring democratic norms if needed.

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