South African Municipal Elections Illuminate Wavering Position for Ruling Party

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Democratic Alliance leader Mmusi Maimane. Reuters.

The African National Congress’ (ANC) defeat in critical municipalities during the local elections held on August 3 has revealed cracks in South Africa’s ruling political party and has highlighted the diminishing influence of President Jacob Zuma, according to the Atlantic Council’s Chloë McGrath.

“The results of this municipal election have certainly created significant shockwaves for the ANC. Losing control over two major municipalities will definitely be a profound wake-up call for the party, as will slipping below the 60 percent mark for the first time since it came to power,” said McGrath.

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Brexit Highlights Growth Obstacles in the Eurozone

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Representatives Discuss Brexit’s Economic Effect on July 21. Atlantic Council. 

The United Kingdom’s vote to leave the European Union will have a negative impact on the European economy due to its resulting uncertainty and decreased business confidence for the foreseeable future, according to the International Monetary Fund’s recently updated World Economic Outlook. Beyond uncertainty, experts contend that the outcome of the June 23 vote on a so-called Brexit highlights structural issues within the Eurozone that have prevented significant growth following the 2008 financial crisis.

“There’s no doubt about the fact that this is a negative shock to growth,” Paul Sheard, executive vice president and chief economist at S&P Global, said of the British referendum. “In many ways, it’s worse for the Eurozone than it is for the United Kingdom,” he added.

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From Scandal to Silver Lining: Petrobras’ Offering Opportunity for Brazil’s Energy Sector

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Experts debate the effects of Lavo Jato on the Brazilian Energy Sector. Atlantic Council.

The Lavo Jato corruption investigations, also known as Operation Car Wash, into Petrobras, Brazil’s oil giant, shocked the energy sector and helped fuel one of the country’s worst recessions. Nonetheless, some analysts are optimistic that the industry can open itself up to foreign investors and domestic competition to once again generate prosperity.

“The energy industry in Brazil is on the verge of its biggest transformation in decades,” wrote Décio Oddone, former CEO of Petrobras, in his latest report for the Atlantic Council—Oil & Gas in Brazil: A New Silver Lining?

“Petrobras has never experienced such a profound transformation. In fact, this is the first time the energy landscape has significantly changed since Brazil became an industrial economy,” he noted in the briefing.

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Post-Ceasefire, Entrepreneurship Enables Social Inclusion in Colombia

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Luis Alberto Moreno, President of the Inter-American Development Bank, Discusses the Colombian Ceasefire. Atlantic Council. 

With the signing of a ceasefire agreement between the Colombian government and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) on June 23, many have asked how the deal will help the country recover from decades of violence. However, the solution may depend on not just the agreement, but also the stable economic development of civil society at large, according to development economists.

“We need peace, not just from the FARC, but for all Colombians, which begins from the bottom up,” said Luis Alberto Moreno, president of the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB).

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Economic Growth Seen as “Path to Power” in Brazil, But Will Politics Let it Happen?

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Experts discuss Brazil’s political fate on July 6. Atlantic Council. 

Amid political uncertainty and a deepening recession, economic growth is seen as the “key” to reform and prosperity in Brazil.

“If we fail economic growth, all the other scenarios would be a disaster,” said Ricardo Sennes, a nonresident senior Brazil fellow at the Atlantic Council’s Adrienne Arsht Latin America Center. “Not just disaster in the economic sense, but also political disaster with strong social disorder etc.”

Sennes spoke at an event at the Atlantic Council on June 6. He is the co-author of a new issue brief“The Path to Power in Brazil,” along with Andrea Murta, an associate director in the Council’s Latin America Center. Sennes was joined in a panel discussion by Ciro Gomes, a former Brazilian presidential candidate, and Mauricio Moura, a pollster with Ideia Inteligencia. Peter Schechter, director of the Council’s Latin America Center, moderated the discussion.

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Crisis in Brazil Seen as Foreign Trade Opportunity

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A roundtable was held in June to discuss potential benefits of the Petrobras Scandal. Atlantic Council. 

Brazil’s recent political and economic instability, while bringing uncertainty to the region, is also seen as creating an opportunity for the country to refocus its development efforts internationally.

“Times of crisis are times of opportunities,” Daniel Godinho, Brazil’s secretary for trade, said at the Atlantic Council in Washington on June 28.

“There’s a growing consensus in Brazil that in order to guarantee the future, we have to add foreign trade to our strategy,” he added.

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US Isolationism Has Few Takers Abroad

Pew survey finds isolationist policies would be ‘unpopular’.

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Panelists engage on the topic of US involvement abroad on July 1. Atlantic Council. 

Amid global trends of isolationism and proposals from Donald Trump for US disengagement, an international survey conducted by Pew Research Center suggests that isolationist policies would be “unpopular” if enacted by the next US administration.

“If you look at our data… in different ways it’s clear that people are still looking for engagement with the United States. They want economic engagement, diplomatic engagement; they want the US to play a security role,” said Richard Wike, director of Global Attitudes Research at Pew, at the Atlantic Council in Washington on June 29.

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Urban Development Seen as Critical to Countering Violent Extremism

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Parisians mourn the victims of the November 2015 attacks. Wikimedia Commons. 

Food, water, and energy insecurity, as well as economic and social inequality, form a “nexus” of issues that create an environment that breeds violent extremism, according to a senior US State Department official.

“Cities are drivers, byproducts, and stabilizers of security,” said Nancy Stetson, US special representative for global food security.

“But without the right resources, they can be threat multipliers,” she added.

Stetson spoke at the Atlantic Council in Washington on June 22 at an event hosted by the Brent Scowcroft Center for International Security. The event was the latest in a series on urban-focused security challenges. Eric Rosand, nonresident senior fellow at the Brookings Institution; Judith Hermanson, president and CEO of the Global Coalition for Inclusive Housing and Sustainable Cities; and Ian Klaus, senior adviser for global cities at the US State Department, also spoke at the event. Peter Engelke, senior fellow at the Council’s Brent Scowcroft Center moderated the discussion.

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