2012: A year of elections (not just in U.S.)
November 3rd, 2012
11:19 AM ET

2012: A year of elections (not just in U.S.)

By Ravi Agrawal, CNN

Editor’s note: Ravi Agrawal is a senior producer on Fareed Zakaria’s Global Public Square. The views expressed are his own. You can follow him on Twitter @RaviAgrawalCNN

At the start of the year, GPS billed 2012 as “the year of elections.” It was to be a rare alignment of the electoral stars: the year China, Russia, France, and the U.S. would elect new leaders. Together, these four countries represent 80 percent of the U.N. Security Council and account for 40 percent of global GDP. There were also elections scheduled in Venezuela, Mexico, and Egypt. Unlike 2011 – which unleashed the sudden churn of the Arab Spring – 2012 was meant to bring a different kind of people power: planned change.

Democracy at its core is about the rule of the people; it is about free and fair elections. Yet democratic countries fall under a fairly broad spectrum – some proudly enshrine a range of freedoms, others impose restrictions. One would think the world is moving inexorably towards the freer end of this spectrum, but the data shows the opposite. Freedom House’s annual Freedom in the World survey scores countries on the political rights and civil liberties they offer. In each of the last six years, more countries have seen declines in their ratings than gains. On average, for every two countries that see an improvement, three fall back. Why is this happening? In part, it is because of the disproportionate importance we ascribe to elections. Fareed Zakaria predicted this trend in a 1997 Foreign Affairs essay, when he described illiberal democracy as a growth industry. “In the end,” he wrote, “elections trump everything. If a country holds elections, Washington and the world will tolerate a great deal from the resulting government … Elections are an important virtue of governance, but they are not the only virtue.”

FULL POST

Post by:
Topics: 2012 Election • China • Elections • Russia • United States
We’re all makers and takers
September 26th, 2012
03:05 PM ET

We’re all makers and takers

By Ravi Agrawal, CNN

Editor’s note: Ravi Agrawal is a senior producer on Fareed Zakaria’s Global Public Square. The views expressed are his own. You can follow him on Twitter @RaviAgrawalCNN

It all began, as things so often do these days, with a leaked video. Then there was a hurriedly-arranged press conference, an ensuing media maelstrom, and finally, attack ads.

Mitt Romney’s revelation that his “job is not to worry” about the “47 percent of the people” who “pay no income tax” has divided America. On the one hand, the 47 percent of households who pay no income tax are enraged, belittled. “People want a hand up, not a hand out,” says President Barack Obama. But assuming Romney understood his audience at that fateful fundraiser, his comments suggest the 53 percent are angry too: weary of contributing what they think is more than a fair share, and worried that if their man loses they’ll have to pay more. As columnist David Brooks put it, it’s the makers versus the moochers.

FULL POST

Misreading Mexico
September 12th, 2012
08:08 AM ET

Misreading Mexico

By Ravi Agrawal, CNN

Ravi Agrawal is senior producer of Fareed Zakaria GPS. The views expressed are his own.

Here’s some trivia. Which of these countries has the highest average income: India, China, Brazil or Mexico? If you guessed Brazil, you’d be wrong. And if you guessed India or China, you’d be way off: even if you combine the incomes of the average Indian and Chinese you wouldn’t reach the $15,000 annual purchasing power of the average Mexican.

These numbers don’t fit with many people’s perception of America’s southern neighbor. Mexico, you see, has a PR problem. A quick Google search for news from Mexico throws up a set of results that usually includes the words violence, drugs, cartels, and migrants (or the 2010 oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico). But it’s not just the international media that seems to have it in for Mexico’s reputation. Mexicans themselves seem woebegone. A recent Pew survey found that only a third of Mexicans think they have a good national economic situation. Compare that with half of Indians, 65 percent of Brazilians, and 83 percent of Chinese. Or let’s go back to average citizens: 52 percent of Mexicans think they have a good personal economic situation, but for Indians, Chinese, and Brazilians, those numbers rise to 64 percent, 69 percent, and 75 percent respectively – and that’s despite the fact that in purchasing power terms, Mexicans actually earn more per capita than citizens of all three of those countries. And, unlike the others, Mexico’s growth rate is actually rising.

Indeed, Mexico’s economy has a number of strengths. It is the 14th largest in the world. If you take into account purchasing power, it is the 11th largest economy – larger than Canada, Turkey, and Indonesia. It is projected to grow 4 percent this year, and even faster in the coming decade, a rate that the financial services firm Nomura says will lead to Mexico overtaking Brazil as Latin America’s biggest economy within 10 years, despite the fact that Brazil’s economy is currently twice as large.

FULL POST

Post by:
Topics: Mexico
June 29th, 2012
07:41 AM ET

What happened to 'Incredible India'?

Editor's note: Ravi Agrawal is the Senior Producer of "Fareed Zakaria GPS." You can follow him on Twitter @RaviAgrawalCNN.

By Ravi Agrawal, CNN

What's happened to India? Seemingly every day, new reports emerge of its slide. Growth has dropped to 5.3% – half the rate it was in 2010, and the lowest in nearly a decade. The rupee has hit a record low against the dollar, depreciating more than 25% in one year. Inflation is rampant; the deficit is growing; reforms have stalled.

Worse is to come, if you believe the ratings agencies. Standard & Poor's and Fitch have both given India their lowest investment grade and are on a negative watch.

What happened to "Incredible India," the capital "I" of the BRIC countries? FULL POST

Post by:
Topics: India
China: An unlikely home for democracy?
Xue Jianwan, the daughter of a local leader who died in police custody in Wukan, votes in elections in March.
June 5th, 2012
10:48 AM ET

China: An unlikely home for democracy?

Editor's note: Ravi Agrawal is the Senior Producer of "Fareed Zakaria GPS." You can follow him on Twitter @RaviAgrawalCNN and check out past posts.

By Ravi Agrawal, CNN

Just as some despair that democracy’s sun is setting in the West, a new study suggests it is rising anew in the East – in authoritarian China.

Three months ago, the world’s media reported with amazement a successful election in Wukan, a fishing village in the country’s southeast. 6,000 villagers were allowed to vote in a Western-style free and fair election – secret ballots and all.

But Beijing’s experiments in rural democracy are not new; they go almost three decades further back.

How has it worked out? For the first time, we have some data. FULL POST

Post by:
Topics: China • Politics
Is democracy in crisis?
Demonstrators clash with police in Athens during protests over Greek austerity cuts in February.
May 24th, 2012
09:48 AM ET

Is democracy in crisis?

Editor's note: Ravi Agrawal is the Senior Producer of "Fareed Zakaria GPS." You can follow him on Twitter @RaviAgrawalCNN

By Ravi Agrawal, CNN

I was browsing through the website of the magazine Foreign Affairs when I came across an article titled “The Present Crisis in Democracy.” The author describes dire times: a world “in a state of hysteria” where an “intoxication of unusual prosperity” was followed by “the harassing uncertainty of the depression.”

From finance boom to housing bust, it reads like a description of inept governance in the last decade.

But it’s not. The article was written in 1934 by Lawrence Lowell, a former president of Harvard University and frequent contributor to Foreign Affairs.

It turns out we’ve always talked about a “crisis in democracy.” A Google search of the phrase throws up articles written not only from the past few years, but from almost every decade of the 20th century.

FULL POST

Post by:
Topics: 2012 Election • Analysis • Governance • Politics
Who's the problem: People or politicians?
Francois Hollande rode to victory in France on an anti-austerity platform, preaching growth instead of staunch cuts.
May 9th, 2012
05:56 PM ET

Who's the problem: People or politicians?

Editor's note: Ravi Agrawal is the Senior Producer of "Fareed Zakaria GPS." You can follow him on Twitter @RaviAgrawalCNN

By Ravi Agrawal, CNN

The winners of last Sunday’s elections in Greece and France would do well to consider “Juncker’s Curse.” It’s named after the Prime Minister of Luxembourg, Jean-Claude Juncker, who famously quipped: “We all know what to do. But we don’t know how to get reelected once we've done it.”

Juncker would know. He’s the longest serving democratically elected head of government in the world.

But it raises an interesting, philosophical question. Is populism our greatest obstacle to growth and success? Are world leaders really just sitting on solutions to all our problems – but they can’t implement them because of us?

In other words, are people the problem, and not politicians? FULL POST

Post by:
Topics: Analysis • Politics
Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 4,743 other followers