Gustavo Gamallo says that after a decade with an agenda dominated by issues related to economic reforms, Latin America is placing in the foreground the political activity again. However, according to Gamallo that is not enough: an active, conscious and responsible citizenship must be built, capable of plural participation in the political debate and of developing its potency in the public scenario.
Piero Ignazi analyzes Italy’s foreign policy and says that –since the end of Second World War- Italy has been anchored by two forces: loyalty to its NATO membership and to the United States on one side, and an active and willing participation in the process of European integration on the other side. Ignazi states that the Italian political elite followed such a double path without advocating any preference or primacy for one over the other. Nevertheless, the present centre-right government, led by Mr. Silvio Berlusconi (since 2001), has been under scrutiny for its supposedly new direction in foreign policy. What is going to happen now after elections?
By Arshin Adib-Moghaddam (for Safe Democracy)
Arshin Adib-Moghaddam considers that instead of attempting to excavate the true, eternal essence of Islam, it is worthwile to comprehend the expanding discourses about it within specific ideational situations. This is what he believes is the real challenge posed by Islam. Adib-Moghaddam also illustrates how two transnational Islamic spaces have created a cognitive divide in which the rational majority suffers: “East” by neo-fundamentalist movement and “West”, by neo-conservative strategists. He notes that Bali, Madrid, London, New York, Baghdad, Kabul, Najaf and the Palestinian territories have been caught in the cross-fire of this divide.
Mohammad Darawshe discusses the implications of the results in the recent March 2006 Israeli parliamentary elections and states that the elections increased the Arab minoritie’s representation in Israel’s Knesset, thereby winning ten percent of Parliament seats. Darawshe explains the three factors that contribute to the Arab lower share of voters in terms of their actual population and they are: lower turnout rate, age, and citizenship status. According to him, the Arab political parties must unite to form one coalition (rather than four, separate parties) in order to establish legitimacy as a true option and not simply remain an opposition voice.
Dr. George E. Irani believes that Bashar Assad‘s Syrian regime is in the eye of the storm due to three factors: pressures from the Bush Administration, the UN investigation into the Hariri murder, and regional powers. Dr. Irani does mention the success Assad had in Arab solidarity against the US Congress-sponsored sanctions against Syria. However, Dr. Irani adds that Assad failed to achieve a consensus on both the Lebanon and Palestine arenas. Dr. Irani states that the regime is manipulating the remaining leverage it holds on Lebanon, and it hopes to continue using the Palestinian faction as a means to maintain Syrian intervention: Syria can always play for time and use US diplomatic blunders as a means to enhance and maintain some kind of respect.
Pedro G. Cavallero analyzes the current escalating dispute with Uruguay and Argentina in opposition (or in confrontation). As explained, the dispute has come as a result of two European companies’ decision to build an ambitious cellulose-pressing company in Uruguay. Cavallero illustrates the fact that Argentina‘s concern is the would-be environmental impact, stemming from the plant’s operation, in one of its provinces. On the other hand, the Uruguay‘s response has to push forward with expanding foreign trade policy. Cavallero thinks that this dispute has revealed a subtler discontent: the lack of an effective institutional venue to adjudicate transnational matter, in other words, a trusted, impartial mediator.
Fabián Bosoer believes that winds of change are blowing in Latin America again. Some people, enthusiastic or worried, consider that the turn to the left of the continent is getting deeper, in order to stress a rupture with the nineties. For others, he adds, the classic dilemma between populism and liberal democracy is on the table again. Bosoer rejects both positions, which put all the countries of the world in the same basket, and states a third alternative. In any case, the key question is: Is there a new paradigm of the democratic governability in Latin America?
Pedro G. Cavallero states that electoral processes in Latin America receive sporadic coverage in the US despite the fact that most of the region’s democracies are far from fully consolidated. Mr. Cavallero analyzes the Mexican political situation –before National elections– and notes that the perception of Mexico in the US remains blurred, often distorted, and even reduced to simplistic notions, and despite this “binding vicinity”, the country is becoming a vanishing neighbor for the US.
Walid Salem states that in Palestine, separation between freedom and democracy was witnessed during the peace process, in two, contradictory experiences: the first occurred during 1996-2000, with the implementation of a strategy to obtain more freedom to the Palestinians was practiced within the Oslo peace process, yet this process was practiced without democratization. In the second experience (2000-2006), the Palestinians were asked to promote democracy as a precondition to obtain more freedom from Israel. According to Salem, now is the time to build a process of democratization – freedom for the Palestinians without separation. Moreover, he states there are two ways to reach this objective: negotiations resulting in two states solutions, or two, unilateral Israeli and Palestinian tracks, leading in the same direction.