Questioning Our Assumptions: Survivorship Bias and Predictions of Arab Gulf Stability

It is never a bad idea to question your assumptions. We are years removed from the maelstrom of instability in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) that left some regimes in tatters, but the aftershocks are still being felt. One prediction (nay, assumption) to come out of the “Arab Spring” was that the Arab monarchies—the regimes that survived the destabilizing unrest intact—was their ability to manage coalitions of disparate constituencies, which provided these countries with a degree of stability absent in the collapsed regimes. 

Europe and the EU: Headlines and Trend Lines

From an increasingly assertive Russia and uncertainty over Brexit, to the political turmoil resulting from Italy’s most recent election and maintenance of the transatlantic partnership, Europe and the EU face a range of internal and external challenges. Baroness Catherine Ashton, Chair of the Wilson Center’s Global Europe Program, shares her thoughts on sorting through the headlines while keeping an eye on trend lines in this edition of Wilson Center NOW.


The Case for Pension Reform in Brazil: An Unequal and Exhausted Retirement System on the Verge of Collapse

Brazilian society is confronting a demographic transition which will have ramifications for generations. By 2050, projected life expectancy will have surpassed 80 years, the ratio of elderly to working-age populations will double, and the number of elderly people will triple. This shift, which reflects improvements in health outcomes, means that fewer workers will be supporting more retirees.

Malaysian Miracle

It is a drama worthy of Shakespeare but with geopolitical consequences for an entire region. In the recent Malaysian elections, the voters brought an end to 61 years of unbroken rule by the Barisan Nasional party dominated by its ethnic Malay component, UMNO. The long-time Prime Minister, Najib Razak, called elections supremely confident that a proven formula of money politics, thinly veiled racist appeals, a controlled press, and extreme gerrymandering of electoral districts would return him to power against a fractured and demoralized opposition.

Deaths and Protests: In the Face of Regulatory Failures, the Regime Is Unmoved


Two recent events of accidental mass deaths or injuries have drawn international attention to the ongoing regulatory shambles in Russia, which in turn speaks to Russia’s impoverished system of governance. Citizen’s public protests, easing over the line from economic to political, invariably run up against the adamantine nature of the regime-controlled governance system and its embedded protection racket, which rewards loyalists.

Interview with Alessandra Monteiro, leader of RenovaBR

The following conversation has been condensed and edited for clarity. The views and opinions expressed below are the interviewee's own, and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Brazil Institute or the Wilson Center.

Will Saudi Arabia’s Social Revolution Provoke a Wahhabi Backlash?

Saudi Arabia’s new de facto ruler, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, is pushing his country at breakneck speed into major social reforms, rousing concern about a backlash from the kingdom’s ultra-conservative Wahhabi religious establishment, the bedrock of the ruling House of Saud for over two and a half centuries.  Senior clerics who were speaking out loudly against these reforms have been summarily silenced or thrown into jail, but they have millions of followers on social media who have yet to be heard from.