Thailand: situational brief


  • 2023 General Elections: The elections held on 14 May 2023 brought a surprising result with the Move Forward Party, led by Pita Limjaroenrat, winning the most seats. This was followed by the opposition party Pheu Thai, which had previously dominated in the 2011 and 2019 elections. The voter turnout was notably high at 75.22%.
  • Post-Election Developments: After the election, Pheu Thai, initially in alliance with pro-democracy parties, dissolved its alliance with Move Forward and instead formed a coalition with conservative, pro-military parties. This led to the nomination and election of real estate tycoon Srettha Thavisin as prime minister on 22 August.
  • A new Shinawatra emerges: Thailand’s ruling party, the Pheu Thai Party, recently chose Paetongtarn Shinawatra, the youngest daughter of former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra, as its leader. This decision highlights the ongoing influence of the Shinawatra family in Thai politics, more than two decades since Thaksin’s entry into the political arena.
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India’s G20 Presidency has given Multilateralism a human touch

A guest post by Kamal Madishetty, this article was originally published on Chintan

By recasting an elite diplomatic grouping as a mass movement, India has democratised the G20 and shown that the collective popular wisdom deserves to be heard.

Multilateralism, the practice of coordinating international efforts among multiple nations to address global challenges, has long been considered a cornerstone of global governance. It seeks to promote cooperation, ensure peace and security, and address pressing global challenges. However, in recent years, multilateralism has faced significant challenges that threaten its effectiveness and relevance.

The rise of populism and polarisation in the West, the predatory practices and aggressive foreign policy of China, and increasing geopolitical tensions across the world have all weighed down on multilateralism in recent times. In particular, the COVID-19 pandemic and the conflict in Ukraine have raised the most potent challenges to the future of multilateral cooperation. It is in this extremely difficult context that India assumed the presidency of G20, the grouping of the world’s 20 biggest economies and consequently, 20 of the most influential actors on the planet.

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Maldives: situational update


  • Election Outcome: Dr. Mohamed Muizzu, from the People’s National Congress, wins the 2023 Maldivian presidential election with 54% of the votes, defeating incumbent President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih.
  • Foreign Policy Shift: Muizzu is seen as more China-aligned, contrasting with Solih’s India and Western-focused foreign policy, hinting at a significant reorientation in the Maldives’ international relations.
  • Domestic Governance: Solih’s tenure was marked by democratic reforms and transparency. In contrast, Muizzu’s governance style might lean towards more centralized control, reflecting a change in domestic political management.
  • Economic Policies: Under Solih, there was an emphasis on anti-corruption and transparency in economic dealings. Muizzu’s presidency may focus on attracting more foreign investments, possibly with a stronger Chinese influence.
  • Social and Human Rights Policies: Solih’s government was more liberal, particularly in terms of speech and religious freedom. Muizzu’s administration might adopt a more conservative stance in these areas.
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Taiwan: situational update

Following up from our previous situational brief on Taiwan’s elections, some dramatic developments last week.


  • The Kuomintang (KMT) and the Taiwan People’s Party (TPP), had agreed to field joint candidates in the upcoming presidential election, increasing the chances of the ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) losing power.
  • However, the panel of polling experts chosen by the parties was unable to reach an agreement on who will lead the joint ticket. 
  • The experts recommended continuing the discussion at a later date.
  • The candidate registration deadline is November 24, and there is still the possibility of a last minute deal.
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Ross Perot’s 1992 presidential campaign: flashback

With interest in third-party and insurgent presidential candidates in the US at a high point, our team thought it would be fun to do a series diving into some outsider candidates from previous campaigns, both presidential and primary runs. Today, we’re looking at Ross Perot’s 1992 run for the presidency.

Ross Perot was born on June 27, 1930, in Texarkana, Texas, and made a name for himself not just as a successful businessman and billionaire, but also as a noteworthy political figure. He was the driving force behind Electronic Data Systems (EDS) in 1962 and later, Perot Systems in 1988, both big hits in the IT world.

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Bangladesh’s economy: Situational brief

The current economic developments in Bangladesh, particularly in its apparel industry and regarding foreign reserves, reveal a mix of past growth and current challenges.

  • Apparel Industry Growth: Over the past decade, Bangladesh’s apparel industry has seen significant growth. From 2011 to 2019, Ready-Made Garment (RMG) exports from Bangladesh more than doubled, increasing from $14.6 billion to $33.1 billion, marking a compound annual growth rate of 7%.
  • 2023 Slowdown in Apparel Industry: However, 2023 presents a downturn for this key sector. A global slowdown is anticipated to heavily impact Bangladesh’s garment industry, with export growth expected to fall by approximately 3 percentage points. This reduction is attributed to a deceleration in global clothing demand, which is set to add pressure on Bangladesh’s GDP and its dwindling foreign exchange reservess.
  • Wage Protests and Increases: The Bangladeshi government announced a 56% increase in the monthly minimum wage for garment workers, raising it to $113 from the previous $75. Despite this increase, workers have continued to protest, demanding further wage increases. These protests have sometimes turned violent, with instances of vandalism and clashes with police​.
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Taiwan’s Presidential Elections: Situational brief

Taiwan’s upcoming January 2024 presidential election is a pivotal moment in its political landscape, marked by the candidacy of four main contenders: Vice President Lai Ching-te of the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), Hou Yu-ih of the Kuomintang Party (KMT), Ko Wen-je of the Taiwan People’s Party (TPP), and independent candidate Terry Gou. This election is closely watched by both Washington and Beijing, given its implications for cross-Strait tensions and Taiwan’s global relationships.

The election’s focus is on managing relations with China, a key foreign policy issue, alongside domestic concerns such as economic and environmental policies. Lai Ching-te emphasises increasing Taiwan’s autonomy and security through closer relations with the United States and other democracies. The DPP has been at the helm during a period of growing tensions in the Taiwan Strait. Conversely, Hou Yu-ih from the Kuomintang (KMT) party, campaigns on averting war with China, asserting that the KMT is better equipped to manage cross-strait tensions.

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Chinese electric vehicles & soft power

China’s electric vehicle (EV) industry plays a critical role in its geopolitical strategy, especially as it gains increasing market share in both Western Europe and Asia. In 2023, China’s EV market, accounting for 60% of the global total, is expected to maintain strong growth. The country led global EV sales in 2022, representing around 60% of these sales. This dominant position isn’t just an economic triumph; it’s a strategic move in the realm of soft power and international influence, positioning China as a key player in shaping the future of global transportation and energy policies. It’s a fascinating mixture of technology, geopolitics, soft power and marketing. All in a package that is visible and impactful in the day-to-day lives of regular people.

In Western Europe, Chinese automakers are steadily increasing their presence. They accounted for about 8.4% of the region’s EV market, up from 6.2% the previous year. Made-in-China EVs comprised 11.2% of all EVs sold in Germany in the first half of 2023, and the overall market share of China-based car brands in Western Europe’s EV market is expected to grow from 6% to 9% in 2023. This growth is indicative of China’s expanding influence in one of the world’s key automotive markets.

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China and multilateral financial institutions

Q: “has China shown the IMF, the deal that has supposedly been struck between the China EXIM Bank and Sri Lanka?”

A: “We have not seen the details of this yet, but this again should come out through our routine engagement.”

Transcript of the Press Briefing on the 2023 China Article IV Consultation Mission

That exchange, in the latest press briefing by the IMF on China, caused us to revisit our post on Sri Lanka’s debt situation and provides an opportunity to expand on the broader geopolitical issues at play.

China’s interactions with multilateral financial institutions embody its larger international ambitions. Through strategic policy choices and leveraging its creditor status, China is actively working to transform these institutions, seeking a balance between its duties and rights, and striving to infuse the global financial governance structure with its own brand of influence.

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Bhutan elections: Situational brief

Bhutan’s unique position between China and India has significant implications for regional security. While historically isolated, Bhutan has begun opening up to foreign influence, carefully managing its diplomatic ties. Its relationship with India is crucial, with India providing economic support and Bhutan serving as a buffer state. Bhutan’s diplomatic approach aims to balance relations with its neighbors and engage in global initiatives aligned with its developmental goals and values.

Bhutan is preparing for its National Assembly elections, which are scheduled to take place on 30 November 2023 and 9 January 2024 . The political landscape has evolved since the 2018 elections when the Druk Nyamrup Tshogpa (DNT) won a majority of seats, and its leader, Lotay Tshering, became the Prime Ministe. The DNT has continued to strengthen its position, winning four by-elections during the 2018–2023 term.

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