In 2014, seven Concordia Index countries will partake in executive elections. Citizens in Colombia, India, South Africa, Indonesia, Brazil, Turkey, and Egypt all will have a chance to set their country’s direction in 2014.
By Jacob Berman
In 2014, seven Concordia Index countries will partake in executive elections. Citizens in Colombia, India, South Africa, Indonesia, Brazil, Turkey, and Egypt all will have a chance to set their country’s direction in 2014. These elections are all in the developing world, and provide both exciting opportunities and difficult challenges with regards to public-private partnerships(P3s) and their countries’ broader economies. Here are the seven elections Concordia will be watching closely:
The first election will take place in May in Colombia, with President Juan Manuel Santos looking to win re-election for a second four-year term. Colombia has made substantial economic improvements over the past few years, with national unemployment rates under 10%, down from 12% in 2010 and 20% in 2000. Ongoing peace talks with the FARC may soon conclude, which would allow the government to focus on addressing pressing issues, including youth unemployment (almost 20%), infrastructure deficiencies, and ineffective regulation. Colombia has had many successful P3s begin operation over the last few years, and increased political and economic stability should allow further opportunities to come to fruition.
The world’s biggest election will take place throughout this spring, as 1.2 billion Indians will elect a new national government. The main opposition to the ruling Congress party comes from the Bharatiya Janata Party which has been galvanized by Narendra Modi, the Chief Minister of Gujarat. A large grassroots anti-corruption movement has also taken shape under the leadership of Anna Hazare over the past 3 years, and seeks to shake up the political establishment. India has experienced rapid private sector investment in certain sectors over the past few years. That said, large structural reforms are needed to sustain this trend and to expand it to the economy at large. India’s bureaucracy is resistant to large scale changes, but the hope is that the new government will provide sufficient energy to overcome this resistance.
In July, South Africa will hold its fifth general elections since the end of Apartheid with President Jacob Zuma attempting to win re-election for the African National Congress (ANC). The ANC has won comfortably in each of the last four elections, but their majority may be diminished by growing national concerns over unemployment, labor relations, and corruption. South Africa has many advantages: it remains rich in resources with tremendous opportunities for private sector investment, it is extremely politically stable compared to other African countries, and it has favorable demographic trends. But if the new government cannot get its economic and social problems under control, it risks alienating the private sector and losing out on the great opportunities afforded by its natural and human resources.
Also in July, Indonesia will hold its first direct Presidential election where the incumbent President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono cannot run. It is too early to forecast who the election candidates will be, but it is clear that there are tremendous challenges ahead. After five years of tremendous growth, Indonesia struggled in 2013 as investors took their money elsewhere. While this was partly due to external macroeconomic trends, it also was a result of the persistent problems of insufficient infrastructure, stifling bureaucracy, and systemic corruption. If the new leader can inspire enthusiasm and confidence among Indonesia’s citizens, then the private sector will certainly follow, and the sky will be the limit for successful P3s.
Brazil will have a Presidential election in October where incumbent President Dilma Rousseff will attempt to win reelection for her Worker’s Party. Brazil is poised to raise its international profile tremendously with hosting Soccer World Cup this summer, and then the Summer Olympics in 2016. The influx of global tourism will result in short-term economic and prestige gains along with a renewed sense of national pride in Brazil. But these events also carry high infrastructure costs, along with the potential for unwanted attention on economic inequality and corruption. It is imperative for Brazil to use their world showcases as opportunities to continue their decade-long reform process, and as an impetus to systematically tackle the long-term issues facing Brazil.
A new election in Turkey will mark the beginning of the Constitutional Reforms enacted after the previous election. Three-term incumbent Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan will seek to become the first directly elected President in Turkish history. The new government will have to continue to deal with the collateral damage from Civil War in Syria, while convincing the private sector that Turkey still sees itself as part of Europe and the West when it comes to investment opportunities. This will not be easy as Prime Minister Erdogan has become less tolerant of opposition in recent years, culminating with a brutal crackdown on protests in 2013. Turkey and the global private sector have a tremendous amount to offer each other, but increased political tolerance would go a long way towards implementing and achieving successful P3s.
The final election will take place in Egypt, which after three years of revolution will look to finally achieve stability. It is too early to determine who the main candidates will be, but it appears probable that the election will feature current and former Generals from the Egyptian army. The main economic question is whether the triumphant candidate will be able to inclusively work towards modernizing Egypt’s economy, which is extremely dependent on tourism and international loans. There are many obstacles facing Egypt over the next few years, but the hope is that a stable head of state will be able to begin to address the underlying causes of social unrest that have plagued the country in recent years.
A substantial part of the future of P3s lies in the developing world. These seven elections in 2014 will inevitably have a profound impact on the state of the developing world’s economy and on P3s more specifically. In order for P3s to flourish under the new regimes that will take power this year, it is imperative to continue promoting the value of P3s for all sectors.