Global issues like the spread of ISIS, the weak global economy and Middle East turmoil will continue to burden us this quarter. These are factors that may hinder stability in the international system - that's global political risk in a nutshell. But what can we expect of domestic political risk in the second quarter of 2015? Here are a few countries (not all, of course) that may be more prone to instability over the next few months in different parts of the world (note these are countries with protests related to elections, recessions, terrorism and the ongoing pursuit of democracy):
In Asia, Thailand is still the country to watch. The military took over last May due to chronic political crises - the 12th coup since 1932 - and the 2016 election may be pushed even further into the future (the junta chief Prayuth Chan-ocha says he is waiting for stability before he can hold elections.) But it is the new security order that is being lambasted internationally and may lead to protests locally, especially now that the junta publicly warned citizens not to criticise the military. Also look out for more anti-government unrest in Hong Kong, where pro-democracy activists are gearing up for their next wave of protests. In mainland China, more bouts of instability will come from protests over pollution in the northern grasslands and former ISIS fighters who have returned to the western region of Xinjiang (even if these issues aren't widely publicized in the media). And in Myanmar, expect more violence linked to ongoing sectarian tensions, especially after the government's recent decision to revoke voting rights for the Rohingya Muslim minority after just one day (due to pressure from Buddhist nationalists); students have also vowed to restart protests over the controversial new education bill, despite the risk of arrest and beatings from riot police.
In Africa, Kenya is the country to watch this quarter. As we know, al-Shabab militants killed 147 people on April 2, targeting mostly students and Christians in a terrorist attack at Garissa University in the northeast. Kenyans are blaming the government for failing to derail al-Shabab's rise, protesting on April 3 in the town of Garissa - more demonstrations should be expected, even as Kenyan airstrikes continue on the terrorist group's camps in Somalia. Also, keep an eye on Nigeria. Yes, the March 30 election that saw President Goodluck Jonathan's ouster was relatively peaceful, but some still feel the election was rigged which means unrest may recur. Existing sectarian tensions with the new leader, former military general Muhammad Buhari, a Muslim, may also bubble up but so will terrorism as Buhari has vowed to "rid" Nigeria of Boko Haram, ISIS' newest ally, as it spreads deeper into the country and beyond. And let's not forget other forms of militant-led violence will persist - on April 3, militants from the Urhobo ethnic minority group blew up a gas pipeline in the delta region.
In Europe, Greece is still the country to watch this quarter. Yes, the austerity protests have reduced thanks to Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras and his Syriza party's anti-austerity social measures - including food stamps and free electricity for the poor - but life is still a challenge for many and the government says its will run out of money soon. We want to believe Prime Minister Tsipras' assurances that they will meet all their IMF obligations on April 9 but there are still legitimate concerns about default, which may lead to more instability. Germany should also see more instability, with additional austerity protests coming up; the same is true of Spain, though some of those protests will relate to the new "gagging law" that many citizens feel restricts their freedom of expression.
Lastly in Latin America, Brazil is the country to watch this quarter. The protests against corruption in the national oil company Petrobras and general economic weakness will persist; but the momentum is also building for President Dilma Rousseff's impeachment with recurring and widespread protests (60% favour this according to polling firm MDA). Don't expect a reversal of this breakdown between the state and citizenry, at least not in the next three months. This legitimacy crisis will significantly impact President Rousseff's ability to govern. Also look for more instability in Ecuador, where citizens are not quite done with protesting President Rafael Correa's economic, labor and social policies, as well as constitutional changes that would allow him to be re-elected indefinitely. The same goes for recession-hit Venezuela, as citizens continue to demonstrate against President Nicolas Maduro's government for its economic failures (note: some hotels are asking guests to bring their own soap and toilet paper due to product shortages) and protest abuses (note: last year's protests led to 43 deaths and hundreds of injuries).