Beware the Malaise
By Bruce Stokes, Director of Global Economic Attitudes, Pew Research Center
Special to Foreign Policy
To paraphrase Leo Tolstoy, all unhappy people are unhappy in their own way. And their unhappiness does not necessarily mean they have the will or the wherewithal to pursue regime change. But there’s a worrying trend that threatens to roil nations on the brink of instability. The recent drop in oil prices has led to cuts in domestic spending in Venezuela, sparking new concerns about civil unrest. Nigeria, another major oil exporter, faces a similar challenge, amid declining state revenues that compound already existing public dissatisfaction with the political order.
Findings from the 2014 Pew Research Center Global Attitudes survey suggest similarly high degrees of public disaffection, frustration, and resentment toward the established political and economic order in a number of key countries. Not surprisingly, this disgruntlement is particularly evident in the tumultuous Middle East. What bears watching, though, is that this discontent is also spreading in parts of Latin America and Africa.
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