The Economist: Belarus may face social unrest in 2014

Belarus is on the list of the countries facing a high risk of social unrest in 2014 in a report released by the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU).

The EIU measures the risk of social unrest in 150 countries around the world (see table in Photos). It places a heavy emphasis on institutional and political weaknesses. According to its ratings, 65 countries (43% of the 150) will be at a high or very high risk of social unrest in 2014. Compared with five years ago, 19 more countries are now in the high-risk categories. The Middle East and North Africa, southern Europe and the Balkans will be particularly vulnerable.

The group of high risk also includes post-Soviet countries such as Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Moldova, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Ukraine, a number of African and Asian countries, as well as some European Union member states.

According to Laza Kekic from the EIU, economic distress is almost a prerequisite for protest, but does not explain outbursts entirely. Only when economic trouble is accompanied by other elements of vulnerability (e.g. wide income-inequality, poor government, low levels of social provision, ethnic tensions, a history of unrest)countries are at a greater risk of instability.

Ukraine, Bulgaria, Brazil, Argentina, Mexico, Tunisia, Egypt and Turkey are all countries in which protests have erupted in the past twelve months; even places traditionally more muted, such as Japan and Singapore, have seen demonstrators in the streets, the researchers remind.

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