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Geopolitics

A World Losing Faith In Politics As Usual

From Greece and Spain, to Brazil and beyond, people are no longer convinced that politics is working for the greater good.

Jan. 31 Podemos protest in Madrid
Jan. 31 Podemos protest in Madrid
Clóvis Rossi

-OpEd-

SAO PAULO — Dilma Rousseff's troubles grow by the day. Even talk of impeachment has begun to spread amid ongoing revelations of corruption from her own party in the far-reaching Petrobras scandal, while recent polls suggest that her image has been badly damaged. Almost half of those polled said they found their president “dishonest,” and 54% described her as “deceitful.” Other prominent members of her Workers’ Party are faring no better.

In such a climate of distrust towards politics and politicians, it’s no wonder that a survey published by Folha de S. Paulo"s polling institute Datafolha showed that 71% of Brazilians don’t identify with any party — an all-time high, even topping polls taken during massive protests in the summer of 2013. The public surveys put a bit of science in an emerging bit of popular political astronomy: The world of politics has mutated, gradually turning itself into a galaxy that orbits around its own interests, rather than the common good.

It’s actually embarrassing to write “world of politics” and “common good” in the same sentence. They’ve become antonyms.

But don’t be mistaken, voters’ disaffection and their falling out of love with political parties is not just a Brazilian phenomenon. Nor is it a recent trend.

Latinobarómetro, the best indicator of Latin American attitudes, has been showing ramping mistrust in the continent for several years. In its most recent study (for 2013, published in 2014), an average of below 30% agreed with the statement “the country is governed for the benefit of all.” Perhaps unsurprisingly, the figure for Brazil was well below that: Less than 20% considered that their government was concerned with common good.


Brazil's Dilma Rousseff with former CEO of Petrobras Maria das Graças Silva Foster — Photo: Roberto Stuckert Filho/PR/ZUMA

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FOCUS: Russia-Ukraine War

Kharkiv Revisited: Inside Russia's New Assault On The "Hero City" Of Ukraine

The nation's second-largest city, Kharkiv was quiet for weeks after Ukrainian forces took control. But now it is again under attack as Russia pushes to capture the city that's considered the "gateway" to Ukraine. Die Welt reports from the frontline.

Damages due to Russian shelling in Kharkiv, Ukraine

Alfred Hackensberger

KHARKIV — "Come, I want to show you something," Denys Vezenych says, opening the door of his dental office.

The 40-year-old begins to tell the story in the waiting room: "It was April 16 when the Russian artillery shell hit. The windowpanes were broken, the walls had holes everywhere and the roof was destroyed. But I renovated everything."

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The repairs cost him several thousand euros. "You have to think positively, because life goes on," he explains with a smile. But this attitude is not so present generally in Saltivka, a neighborhood in northeastern Kharkiv. The dental practice may be like new, but the rest of this area in the northeastern Ukrainian city is completely destroyed.

The Russian army has done a great job in its three-month offensive on Ukraine's second largest metropolis. Countless flats have been burned out, the facades of houses have been shot to pieces, entire shopping centers have been bombed. Debris still lie in the streets everywhere.

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