The Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU), a sister company of The Economist, measures the risk of social unrest in 150 countries around the world. It places a heavy emphasis on institutional and political weaknesses. And recent developments have indeed revealed a deep sense of popular dissatisfaction with political elites and institutions in many emerging markets.
The protesters in Turkey in 2013, for example, were dissatisfied with some abrupt decisions by Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s government. In Bulgaria, what started off as protests against higher electricity bills turned into generalised anti-government demonstrations complaining of corruption—and led to the fall of the government. Protests have continued.
What to expect in 2014? The recession is now over or has eased in much of the world. Yet political reactions to economic distress have historically come with a lag. Austerity is still on the agenda in 2014 in many countries and this will fuel social unrest.