Here is a summary forecast of the political risks set to affect countries around the world in 2019. It includes everything form terrorism and politics to crime, technology and even the weather.

We thought a condensed version of our latest 20-page article might be more handy for some of you.

You can also click on the relevant links tbelow o see the full Starling reports on each country.



Aviation: safety levels are improving, but drone disruption is going to become much more of a headache. It might become a particularly popular tactic for anti-capitalists and environmental protestors. Expect a higher risk around busy holiday periods and major events (like the G7/G20 conferences this year).

Brexit: the situation is out of control and highly risky to the British economy (not to mention the livelihoods of millions of people). Potential restrictions on movement are going to be hugely disruptive to business travellers and the organisations that employ them.  The situation is also very difficult to summarise. It might be better to read the full article.

Crime: as per usual, criminality remains a major issue in countries affected by political turmoil, as well as those with underfunded and/or corrupt police forces. Otherwise, however, petty and violent crimes are generally falling in high income economies. This trend is being particularly encouraged as law enforcement measures improve and society becomes increasingly cashless. However, cyber crime is growing into much more of a concern, with your data becoming as much a target as your cash.

Ebola: insecurity is hampering efforts to contain the latest outbreak in the east of the DR Congo. Even more worrying, however, is that more and more roads are being built in central Africa. This means that future outbreaks could spread far further and faster than before. Governments in the region and wider world need to prepare now!

Economics: Donald Trump’s trade barriers will only harm the US economy. Brexit, a trade barrier in another form, will also harm both the British and European economies – at a time when European growth overall is expected to slow. Meanwhile, while some commentators have speculated over the slowdown in the Chinese economy, we view it as simple maturation. Beijing also has numerous, powerful fiscal and policy tools at its disposal to handle any unforeseen economic shocks it might encounter in the year ahead.

European trends: discontent over rising prices, stagnant wage growth and slow improvements in standards of living is driving protests, most visibly in France, but similar trends are feeding into identity politics, xenophobia and EU-scepticism around the continent. Voters are increasingly likely to support radical and even damaging parties at the ballot box this year.

FinTech: organisations and countries will increasingly use financial technology to enhance trade, but some might use emerging technology to overcome trade barriers – including sanctions.

Road travel: cars will kill more travellers than most other things this year (otherwise, humans remain most likely to die of age-related illnesses such as stroke or heart disease).

Terrorism: Islamic State has been beaten back in Iraq and Syria and the pace of attacks in Europe has decreased, but the group has not been eradicated and more importantly, its ideology has not been defeated. Look out for more activity by affiliated groups in places like the Sahara, Sahel, Somalia, Egypt, Yemen and Central Asia, as well as ongoing sporadic but less frequent attacks in the West.

Weather: if El Niño appears this year it will likely be a weak one but it will still affect weather patterns around the world. Even without the phenomenon, the world’s climate is heating up so expect more record-breaking and destructive weather this year either way.


Afghanistan: it doesn’t matter who will win this year’s presidential election, the war has been lost and the democratic experiment will fail as soon as foreign troops withdraw. Essentially the country will never be stable when confined to its current territorial demarcations.

Algeria: President Bouteflika is likely to win the election in April, with strong support from ‘le pouvoir’ as usual.

Argentina: President Macri is hoping for favourable economic performance in the first half of 2019 as he faces a very tough election in October, where he could be replaced by a leftist candidate who will likely implement policies harmful to the long-term prospects of the country.

Bangladesh: expect more civil unrest following the December 2018 election which opposition figures claim was unlawful.

Bolivia: public support for Evo Morales is gradually waning but the region’s longest-standing leader is still likely to win the election in October.

Brazil: Bolsonaro’s new government will damage civil liberties and the environment but may perform well economically in the short-term.

Burkina Faso: there are no elections scheduled for this year but the country is inherently unstable with a persistent coup risk.

Cote d’Ivoire: public protests, and even sporadic disquiet from disaffected members of the military, may increasingly take place this year ahead of elections scheduled for 2020.

DR Congo: the December election result is going to be contested, with potential violence.

Eastern Mediterranean: tensions could rise over maritime borders and gas field access rights between Greece, Turkey, Cyprus, Lebanon and Israel but the situation is not likely to escalate beyond harsh rhetoric or posturing.

El Salvador: the FMLN could lose the election in February in which case President Martinez will likely be replaced by a centre-right candidate.

Ethiopia: this will hopefully be a good news story in the world for 2019 as Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed pushes for reform and inter-communal reconciliation, which in turn will raise investor confidence and encourage job-creating investment and development.

Greece: voters will likely replace the ruling Syriza alliance with a more radical bloc in the October legislative elections.

Guatemala: expect more unrest this year and contentious elections in June.

Guinea: civil unrest may start to brew ahead of elections in 2020.

Guinea-Bissau: there are no elections scheduled for this year but the country is nonetheless unstable with a persistent coup risk.

India: despite recent losses, the BJP is likely to win general elections in April. Look out for identity politics and anger from those left behind by the country’s modernisation.

Indonesia: Joko Widodo is likely to win the elections in April, spelling policy continuity and stability.

Iran: don’t expect any sanctions relief this year but European partners will likely attempt to keep the country from completely rejecting the West while Asian partners will continue to try and trade with the country, despite US opposition. Tehran may increasingly seek to develop alternative means of trading across borders (such as cryptocurrency).

Malawi: the country faces a tight election in May and whoever wins will face similar problems of underdevelopment and economic susceptibility of the agricultural sector to bad weather.

Mali: there are no elections scheduled for this year but the country is inherently unstable with a persistent coup risk.

Mozambique: FRELIMO is expected to win the October elections but it could be tight. The next government will need to focus on infrastructure, supporting the energy sector and maintaining security in the north.

Nigeria: the election in February is likely to be closely contested, but with uninspiring frontrunners and little optimism over economic diversification and job-creation the public is likely to become more frustrated in the coming years, leading to a greater risk of civil unrest.

North Korea: Kim Jong-un will become increasingly frustrated with slow progress on peace talks so expect a return to angry rhetoric. The country will not return to international markets any time soon.

Panama: the election in May looks too close to call. The economy looks robust but will suffer, along with much of the world, from increased trade barriers.

Qatar: GCC countries may ease their embargo on Doha this year as Saudi Arabia faces pressure to moderate its foreign policies.

Saudi Arabia: Mohamed bin Salman is on shaky ground and it is too difficult to tell if backroom politics will see him dethroned this year but expect a toning down of the country’s foreign policy amid the Khashoggi scandal.

Senegal: Macky Sall is likely to win the election in February, spelling policy continuity.

South Africa: Cyril Ramaphosa is likely to dominate the elections in May but support for more radical economic policies and candidates will continue rising until tangible progress is made in tackling the country’s wealth gap – an issue which will likely generate more protests in the coming years.

Sudan: the coup risk should be considered high amid current, ongoing unrest.

Taiwan: China won’t invade but increased statements from Beijing on its desire to reunite with the island will increasingly unsettle the pro-independence party and cause more troubles for Tsai Ing-wen.

Thailand: the election, postponed until March or May, will mark the return to civilian after several years of junta control, but the new constitution means that military influence will remain strong while the underlying causes of the country’s unrest have not been properly addressed. As such, large street protests could return to cities like Bangkok, if not in 2019, in the near future.

Trinidad and Tobago: the country will struggle with growing numbers of Venezuelan refugees, with a risk of hostility from local residents still recovering from economic slowdown caused by recently low oil prices.

Tunisia: don’t expect a breakthrough in parliamentary deadlock after elections later in the year. The country continues to face an existential logjam between Islamist and secularist politicians, which continues to slow policymaking, but the process, while slow, is still very much in the right direction as the country’s democratic traditions gradually evolve. Whatever the nature of the next government, its priority should be keeping the tourist sector safe.

Turkey: expect prominent economic difficulties this year and tense, unstable international relations.

Ukraine: an anti-Russian candidate is likely to win the presidential elections (due to be held in March, but with a likely run-off in April). However, they will face strong pressure from Moscow in the year ahead, particularly regarding the extension of the critical gas deal between the two countries, set to expire on the 31st December.

United States: Trump’s presidency is at risk, but while he could be impeached this year, there is a chance he could not only survive, but win a second term. If he is removed, however, don’t expect any softening of currently hawkish US foreign policy. Furthermore, US society will become more polarised this year. Expect more protests, political deadlock and the risk of hard-line individuals using violence to make political statements – including acts of terrorism such as more mass shootings.

Uruguay: expect more sedate elections than other parts of the Americas in November, but we are expecting a swing towards the right/centre-right.

Venezuela: we have little in the way of good news for Venezuela. Maduro will probably manage to remain in power while thousands of citizens will flee the country, putting a burden on a number of neighbours.

Yemen: fighting will continue, even if Saudi foreign policy is moderated this year, spelling ongoing misery for Yemen’s population.


2019 Political Risk Cheat Sheet
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