Backgrounders

Current political and economic issues succinctly explained.

Presidential Power in Iran

Authors: Greg Bruno and Jamal Afridi

Iran's Supreme Leader remains the regime's ultimate authority but controversy surrounding the country's June 12 presidential election has raised new questions about the role and power of the head of state.

See more in Iran; Elections

Lebanon's Parliamentary Elections (June 7, 2009)

Authors: Ayten Tartici and Lee Hudson Teslik

Lebanon's upcoming parliamentary elections, pitting pro-Western political elements against a coalition led by Hezbollah, will test the country's ability to manage political change among many factions.

See more in Lebanon; Elections

China’s Internal Migrants

Author: Andrew Scheineson

China's rapid economic development has been fueled in large part by a massive migration of rural workers to cities and industrial zones. Young, poorly educated, and highly mobile, these workers continue to face discrimination due to their rural origins and transitory status.

See more in Migration; China

India's Electoral Politics

Author: Jayshree Bajoria

As the world's largest democracy goes to the polls, this Backgrounder looks at the laws, major players, and issues, including economic reform, caste, and religion, that have shaped India's politics.

See more in Elections; India

The Fine Print on Defense Spending

Author: Greg Bruno

As the Obama administration finalizes its first defense budget, analysts say near-term growth will be followed by lean spending amid the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression.

See more in United States; Defense Budget

Debating a 'Clean Coal' Future

As U.S. lawmakers debate a cap-and-trade policy to combat climate change, experts say coal will continue to be a major part of the world's energy mix, which will likely complicate efforts to curb greenhouse gas emissions.

See more in United States; Climate Change; Coal