Credit: International Consortium of Investigative Journalists
With the reveal of the Panama Papers, political ramifications are already beginning to take effect. In Iceland, Prime Minister Sigurdur Ingi Johannsson announced his resignation after the papers leaked his involvement in the creation of a company in the British Virgin Islands (where a conflict of interest could arise) and trove of off-shore bank accounts (NY Times). With the launch of new criminal investigations into the accounts, protests have broken out with calls for more transparency.
Iceland is not alone. Other leaders such as UK’s Prime Minister, David Cameron, and Pakistan’s Nawaz Sharif also had similar holdings and are currently under pressure from protests and investigations.
Is it possible that these papers will lead to a new wave of protests and revolutions like the Arab Spring? Some people believe that the release of documents on WikiLeaks in 2010 and 2011 acted as a catalyst for the Arab Spring (The Guardian
). From the current effects and the spread of protests, it appears likely that many countries will undergo financial reform and transparency to settle the protests. In countries such as China, where the Panama Papers leaked holdings surrounding members of the Politburo, the government has censored the information to its citizens. Regardless of the censorship, the Panama Papers have changed the game for governments listed in the papers. Governments can seek reform and change–even in leadership–or become more repressive to control any damage because of the papers.