Teaching Comparative Government and Politics

Thursday, May 23, 2019

More confusion in Commons

This makes Brexit seem even more insolvable.

Commons leader Andrea Leadsom quits government over Brexit
Commons Leader Andrea Leadsom has quit the cabinet, saying she no longer believes the government's approach will deliver Brexit.

Her resignation comes amid a backlash against Theresa May's Brexit plan from Conservative MPs…

[As Commons leader, she was in charge of organising government business and had been due to announce when the prime minister's Withdrawal Agreement Bill would be introduced to Parliament.]

Her resignation is the 36th by a minister under Theresa May - 21 of them over Brexit…

The move came after a day of drama at Westminster in which anger grew at the prime minister's attempt to win backing for the bill - the legislation needed to implement the agreement between the UK and EU on the terms of Brexit.

As part of it, Mrs May has offered a number of changes, including a chance for MPs to hold a vote on another referendum if they back the bill…

BBC political correspondent Jonathan Blake said… "It is an extraordinary sequence of events for a key member of the Cabinet to resign on the eve of elections.

"It is unlikely that we will see others follow her immediately, but getting into Friday and the weekend, things could move swiftly."…

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Tuesday, May 14, 2019


I've started teaching AP Comparative Government and Politics in 1986.

I'm retiring.

The books are out of print.

I'll do very few blog entries (although over 4500 entries online will still be around and indexed) (some are out of date).

I'm on to new adventures.

Hope things went well for you too.


Faith in the future

Is this optimism a good sign for China's future?

Young Chinese confident in national development goal: survey
A recent survey conducted by the China Youth Daily found that young Chinese have high confidence in building China into a great modern socialist country that is prosperous, strong, democratic, culturally advanced, harmonious and beautiful by the middle of the century.

The survey had 10,393 participants from 31 provincial regions in China, among whom 67.4 percent were born in or after 1990…

The survey showed that those interviewed gave a ranking of 8.92 out of 10 on how confident they are in this national development goal, 50.8 percent even gave full marks of 10.

Respondents born in or after 2000 rated their confidence at 9.16 on average, the highest among all age groups. The young people living in rural areas rated their confidence at 9.04, higher than those in urban areas.

"Chinese people's confidence in the national development goal comes from their faith in the governing party, the development path we have taken, the guidance of Marxism and the fact that the Chinese people are always the masters of the nation and society," said Gong Yun, a researcher with the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences.

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AP Exam advice II

Voted the second best piece of advice I gave my students

Don't Panic!

(Thanks to Douglas Adams.)


Monday, May 13, 2019

AP Exam advice

Voted the best advice I gave my students:

Read the Verbs 

(and then do what you're asked to do)


Sunday, May 12, 2019

Would it work?

Would proportional voting in Scotland work to promote more efficient legislation as this former SMP suggests? Has it worked in Mexico?

Henry McLeish wants Holyrood's current voting system scrapped
A former first minister is calling for first past the post voting system used to elect most MSPs to be replaced with proportional representation (PR).

Henry McLeish, who was first minister between 2000 and 2001, told Good Morning Scotland he believes PR would force parties to work together…

He said said the first past the post element of the election should be scrapped and replaced, adding: "You could have a PR system that could retain the constituencies, but possibly have two members but elected on a different basis what that would do in my view is give you a parliament that would never have an overall majority…

Mr McLeish, who led a Labour-Lib Dem executive in the parliament's first session, said that Holyrood has barely come of age.

He added: "It's in its infancy... In the stock of things, Westminster has been on that site in some form for nearly 1,000 years - we're just on the foothills of building a new Scotland, a new parliament, so in that sense I think there is a great opportunity to reflect seriously and then look forward."

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Friday, May 10, 2019

Renovations for the House

The House of Commons is due for a major renovation. I'll bet that a new sprinkler system will be on the list of changes. But what to do with Parliament while the old place is updated?

Parliament refit: First images released of temporary Commons chamber
The first images have been released of the proposed temporary home for MPs during restoration work in Parliament.

Architects plan to recreate the current chamber of the House of Commons, including the green benches on which MPs sit, at a new venue in Westminster.
Proposed Commons recreation

The move to Richmond House, the former home of the Department of Health, will not happen until 2025 at the earliest.

The refurbishment of the current Palace of Westminster, due to cost £4bn, will not now be completed until the 2030s.

The repair work is likely to take between five and eight years longer than previously anticipated…

The proposed temporary chamber will be similar to the current one, complete with leather benches and an adversarial layout, but will be more accessible…

The work is expected to include replacing old cabling, installing a new sewage system and improving disabled access to the estate.

Both the Commons and Lords agreed in early 2018 that the most cost-effective way to carry out the upgrades would be for them to move out whilst the works are being done…

A committee of MPs and peers will also be set up to scrutinise the spending plans alongside the Treasury.

Former Clerk of the Commons Lord Lisvane said work was needed urgently as it was "a matter of time" before something happened to the parliamentary estate.

"I'm afraid there has been a certain amount of foot-dragging and my message now would be emphatically, crack on with it," he told the BBC…

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Thursday, May 09, 2019

How's he doing?

News about the Mexican presidency gets pushed off front pages by other news. Here's an evaluation by a BBC reporter.

Mexico's Amlo riding high 10 months after election
When Mexico's populist presidential candidate Andrés Manuel López Obrador was elected by a landslide in July, some analysts warned that he could quickly lose support once in office, especially if he failed to deliver on his ambitious promise of delivering a "radical transformation" of his country.
President López Obrado
Four months after his swearing-in, his approval ratings range between 60% and 86% and are the envy of many other leaders in the hemisphere.

But how has the 65 year old commonly referred to as Amlo fared so far and what problems has he been able to tackle?

Just weeks into the top job, Amlo announced that he had launched an operation to fight widespread theft from oil pipelines, a nationwide problem costing the Mexican state about $3bn (£2.3bn) each year.

Besides deploying thousands of troops in the operation, his government also shut down major oil pipelines that criss-cross the country. Almost immediately, shortages of fuel in major cities were reported, causing massive queues at petrol stations.

Nevertheless, polls showed Mexicans supported the crackdown, and normal fuel supply has since been restored.

Official figures suggest the move has significantly reduced the amount of oil being illegally siphoned off daily, from 81,000 barrels in November of 2018 to 4,000 in the first months of 2019…

Amlo has sought an attitude of "peace and love" towards his northern neighbour despite recent public threats by Mr Trump that he would "close the border" with Mexico if the Mexican government failed to stop Central American migrants reaching the United States…

One area where President López Obrador has yet to make an impact is on Mexico's soaring murder rate. This reached a new annual record in 2018 with 28,839 violent homicides across the country, a 15% increase over 2017.

The murder rate has continued to climb since Amlo came to power. In the first quarter of 2019, 8,493 murders were reported, an increase of almost 10% compared with the same months in 2018, according to Mexican government data.

In a speech he gave on 11 March, Amlo acknowledged that "the population is currently in a defenceless state".

"Violence, as we have said many times, cannot be fought with violence (…), the construction of a better, more just and more humane society is the starting point of our public safety policy," he said.

In a move approved by Mexico's Congress, the president has created a new security agency, the National Guard, to enforce his strategy to reduce crime and violence related to Mexico's powerful drug cartels…

He travels around the country on commercial flights after putting Mexico's Dreamliner presidential plane up for sale arguing that it was too lavish for the leader of a country where millions live in extreme poverty.

On his first day in office he also ordered the presidential residence, Los Pinos, to be opened to the public and turned into a cultural centre.

Mr López Obrador and his family will continue to live at their middle-class home in Mexico City's Tlalpan neighbourhood until his youngest son finishes elementary school in mid-2019.

After that, they plan to move to a midsize apartment near his office at Mexico's National Palace, from where he says he will continue to work towards a "fourth transformation" in Mexico's history, following its 1810 independence, the 1854-1857 liberalising reforms led by then-President Benito Juárez, and the wars of the 1910-1920 Revolution.

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Wednesday, May 08, 2019

He's back…

It might not be a big deal in other places, but after Nigerian President Buhari's long absence for hospitalization, his recent return from London made headlines.

Buhari Returns to Abuja After 'Private Visit' to UK
President Muhammadu Buhari… returned to Abuja, after a 10-day 'private visit' to the United Kingdom…
A statement by his spokesperson, Femi Adesina, said some "reckless online media, irresponsible political opposition, and other bilious groups and individuals, had gone on overdrive since the President left the country on April 25, insinuating that he was going for hospitalization, and would not return after 10 days as stated."…

The presidency did not provide details of Mr Buhari's 'private visit,' leading to speculations he travelled to see his doctors as he has done in the past…

Teaching Comparative blog entries are indexed. Use the search box to look for country names or concept labels attached to each entry.

What You Need to Know 7th edition is ready to help.

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Amazon's customers gave this book a 4-star rating.

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