Teaching Comparative Government and Politics

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Nigeria's Youth Service Corps

Those of us outside of Nigeria don't hear much about the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC). Too bad, because it's one of the great ideas and programs for nation building in Nigeria.

Graduates of universities and polytechnics are required to serve for a year in a program that resembles a domestic version of the US Peace Corps.

During this national service year, "corpers" are assigned to work in areas far from their homes with people whose ethnicity, religion, and culture are quite different from their own.

During the last two presidential elections, "corpers" have worked for the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to move election materials and man polling places.

NYSC and the 2015 Election
Against all negative predictions, the 2015 general election was conducted and concluded with relative peace. Central to the balloting was the strategic collaboration between the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC). To the extent that the partnership turned out to be a huge success, these youth corps members who worked at the risk of their lives should be recognised as heroes and heroines of our democracy. And so should the NYSC management led by its Director General, Brigadier-General Johnson Olawunmi.

While 11 NYSC members were lost to the election crisis of 2011, safety of corps members was given primacy this time around and at the end, none was put in harm's way. Indeed, the sparingly-trained ad hoc staff demonstrated a high level of dedication to the system, and even where and when some logistic difficulties were encountered, they remained steadfast…

Olawunmi indeed directed senior staffers in the NYSC to go round the country to monitor the welfare of corps members before and during the electioneering period to avoid inducement from politicians or such conducts contrary to the electoral laws. The NYSC also collaborated actively with the election security committee…

At the end, all the efforts paid off with what is generally regarded as credible and relatively peaceful general election… we therefore commend the NYSC and INEC for the successful collaboration…

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

Just The Facts! is a concise guide to concepts, terminology, and examples that will appear on May's exam.

It's available HERE!






What You Need to Know SIXTH edition is NOW AVAILABLE.


It's also available HERE!









Labels: , , , ,

Monday, April 27, 2015

Will more information help?

If corruption and anti-democratic practices take place mostly in secret, will more information make Mexico more democratic and less corrupt?

Mexican Congress expands reach of freedom-of-information law
Mexico's Congress has approved freedom of information legislation that will allow public access to data from almost any entity that receives government funding.

The measure was passed… in the lower house on a 264-68 vote and now goes to the president for his signature.

President Enrique Pena Nieto wrote in his Twitter account that the law "will strengthen the accountability of the Mexican government and combat corruption."

Mexicans can currently use freedom-of-information requests to get data from government agencies. But the new law now also covers requests to unions, political parties and government-supported councils and commissions…

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

Just The Facts! is a concise guide to concepts, terminology, and examples that will appear on May's exam.

Customers who bought this book at Amazon gave it a 5-star rating. But Amazon doesn't have any.

Not to worry. You can get it HERE!







What You Need to Know SIXTH edition is also AVAILABLE HERE.










Labels: , ,

Friday, April 24, 2015

Uniting the oppostion

Anyone looking at the politics of Russia has to wonder, what factors keep Putin's opposition from uniting? Diverse goals? Irascible politicians? Little likelihood of success? Structural obstacles?

Does this news herald the beginning of a more unified opposition?

Russian opposition parties form anti-Putin alliance
The political party founded by murdered Russian dissident Boris Nemtsov is to join forces with another opposition party ahead of Russia's 2016 elections.

Alexei Navalny
RPR-Parnas will share a joint platform with the Party of Progress, founded by opposition activist Alexei Navalny.

Russia's political opposition has in recent years been riven by infighting, weakening its ability to challenge President Vladimir Putin…

In a joint statement on Friday, the two parties called on opposition figures to "consolidate on a common platform of a rejection of lies, corruption and aggression".

Mikhail Kasyanov, co-chairman of RPR-Parnas and a former prime minister, said the parties would form an alliance rather than merge.

Mr Kasyanov later announced they had been joined by a third party, Democratic Choice…

The parties said they would begin by running together in regional elections due to be held in 2015 before the full parliamentary elections due in 2016…

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

Be Prepared!

Just The Facts! is a concise guide to concepts, terminology, and examples that will appear on May's exam.

Customers who bought this book at Amazon gave it a 5-star rating. But Amazon doesn't have any.

Not to worry. You can get it HERE!





What You Need to Know 6th edition is also AVAILABLE HERE.











Labels: , , ,

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Instead of free and fair elections, let's have a call-in show

Over the past few years, Russian President Putin has been able to display his patience, stamina, and charisma in hours-long call-in television shows.

The shows are carefully orchestrated, and they are wonderful public relations. It might make Russians wish they'd voted for Putin.

Putin the problem-solver: Russian leader's annual TV phone-in marathon
Former government ministers, hunger striking construction workers and a British farmer called John have all been given an audience with Vladimir Putin as the Russian president put in a performance of characteristic stamina in his latest carefully choreographed televisual marathon…

The Russian president’s phone-in session with the nation has become an annual tradition, with questions coming from audience members in the studio and phone calls from around the country.
Putin and moderators
Economic themes dominated the discussion, with foreign policy and the war in Ukraine taking a back seat…

The organisers said there had been over 3m questions received by telephone, video message and email. However, the vast majority of those that made it on air were carefully screened and often came via correspondents sent out to the field…

On international affairs, Putin was reasonably conciliatory. Answering a question about a boycott of celebrations for the 70th anniversary of victory in the second world war this May, he said it was unfair to compare Stalinism and nazism but conceded that some in central Europe are justified in their ambiguous views on the Soviet victory.

“After the second world war we tried to impose our model of development on many eastern European countries and did it by force,” said Putin. “We have to admit this. And there’s nothing good about it.”…

There was no chance for a follow-up [question]… underlining the usefulness of the single-question format for the Russian president…

After four hours, he left the studio with a stack of handwritten notes and a promise to bring regional leaders to task over the issues that had been raised. If Putin’s appearances are designed to prove one thing, it is that whatever problems might face ordinary Russians, he is not part of the problem, but instead is the only person who can solve them…

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

Just The Facts! is a concise guide to concepts, terminology, and examples that will appear on May's exam.


This book earned a 5-star rating from Amazon customers, but Amazon has no copies in stock.

We have copies and free shipping. Get them HERE!





What You Need to Know 6th edition is AVAILABLE.


Get it here!







Labels: , , ,

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Translation from journalistic language to political scientific language needed

Use the link. Read the article. Explain why a political scientist would say the headline is all wrong.

European officials may be pushing regime change in Greece
There are various narratives for what is happening to Greece as another deadline looms – the April 24 gathering of eurozone finance ministers in Riga, Latvia — and European officials show no sign of compromise. The most common tale is that this is a game of brinkmanship, with the Germans and their allies pushing for “reforms” that the Syriza government in Greece doesn’t want to adopt…

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

Just The Facts! is a concise guide to concepts, terminology, and examples that will appear on May's exam.


Customers at Amazon gave this book a 5-star rating. But Amazon doesn't have any copies in stock.

Not to worry, you can get a copy by Friday if you order HERE today!




What You Need to Know SIXTH edition is NOW AVAILABLE. 

Available HERE!










Labels: , ,

Challenges of economic policy

Linda Yueh's review at the BBC offers a clear view of the challenges facing China's rulers in the area of economic policy. Can the CPC leaders control consumption as easily as it controlled industrial production? (You might want a briefing about the factors of production and the elements that make up the GDP to go with this article.)

The end of an era for China
Probably the least surprising thing about China's GDP growth rate for the first three months of the year is that it slowed to 7%. After all, that's the target for the year.

Chinese consumers
What's more surprising are the drivers: consumption more than investment, services outpacing manufacturing, and domestic demand rather than exports. Taking today's figures and the data for March together with the full year picture for 2014 shows that China's growth drivers are changing.

Consumption contributed 3.8 percentage points to 2014's 7.4% growth rate, which is more than investment which accounted for 3.6 percentage points. Net exports - so exports minus imports - contributed nothing.

Consumption has risen to account for more than 50% of GDP… and finally places China in the realm of market economies where consumption is between half to two-thirds of GDP.

Indeed, industrial production in March expanded by 5.6% in March, the slowest on record, which was significantly outpaced by retail sales - a measure of consumption - which grew at over 10%.

This is what China has been trying to achieve…

It's part of their aim of overcoming the middle income country trap to become prosperous by improving the quality of the growth drivers in the economy.

Growing more through consumption and services is similar to the growth drivers of developed economies such as the U.S. and Europe. So, China's re-balancing also marks the beginning of the end of a period of rapid growth that is based on industrialisation…

So, the picture in terms of re-balancing looks better than the headline growth rate of the slowest quarterly growth rate since the global financial crisis…

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

Just The Facts! is a concise guide to concepts, terminology, and examples that will appear on May's exam.










What You Need to Know SIXTH edition is NOW AVAILABLE.
Updated and ready to help.










Labels: , ,

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Will victory equal reform?

Promises during the campaign won votes. Will voters wait patiently for results in Nigeria?

Please don’t expect miracles: The president-elect faces enormous tasks, starting with halting corruption
MUHAMMADU BUHARI… promised frustrated Nigerians that he would bring change once he is inaugurated on May 29th. Many will take him at his word. “Most people are expecting a new Nigeria,” says Ahmad Lamido, a civil servant in the northern city of Kano…

Mr Buhari will start by trying to deal with mismanagement in the army. Embezzlement by generals is one reason why, despite a huge budget, the army lacks the equipment to defeat the jihadists of Boko Haram…

Mr Buhari’s new lot will look into the accounts of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC). Investigation into opaque operating contracts is the starting place, reckons Thomas Hansen of Control Risks, a London-based consultancy. The state-owned oil giant signed operating contracts worth billions of dollars without bidding during Mr Jonathan’s presidency. Such “strategic partnership agreements” have been a way to steal cash from federal coffers, says Lamido Sanusi, a former central-bank governor sacked by Mr Jonathan for alleging that $20 billion in oil revenue had vanished…

Mr Buhari must keep the current fragile peace in the oil-producing Niger delta. He is expected to axe an expensive deal which, since 2009, has paid former militants to stop them blowing up oil installations and kidnapping workers… The new government may come up with another deal instead…

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

Just The Facts! is a concise guide to concepts, terminology, and examples that will appear on May's exam.


Get it here!





What You Need to Know 6th edition is NOW AVAILABLE.
Updated and ready to help.









Labels: , , , ,

Monday, April 20, 2015

Feedback without meaningful elections

An autocratic regime needs to assess public opinion, at least to identify opposition to its policies and existence. Rather than holding effectively democratic elections, the Communist Party of China has begun using public opinion polls.

The critical masses: Officials increasingly ask people a once taboo question: what they think
IN RECENT weeks official media have published a flurry of opinion polls. One in China Daily showed that most people in the coastal cities of Shanghai and Guangzhou think that smog is getting worse. Another noted the high salary expectations of university students. Yet another found that over two-thirds of respondents in Henan province in central China regard local officials as inefficient and neglectful of their duties. For decades the Communist Party has claimed to embody and express the will of the masses. Now it is increasingly seeking to measure that will—and let it shape at least some of the party’s policies.

Since the party seized power in 1949 it has repeatedly unleashed public opinion only to suppress it with force, from the “Hundred Flowers Campaign” in 1956… to the student-led protests in Tiananmen Square in 1989. For the past two decades, the party has effectively bought people’s obedience by promising—and delivering—a better, richer future. This will be tougher in the years ahead as the economy slows. Members of a huge new middle class are demanding more from their government in areas ranging from the environment to the protection of property rights. So the party must respond to concerns in order to retain its legitimacy.

Xi Jinping, who took over as China’s leader in 2012, has shown even less inclination than his predecessors to let citizens express their preferences through the ballot box. Yet the public has become ever more vocal on a wide variety of issues—online, through protests, and increasingly via responses to opinion polls and government-arranged consultations over the introduction of some new laws. The party monitors this clamour to detect possible flashpoints, and it frequently censors dissent. But the government is also consulting people, through opinion polls that try to establish their views on some of the big issues of the day as well as on specific policies. Its main aim is to devise ways to keep citizens as happy as possible in their daily lives. It avoids stickier subjects such as political reform or human rights. But people are undoubtedly gaining a stronger voice…

Opinion polls today cover a vast range of subjects. The biggest growth in demand for them is driven by the Chinese government itself, says Yuan Yue who set up a private company, Horizon Research and pioneered commercial polling in China… ([and] who is a party member)… [W]hat Mr Yuan describes as “customer satisfaction surveys” by local governments are used “very extensively”…

Horizon’s Mr Yuan says he can ask almost anything these days, but he avoids the most politically sensitive subjects… Last year he conducted polls on attitudes toward pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong and even about the country’s most senior leaders—but he is guarded about who commissioned him and what he found. Most polls for the government are not made public…

But even to report a poll, as state-run media do almost daily, gives weight to the notion that public opinion matters. It is a message that is sinking in among citizens and fuelling demands for more responsive government. “People are more and more clear about their rights and about what they can express,” says Mr Shen. That is a trend the party would ignore at its peril.

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

Just The Facts! is a concise guide to concepts, terminology, and examples that will appear on May's exam.


Can't find this at Amazon? Get it here. Delivery in 2-3 days.







What You Need to Know 6th edition is NOW AVAILABLE.
Updated and ready to help.










Labels: , , , ,