Teaching Comparative Government and Politics

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Who gets the profits?

Citizen anger about government is not restricted to the UK and China. It's also popping up in Iran, when reporters are able to see it.

My reminder here is that about 20% of the non-oil Iranian economy is owned and controlled by bonyads (those "charitable" foundations formed from the assets of opponents of the Islamic revolution and run by clerics).

Iranians are angry about big bonuses paid to bureaucrats
[T]he payslips of several employees were leaked online and published by several media outlets.

They showed not just inflated salaries, but what appear to be bonuses, interest-free loans and significant overtime payments. In one instance, a bank manager at a state bank was shown to have received £50,000 in one month.

By contrast, other public servants - including those who identified themselves as teachers, nurses and journalists - have published monthly payslips showing some of them are paid much more modest salaries of £300 a month or less…

But what started as a conservative issue has now become a much broader protest on the Iranian internet, with the public blaming both conservatives and reformists for it…

Some Iranian Twitter users also debated the issue tongue-in-cheek.

One tweeted an infographic featuring the monthly income of several world leaders with the following quip: "Obama has sent over his resume and is seeking employment with a bank in Iran, once his presidency ends."…

Iran's Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, has called on the government to "decisively" tackle the issue. President Rouhani has said he will take "firm action" against the payment of large bonuses.

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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Just The Facts! 2nd edition is a concise guide to concepts, terminology, and examples that will appear on May's exam.


Just The Facts! is available. Order HERE.

Amazon's customers gave this book a 5-star rating.







The Comparative Government and Politics Review Checklist.



Two pages summarizing the course requirements to help you review and study for the final and for the big exam in May. . It contains a description of comparative methods, a list of commonly used theories, a list of vital concepts, thumbnail descriptions of the AP6, and a description of the AP exam format. $2.00. Order HERE.

What You Need to Know: Teaching Tools, the original version and v2.0 are available to help curriculum planning.











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Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Democratic deficit

Hauss' comparative textbook (Comparative Politics: Domestic Responses to Global Challenges) described a "democratic deficit" as the EU's most vulnerable characteristic.

What he meant was that despite a parliament to represent the citizens of the EU and a Council of Ministers to represent the member states, and the Court of European Justice to adjudicate conflicts, most people didn't feel they were well-represented. The complexities of "qualified majority" and the rule-making power of the seemingly un-responsible European Commission (bureaucrats) left people feeling less like citizens and more like subjects.

Andrew Conneen, who teaches at Stevenson High School in Lincolnshire, Illinois, posted this article to Facebook. It's great article, but most students will need a lot of help sorting through much of it.

The last sentence, though, suggests that there's a feeling of "democratic deficit" in many places in the UK as well as in the EU. How do government and politics address that feeling?

Britain’s EU Problem is a London Problem
Yesterday the UK voted to leave the European Union… In my circles—professional, well-educated, Cambridge and London—the principal reaction was incredulity… In my electoral district, 75 percent voted to Remain… But a look at the electoral map showed… that huge swathes of England outside of London voted by similar proportions to Leave—the poorer areas on the East and South coasts, depressed former industrial districts in the North, though also more prosperous parts of the West Country and the Midlands.

In shorthand, Britain’s EU problem is a London problem. London, a young, thriving, creative, cosmopolitan city, seems the model multicultural community, a great European capital. But it is also the home of all of Britain’s elites—the economic elites of “the City” (London’s Wall Street, international rather than European), a nearly hereditary professional caste of lawyers, journalists, publicists, and intellectuals, an increasingly hereditary caste of politicians, tight coteries of cultural movers-and-shakers richly sponsored by multinational corporations. It’s as if Hollywood, Wall Street, the Beltway, and the hipper neighborhoods of New York and San Francisco had all been mashed together.

For the rest of the country has felt more and more excluded, not only from participation in the creativity and prosperity of London, but more crucially from power…

The Remain campaign undoubtedly contributed to widening this divide. Rather like the New York Times’ attitude to Trump, Remain thought it could laugh off Leave, or dazzle it with “facts.” A very large part of the Remain campaign was focused on troupes of “experts”—investment experts, science and university experts, fiscal policy experts—signing collective petitions and open letters declaring their loyalties to Europe. This played directly into anti-elitist sentiment. A very telling point late in the EU referendum campaign came when Michael Gove, one of the right-wing Conservative leaders of the Leave side, was quoted as saying that “people in this country have had enough of experts.”…

How much of this is about inequality? The widening of the North-South divide is surely rooted in inequality. But the events of the last ten years, which have brought us to this sorry pass, have not been only about inequality in brute economic terms, they have also been about a sense of culture and community… It was not only depressed areas in the North and East but also other, more prosperous parts of Wales, the Midlands, and the West who felt resentment at remote and self-aggrandizing elites (in remoter Brussels as well as London), at the evisceration of local democracy, at what they saw as corruption at the very top—and voted Leave. A different, more durable and threatening kind of inequality is also at stake here. A majority of people around the United Kingdom are feeling like non-people, un-citizens, their lives jerked about like marionettes by wire-pullers far away. In those circumstances, very bad things indeed can be expected.

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.


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








Just The Facts! 2nd edition is a concise guide to concepts, terminology, and examples that will appear on May's exam.


Just The Facts! is available. Order HERE.

Amazon's customers gave this book a 5-star rating.







The Comparative Government and Politics Review Checklist.



Two pages summarizing the course requirements to help you review and study for the final and for the big exam in May. . It contains a description of comparative methods, a list of commonly used theories, a list of vital concepts, thumbnail descriptions of the AP6, and a description of the AP exam format. $2.00. Order HERE.

What You Need to Know: Teaching Tools, the original version and v2.0 are available to help curriculum planning.











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Monday, June 27, 2016

Political track and economic track

Iran's supreme leader might be talking like an isolationist Islamist, but businesses seem to be headed in another direction.

Peugeot-Citroen back on the road in Iran with deal to build cars
The French carmaker Peugeot-Citroen (PSA) has announced its return to Iran under a €400m joint venture with its old partner Iran Khodro in Tehran that has been made possible by the lifting of nuclear sanctions.

At the same time, Boeing has confirmed reports it will start selling airliners to Iran following the nuclear accord reached in 2015.

The first cars produced under the PSA venture are set to be sold in February, with the aim of producing 200,000 vehicles a year by 2018.

PSA is the first western carmaker to announce a return to Iran since many economic sanctions were lifted in January when a landmark nuclear deal with world powers took effect…

Iran’s industry and commerce minister, Mohammad Reza Nematzadeh, said more joint ventures were on the way…

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.


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








Just The Facts! 2nd edition is a concise guide to concepts, terminology, and examples that will appear on May's exam.


Just The Facts! is available. Order HERE.

Amazon's customers gave this book a 5-star rating.







The Comparative Government and Politics Review Checklist.



Two pages summarizing the course requirements to help you review and study for the final and for the big exam in May. . It contains a description of comparative methods, a list of commonly used theories, a list of vital concepts, thumbnail descriptions of the AP6, and a description of the AP exam format. $2.00. Order HERE.

What You Need to Know: Teaching Tools, the original version and v2.0 are available to help curriculum planning.











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Sunday, June 26, 2016

Nix Brexit?

 One of my correspondents, from the green campuses along the Thames in Oxford, sent me the following:

Dear Ken,
This has been an awful 3 days for those of who believe in anything beyond Nationalism.
Referendums in the UK are 'advisory'.
There was no hurdle or bar in place. One vote more ( it seems ) would be enough to trigger a decision pro or anti EU.
So retroactively ( perfectly legal here of course ) we demand a real majority of all citizens to trigger a decisive second referendum.

Petitions: UK Government and Parliament

British citizens throughout the world must stand up to this madness, if you can think of a route to re-post this link effectively stateside, please do so 

with best wishes 

yours concerned

Alan.

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Thursday, June 23, 2016

Get your economics thinking hats on

International forces driving domestic policy in Nigeria

Nigeria Prepares For Drastic Economic Changes
Nigeria is Africa's largest economy. Reuters correspondent Alexis Akwagyiram explains why President Muhammadu Buhari wants to stop pegging the country's currency to the U.S. dollar.

MICHEL MARTIN, HOST: Now some important economic news from Africa. Last week, Nigeria's President Muhammadu Buhari took the unusual step of publishing a piece in The Wall Street Journal to explain why he was taking some drastic steps to restore economic growth to his country, Africa's largest economy, which has been rocked by low oil prices and terrorist attacks.

One of President Buhari's most attention-getting steps was his decision to stop pegging the country's currency, the naira, to the U.S. dollar and to allow it to be traded on the open markets. That begins tomorrow. Over the past year, the decision to hold the currency at an artificial level has had a serious effect on Nigeria's relations with the international economy. For example, United Airlines stopped flying to Nigeria because it was too hard to collect money from ticket sales.

MARTIN: How are these steps being received?
AKWAGYIRAM: More than anything, there's a lot of shock, frankly, because Buhari has really dug his heels in on this…

[And] it's been welcomed all around, simply as being a commonsense solution to the problems that have been experienced in this country because Nigeria is going through its deepest economic crisis for decades. Beyond that, there has been a spike in attacks in the Niger Delta where the vast majority of oil in Nigeria is produced. So that's nearly halved all production in the last few months. So where's the money going to come from?

MARTIN: What do you think changed his mind?

AKWAGYIRAM: I think… the biggest thing is that he needed to fund the budget. Now, his spending plan is very ambitious. It's an expansion budget whereby he aims to stimulate other sectors - stimulate manufacturing so that he can switch Nigeria and make it more of an exporting country rather than an importing country.

Now, in order to fund that budget, the country needs to borrow. And investors were very, very wary of that peg. So investors were actually moving out - en masse out of Nigeria. As well as that, just the reliance on oil. Nigeria relies on oil for 70 percent of its national income. Now, obviously we've seen the price of oil go from about a hundred dollars per barrel in 2014 to around $40 per barrel. So already, there's a problem…

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.


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








Just The Facts! 2nd edition is a concise guide to concepts, terminology, and examples that will appear on May's exam.


Just The Facts! is available. Order HERE.

Amazon's customers gave this book a 5-star rating.







The Comparative Government and Politics Review Checklist.



Two pages summarizing the course requirements to help you review and study for the final and for the big exam in May. . It contains a description of comparative methods, a list of commonly used theories, a list of vital concepts, thumbnail descriptions of the AP6, and a description of the AP exam format. $2.00. Order HERE.

What You Need to Know: Teaching Tools, the original version and v2.0 are available to help curriculum planning.











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Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Keep on trying

Reform of the Mexican judiciary system has been coming for a long time, been very slow and uneven.

Most Americans are so familiar with the adversarial system we and the Brits use, that we aren't aware of the inquisitorial system used in Russia, Iran, China, and (until recently) in Mexico. It's a good distinction for student of comparative politics to be aware of.

The latest summary from The Economist is a good one.

I've added some links to earlier blog posts about this if you're looking to make a lesson out of these sources.

Criminal justice in Mexico: Trials and errors
Historically around 95% of criminal verdicts in Mexico have been convictions. And 90% of those have been based on confessions, which police have a nasty habit of beating out of prisoners…

Felipe Calderón, Mexico’s conservative president from 2006 to 2012 [launched] a root-and-branch transformation of its courts, which is scheduled to be fully implemented by June 18th…

The new system scraps the “inquisitorial” approach, in which a prosecutor presents written evidence that the defence has little opportunity to contest, in favour of a more transparent “adversarial” model, where lawyers argue their cases orally before a judge. It establishes basic rights for defendants, like the presumption of innocence and the provision of a lawyer, and excludes confessions from court unless a defence attorney was present when they were given. It allows alternative approaches to justice, such as mediation, for less serious cases. And it fights corruption by requiring the involvement of three separate judges: one to ensure the rights of the accused are observed before the trial, another to preside in court and a third to guarantee the sentence is carried out correctly.

The policy has been a long time coming. It became law in June 2008. When Mr Calderón left office in 2012, just under 30% of Mexicans lived in areas covered by the new rules. His successor, the centrist Enrique Peña Nieto, belongs to a different political party, but has proved an eager reformer…

Evidence from states that have instituted the changes is encouraging. In particular, they seem to have streamlined the judicial process: the average time to resolve a case has dropped from 180 days to 34. In Mexico City, prison overcrowding fell by 70% in the system’s first four months, mainly because many types of crime could be dealt with through mediation rather than by the courts. And three of the earlier-adopting states, Baja California, Morelos and Nuevo León, have reduced the share of defendants put in pre-trial custody…

Yet despite such growing pains, there is wide consensus that the reforms are necessary if not sufficient to establish the rule of law in every corner of Mexico. Their implementation, says David Shirk of the University of San Diego, represents a “milestone in the marathon to a better criminal-justice system”. That is reason for hope.


See also:

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.


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








Just The Facts! 2nd edition is a concise guide to concepts, terminology, and examples that will appear on May's exam.


Just The Facts! is available. Order HERE.

Amazon's customers gave this book a 5-star rating.







The Comparative Government and Politics Review Checklist.



Two pages summarizing the course requirements to help you review and study for the final and for the big exam in May. . It contains a description of comparative methods, a list of commonly used theories, a list of vital concepts, thumbnail descriptions of the AP6, and a description of the AP exam format. $2.00. Order HERE.

What You Need to Know: Teaching Tools, the original version and v2.0 are available to help curriculum planning.











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Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Controlling civil society

The Communist Party of China has never been comfortable when non-party actors were able to act independently. A new law, which has not yet been made public, reinforces that tendency.

China passes new laws on foreign NGOs amid international criticism
China has passed new laws on foreign non-governmental organisations (NGOs) state media said, amid criticism.

The full text was not immediately available, but previous drafts stated that NGOs would have to submit to police supervision and declare sources of funding…

There are currently more than 7,000 foreign NGOs operating in China.

The bill has undergone several drafts after international criticism that it was too onerous. The White House has said the bill will "further narrow space for civil society" and constrain US-China exchanges.

Amnesty International said on Thursday that the law was aimed at "further smothering civil society", and called on China to scrap it…

The Network of Chinese Human Rights Defenders described the law as "draconian" and said it would have "a profoundly detrimental impact on civil society in China".

The group said police would be allowed to exercise daily supervision and monitoring of foreign NGOs.

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.


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








Just The Facts! 2nd edition is a concise guide to concepts, terminology, and examples that will appear on May's exam.


Just The Facts! is available. Order HERE.

Amazon's customers gave this book a 5-star rating.







The Comparative Government and Politics Review Checklist.



Two pages summarizing the course requirements to help you review and study for the final and for the big exam in May. . It contains a description of comparative methods, a list of commonly used theories, a list of vital concepts, thumbnail descriptions of the AP6, and a description of the AP exam format. $2.00. Order HERE.

What You Need to Know: Teaching Tools, the original version and v2.0 are available to help curriculum planning.











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