Teaching Comparative Government and Politics

Tuesday, November 20, 2018

Brexit politics

PM May tries to explain why Brexit is a good idea to the association of the UK's top business people at the Confederation of British Industry meeting.

Brexit plan will stop EU migrants 'jumping the queue'
Theresa May is renewing her efforts to sell her draft Brexit withdrawal agreement - saying it will stop EU migrants "jumping the queue".

She said migration would become skills-based, with Europeans no longer prioritised over "engineers from Sydney or software developers from Delhi".

The PM also insisted to business leaders at the CBI that the withdrawal deal had been "agreed in full"…

There has been widespread criticism of the draft 585-page withdrawal agreement - and the short paper setting out what the UK and EU's future relationship could look like - which are set to be finalised and signed off at an EU summit this weekend.

Two of the prime minister's cabinet ministers resigned over the proposed deal, while others are believed to be trying to change its wording.

Speculation continues over whether the number of Tory MPs submitting letters of no-confidence in Mrs May will reach the 48 required to trigger a confidence vote on her leadership of the Conservative Party.

Why are people unhappy with the deal?

The draft document sets out the terms of the UK's departure, including how much money will be paid to the EU, details of the transition period, and citizens' rights.

The transition period - currently due to last until 31 December 2020 - will mean the UK is officially out of the EU, but still abiding by most of its rules. During this time, the two sides hope to negotiate a permanent trade deal.

The UK and the EU want to avoid a hard Northern Ireland border whatever happens, so they agreed to a "backstop" - described as an insurance policy by Mrs May - aimed at achieving this if the sides cannot agree a trade deal that avoids a physically visible border.

The backstop would mean Northern Ireland would stay more closely aligned to some EU rules, which critics say is unacceptable. And the whole of the UK would be in a single custom territory - effectively keeping the whole of the UK in the EU customs union.

The critics say that during the transition period, the UK will still abide by most of the EU's rules but have no power over setting them - and there is no system for the UK being able to leave any backstop deal without the EU's agreement, so it could become a permanent arrangement…

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Monday, November 19, 2018

Cultural Appropriation

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Friday, November 16, 2018

Communist, yes. Marxist, no.

This is going to take some fancy explanation.

Chinese campus crackdown on young Marxist activists expands in major cities
At least 16 of 22 Chinese labour activists – many of them recent graduates from elite universities – who disappeared in five cities over the weekend were still missing early on Wednesday, as authorities widened their crackdown against emerging grass-roots activism led by young Marxists.

Students at Peking University (PKU)… have been warned by the university over the past two days – in the presence of their parents and others who appeared to be plain-clothes police – to ignore the weekend purge.

But the group, which gave the estimate of the numbers of activists still missing, has vowed to keep fighting for their freedom.

The latest purge follows the earlier detention of about 50 activists after a labour rights protest that began in Shenzhen at the end of July…

“Many students were told the weekend incident was a law enforcement action by relevant departments targeting [suspects] of illegal activities,” a Peking University student, close to the activist schoolmates, said, refusing to be identified for fear of retribution.

“They also warned students against taking further radical actions as the university would no longer tolerate them…

The authorities had already stepped up their watch and control on Marxist student groups in universities after the Jasic campaign. But on Friday evening, in an organised effort, 19 people, including young Marxists recently graduated from elite universities, labour activists and workers were violently snatched in Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou and Shenzhen…

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Thursday, November 15, 2018

Rule of International Law

Keep an eye on this topic. Will Russia (Putin) accept rule of law?

Russia Navalny: Strasbourg court condemns detentions of Putin foe
Navalny
Europe's top human rights court has found that the repeated detention of Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny was politically motivated.

Mr Navalny filed a complaint with the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg and was there to hear the ruling on Thursday.

The court found that his seven arrests between 2012 and 2014 had been aimed at "suppressing political pluralism".

Since then, police have arrested him several times again under protest laws.

"We've won," he tweeted after the verdict. "Completely. The government has been thrashed. They recognised Article 18 [of the European Convention on Human Rights]. Hurray!"
[Выиграли. Полностью. Правительство разгромлено. 18 статью признали. Ура! https://t.co/V1yeMPLFmT — Alexey Navalny (@navalny) November 15, 2018]

Under Article 18, citizens' rights and freedoms may not be restricted for political purposes.

Since leading mass protests in Moscow in 2011-12, he has campaigned against corruption under President Vladimir Putin and has embraced political causes such as opposition to the raising of the retirement age…

The court found that Mr Navalny's allegation that he had become a "particular target" "appeared "coherent in the context of a general move to bring the opposition under control"…

Russia was ordered to pay him damages and costs of €63,678 (£55,409; $71,950).

"It is a very clear judgment," Mr Navalny was quoted as saying by AFP news agency after the ruling.

"The European court recognises that it was a politically motivated arrest and persecution. It was very important not just for me but for other people all over Russia who are arrested every day."

The ECHR's role is to rule on alleged violations of the European Convention on Human Rights, which Russia ratified in 1998 when it joined the Council of Europe, an organisation which upholds the rule of law in Europe…

Russia has taken issue with previous ECHR verdicts such as one in 2014 which ordered Moscow to pay compensation to shareholders in the defunct Russian oil firm Yukos.

In 2015, the Russian parliament passed a law allowing the country's Constitutional Court to overrule ECHR judgements…

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


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Monday, November 12, 2018

Economics, trade, and politics

This analysis concentrates on economics, but the questions for CompGov students revolve around the effects of sanctions on Iranian government and politics. Will moderate or hard line forces be strengthened?

Can Iran survive sanctions?
New tough sanctions targeting Iran's oil sector, imposed by the United States, come into force on Monday [12 November].

The Iranian president, Hassan Rouhani, has responded robustly.

"There is no doubt that the United States will not achieve success with this new plot against Iran as they are retreating step by step."

Iran is heavily dependent on its exports of oil, and renewed sanctions, if effective, would hit the economy hard.
Iran has the fourth largest reserves of oil.

The EU has proposed supporting companies trading with Iran despite these new sanctions.

But will these companies risk being hit by secondary sanctions which would limit their own ability to trade with the US?

But other countries, including those of the European Union, believe Iran is holding to its part of the bargain on the nuclear deal and have made clear their intention not to follow America's lead.

Such is the dominance of the US in global trade, that even the announcement of the renewed sanctions has been enough to trigger a wave of international companies pulling their investments out of Iran, and its crude oil exports have been falling.

The latest US measures exclude any company that trades with Iran from doing business in the United States…

The US has made it clear it wants eventually to cut off Iran's oil trade entirely, but has allowed eight countries to maintain imports as a temporary concession to give them time to reduce imports. US allies such as Italy, India, Japan and South Korea are among the eight, the Associated Press reports…

In order to allow companies to trade with Iran and not face stiff US penalties, the EU plans to implement a payment mechanism - a Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV) - that will enable these companies to avoid the US financial system.

Like a bank, the SPV, would handle transactions between Iran and companies trading with it, avoiding direct payments into and out of Iran.

So when Iran exports oil to a country in the EU, the company from the receiving country would pay into the SPV.

Iran can then use the payment as credit to buy goods from other countries in the EU through the SPV…

The US had insisted on cutting exports to zero but that seems unlikely as it would increase the price of oil, says Scott Lucas, a professor of international politics at Birmingham University.

In addition to the countries allowed to continue buying Iranian oil, the backing of China, Iran's largest trading partner, may also prove critical…

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Thursday, November 08, 2018

Brexit fears coming true

Pro-Brexit politicians deny that Britain's economy will be damaged by leaving the EU. Anti-Brexit pols will point to the closing of a Michelin factory in Scotland.

Michelin workers' shock at factory closure
Dundee Michelin factory workers have spoken of their shock after the company announced its intention to close the plant, with the loss of all 845 jobs.

The tyre factory will close by mid-2020 after the French firm deemed it "unsuitable" in the current climate…

Michelin Dundee manager John Reid said… "Clearly we have been operating in a very difficult market context for more than a year.

"We've had our volume cut three times this year.

"This year we actually produced the lowest volume we've ever produced in the factory, so it was clear that something fairly fundamental was happening."…

The union Unite has said the closure would be a "hammer-blow" to the city.

Michelin said the Dundee site, which opened in 1971 and specialised in smaller tyres, has suffered because of a shift in the market towards low-cost products from Asia.

The trade union representing many of the Dundee workers said it had not given up the fight to keep the factory open.

Unite's Scottish secretary Pat Rafferty said: "Unite has been aware of the challenging market situation facing the Michelin Group…

He added: "The workforce can be assured Unite will fight tooth and nail to save our factory, we will leave no stone unturned to keep this factory open.

"Unite will work day and night to ensure that all options remain on the table."

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! 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.

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Wednesday, November 07, 2018

Nigeria political history

Is Ernest Osogbue's analysis, published in The Guardian (Abjua), believable? Why? Why not?

Why did he neglect to mention how many of the elected presidents were military "dictators" before being elected?

Military Hangover And The Nigerian Democracy
This year marked the 19th anniversary of civilian rule, albeit democracy in Nigeria. Never in the history of the country has there been such a long uninterrupted rule by ‘bloody civilians’ without the all-knowing Nigerian military stepping in to stem the negative drift.

First, it was in January 1966, when a group of Majors… ousted the civilian government… Then in July of the same year a counter coup, that ultimately led to the fratricidal Nigerian civil war which ended in 1970, with the then Head of State Yakubu Gowon declaring that there was no victor and no vanquished.

On July 30th 1975, Gowon was overthrown by members of his own government…

December 31st 1983 [another coup] swept away the Shehu Shagari administration and brought in Mohammadu Buhari… senior members of his government overthrew him on August 27th 1985…

Ibrahim Babangida emerged from this coup and remained in office until August 26th 1993…

General Sani Abacha… [took] over as Head of State on November 17th 1993…

A critical look at the above leadership sequence would yield the fact that since independence in 1960, military rule was pervasive in Nigeria until 1999. Nigeria was under colonial rule until 1960; by 1966 there was a coup. Military rule was briefly interrupted between 1979 and 1983. From 1984 to 1999 military rule was the order of the day.

While Nigerians have been screaming at the slow pace of political and economic development of the country, and have been making efforts to find reasons civilian rule or democracy has not yielded the expected results, one factor they have overlooked as being a challenge to democratic development is ‘military mentality’…

Democracy presupposes a civilian government based on procedures, where the constitution as the supreme law of the land holds sway at all times, with nobody being above the law and everyone equal before the law with the law being impartial.

A careful observer would notice that the average Nigerian has a tendency to behave in a military fashion; we are either rushing in a panic or urging those ahead to give way or be crushed. This shows in our everyday life of impatience characterized by such terms as ‘now now’, ‘quick quick’ and ‘sharp sharp’. A walk down a street in Abuja or Lagos, or indeed any major city in the country is a nightmare for anyone who has ever lived in a civilized environment. Driving on the roads is no better, as many drivers act like animals in the jungle jostling each other for space…

The command and obey structure of the military which brooks no arguments or alternative positions has pushed the average Nigerian into unconsciously accepting that following procedures is a sign of weakness and that might is right. In our daily lives it is manifest when citizens wantonly disobey traffic rules, disrespect each other, jump the queue, drive against traffic and blatantly offer and accept bribes in order to circumvent official procedures…

Other subtle manifestations of our military hangover include our attitudes in public places, when we shout at each other, leave our phones ringing at its loudest and shout while answering the call without caring about our neighbors. We shout at our children at home, shout at our husbands and shout at our wives. Our car horns are left blaring at the slightest opportunity with total disregard of the law against noise pollution.

Police arrest and detain citizens without bringing them to trial and they are left languishing in detention for months incommunicado. Even the military and all other mushroom organizations can now arrest and detain citizens without recourse to the laws of the land. How can democracy be deepened, how can the dividends of democracy reach the people when the people themselves are daily involved in the raping of democracy?

While leaders at various levels may be culpable in the institutionalization of military mentality in our democracy, it is pertinent to point out that the average citizen must take his own share of the blame…

As a matter of urgency, citizens must begin to imbibe decorum in their public activities, showing respect for one another and obeying the simple rules of society. On the part of our leaders, they must understand that it is in their best interest and the interest of our democracy to jettison all attitudes of governance carried over from military rule.

We must consciously make effort to wean ourselves of these attitudes. Democracy is a process that requires procedures to succeed, expecting immediate results is not a democratic norm, we must all therefore acquire the virtue of patience. Our democracy can only be deepened and the dividends accrue to all citizens, when attitudes and behaviors that tend to undermine democracy are done away with and condemned by all Nigerians.

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! 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.







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