Teaching Comparative Government and Politics

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."

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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.

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Tuesday, November 06, 2018

Democratic centralism

Supervision by whom? of whom?

Can you identify a "job" in another political system that is analogous to supervision in China?

Senior CPC official urges better supervision
A senior Communist Party of China (CPC) official has called for better work from resident disciplinary supervisors.

Zhao Leji, a member of the Standing Committee of the Political Bureau of the CPC Central Committee and head of the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection of the CPC, made the remarks at a televised work conference on supervision…
Zhao Leji
It is a distinctive Chinese practice to have disciplinary supervisors stationed at various entities of public office, Zhao said.

Resident supervisors must enhance political supervision to ensure the Party organizations under their watch fulfill their political responsibilities of governance, Zhao said.

Supervisors should focus on leading officials and strengthen regular supervision as they have the advantage of being around, he added.

Zhao urged supervisors sent to central Party and state entities to do better work while pledging that more supervisors will be sent to centrally-administrated financial companies.

Oversight over centrally-administrated companies, Party chiefs and presidents of colleges and universities is also being strengthened, he said.

Zhao requires resident supervisors be honest and clean and asked them to always maintain political integrity.

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Monday, November 05, 2018

Cultural Revolution language again

During the Cultural Revolution, there was a lot of talk about gender equity and the importance of women's roles. The language has reappeared.

BTW, do you know why so many of President Xi's official positions are mentioned in the official Communist newspaper?

Xi stresses upholding socialist path with Chinese characteristics for women's development
President Xi Jinping on Friday stressed upholding the socialist path with Chinese characteristics for women's development and mobilizing women to make achievements.

Xi, also general secretary of the Communist Party of China Central Committee and chairman of the Central Military Commission, made the remarks when meeting the new leadership of the All-China Women's Federation.

Underlining the Party's leadership over the work of women's development, Xi said the Chinese dream of national rejuvenation should be the theme of the contemporary women's movement.

Efforts should be made to promote gender equality, enable women to play an active role in all sectors, and mobilize them to contribute to the reform, development and stability of the nation on the frontline, Xi said.

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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Friday, November 02, 2018

Delay of "game"

The delay of an annual meeting of Chinese leaders might be due to the U.S. election schedule.

‘The biggest story in Chinese politics right now’ – silence over Communist Party’s autumn meeting
As China’s ruling Politburo wrapped up its October meeting on Wednesday, there was still no word on a key autumn meeting of the Communist Party, which according to party convention should be taking place soon…

Analysts said the likely delay of the Central Committee meeting – expected to focus on mid to long-term economic policies – might suggest a lack of consensus among the Chinese leadership over how to battle the growing headwinds facing the world’s second-largest economy.

The autumn plenum that comes a year after the party’s national congress is largely seen as the most important full meeting of the party’s roughly 400-strong political elite, who gather behind closed doors at least once a year…

Many people are watching its slowing economy, faltering stock markets and the dispiriting retreat of its beleaguered private sector. Their gloomy outlook is exacerbated by the prolonged trade war with the United States, which threatens to spill into all-out conflict in spheres ranging from technology to geopolitics to defence…

Beijing might also be waiting for the results of the US midterm elections and the meeting between Xi and US President Donald Trump at the G20 summit in Buenos Aires to make a better assessment, he added.

“The key factor that has led to the change of the situation China faces in the past year is the US factor,” [Chen Daoyin, a political observer in Shanghai] said. “It is hard for the Chinese leadership to make concrete responses given all the uncertainties at the moment.” …

He also said the Communist Party elites appeared yet to reach a consensus on the future course of the country, citing the sometimes conflicting messages from Xi’s recent tours of the northeastern rust belt and the liberal southern province of Guangdong…

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Thursday, November 01, 2018

Boko Haram attacks more people

Despite the president's assertions, Boko Haram does not appear to be defeated.

Nigeria: 'Villages totally burned' in deadly Boko Haram attacks
At least 12 civilians have been killed in multiple Boko Haram attacks targeting two villages and a camp for those displaced by fighting in northeastern Nigeria…

Boko Haram fighters arrived in seven trucks late on Wednesday and attacked Bulaburin and Kofa villages, as well as a camp in Dalori village outside Maiduguri…

"The terrorists attacked and completely burned Bulaburin and Kofa villages and burnt half the Dalori 2 IDP (internally displaced persons) camp," Babakura Kolo, civilian militia leader, told AFP news agency.

The fighters invaded the camp after overrunning troops and the militia and "burnt half the camp" by setting fires and firing rocket-propelled grenades on buildings…

The area has been attacked multiple times before by the Boko Haram faction loyal to Abubakar Shekau.

Despite government insistence that Boko Haram are near defeat, northern Nigeria is still hit by heavy fighting.

Since the group launched its campaign in 2009, Boko Haram has killed more than 20,000 people and forced two million others to flee their homes in northeast Nigeria.

Over the years, the armed group - which wants to form a breakaway Islamic state - has kidnapped thousands of adults and children.

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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