Teaching Comparative Government and Politics

Saturday, December 03, 2016

More on parties in the UK

The Liberal Democrats' candidate won big in a London by-election. Does it portend greater successes in the future?

Election in London, Seen as Gauge of ‘Brexit’ Zeal, Jolts British Government
An election just contested here was supposed to be a referendum on the expansion of Heathrow Airport, and only of local interest. But it turned into something far more profound: a referendum on the referendum for Britain to quit the European Union, and its results sent tremors through the Conservative government of Prime Minister Theresa May and made the Labour Party look irrelevant.

Sarah Olney
The race for a seat in Parliament was won on Thursday by the candidate of the diminished Liberal Democratic Party, which is calling for another referendum on the terms of Britain’s departure from Europe… Sarah Olney, defeated Zac Goldsmith, who had held the seat representing the London borough of Richmond for the Conservatives since 2010.

It was not just that Ms. Olney won, but how. She defeated Mr. Goldsmith by about 2,000 votes out of 41,367 votes cast, after Mr. Goldsmith had a 23,000-vote margin in the previous election.

The Labour candidate drew so few votes, around 1,500, that the party was forced to forfeit a deposit of 500 pounds…

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, December 02, 2016

UKIP Manifesto

Bring back smoking in pubs and restaurants? Restoring the death penalty? Abolishing the National Health Service? In regards to the recent post titled Party Realignment in the UK, Alan Carter wrote from Oxford, noting that the UKIP manifesto (platform, for us Yanks) calls for some unusual items.

Alan Carter:
"I suppose being pro-EU ( it has problems and may collapse anyway)  I'm bound to be disappointed -  with UKIP, what interests is the policies apart from Brexit  that they might favour -
  • bringing back smoking in bars & restaurants
  • destroying the National Health Service
  • and restoring the death penalty   - which has the added bonus of ejecting the UK from the Council of Europe ( 51 countries incl. Russia and Turkey)  an thereby abrogating UK signature to the 1951 European Convention on Human Rights"
It turns out that UKIP membership thinks the decline in the number of people drinking in pubs and in the number of pubs could be mitigated by allowing pubs and restaurants a choice about being smoke free. No mention of consolidation of brewers and changes in society.

You can find a Power Point presentation of the most recent party manifesto online at the party's web site: 2015 UKIP Manifesto.

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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.

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Party realignment in the UK?

The major parties in the UK have histories and have provided stability to the electoral system for decades. But changes have shaken the foundations of that system. The Liberal Democrats went from partners in government to an afterthought. Labour has been diminished in the last decade to helpless opposition. And UKIP has risen to be nearly a competitive force. What changes come next?

Paul Nuttall elected as UKIP leader
Paul Nuttall has been elected leader of the UK Independence Party, replacing Nigel Farage.
Nuttall and Farage

The 39-year-old Member of the European Parliament, who served as UKIP's deputy leader for six years, won 62.6% of support among party members.

He promised to "put the great back into Britain" and force the government to "give us a real Brexit"…

In his acceptance speech, Mr Nuttall, a former history lecturer… said: "The country needs a strong UKIP more than ever before. If UKIP is to be an electoral force, there will be an impetus on Theresa May and her government to give us a real Brexit."

He added: "I want to replace the Labour Party and make UKIP the patriotic voice of working people."

Speaking on BBC Two's Daily Politics, Mr Nuttall said the party would be "speaking the language of ordinary working people... we're going to move into the areas the Labour Party has neglected"…

He said: "We will be focusing on the issues that really matter to working-class people on doorsteps - immigration, crime, defence, foreign aid, ensuring that British people are put to the top of the queue in the job market."…

Analysis - Norman Smith, BBC assistant political editor

This was a commanding, thumping win for Paul Nuttall. The scale of his victory matters. His pitch was that he was the only person able to bring the party together and heal its divisions and this gives him a mandate to do so.

His approach will be different from that of Nigel Farage, whose focus was on appealing to Tory voters. Mr Nuttall wants UKIP to become the authentic voice of the working class by talking about issues that Labour finds problematic…

But first he will have to deal with the huge tensions and personal animosities in the party. He will take comfort from Mr Farage's insistence he won't be a back-seat driver…

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

For Teachers

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











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Thursday, December 01, 2016

Economic instability

At a time when those in power want stability, economics is not a friend. Growth has slowed and now there's labor unrest.

Strikes in China over foreign employers selling out to local companies
Coca-Cola workers in three Chinese cities have gone on strike after the US soft drinks company announced it was selling its bottling interests in the country…

The company has announced it is selling all its bottling assets in mainland China to Hong Kong conglomerate Swire Pacific and Cofco Corporation, one of China’s state-owned food giants…

Workers at three Coca-Cola plants called co-ordinated strikes on Monday, with pictures posted online appearing to show workers outside a factory in Chongqing with a banner that read: “We worked hard for over a decade but were sold in less than a second. Compensate! Compensate! Compensate!”…

The Coca-Cola bottling plant workers feared they would lose their jobs or pay under the state-owned employer, said one striking employee.

“We are demanding the company disclose details of the refranchising and plans during the transitional period,” he said.

“We request the company give workers economic compensation before they decide to sign the contract with Cofco.”

Separately, workers at a Sony factory in the southern city of Guangzhou downed tools in protest at the sale of the Sony Electronics Huanan subsidiary, which managed the site, to a Chinese company.

Production at the smartphone camera parts facility, which employs 4,000 people, was halted for two weeks after Sony announced it had been sold to Shenzhen O-Film Tech…

Labour protests have erupted in China with economic growth slowing and factory closures often leaving workers with unpaid wages and no redundancy [unemployment] pay.

Hong Kong-based rights group China Labour Bulletin (CLB) said there were 2,774 strikes and labour protests across the country in 2015 – more than the previous four years put together – with unpaid wages the most common grievance.

Independent trade unions are banned in China, with only the official All-China Federation of Trade Unions legally recognised. But critics say it often fails to assist workers in disputes…

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

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.

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Wednesday, November 30, 2016

More woe for Nigeria

The government doesn't seem to have the capacity to deal with conflicts between herders and farmers in the middle belt, it is unable to resolve the conflicts in the south and the south south, and the Boko Haram insurgency itself continues. And one of the results of that terrorism, is starvation facing hundreds of thousands of Nigerians. How can a government increase its capacity to deal with the issues facing it?

Tens of thousands of children at risk of starvation in Nigeria crisis
More than 120,000 people, most of them children, are at risk of starving to death next year in areas of Nigeria affected by the Boko Haram insurgency, the United Nations is warning.

Intense fighting in parts of Nigeria, Chad, Niger and Cameroon has left more than 2 million people displaced, farmers unable to harvest their crops and aid groups unable to reach isolated communities…

Maiduguri is among the best served places in a region the size of Belgium. Much of the area is still insecure because of the war with Boko Haram, and countless thousands have not made it to population centres where some degree of care is available…

Boko Haram, a jihadi group, has lost ground in the past year but its insurgency has left large areas of farmland inaccessible and many roads unnavigable by aid convoys. The situation has been compounded by a lack of international support: UN funding for the Nigerian crisis is 61% or $297m short of its target…

Kashim Shettima, the governor of Borno, the Nigerian state that has borne the brunt of the insurgency, said the farming that usually sustains locals had collapsed. “Most of our communities have not been able to till their soils for the past four years,” Shettima told the Guardian. “It’s just unimaginable; 80% of the people [in Borno] were denied access to their farms by Boko Haram.”…

Officials and aid workers warn that if the situation continues it could foment extremism in the area and migration flows farther afield. “A hungry young man is easily susceptible to the manias of religious demagogues like [Boko Haram founder] Mohammed Yusuf and [leader of the insurgents] Abubakar Shekau,” said Shettima…

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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Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Complexity

Some things are much more complex than they appear at first glance.

Why U.K. Is Struggling to Find the Path to ‘Brexit’
A recently leaked memo… has highlighted cabinet divisions over Britain’s withdrawal from the European Union, while suggesting that the government may need six additional months to settle on a plan and to recruit tens of thousands of extra civil servants.

The document identified tensions between enthusiasts for British withdrawal… and those fighting to preserve closer economic ties to the bloc…

[T]he more cautious types want to preserve Britain’s access to the European market by maintaining membership in the customs union or the single market, or perhaps some combination of the two…

What’s the difference between the customs union and the single market?

Both the customs union and the single market eliminate tariffs between member states. The customs union sets tariffs with non-European nations, so members share a common trade policy with the rest of the world. The single market removes non-tariff trade barriers, too, for instance by maintaining common product standards…

Is the European customs union a more practical and reachable goal?

It might be. Not all members belong to the European Union… Britain would be able to trade freely in goods within the union… But Britain would have to comply with some European Union regulations.

So what does the British government say about Brexit plans?

As little as possible… it refuses to give a running commentary, saying that would weaken its negotiating position. But British officials had not prepared for Brexit before the referendum and are having to examine its impact on every sector of the economy — a huge exercise. In doing so, they appear to be uncovering more questions than answers…

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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Monday, November 28, 2016

Winter comes to Iran

The ski resorts in the mountains are opening Tehran goes sub-zero
The recent thunderstorms in Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and Qatar formed along a front of cold air that swept across Iran during the previous week.

This blast of cold, which has also affected the Caucasus, hit northern Iran several days ago and changed the feeling from summer to winter overnight.

Tehran spent most of November in the 20s Celsius. Just 10 days ago, on Nov 18, it was still a warm 21C. Two days later the maximum temperature was 6C.

Thunderstorms crackled and snow fell on the hills; snow even fell in the city. On Thursday, Nov 24, Tehran recorded a maximum temperature of −1C…

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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Privacy in the UK

Surveillance is usually associated with authoritarian regimes. Now with the UK?

'Extreme surveillance' becomes UK law with barely a whimper
A bill giving the UK intelligence agencies and police the most sweeping surveillance powers in the western world has passed into law with barely a whimper…

The Investigatory Powers Act, passed on Thursday, legalises a whole range of tools for snooping and hacking by the security services unmatched by any other country in western Europe or even the US…

US whistleblower Edward Snowden tweeted: “The UK has just legalised the most extreme surveillance in the history of western democracy. It goes further than many autocracies.”…

One of the negative aspects of the legislation is that it fails to provide adequate protection for journalists’ sources, which could discourage whistleblowing…

It [the law] legalises hacking by the security agencies into computers and mobile phones and allows them access to masses of stored personal data, even if the person under scrutiny is not suspected of any wrongdoing…

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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Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Russian political culture

Nobody gets many views of the political culture of Russia. For the most part, we hypothesize based on behavior we observe. The Levada Center has earned a reputation as a fairly accurate and honestly run polling operation. Here's the latest.

60 percent of Russians think Internet censorship is necessary, poll finds
Sixty percent of Russians believe that Internet censorship — in particular, the banning of certain websites and material — is necessary, according to a new poll.

Just 25 percent opposed the idea…

The poll was conducted by the Levada Center, an independent polling firm, which asked Russians questions about trust in media and censorship between Oct. 21 to 24. On the subject of political censorship, 32 percent of Russians said that denying access to certain websites would infringe upon the rights and freedoms of activists, while 44 percent said it did not and 24 percent could not answer.

More broadly, Russians seem to be generally skeptical about the Internet, Levada found, with 51 percent believing the Internet could not replace newspapers, radio and television…

In total, 35 percent of Russians thought the media was deceiving them frequently, while 49 percent said they felt that way only rarely…

[I]n countries such as Russia, where most mainstream news networks are strongly aligned with the government, opposition groups have been able to organize and spread criticism of the government through online media.

In April, Konstantin Malofeev, a wealthy businessman with links to the Kremlin who runs the pro-censorship lobbying group Safe Internet League, traveled to China to meet with the architects of that country's notorious “great firewall.” And this week the country moved to block the professional networking site LinkedIn as it did not house data about its Russian users within the country…

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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