Teaching Comparative Government and Politics

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Registering to vote in the UK

Compare this procedure to registration in other countries.



General election 2017: How do I register to vote? 





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Monday, May 15, 2017

Skeptical analysis

This analysis of Iranian politics comes from Al Arabiya, a Saudi-owned broadcaster whose perspective generally reflects the preferences of Saudi Arabian rulers.

Turns out the Saudis don't think much of Iranian democracy even though there are elections in Iran (unlike Saudi Arabia).

Why there is little electoral about elections in Iran
In the British and French elections, the votes of people will determine who enters 10 Downing Street or the Elyse presidential palace. However, in Iran Guardian Council of mullahs chooses the president through a sham election. What we are witnessing these days has no resemblance to the elections in any other country in the world…

Maintaining this façade is not easy for the Iranian government. One of the candidates approved by Khamenei and the Guardian Council is Ibrahim Reisi who is reported to have been involved in the massacre of thousands of political prisoners by members of death squad.

Their conflicts with Khamenei is over Khomeini’s legacy and is a power struggle…

But why are European governments blessing terrorist mullahs while they are torturing and executing Iranians everyday… Indeed, governments in the West have ignored the spirit of democracy…

The consequences of Iran’s policies are suppression, exporting terrorism and efforts to access nuclear bombs to survive. We can see that terror is reaching cities of Europe and is victimizing innocent citizens of Iran, the Middle East and around the world…

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Friday, May 12, 2017

HIATUS

hi·a·tus /haɪˈeɪtəs/ Pronunciation[hahy-ey-tuhs] –noun, plural -tus·es, -tus.
  1. a break or interruption in the continuity of a work, series, action, etc.
  2. a missing part; gap or lacuna: Scholars attempted to account for the hiatus in the medieval manuscript.
  3. any gap or opening.
  4. Grammar, Prosody. the coming together, with or without break or slight pause, and without contraction, of two vowels in successive words or syllables, as in see easily.
  5. Anatomy. a natural fissure, cleft, or foramen in a bone or other structure.
  6. a period after the AP exam during which the primary contributor to this blog takes a break from posting any but the most essential things.
  7. Enjoy
[Origin: 1555–65; < L hiātus opening, gap, equiv. to hiā(re) to gape, open + -tus suffix of v. action] Source: hiatus. (n.d.). Dictionary.com Unabridged (v 1.1). Retrieved July 15, 2008, from Dictionary.com website: http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/hiatus

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Keep Calm




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Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Hint for success

Want a hint for doing well on the FRQs on the exam on Thursday?

I have said it since late in the last century.

Students have told me it was the best advice I offered.


READ THE VERBS! 

 

 

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Tuesday, May 09, 2017

Test advice

Seven years ago, Mr. Frank Franz, who teaches in Virginia offered a list of great suggestions that will help you write better responses to FRQs.

I posted them then and every year since.

I think these ideas are excellent. The only thing I’d add to the list would be to paraphrase the question as an introduction to your response. In the last few years some rubrics have insisted that responses have introductions that label what is being discussed.

Here's what Mr. Franz wrote:

Here's the strategy I place on every FRQ I give my students. I believe it helps them focus on the questions and will help them earn as high of a score as possible. Some of these ideas are my own and some are from colleagues who have served as readers and table leaders.

Free Response Strategy

  • Mark-up the question on the question sheet.
  • Count up how many points you are trying to earn. (Look for number references, count the verbs)
  • Write as many sentences as there are points.
  • Write simple, declarative sentences.
  • Answer the question asked. Nothing else.
  • Answer every part of the question.
  • Look for time references, patterns, and passage of time.
  •  Do not argue with the premise of the prompt.
  • Skip a line between parts, but do not label.


Go ahead and thank Mr. Franz.


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Monday, May 08, 2017

Single party politics in the UK?

The speculation is this analysis from The Washington Post suggests that the coming election might signal the death of the Labour Party.

After hard-left turn under Jeremy Corbyn, Britain’s Labour Party on course for historic defeat
In 2015, Britain’s Labour Party tacked to the left, repudiating the middle-way philosophy that had won it three elections under Tony Blair. Voters responded by handing the party its worst defeat in three decades.

Corbyn
Rather than scramble back toward the center, Labour lurched further left. The party elected as its leader Jeremy Corbyn, a white-bearded baby boomer from the back benches who, like Bernie Sanders in the United States, ignited an improbable movement among young activists…

Now, with less than six weeks to go before Britain votes once more, the Corbyn-led Labour Party is on course for an electoral beatdown so broad and deep it would make the drubbing the party took in 2015 look like a triumph.

The ruling Conservative Party has a double-digit lead over Labour in pre-election polls…

Corbyn may have captured the hearts of left-wing true believers. But unless something dramatic changes before June 8, when Britain votes, that’s not enough to win a national election…

“Labour is the party of the industrial proletariat — that was its original function. But Britain doesn’t have an industrial proletariat anymore,” Martin Baxter, a political analyst who runs Britain’s Electoral Calculus website said of a party that traces its roots to 1900 and the workers’ rights movements of factory-saturated northern England. “So there’s a big question as to what the Labour Party is for.”…

To his enthusiastic backers — who delivered the north London lawmaker a pair of landslide victories in party leadership races — Corbyn’s prescription for Britain is exactly what the country needs.

“I love him — best leader ever,” said Richard Crook, a 57-year-old telephone engineer from southeast London who cheered Corbyn on at the lawmaker’s campaign kickoff. “We’ve all had enough of PR politics. We want the truth…"

May
But there’s no getting around the fact that the polls for Labour are dire. The Tories now have a working majority of 17 in the 650-member House of Commons. Projections — which no doubt influenced May’s decision to call the snap vote — show that could widen to 150 or more.

The gains are forecast across the U.K.

In Wales, where the Conservatives haven’t won in nearly a century, a recent survey showed them leading. In Scotland, where Labour ran a virtual one-party fiefdom until the 2015 vote, the party is now a distant third…

If Labour does lose in a rout, Corbyn may be forced to resign as party leader. The party could also split apart.

Whether that happens or not, the center-left the world over will have to work out what it stands for and stop re-litigating internal battles that date back decades, said Stewart Wood, a Labour member of the House of Lords…

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Friday, May 05, 2017

The last links are the most difficult

"The last mile… is a colloquial phrase widely used… to refer to the final leg of the telecommunications networks that deliver… services to retail end-users (customers). More specifically, the last mile refers to the portion of the telecommunications network chain that physically reaches the end-user's premises… The word 'mile' is used metaphorically… The last mile is typically the speed bottleneck in communication networks…"

-Wikipedia

The last, toughest mile: China’s new approach to beating poverty

MOST of Tian Shuang’s relatives are herding goats in the barren hills of Ningxia province, one of the poorest parts of western China. But last year Mr Tian came down to Minning, a small town in the valley, when the local government, as part of an anti-poverty programme, gave him a job growing mushrooms and ornamental plants in a commercial nursery garden. His name, address and income (20,000 yuan a year, or $2,900—six times the minimum wage) are written on a board by its greenhouse door…

Minning is a model town. Its poverty-alleviation scheme was set up by Xi Jinping, China’s president, between 1999 and 2002 when he was governor of Fujian, a wealthy province in the south… The system that Minning pioneered is now spreading throughout China. It focuses on poor individuals, and on drawing up specific plans for each, rather than merely helping poor places to develop in the hope that wealth will trickle down to the poorest…

China has been a hero of the world’s poverty-reduction efforts. It has eradicated poverty in cities (by its definition, at least) and reduced the number of rural people below the official poverty line…

Politically, poverty reduction matters because, as one party member says, unless China solves the problem of income inequality, the party’s legitimacy will be questioned. The party owes its power to a revolt fuelled by the miseries of the countryside. It does not want to be accused of failing to fulfil its mandate to eliminate them…

But the last stage of poverty reduction will be the most difficult. China’s success so far has been based largely on economic growth, which has generated jobs for the able-bodied. The final stage will be costly and complicated because many of the remaining poor are people who, because of physical or mental disabilities, cannot hold down jobs. A recent government survey found that 46% of China’s poor were poor because of their health…

There are signs that China’s is indeed improving its main form of poor relief, which is called “subsistence guarantee”, or dibao. The dibao programme has been notoriously inefficient. Many households that qualify for payments do not receive them because of corruption and bureaucratic failings…

All these efforts are aimed only at extreme poverty in the countryside. The government claims the urban kind does not exist, ie, that no one in cities has less than 2,300 yuan a year. But that minimum is too low for cities, where living costs are higher…

At current rates of reduction (more than 10m fewer people annually in extreme poverty), Mr Xi should be able meet his target by 2020. It will be hailed as a great achievement. But huge government effort will still be needed to help the worse-off. It will not be the end of poverty in China.

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Thursday, May 04, 2017

Another aspect to an important cleavage

Language, heritage, religion, location, and cultural traditions are aspects of Nigeria's cleavages. Here's another.

The problems of family planning in Nigeria
NOT everyone thinks birth control is a blessing. Boko Haram, a jihadist group that terrorises north-eastern Nigeria, deems artificial contraception to be a product of infidel learning, and therefore forbidden…

Even outside those areas, contraception is controversial… Many Nigerian Muslims believe that pills and condoms are part of a Western plot to stop Muslims from multiplying. And in poor, rural areas centuries of experience have taught people that having lots of children makes economic sense…

So the government in Kaduna, a majority-Muslim state north of the capital, Abuja, does not encourage people to have fewer children. That would be politically toxic. But it does offer free contraception, and suggest that women might wish to pause between pregnancies. It also promotes girls’ education—something that has caused fertility rates to fall more or less everywhere it has been tried…

No one knows how many Nigerians there are. The World Bank says there were 182m in 2015, but this estimate is based on the 2006 census, which was probably inflated (politicians typically exaggerate the count to grab more parliamentary seats and government money for their regions)…

To be prosperous as well as populous, Nigeria needs to educate its people better. This would also curb population growth, since well-schooled women tend to have fewer babies…

Most girls in the programme will finish secondary school and delay childbirth (previous cohorts wed an average of 2.5 years later than peers)…

Within Nigerian Islam, a debate rages between modernisers and obscurantists. The former may be winning. Lamido Sanusi, the Emir of Kano and a senior Muslim leader, has spoken out against child marriage, and proposes a legal minimum age (there is currently none) of 18…

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Wednesday, May 03, 2017

Asterisk for your textbook

Alan Carter, who teaches at that ancient institution of learning on the River Thames in Oxford, sent me this article. He and I ask, if social class is no longer the defining cleavage in British politics, what is?

I'd ask my students to put an asterisk in their textbooks after the title of the section that discusses political cleavages in the UK. Then I'd ask them to cite this article in a footnote. Even better, they could print out the article and insert it into the proper page in their textbooks.

Working class voters flock to Tories as Labour struggles to hold on to its base, poll shows
Class is no longer the dividing line in British politics that it once was, with Theresa May's Conservatives winning over the working class from Jeremy Corbyn.

In the 1992 General Election, things were simple. The Tories were seen as the party of the middle class while Labour could rely on the working class vote.

Back then the Conservatives led Labour among… middle class voters by around 30 points, while Labour was leading among… working class voters by around 10 percentage points.

But today, the Tories lead among all groups of voters, with a massive surge in support among the working class for Theresa May.

Polling by YouGov shows that, as the 2017 General Election campaign beings, the Conservatives hold a 22 per cent lead among middle class voters and a 17 per cent lead among the working class…

Some 43 per cent of C2DE voters - which includes skilled and unskilled manual labourers, casual workers and pensioners - said that they intend to vote Tory in the upcoming General Election, rising just three points among ABC1 voters, who include managerial, administrative or professional workers.

The Labour Party has sunk to attracting just 24 per cent of middle class and 26 per cent of working class voters…

The Tories are still the party of the rich, according to the YouGov polling, despite also appealing to the working class.

Three in five people earning over £70,000 per year back the Conservative Party - compared to 19 per cent for the Lib Dems and 11 per cent for Labour.

At the other end of the scale, among those earning less than £20,000, Labour's support increases to 27 per cent - but this is still dwarved by the Tories' 40-point support…

If you want to find the new dividing line in British politics, age is the new predictor.

Generally, YouGov's polling has found that the older you get, the more likely you are to vote Conservative…

Labour is 19 points ahead among 18-24 year-olds while the Conservatives are ahead by a huge 49 points among the over 65s…



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Tuesday, May 02, 2017

Another Nigerian Presidential leave

Maybe there's something in Nigerian culture that makes publicly talking about illness a bad thing to do. All we get are nonspecific hints about the illness.

Nigeria's President Buhari urged to take medical leave
Buhari
A group of prominent Nigerians has called on President Muhammadu Buhari, 74, to take medical leave, amid growing concern about his health.

There was an "apparent deterioration" in his health following his failure to attend the last two cabinet meetings, the group said.

Mr Buhari took about seven weeks of medical leave in January, and flew to the UK for treatment.

When he returned home in March, he said he had never been so ill in his life.

Mr Buhari has not disclosed his illness, but hinted that he had had a blood transfusion.

The president had not been seen in public for the last week…

The group included some of the Nigeria's most influential civil society figures, including lawyer Femi Falana, political analyst Jibrin Ibrahim, and Transparency International Nigeria head Anwal Musa Rafsanjani.

The 13 said they felt "compelled" to ask Mr Buhari "to heed the advice of his personal physicians by taking a rest to attend to his health without any further delay".

Mr Buhari's aides have not yet commented on the statement…

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Obas and Oonis

As if civil society in Nigeria weren't complicated enough (520 languages; over 200 ethnic groups), there are traditional "rulers" (kings, obas, oonis, emirs, etc.). The traditional rulers lost their formal political power when Nigeria gained its independence, but many of them retain informal influence over their "subjects."

This topic is unlikely to be on an exam in comparative politics, but it's a good reminder of the superficial nature of the course.

Why Oba of Lagos 'snubbing' Ooni of Ife shocked Nigeria
A dismissive wave?
Video footage showing a traditional leader, the Oba of Lagos, seemingly snubbing the Yoruba "king of kings", the Ooni of Ife, at a public event has shocked many Nigerians. Journalist Ugochukwu Ikeakor explains why it is such a big deal.

Deep respect for leaders is a pillar of the culture of the Yoruba people, one of Nigeria's biggest ethnic groups.

But at a recent public event a Yoruba leader, known as the Oba of Lagos, Rilwan Akiolu ,74, refused to properly greet the Ooni of Ife, Adeyeye Ogunwusi 42.

As the Ooni leaned over to greet the Oba by shaking his hand, what he got instead was a dismissive wave and what looked like a scowl of disdain…

It is not clear yet what upset the Oba of Lagos. But there is speculation it could relate to a spat that goes back over a century.

A long rivalry existed between the two thrones even before the colonial era…

In Nigeria, greetings are all-important - from the roadside to the boardroom, how you say hello says a lot about you.

So when the video of the disdainful greeting emerged, Nigerian social media was stunned.

But as many people have pointed out, the traditional rites of Nigeria's ancient cultures are complicated. And with relatively little history preserved in writing, the lines can be blurred.

The general feeling on social media seems to be that the Oba of Lagos showed disrespect not only for the Ooni of Ife but to Yoruba culture as a whole. Most people are watching to see what happens next…

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Monday, May 01, 2017

Political integration (by name)

The government of China is making further efforts to ensure that Xinjiang remains an integral part of the country.

China bans religious names for Muslim babies in Xinjiang
Many couples fret over choosing the perfect name for their newborn, but for Muslims in western China that decision has now become even more fraught: pick the wrong name and your child will be denied education and government benefits.

Officials in the western region of Xinjiang, home to roughly half of China’s 23 million Muslims, have released a list of banned baby names amid an ongoing crackdown on religion…

Xinjiang shoppers
Names such as Islam, Quran, Saddam and Mecca, as well as references to the star and crescent moon symbol, are all unacceptable to the ruling Communist party and children with those names will be denied household registration, a crucial document that grants access to social services, healthcare and education…

China blames religious extremists for a slew of violent incidents in recent years that have left hundreds dead. It has launched a series of crackdowns in Xinjiang, home to the Muslim Uighur minority and one of the most militarised regions in the country.

Uighur rights groups complain of severe restrictions on religion and freedom of expression, and say the attacks are isolated incidents caused by local grievances, not part of a wider coordinated campaign…

Authorities in Xinjiang passed new legislation last month expanding a host of restrictions, including allowing staff at train stations and airports to deny entry to women wearing face veils and encouraging staff to report them to the police.

The new law also prohibits “abnormal beards” and “naming of children to exaggerate religious fervour”…

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