Teaching Comparative Government and Politics

Friday, July 20, 2018

Communist China Markets

When I began studying about China, it was known in the USA as Red China as opposed to the more friendly Nationalist China (on the island of Taiwan). Later we began calling it Communist China. After Nixon's visit some of us called it the People's Republic of China. Somewhere along the way, Americans began using the simple name China and called "Nationalist China" Taiwan.

Now the Communists in the People's Republic are discussing ways to improve the "business environment." No wonder we don't call it communist or red anymore.

Look for further developments.

China vows to further improve business environment
China will work to tackle the weak areas in its business environment to further improve overall competitiveness and sustain the sound momentum of steady economic performance, the State Council's executive meeting chaired by Premier Li Keqiang decided on Wednesday.

The Chinese government places high importance on improving the country's business environment. Li has urged government authorities to address the top concerns of businesses and tackle institutional deficiencies to cultivate a world-class business environment in China.

"In the face of growing international competition, we must fully appreciate the pressing need for stepping up the reforms of our government's functions, which are crucial for energizing market entities and grassroots initiative and for improving China's overall business environment," Li said at the meeting…

Latest figures from the Ministry of Commerce show that in the first half of this year, 29,591 foreign-invested enterprises were established, up by 96.6 percent year-on-year. According to the 2017 report of the World Bank, China ranked the 78th in ease of doing business, up by 18 spots over 2013. In the revised negative list for foreign investment the Ministry of Commerce issued in June, the number of restrictive items was cut to 48 from 63 in 2017…

"Our efforts in streamlining administration, delegating powers and improving government services boil down to striking a proper balance between the government and the market and truly allowing the market to play a decisive role in allocating resources," Li pointed out. "Instead of redistributing powers among government departments, we should give full respect and delegate due powers to market entities."…

"The market and our people will have final judgment on the success of our efforts to streamline administration." Li said. "A key responsibility of the government is to give timely response to public concerns and faithfully live out our commitment to people-centered development."

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Thursday, July 19, 2018

With a little help from your opposition

PM May's plans for Brexit survived on a vote in Commons because several Labour MPs voted for her bill. The future looks rocky.

Britain’s May narrowly avoids defeat in parliament on EU trade laws
British Prime Minister Theresa May narrowly avoided a defeat in parliament at the hands of pro-EU lawmakers from her own party on Tuesday, fending off a rebellion that had threatened to deepen a crisis over her Brexit strategy.

Parliament voted 307 to 301 against an amendment to trade legislation [that]… was seen as a test of May’s ability to deliver a smooth British exit from the European Union and keep her job…

One Conservative lawmaker present told Reuters that the party whips whose job it is to enforce discipline, desperate to win the vote, had threatened to call a confidence vote in May if she lost, a move that could bring down the government…

May is expected to face many more challenges to her strategy after a summer break as she works her way through a mountain of Brexit-related legislation. Any final deal with the EU will also require ratification by a bitterly split parliament.

Highlighting the fine margins May is dealing with, Tuesday’s victory required the votes of four pro-Brexit Labour opposition lawmakers who backed the government in defiance of their party’s instructions…

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Thursday, July 12, 2018

Unwelcome title

I'm not sure about the validity of these measurements, but it's not a great title to win.

India is no longer home to the largest number of poor people in the world. Nigeria is
It is a distinction that no country wants: the place with the most people living in extreme poverty.

For decades, India remained stubbornly in the top spot, a reflection of its huge population and its enduring struggle against poverty.

Now new estimates indicate that Nigeria has knocked India out of that position, part of a profound shift taking place in the geography of the world’s poorest people.

According to a recent report from the Brookings Institution, Nigeria overtook India in May to become the country with the world’s highest number of people living in extreme poverty, which is defined as living on less than $1.90 a day. The threshold captures those who struggle to obtain even basic necessities such as food, shelter and clothing, and takes into account differences in purchasing power between countries.

The Brookings report was based on estimates generated by the World Poverty Clock, a model created to track progress against poverty in real time. As of Monday, its figures showed that India had 70.6 million people living in extreme poverty, while Nigeria had 87 million.

What’s more, the gap is widening: The number of people living in extreme poverty in India is falling while the opposite is true in Nigeria, where the population is growing faster than its economy…

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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Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Presidential politics in Nigeria

Presidential politics in Nigeria still revolve around "big men," the personalities of the wheeler-dealers.

New Nigeria PDP-led alliance aims to defeat Buhari
Nigeria's main opposition People's Democratic Party (PDP) has formed an alliance with dozens of other parties in a bid to defeat President Muhammadu Buhari in next year's election.

The coalition, including a faction of the governing party, plans to field a single candidate.

They say they want to "rescue the nation from further decline"…

A similar coalition of opposition parties, which backed Mr Buhari, was largely responsible for the defeat of then-President Goodluck Jonathan in the 2015 elections, says the BBC's Ishaq Khalid in the capital Abuja…

The 39-party alliance, called the Coalition of United Political Party, says it wants to form a government of national unity…

The president's supporters say his agricultural reforms, infrastructure investment and the current rise in global oil prices are helping boost the economy.

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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.







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Monday, July 09, 2018

Wow! PRI has fallen!

I doubt anyone in the last century would have predicted that the PRI in Mexico would fall to near irrelevance so quickly. In congress that seems to have happened.

Mexico’s motley new congress
THE change brought by Andrés Manuel López Obrador to Mexico’s congress is as startling as his election to the presidency on July 1st. His coalition, Juntos haremos historia (together we will make history), is expected to have three-fifths of seats in the lower house and the senate (see chart)…. The ruling Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) will become the fifth-biggest party in the 500-member lower house. The centre-right National Action Party (PAN), with 92 seats, will be the main opposition.

Mr López Obrador’s legislative forces are a motley group of activists, celebrities and professional politicians. The heart of the coalition is his four-year-old Morena party. It also includes the anti-capitalist Workers’ Party (PT) and the conservative Social Encounter Party (PES), which has evangelical roots…

Mr López Obrador’s congressional majority will give him more power than any president has wielded since the 1990s. At first, he is likely to use it to bring in more generous pensions for the old and scholarships for the young…

Will congress follow where Mr López Obrador leads? The conservatives and the anti-capitalists are sure to disagree on social issues. Morena has few legislators with experience in whipping congressmen into line. The incoming congress will be the first whose members are allowed to run for re-election. If Mr López Obrador remains popular, that will encourage them to do his bidding. If not, they could defect. As with so much about the new president, his congressional clout will depend on his star power.

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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Friday, July 06, 2018

Age and experience

David Mamet's sarcastic epigram is "Old age and treachery will always beat youth and exuberance." Maybe the Communist Party in China has figured a way around that idea.

It's a cliché (or valid generalization) that political leadership in China is older than the leadership in other countries. But I have always been amazed by the age of the leaders of the Communist Youth League. Now Choi Chi-yuk, writing in the South China Morning Post reports that a 49-year-old has been named the leader of the Communist Youth League. Not only that, but the headline suggests this new leader could be the beginning of a generational shift. I'm spending time adjusting my frame of reference.

Is the promotion of this Chinese aerospace technocrat the start of a communist youthquake? (Xi Jinping has shifted focus to training and promoting top young talent.)
He Junke
A 49-year-old aerospace technocrat has been named to lead the 81 million-plus members of China’s Communist Youth League, highlighting what could be the start of a bigger push for younger officials in the administration.

The league has long been regarded as a cradle of China’s leadership, with former president Hu Jintao and Premier Li Keqiang among those to have served in the organisation’s top job before going on to higher office…

He Junke graduated from the space technology department at the National University of Defence Technology in Changsha, Hunan province, in 1991 and spent 14 years in the aerospace industry…

The league has appeared to lose some of its sway since 2012 when Xi came to power, with the president giving greater weight to governing experience and political loyalty in promotions rather than the opinions of colleagues, examinations, economic growth and age.

As a result, the average age for ministerial officials has risen.

But youth could be making a comeback with He’s appointment and Xi’s focus on the need for young talent…

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Thursday, July 05, 2018

Milestone

The bit of programming that keeps track of the number of page views on this blog "rolled" over to 800,000 this morning. A dozen years and my persistence and your peeks at these pages brings those results.

"Pageviews all time history   800,347"

An unknown number of those page views were evidently from trolls in Russia, Turkey, India, and Brazil. (I'm pretty sure there are not thousands of AP students in those countries, but some days there are hundreds of page views from those and other countries.)


Tuesday, July 03, 2018

Potemkin village

When I saw Paul Krugman's opinion piece in the New York Times, I was reminded that the metaphor he used was helpful in explaining government and politics in Russia. Here's the introduction to his editorial. Now imagine how this image (a Potemkin village) could help make sense out of elections in contemporary Russia, a constitution that can be modified by the supermajority in the Duma, or Putin as virtually president for life.

Do a web search for Potemkin Village to see how common the idea is.

Trump’s Potemkin Economy
According to legend, Grigory Potemkin, one of Catherine the Great’s ministers (and her lover), created a false impression of prosperity when the empress toured Ukraine. He supposedly did this by setting up fake villages, or possibly just facades, along her route, then dismantling them after she passed, and setting them up again further down the road.
A movie set as a Potemkin Village

There probably isn’t much if any truth to the story — among other things, Catherine was too smart and tough-minded to be that easily deceived — but never mind: the legend has become a byword for the general idea of prettifying reality to please a tyrannical ruler…


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

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Monday, July 02, 2018

Third time a charm

Mexico's newly elected president has run for this office twice before. Will this result be a charm or another disappointment?

López Obrador, an Atypical Leftist, Wins Mexico Presidency in Landslide
Riding a wave of populist anger fueled by rampant corruption and violence, the leftist Andrés Manuel López Obrador was elected president of Mexico on Sunday, in a landslide victory that upended the nation’s political establishment and handed him a sweeping mandate to reshape the country…
AMLO, president of Mexico

The outcome represents a clear rejection of the status quo in the nation, which for the last quarter century has been defined by a centrist vision and an embrace of globalization that many Mexicans feel has not served them.

The core promises of Mr. López Obrador’s campaign — to end corruption, reduce violence and address Mexico’s endemic poverty — were immensely popular with voters, but they come with questions he and his new government may struggle to answer…

He won by capturing more than half the vote, according to early returns, more than any candidate since the nation began its transition to democracy nearly 20 years ago. In a reflection of the lopsided vote, his main competitors conceded the race within 45 minutes of the polls’ closing, another historical first.

With his coalition partners, it is likely that he will hold a majority in Congress, potentially giving him more power to enact his policies…

For his opponents, this election cycle has brought the three main parties of Mexico to a crisis point. Mr. Peña Nieto’s party will be vastly reduced in size and power in the new Congress, while the leftist Party of Democratic Revolution may not even survive.

Perhaps the only party with enough power to serve as a counterweight will be the National Action Party, despite having endured a bruising split in the campaign…

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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Nigeria's money comes home

A remarkable effort might return a huge pile of money to Nigeria.

'Abacha loot' to be given to poor Nigerians
Money looted by Nigeria's former military ruler Sani Abacha is to be distributed to poor families, the government says.

The distribution is to start next month after more than $300m (£228m) was returned by the Swiss authorities.

The money, stolen by Abacha in the 1990s, is due to be given to around 300,000 households, with each getting around $14 a month.

Critics fear the handouts could be a way to influence next year's election.

At this rate, the payments - to be made to residents in 19 of Nigeria's 36 states - should last for about six years.

The money was originally deposited in Luxembourg, and is a fraction of the billions of dollars allegedly looted while Abacha was in power from 1993 to 1998.

He ruled Nigeria with an iron fist until his sudden death on 8 June 1998 after an apparent heart attack.

President Muhammadu Buhari made the recovery of stolen assets a major part of his 2015 election campaign - he has said he will stand for re-election.

Switzerland is believed to have returned about $1bn to Nigeria over the last 10 years.

Last year, Roberto Balzaretti, one of the Swiss officials involved in the negotiations with Nigeria, told the BBC that there would be strict conditions attached to the transfer of the money back to Nigeria.

The cash payments are part of the Nigeria National Social Safety Net Program (NAASP) which helps poor families.

The money will be paid in instalments and in small amounts from July under the supervision of the World Bank, which will also conduct regular audits.

If the first instalment is not properly accounted for, subsequent payment will be halted. This is to prevent the funds from being stolen again, Mr Balzaretti said.

Abacha


Sani Abacha timeline


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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