Teaching Comparative Government and Politics

Friday, December 31, 2010

The obsolescence of the Westphalian nation state

While you're accessing Foreign Affairs to read about social media and civil society, you might want to also check out Jessica T. Mathews' article describing how nation states are being sidelined in today's global politics and economics.

Mathews is a Senior Fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations.

[The nation-state may be obsolete in an internetted world. Increasingly, the resources and threats that matter disregard governments and borders. States are sharing powers that defined their sovereignty with corporations, international bodies, and a proliferating universe of citizens groups. The bond markets must be satisfied or capital will go elsewhere. International involvement in domestic crises is a growth industry. Activists fight battles in cyberspace for every imaginable cause-and the nation-state gives in. The ramifications of this power shift will be seismic.]

Power Shift

The end of the Cold War has brought no mere adjustment among states but a novel redistribution of power among states, markets, and civil society. National governments are not simply losing autonomy in a globalizing economy. They are sharing powers -- including political, social, and security roles at the core of sovereignty -- with businesses, with international organizations, and with a multitude of citizens groups, known as nongovernmental organizations (NGOs). The steady concentration of power in the hands of states that began in 1648 with the Peace of Westphalia is over, at least for a while.

The absolutes of the Westphalian system -- territorially fixed states where everything of value lies within some state's borders; a single, secular authority governing each territory and representing it outside its borders; and no authority above states -- are all dissolving. Increasingly, resources and threats that matter, including money, information, pollution, and popular culture, circulate and shape lives and economies with little regard for political boundaries. International standards of conduct are gradually beginning to override claims of national or regional singularity. Even the most powerful states find the marketplace and international public opinion compelling them more often to follow a particular course...

Teaching Comparative blog entries are indexed.
The Fourth Edition of What You Need to Know is available at Amazon.com or from the publisher (where shipping is always free).

Labels: , ,

Social media and civil society

I'm told (correct me if I'm wrong) that a rubric for an FRQ on last year's AP exam did not allow using social media as an example of civil society. I wasn't there and I didn't read exams, so my inclination to include social media in civil society doesn't mean much.

Clay Shirky, professor of New Media at NYU, writing in Foreign Affairs, offers an argument that social media are part of civil society, but perhaps not in the way you might think at first. [Summary: Discussion of the political impact of social media has focused on the power of mass protests to topple governments. In fact, social media's real potential lies in supporting civil society and the public sphere -- which will produce change over years and decades, not weeks or months.]

Log in or subscription required to access the whole article. See your local librarian for the password or the actual article on paper.

And, oh, yes, Happy New Year.

The Political Power of Social Media
On January 17, 2001, during the impeachment trial of Philippine President Joseph Estrada, loyalists in the Philippine Congress voted to set aside key evidence against him. Less than two hours after the decision was announced, thousands of Filipinos, angry that their corrupt president might be let off the hook, converged on Epifanio de los Santos Avenue, a major crossroads in Manila. The protest was arranged, in part, by forwarded text messages reading, "Go 2 EDSA. Wear blk." The crowd quickly swelled, and in the next few days, over a million people arrived, choking traffic in downtown Manila. 

The public's ability to coordinate such a massive and rapid response -- close to seven million text messages were sent that week -- so alarmed the country's legislators that they reversed course and allowed the evidence to be presented. Estrada's fate was sealed; by January 20, he was gone…

As the communications landscape gets denser, more complex, and more participatory, the networked population is gaining greater access to information, more opportunities to engage in public speech, and an enhanced ability to undertake collective action. In the political arena, as the protests in Manila demonstrated, these increased freedoms can help loosely coordinated publics demand change...

Teaching Comparative blog entries are indexed.
The Fourth Edition of What You Need to Know is available at Amazon.com or from the publisher (where shipping is always free).

Labels: , ,

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

That's how far from rule of law...

The reports yesterday illustrating the distance Russia has to travel to rule of law pale beside the report in The New York Times today.

After Dismissal of Jury, Judges Convict Russian
In the end, it was three professional judges who delivered a verdict in the trial of the former senator Igor V. Izmestiev, and they imposed the heaviest penalty allowed by law.

Accused of violent crimes in a politically freighted case, Mr. Izmestiev had pinned his hopes on the jury — a motley collection of workers, retirees and intellectuals who heard testimony in the case for around seven months. Watching the expressions of disbelief that flitted over jurors’ faces during witnesses’ testimony, his lawyer was convinced that the panel would acquit him, at least on some charges.

But the jury was dismissed earlier this year under questionable circumstances before it could deliver a verdict. On Tuesday, a second trial ended as his lawyer had predicted: the judges convicted Mr. Izmestiev and sentenced him to life in prison…

Jury trials, which were phased out by the Bolsheviks, were revived in the 1990s. But their number has remained tiny, roughly 600 of the more than 1 million criminal cases heard each year. The authorities have eliminated jury trials in cases where crimes like terrorism and espionage are charged, and new proposals would ban them in cases involving extremism. Prime Minister Vladimir V. Putin went further this week, saying juries “are not effective” and suggesting that their use be limited to federal courts...

Teaching Comparative blog entries are indexed.
The Fourth Edition of What You Need to Know is available at Amazon.com or from the publisher (where shipping is always free).

Labels: , ,

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Rule of law in Russia

Recent news from Russia suggests that rule of law is a long way off.

In Russia, an Advocate Is Killed, and an Accuser Tried
In a small courtroom in Moscow, friends of Natalya K. Estemirova crowded onto wooden benches, clasping photographs of her. It was 16 months after the murder of Ms. Estemirova, a renowned human rights advocate in the tumultuous region of Chechnya, and now the legal system was taking action.

A defendant was on trial, and his interrogators were demanding answers about special operations and assassination plots.

But the defendant was not Ms. Estemirova’s suspected killer. It was her colleague Oleg P. Orlov, chairman of Memorial, one of Russia’s foremost human rights organizations.

The authorities had charged Mr. Orlov with defamation because he had publicly pointed the finger at the man he believed was responsible for the murder: the Kremlin-installed leader of Chechnya. If convicted, Mr. Orlov could face as many as three years in prison…

Former Russian Tycoon Is Again Convicted
Seven years ago, Mikhail B. Khodorkovsky, Russia’s richest man, was jailed after challenging the authority of Vladimir V. Putin, who wanted the country’s post-Soviet tycoons to stop meddling in politics. On Monday, Mr. Khodorkovsky, still behind bars, was convicted on new charges of embezzlement in a case that has been widely viewed as an indicator of whether Russia will take even modest steps toward establishing a real rule of law…

He was convicted of tax fraud in 2005, and his companies were essentially confiscated by the government. He ended up in a Siberian penal colony near the Chinese border, where he worked in a sewing shop...

In the current case, he was accused of stealing $27 billion in oil from subsidiaries of his own conglomerate over several years, through highly complex pricing schemes that prosecutors maintained were not noticed by the Yukos auditors at the time.

Mr. Khodorkovsky’s lawyers called the new charges absurd and politically motivated. Even some government officials said they had a hard time understanding exactly what Mr. Khodorkovsky had done wrong.

Russia Rejects Criticism of Former Tycoon’s Trial
The Russian government on Tuesday rejected criticism from other countries over the new conviction on Monday of Mikhail B. Khodorkovsky, once Russia’s richest man…

With court proceedings continuing and Mr. Khodorkovsky’s sentence not yet known, the Russian Foreign Ministry released a statement accusing other countries of trying to interfere with a domestic judicial matter. The ministry said Mr. Khodorkovsky had been charged with serious crimes that would be punished severely anywhere.

“Judgments about the selective application of justice in Russia are groundless,” the statement said. “In Russian courts, thousands of cases are handled that involve the legal liability of entrepreneurs. We hope that everyone will mind his own business — at home and internationally.”…

Teaching Comparative blog entries are indexed.
The Fourth Edition of What You Need to Know is available at Amazon.com or from the publisher (where shipping is always free).

Labels: , ,

Sunday, December 26, 2010

More tragedy in Nigiera

If you've been paying attention, tragedy in Jos is not a surprise. Can your students identify the multiple causes of the conflict better than this journalistic account?

Christmas Eve attacks kill at least 32 in Nigeria
Multiple explosions in central Nigeria have killed 32 people and six others died in attacks by Muslim sect members on two churches in the north, officials said Saturday.

Police spokesman Mohammed Lerama said that 32 people died and at least 74 were injured in four bomb blasts Friday night that went off in close succession in different parts of Jos in central Nigeria — a region violently divided between Christians and Muslims…

The violence, though fractured across religious lines, often has more to do with local politics, economics and rights to grazing lands. The government of Plateau State, where Jos is the capital, is controlled by Christian politicians who have blocked Muslims from being legally recognized as citizens…

Teaching Comparative blog entries are indexed.
The Fourth Edition of What You Need to Know is available at Amazon.com or from the publisher (where shipping is always free).

Labels: , ,

Thursday, December 23, 2010


Pronunciation: \-ˈmi-tənt\
Function: adjective
Etymology: Latin intermittent-, intermittens, present participle of intermittere
Date: 1601
: coming and going at intervals : not continuous ; also : occasional
— in·ter·mit·tent·ly adverb
Source: Mirriam-Webster Online Dictionary
Retrieved 23 December 2010

Solstice is past; winter has begun. It's nearing the end of the year. That means it's time for family and reflection. You'll be busy and distracted too, so postings here will be intermittent.

Remember that the 2000 entries here are indexed at delicious.com/CompGovPol. There are 77 categories and you can use more than one category at a time to find something appropriate to your needs. (And if Yahoo really does abandon Delicious.com, there will be a replacement.)

Peace, happiness, and calm.

Regional conflict by election

The upcoming elections are not only hampered by the theft of voting machines from the Abuja airport, but by regional rivalries within the ruling party. Will the rivalries be contained within the electoral process?

A northern bid: In primaries the ruling party looks set to pit north against south
ELECTIONS next April are already casting long shadows in Nigeria. The ruling People’s Democratic Party (PDP) is set to hold a presidential primary next month with a victor to be announced by January 15th. A powerful challenger to Goodluck Jonathan, the incumbent, has emerged. A bout of frantic politicking is certain.

Atiku Abubakar, a former vice-president, last month became the consensus candidate of northern Nigeria. His main selling point is that he upholds the PDP’s so-called zoning pact, whereby the presidency rotates between the country’s mostly Muslim north and largely Christian south every two terms…

The challenger is an adroit dealmaker with strong networks in north and south, aided by four wives from different parts of the country. Confident and broad-shouldered, he is said to have amassed a fortune through investments in oil-service companies and printing presses. He presents himself as pro-business, saying he would reduce the state’s role in the energy industry…

By contrast, Mr Jonathan is often seen as an accidental leader. Also a former vice-president, he came to power unexpectedly in May after the then president, Umaru Yar’Adua, died. He has since vowed to fix three of Nigeria’s biggest problems: woefully unreliable electricity; flawed elections; and an insurgency in his native Delta region…

If Mr Jonathan is hoping for an easy ride in southern Nigeria, he could be in for an nasty surprise…

Yet the presidential race is still Mr Jonathan’s to lose. Nigeria’s system favours the incumbent, who can steer a vast patronage network serviced by the energy revenues of Africa’s largest oil and gas producer.

Many voters are unkeen on all the PDP contenders, preferring candidates such as Muhammadu Buhari, a former military ruler, or Nuhu Ribadu, a former head of the anti-corruption agency. But even after the recent court verdicts, the PDP behemoth still controls 27 of Nigeria’s 36 states—and is likely again to provide its next president.

Teaching Comparative blog entries are indexed.
This is post number 2,000 on the Teaching Comparative blog.

Labels: , , ,

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Regime change in Iran?

According to Thomas Erdbrink, writing in The Washington Post, regime change is happening as the president claims more and more authority.

Iranian president increasingly grabbing power from parliament
Two years ago, Iran's parliament blocked several of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's key decisions and impeached one of his top ministers. But today, the ambitious leader routinely ignores parliament's laws and undercuts its authority, leading some politicians and analysts to fear the country is slipping toward dictatorship.

A strong parliament is central to the Islamic Republic's political system, which mixes religion and democracy and divides power among the parliament, the president, and several councils of clerics…

In a recent open letter, leading parliamentarians demanded a resolution to the escalating dispute and warned they could start several procedures, including impeachment, against the president, if his power is not checked…

After the 1979 revolution, Iranians overwhelming supported a referendum that turned the country into an Islamic republic in which a supreme leader has the final say over all political and religious affairs. Responsibility for the daily management of government affairs rests with a directly elected parliament, Ahmadinejad and his ministers, and a mix of appointed and elected clerical councils, who are in different ways supposed to control and supervise one another…

Ahmadinejad responded to the parliamentarians' letter by insisting that, after Khamenei, he is the most powerful man in the Islamic Republic.

"As president, I lead the executive power, I come second after the leader and I am in charge of implementing the constitution," he told reporters in a Nov. 29 news conference. "They are wasting our time with these letters," he said…

The Ahmadinejad "government says it needs more power and wants its hand to be open to implement its policies," said Emad Afroogh, a former parliamentarian who had been a strong supporter of Ahmadinejad but now disagrees with his polices.

For the president and his ministers, the parliament is an obstacle, Afroogh said. "But if parliament is weakened and decisions are taken personally, against the constitution, in reality that would mean dictatorship."…

Teaching Comparative blog entries are indexed.

The Fourth Edition of What You Need to Know is available at Amazon.com or from the publisher (where shipping is always free).

Labels: , , ,

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Stagnation or transition?

A briefing in the The Economist raises questions about the stability and future of the Russian political system. Putin and Medvedev are key, but so are corrupt bureaucrats and public perceptions of the system and its leaders.

Frost at the core: Dmitry Medvedev and Vladimir Putin are presiding over a system that can no longer change
According to Alexander Oslon, a sociologist who heads the Public Opinion Foundation in Moscow, Mr Putin’s rule ushered in a breed of “bureaucrat-entrepreneurs”. They are not as sharp, competitive or successful as the oligarchs of the 1990s, but they are just as possessed by “the spirit of money” in Mr Olson’s phrase, the ideology that has ruled Russia ever since communism collapsed. By the end of the 1990s the commanding heights of the economy had been largely privatised by the oligarchs, so the bureaucrat-entrepreneurs began to privatise an asset which was under-capitalised and weak: the Russian state…

Corruption was also excessive in the 2000s, but it was compensated for by strong economic growth and fast-rising incomes… As Vladislav Inozemtsev, an economist, argues in a recent article, the improvement in living standards was achieved at the cost of massive under-investment in the country’s industry and infrastructure…

Russia’s trade surplus is shrinking. As imports grow, so does pressure on the rouble. The government is now running a budget deficit…

To keep up his approval rating, particularly among pensioners and state workers, Mr Putin has had to increase general government spending to nearly 40% of GDP…

That economy is growing by less than 4% a year. This would be respectable in many Western countries, but as Kirill Rogov, an economic and political analyst, argues, it is not enough to sustain the political status quo…

[G]rowing numbers of the elite feel that the present political and economic model has been exhausted and the country is fast approaching a dead end. “The problem is not that this regime is authoritarian, the problem is that it is unfair, corrupt and ineffective,” says one leading businessman. “Corruption will erode and bring down this system.” The paradox is that few Russian government officials disagree with this…

[There will be a] conversation between Mr Putin and Mr Medvedev [to] decide, probably next summer, which of them will become Russia’s next president. As Mr Putin said, the decision will be made on the basis of what is best for Russia... The aim is the same, but the styles vary.
Mr Medvedev calls for innovation and technical modernisation to revive growth. He is appealing through the internet to the most enterprising people in Russia, and is inviting Russian and foreign scientists to come and innovate in a specially created zone, called Skolkovo, which would be protected against the rest of the country by a high security wall and honest police…

The two men may belong to the same system and want the same thing, but they are formed by different experiences. Mr Putin, despite his belligerence about the 1990s, is the very epitome of that period. He operates by informal rules and agreements rather than laws and institutions…

Mr Medvedev, on the other hand, was installed as president after nearly a decade of stability, when the political landscape was cleared of opposition and the coffers were full of money. He is a stickler for formality…

As stability turns into stagnation, Mr Putin is becoming a symbol of the bygone 2000s. Mr Medvedev, on the other hand, with his tweets and his iPad, has absorbed hopes of change among the younger, more restless set…

Stanislav Belkovsky, a political commentator, sees a similarity between Russia’s situation and the period of Perestroika reform under Mikhail Gorbachev in the mid-1980s. As then, a large part of the elite has realised that the system is ineffective and is no longer willing to defend it. When ordinary people come to share this view, the system is in grave danger...

Teaching Comparative blog entries are indexed.
The Fourth Edition of What You Need to Know is available at Amazon.com or from the publisher (where shipping is always free).

Labels: , , , , , ,

Criminal government

Where's the distinction between illegal gangs challenging the state and the gangs joining the state?

A Massacre Shows Power of Gangs in Rural Russia
[T]he epidemic of lawlessness in provincial Russia [is] a problem rooted in the collusion of bandits and corrupt bureaucrats.

“With every passing day it becomes more and more clear that the fusion of government and criminals… is not unique,” Valery D. Zorkin, the chairman of Russia’s Constitutional Court, wrote in an opinion article on Friday in the government newspaper Rossiiskaya Gazeta. Should the situation continue, he said, “our citizens will become divided between predators, free in the criminal jungle, and subhumans, conscious that they are only prey.”

Such corruption has never been secret… President Dmitri A. Medvedev acknowledged it in his annual state of the nation speech last month when he warned local law enforcement officials not “to hide in offices and observe as criminals grow and become insolent on their territories.”…

Uncomfortable questions have also been raised about the viability of the system of consolidated power built over the past decade by Russia’s paramount leader, Vladimir V. Putin, now the prime minister. Senior authorities, Mr. Putin included, have explained restrictions on the media and on political freedoms as necessary to restore order in the wake of the Soviet Union’s collapse and the chaos that followed. While Mr. Putin has largely brought Russia’s upper echelons to heel, many of the far-flung regions remain out of Moscow’s control…

Teaching Comparative blog entries are indexed.
The Fourth Edition of What You Need to Know is available at Amazon.com or from the publisher (where shipping is always free).

Labels: , , , ,

Media freedom in Russia

Media freedom in Russia is conditional and a result of politics.

In Russia, freedom of speech belongs to the state
Here's what the world looks like in a country where the government controls the media:

One evening, the main television channel uses prime time to broadcast a concert across vast Russia, paying tribute to the much-feared tax collectors. Another day, media overseers charge a respected newspaper with extremism - for straightforward reporting on neo-Nazi groups…

Dmitri Muratov [is] the editor of Novaya Gazeta and recipient of the warning for promoting extremist views. One more such warning, and the paper can be shut down…

Earlier this year, Novaya Gazeta examined the organization, membership and pronouncements of neo-Nazi groups, mostly quoting from their Web sites. Muratov thought the article - conventional by Western standards - would set off a government investigation of fascists. "Instead, we got a warning against extremism," he said...

Andrei Richter, director of the Media Law and Policy Institute, said the government dislikes Novaya Gazeta but needs it, as well as outspoken radio station Ekho Moskvy, as evidence of freedom of speech for visiting dignitaries.

"Closing it would be quite a scandal," he said, "but the government doesn't mind warning the newspaper…"

Teaching Comparative blog entries are indexed.
The Fourth Edition of What You Need to Know is available at Amazon.com or from the publisher (where shipping is always free).

Labels: , ,

Monday, December 20, 2010

Economic restructuring in Iran

Economic realities align with some populist goals of Iran's president, and the government announced the beginning of the reduction of massive subsidies. It all began at the gas pumps. No one knows where it will end.

Gas Prices Soar in Iran as Subsidy Is Reduced
Gasoline prices nearly quadrupled on Sunday and the riot police guarded filling stations around the capital as deep cuts in subsidies on fuel and other essential goods took effect…

President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad announced the long-anticipated subsidy reductions in a live television interview on Saturday night, calling the reform “a great victory for Iran.”

Policy makers have described the program as a “rationalization” or “targetization” of Iran’s vast and inefficient subsidies system, but some analysts fear it could increase living costs for millions of middle- and low-income households…

Mr. Ahmadinejad said… that the prices of water, electricity and natural gas would increase “gradually,” and that the subsidy for bread would also be gradually eliminated. He predicted that the bottom 60 percent of income earners would be better off under the new plan while the wealthier 40 percent would “need to economize.”…

Iranian governments have sought for years to rein in the expensive and unwieldy subsidy system but have feared a strong public backlash. Price supports amount to $4,000 per family per year, a recent International Monetary Fund report found…

Teaching Comparative blog entries are indexed.
The Fourth Edition of What You Need to Know is available at Amazon.com or from the publisher (where shipping is always free).

Labels: , ,

Down, pet! Down!

Once again, there seem to be parallels between the Soviet Union and the Russian Federation. If you want your system to look like a democracy, there must be opposition parties. But if you want to rule, those opposition parties must behave (see China's multi-party politics).

Elections in Siberia Show Russia’s Drift to Single Party
On the eve of regional elections, an opposition candidate named Olga V. Safronova arrived at a school for a campaign finale. She planned a rousing speech with a refrain that Russia had been seized by a dictatorial ruling party.

But operatives from that very party showed up to stop her.

What displeased them was this: Ms. Safronova’s political party was supposed to be a fake opposition, created by the Kremlin to give the illusion that Russia was a thriving democracy. Now, though, this puppet party was rebelling here in Siberia — battling for votes, defying the governing party and even assailing Prime Minister Vladimir V. Putin himself…

When the Kremlin birthed A Just Russia in October 2006, Mr. Putin, then Russia’s president, said the new party would “promote democratic values.” But it would also allow the Russian leadership to declare that the country had a multiparty system — even though A Just Russia was loyal to Mr. Putin…

Wide Swings in Turnout Viewed as One Sign of Russian Vote Fraud
It was not hard to spot signs of possible fraud in Olga V. Safronova’s losing campaign for regional assembly in Siberia, according to nonpartisan election analysts. Consider two neighboring polling places in her district, No. 860 and No. 864.

Both contained the same number of registered voters, 1,630, and both would be expected to have relatively similar turnouts, given that they are near each other.

Overall turnout in the election on Oct. 10 across the entire Novosibirsk region was 36 percent, according to official statistics. At polling place No. 860, the turnout was typical, 31 percent, and the governing party candidate, Anatoly V. Zhukov, received 41 percent of the vote.

Ms. Safronova came in second in that district with 26 percent…

But what happened at No. 864 hinted at the challenges facing opposition candidates in Russia, where vote-rigging in the chief party’s favor is rampant.

For reasons that voting officials could not explain, No. 864 delayed reporting its totals until the middle of the night. The polling place is located in a neighborhood where local leaders of the governing party live.

When No. 864 finally issued its returns, the turnout level, 59 percent, was nearly double that of No. 860. And Mr. Zhukov garnered 78 percent of the vote in No. 864. Ms. Safronova’s total was only 8 percent…

Prof. Mikhail G. Myagkov of the University of Oregon, a Moscow native who is an expert on Russian election fraud... noted that in Russia, spikes in turnout were a classic marker for malfeasance by the party in charge. “There is a very high probability, according to the data in Safronova’s district, that something fishy was going on,” he said...
See also:
Teaching Comparative blog entries are indexed.
The Fourth Edition of What You Need to Know is available at Amazon.com or from the publisher (where shipping is always free).

Labels: , , ,

Friday, December 17, 2010

Coalition building

No, not in the UK. In Nigeria. After a group of northern politicians endorsed one former vice president, half the country's governors endorsed another former vice president (and current president). Politics within the ruling party are active.

Goodluck Jonathan gets boost to Nigeria election bid
A group of Nigeria's powerful governors have said they will back President Goodluck Jonathan for next year's elections - seen as a major boost to his campaign.

Half of the 36 governors backed Mr Jonathan's bid to be selected as the ruling party's candidate.

Whoever wins the PDP nomination will be the favourite for the April 2011 poll.

Mr Jonathan, a southerner, is opposed by some in the PDP, who say the party should choose a northerner…

The PDP has 26 of Nigeria's 36 state governors and, in the party's structures, they wield considerable power.
In previous primaries, they have instructed delegates from their states how to vote.
So the BBC's Bashir Saad Abdullahi in Abuja says their announcement is a significant boost for Mr Jonathan…

Nigeria's recent elections have been tarnished by fraud and violence.

Mr Jonathan has promised to introduce electoral reforms, but correspondents say it will be difficult to implement radical changes before April.

The main opposition candidates are former anti-corruption campaigner Nuhu Ribadu and Gen Muhammadu Buhari.

Teaching Comparative blog entries are indexed.
The Fourth Edition of What You Need to Know is available at Amazon.com or from the publisher (where shipping is always free).

Labels: , , , ,


In China, Marxism with Chinese characteristics is evidently a political and cultural ideology, not an economic one. Forget all that "from each," "to each," and egalitarian stuff. Chinese Marxists must remain Marxists in "the current complicated circumstances." How many of those complications have been created by contradictions in the Chinese political culture? Now, what was it that Marx said about contradictions? ["The basic idea of dialectical materialism is that every economic order grows to a state of maximum efficiency, while at the same time developing internal contradictions or weaknesses that contribute to its decay." -Wikipedia article on Dialectial materialism, 9 December 2010.]

Senior CPC official calls Chinese youths to adhere to Marxism
Wang Zhaoguo, a member of the Political Bureau of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee, has called on Chinese youth to adhere to Marxism while making efforts to build a well-off society…

Young Marxists should promote their theoretical and practical abilities, share common sentiments with the general public and keep their innovative spirit, Wang said.

Wang also called on young Marxists in China to adhere to a Marxist political stance in the current complicated circumstances...

Teaching Comparative blog entries are indexed.

The Fourth Edition of What You Need to Know is available at Amazon.com or from the publisher (where shipping is always free).

Labels: , ,

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Another Nigerian candidate

Well-known corruption fighter (and self-exiled fugitive), Nhuh Ribadu, has declared his candidacy for the Nigerian presidency. This is just the official announcement. His intentions have been pretty clear for months. This article is from This Day.

Ribadu - I'll Instil Financial Discipline
Presidential Aspirant of the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN), Mr. Nuhu Ribadu has pledged to carry out a comprehensive overhaul of the economy and to instil financial discipline in the management of the national resources if elected President of the country.

Ribadu who was the immediate past Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) said he would give more impetus to the fight against corruption and try to bring into public service very capable individuals to ensure that Nigerian taxpayers get value for their investment in government…

He said Nigerians have an opportunity to lead the quest for change in terms of political and socio-economic development.

Speaking in the area economic management, Ribadu regretted that while the country earned about N86 billion in revenue last year, at least half of it went on imports which includes some of most exotic vanities a developing country should encourage…

See also:

Teaching Comparative blog entries are indexed.
The Fourth Edition of What You Need to Know is available at Amazon.com or from the publisher (where shipping is always free).

Labels: , ,

Rule of law and mob rule?

What happens when the government seems unable to maintain the rule of law and people feel threatened? Can the government continue to operate with effectiveness or legitimacy?

In Mexico, a legal breakdown invites brutal justice
Across the country, and especially in northern Mexico, the breakdown of the legal system is giving way to a wave of vigilante violence. As Mexicans grow frustrated with the depredations of drug mafias and the corruption and incompetence of authorities, some are meting out punishment the old-fashioned way, taking an eye for eye, or in some cases, an eye for a tooth.

Some of these retributive acts have happened spontaneously… But other killings in the past year appear to have been carried out by shadowy forces who have left bodies along highways or hanging from bridges with handwritten notes that advertise the dead as "extortionists" or "kidnappers."

A group of Mexican senators has called for an investigation into extrajudicial killings in the country, alleging that "death squads" of current and former soldiers and police were to blame for some of the more than 30,000 killings since President Felipe Calderon declared war on the country's drug cartels four years ago.

According to Sen. Ricardo Monreal, wealthy business families have hired former police and soldiers to guard their interests and protect them from kidnapping and extortion. Some of the paramilitary-style groups work as contract killers for the drug cartels, the senator said; others might work as freelancers for the families of victims, who are seeking revenge or tired of paying extortion. Finally, some may be engaged in a kind of "social cleansing" aimed at low-level gang members, petty criminals and drug addicts.

Gustavo de la Rosa, a top human rights official in Chihuahua, Mexico's most violent state, said the flood of killings and other crimes in recent years has resulted in the "collapse" of the legal system, leaving frustrated citizens to view raw vengeance as their only recourse…

Teaching Comparative blog entries are indexed.

The Fourth Edition of What You Need to Know is available at Amazon.com or from the publisher (where shipping is always free).

Labels: , , ,

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Corruption as political culture

Polls by Transparency International and the BBC indicate that paying off people with power is part of the standard operating procedure in most countries — especially when dealing with the police. How does that relate to democratization trends?

World is getting more corrupt, says transparency poll
The world is considered a more corrupt place now than it was three years ago, a poll suggests.

Some 56% of people interviewed by Transparency International said their country had become more corrupt.

The organisation put Afghanistan, Nigeria, Iraq and India in the most corrupt category, followed by China, Russia and much of the Middle East.

Meanwhile, a BBC poll suggests that corruption is the world's most talked about problem…

In the Transparency International survey, political parties were regarded as the most corrupt institutions, and 50% of people believed their government was ineffective at tackling the problem.

One in four of those polled said they had paid a bribe in the past year - the police being the most common recipient.

Some 29% of bribes went to the police, 20% to registry and permit officials, and 14% to members of the judiciary.

Political parties have long been regarded as the most corrupt institutions - they topped the list in Transparency's 2004 barometer with 71%. In this year's report, 80% regarded them as corrupt.

Religious bodies experienced a sharp rise in people regarding them as corrupt - 28% in 2004 increased to 53% by 2010.

People from Afghanistan, Nigeria, Iraq and India were among those who perceived the highest levels of corruption in their daily lives.

At least half of the people surveyed in those countries reported paying a bribe in the past year.

While people from Cambodia (84%) and Liberia (89%) were the most likely to have to pay a bribe, the Danish reported 0% bribery…

Teaching Comparative blog entries are indexed.

Need a gift idea? The Fourth Edition of What You Need to Know is available from the publisher (where shipping is always free).

Labels: , , , ,

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

It's a deal

Nigerian prosecutors have dropped charges against Halliburton and former Vice President Dick Cheney. The company will pay a penalty. Maybe there was more involved than just publicity for the anti-corruption campaign.

Government Drops Charges Against Cheney, Halliburton
THE Federal Government's effort at prosecuting former United States Vice President Richard Bruce 'Dick' Cheney and other officials of Halliburton paid off, following payment of huge sums of money to the coffers of Nigeria, as Nigeria has reportedly agreed to drop charges against Cheney and Halliburton.

The development followed agreement reached between Nigerian officials in the negotiating team and top officials of the United States and Halliburton in a meeting held in London, weekend.

At the meeting, Halliburton agreed to pay about N20 billion as criminal penalty, while promising to liaise with the United States Government to recover the outstanding $I32 million which is currently frozen in Switzerland...

Teaching Comparative blog entries are indexed.
Find out what's NEW in the Fourth Edition of What You Need to Know.

Commercial infiltration of government

If true, are these claims by Shell Oil limits on Nigerian sovereignty? What will the government do? Can the government do anything? (Thanks to Jeremy Weate for pointing this out in his blog Naijablog.)

WikiLeaks cables: Shell's grip on Nigerian state revealed
The oil giant Shell claimed it had inserted staff into all the main ministries of the Nigerian government, giving it access to politicians' every move in the oil-rich Niger Delta, according to a leaked US diplomatic cable.

The company's top executive in Nigeria told US diplomats that Shell had seconded employees to every relevant department and so knew "everything that was being done in those ministries". She boasted that the Nigerian government had "forgotten" about the extent of Shell's infiltration and were unaware of how much the company knew about its deliberations.

The cache of secret dispatches from Washington's embassies in Africa also revealed that the Anglo-Dutch oil firm swapped intelligence with the US, in one case providing US diplomats with the names of Nigerian politicians it suspected of supporting militant activity, and requesting information from the US on whether the militants had acquired anti-aircraft missiles…

Cables from Nigeria show how Ann Pickard, then Shell's vice-president for sub-Saharan Africa, sought to share intelligence with the US government on militant activity and business competition in the contested Niger Delta – and how, with some prescience, she seemed reluctant to open up because of a suspicion the US government was "leaky"…

Celestine AkpoBari, programme officer for Social Action Nigeria [said], "Shell is everywhere. They have an eye and an ear in every ministry of Nigeria. They have people on the payroll in every community, which is why they get away with everything. They are more powerful than the Nigerian government."…

Nigeria… strenuously denied the claim. Levi Ajuonoma, a spokesman for the state-owned Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, said: "Shell does not control the government of Nigeria and has never controlled the government of Nigeria. This cable is the mere interpretation of one individual. It is absolutely untrue, an absolute falsehood and utterly misleading. It is an attempt to demean the government and we will not stand for that. I don't think anybody will lose sleep over it."…

Teaching Comparative blog entries are indexed.
The Fourth Edition of What You Need to Know is available at Amazon.com or from the publisher (where shipping is always free).

Labels: , ,

Monday, December 13, 2010

Faith in democracy?

Democratization appears to be a trend in Latin America, but why are Mexicans' attitudes at the bottom of the chart?

(Latinobarómetro is a non-profit organisation based in Santiago, Chile, which has carried out regular surveys of opinions, attitudes and values in Latin America since 1995. The poll was taken by local opinion-research companies in 18 countries and involved 20,204 face-to-face interviews conducted between September 4th and October 6th 2010. The average margin of error is 3%.)

The democratic routine

SUPPORT for democracy in Latin America continues to edge up, as does backing for private enterprise. Crime has become a bigger worry than unemployment. And Brazil is seen as more influential than the United States across much of the region. Those are some of the findings of the latest Latinobarómetro poll taken in 18 countries and published exclusively by The Economist. Because the poll has been taken regularly since 1995, it tracks changes in attitude across the region…

[O]nly around half of respondents in Mexico and Brazil, the region’s two most populous countries, are convinced democrats… Some 44% of respondents across the region pronounced themselves satisfied with how their country’s democracy works in practice, the same figure as last year but a big increase on the 25% in 2001…
A decade ago economic woes in Latin America undermined support for democracy. That it has held up during the world financial crisis is probably because many Latin American countries suffered only a brief recession and have enjoyed a strong recovery. In addition, a stronger social safety net has helped to shield the poor…
See full details of the poll results.

Teaching Comparative blog entries are indexed.

The Fourth Edition of What You Need to Know is available at Amazon.com or from the publisher (where shipping is always free).

Labels: , ,

Friday, December 10, 2010

More on the UK issue

Kevin James, who teaches at Albany (CA) High School, points out in his Comparative Government blog, that another aspect of the rise in university tuition is that the Liberal Democrats promised not to do just that.

Liberal Democrats Break Pledge, Vote to Triple University Tuition
The Liberal Democrats who voted for the tuition increase violated a pledge, signed by all Liberal Democrat parliamentary candidates in advance of last May's general election, not to support any proposed increase in university tuition. Indeed, the Liberal Democrats' election manifesto committed the party to eliminating tuition at English and Welsh universities…

The Fourth Edition of What You Need to Know is available at Amazon.com or from the publisher (where shipping is always free).

Labels: , ,

More from the UK on protests

Alan Carter from Oxford, points out another organization that's campaigning against the coalition government's austerity program: 38 Degrees: people. power. change.

He notes that yesterday's vote to raise university tuition passed by a mere 20 votes. His implication, I believe, is that bits of the raising fees and cutting services plan might have a rough time getting approved.

He also pointed out Paul Owen's blog at The Guardian which commented on the "attack" on a couple "Royals" and offered details on the vote over tuition fee increases.

Tuition fees protests and Charles and Camilla attack aftermath

The Fourth Edition of What You Need to Know is available at Amazon.com or from the publisher (where shipping is always free).

Labels: , ,

Protesting tax avoidance in the UK

At a time when the coalition government is proposing large-scale cuts in government spending and programs, a populist movement to plug tax loopholes is gaining strength.

UK Uncut targets Topshop and Vodafone over tax arrangements
With superglue and megaphones, pop-up protests forced several branches of Topshop and Vodafone around the country to close today on one of the busiest trading days of the year.

Campaigners staged a sit-in at Sir Philip Green's flagship London Topshop store, and in Brighton a few glued themselves to the branch windows, while other high streets in towns and cities across Britain saw similar protests in a day of action against the tax arrangements of rich individuals and big businesses.

Green, the Arcadia retail group tycoon, and other wealthy individuals and big businesses including Vodafone, Barclays and Boots are the focus of rising anger over the programme of government cuts that campaigners say could be avoided if tax dodging was stamped out, bringing in some £25bn a year to the public purse and making a sizeable dent in the national debt…

The billionaire Green, recently made an adviser on cuts by David Cameron, is under fire because his wife, Arcadia's direct owner, lives in the tax haven of Monaco.
The latest tax avoidance protests took place in Birmingham, Glasgow, York, Bristol, Manchester and Nottingham, under the banner of UK Uncut – a fast-growing movement that is gathering support via social networking sites…

Public and Commercial Services union general secretary Mark Serwotka said: "People are rightly angry that the government is targeting the most vulnerable in our society with massive cuts in spending, and yet it appears to be very relaxed about rich and powerful tax dodgers."

Topshop's flagship London store hit by tax protest
Campaigners against tax avoidance by big business forced Topshop's flagship store to close temporarily as they took action in 21 towns and cities…

Topshop boss Sir Philip Green's wife, the firm's direct owner, has been criticised for living in a tax haven...

Activist Benjamin Neem, 30, said: "Philip Green is a multi-billionaire tax avoider, and yet is regarded by David Cameron as an appropriate man to advise the government on austerity.

"His missing millions need to be reclaimed and invested into public services, not into his wife's bank account."…

Teaching Comparative blog entries are indexed.
The Fourth Edition of What You Need to Know is available at Amazon.com or from the publisher (where shipping is always free).

Labels: , ,

Thursday, December 09, 2010

With power comes unpopularity

The British coalition runs the government, but the opposition Labour Party is more popular.

Opposition Labour Extends Advantage Over Tories in Britain
The approval rating for David Cameron and Nick Clegg fell markedly since late October.

Two-in-five voters in Britain are ready to support the opposition Labour Party in the next general election, and the approval rating for the two main players in the Coalition Government took a noticeable drop, a new Angus Reid Public Opinion poll has found.

In the online survey of a representative sample of 2,004 British adults, 40 per cent of decided voters and leaners (+3 since late October) say they would support the Labour candidate in their constituency in the next General Election...
The approval rating for Prime Minister David Cameron stands at 44 per cent this month. Since the start of the Coalition Government in May, Cameron has dropped ten points in this indicator.

Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg’s approval rating fell to 36 per cent. In seven months, the disapproval rating for Clegg has doubled (from 26% in May to 53% in November).

One third of respondents (33%) approve of the way Ed Miliband is handling his job as Leader of the Opposition, while 37 per cent disapprove...

Teaching Comparative blog entries are indexed.

The Fourth Edition of What You Need to Know is available at Amazon.com or from the publisher (where shipping is always free).

Labels: , ,

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

Middle Class? Not!

Solomonsydelle writing on his blog Nigerian Curiosity is skeptical about calling Nigeria a middle class country. What does other data say about the economic status of Nigerians?

When the World Bank last classified countries along income lines in 2007, Nigeria was listed as a low income country. However, the latest classifications have now come out in the Migration And Remittances Factbook 2011, and Nigeria is now considered a middle income country.

I am happy to learn that Nigeria has moved from low-income to middle-income. While it suggests that more people are doing better financially, I find it hard to believe that this is indeed the case… The average Nigerian could not have moved up a category considering that many still do not have electricity, must travel on bad roads and remain burdened with 'leaders' who serve their pockets and not those of their constituents.

[T]he only people I know that are making more money are politicians and their friends. Many have gone from millionaires to multi-billionaires and their money is in shadowy, untraceable bank accounts around the globe. Unfortunately, that wealth does not impact Nigerians and given the country's track record, something tells me it never will...

Teaching Comparative blog entries are indexed.
The Fourth Edition of What You Need to Know is available at Amazon.com or from the publisher (where shipping is always free).

Labels: , , ,

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

What's a state to do?

One way of exploring the limits of the capacity of the state in Iran is to examine government responses to the sanctions imposed on the country.

Heavy pollution takes a toll on residents in Tehran
The Iranian capital is experiencing what officials say is the worst pollution in its history, prompting the government to shutter offices and consider placing air purifiers across the city as it seeks to combat the brown blanket of smog.

The weeks of heavy pollution are taking a serious toll on residents of Tehran. Hospitals are reporting a strong increase in patients with breathing problems. Government offices have been closed for three days over the past three weeks, and schools and universities have been shuttered for at least six days.

Tightly embraced by one of the highest mountain ranges in the Middle East and filled with millions of cars, Tehran has grappled for decades with air pollution. But this year, as the capital and other Iranian cities struggle with extreme pollution, many here are blaming a new, locally produced form of gasoline… "This fuel is our political ace [against the sanctions]," the Ayandeh Web site, which is critical of the government, said Monday. "But it is of low quality and polluting."…

The government has… proposed installing 100 air purifiers in the most polluted places in the city. But experts say the purifiers only work in secluded spaces and would be ineffective…

Despite the pollution crisis, the Iranian government has boasted in recent months that the country has started exporting the gasoline it is producing to neighboring countries. State television showed trucks crossing the border with Iraq to deliver the fuel...

Teaching Comparative blog entries are indexed.
The Fourth Edition of What You Need to Know is available at Amazon.com or from the publisher (where shipping is always free).

Labels: ,

Nigerian corruption spreads or just publicity spreads?

If you want good publicity for an anti-corruption campaign that hasn't gotten much, indict a former US Vice President.

Dick Cheney faces bribery scandal charges in Nigeria
Nigeria's anti-corruption agency is to charge former US Vice-President Dick Cheney over a bribery scandal that involves a former subsidiary of energy firm Halliburton.

The case centres on engineering firm KBR, which admitted bribing officials.

A lawyer for Mr Cheney said allegations he was involved in the scandal were "entirely baseless".

Mr Cheney was Halliburton's chief executive before becoming vice-president to George W Bush in 2001…

The bribes concerned the construction of a liquefied natural gas (LNG) plant in southern Nigeria.

KBR and Halliburton have now split, and Halliburton says it is not connected with the case against KBR.

Halliburton denies involvement in the allegations…

Teaching Comparative blog entries are indexed.
The Fourth Edition of What You Need to Know is available at Amazon.com or from the publisher (where shipping is always free).

Labels: ,

Tired of corruption? Then vote

Solomonsydelle argues in his blog, Nigerian Curiosity, for more political participation in his blog Nigerian Curiosity. Can it help? Or is the "fatigue" now part of the political culture?

There is no doubt that corruption is one of Nigeria's most challenging issues. This is because, corrupt practices are intricately woven into every one of Nigeria's problems. Kidnappings for instance, would not be as much of a scourge if many in the police force , who are charged with protecting citizens, did not take bribes to either protect kidnappers and/or did not demand bribes to help citizens retrieve their loved ones. Similarly, the electricity sector would not be in such demise if politicians and officials did not steal money meant to buttress power as revealed by the power probes of 2008… Consequently, it is no surprise that many Nigerians now experience corruption fatigue - whereby people still worry about corruption, but are simply exhausted by the sheer magnitude and impact of corruption on their daily existence. That exhaustion, in turn, disables the ability to be shocked and awed by recurring corruption scandals.

It is easy to see evidence of corruption fatigue. For instance, Transparency International released its 2010 Corruption Perception Index. In it, Nigeria slipped by three points from 2009's listing to become the 44th most corrupt country on the 2010 issue of the rankings. What would have previously generated significant discussion and debate over the country's anti-corruption stance was met with nothing more than a collective shrug…

Because Nigerians do not see the corrupt face 'the music', the belief that corruption pays grows. Apathy towards anti-corruption grows as well. That is to be expected especially as even when a corruption case comes to a successful conclusion in the court system… These constant examples of the failure of the 'system' to apportion blame and consequences to the corrupt only cements indifference. And the repercussions for this growing attitude will be severe.

In the short term, the inability of Nigerians to be excited and engaged in anti-corruption, limits the amount of public support that is necessary for anti-corruption to be successful…

With elections in 2011, Nigerians can themselves 'vote their hearts' and get rid of the incumbents that have used their positions to get rich and refuse to vote for aspirants that are well-known for their corrupt tendencies. The only way citizens can take charge of corruption is by decidedly removing the corrupt from office and sending a message to others that corrupt practices will not be tolerated. To do this, individuals must overcome corruption fatigue and participate in the polls. They must register to vote, show up to vote and not leave the polling station to ensure that touts and others do not manipulate the results. Once it becomes clear that citizens intend to tackle corruption, Nigeria may begin to see more responsible behavior from officials. And the days when the public coffers are raided by those meant to be serving the people will come to an end.

Teaching Comparative blog entries are indexed.
The Fourth Edition of What You Need to Know is available at Amazon.com or from the publisher (where shipping is always free).

Labels: , , ,

Monday, December 06, 2010

Too late for analysis?

When I actually do some research, I actually find useful and interesting things. Would you like your students to analyze last year's presidential election results in Iran? Would you like them to compare the 2009 results with those from 2005?

The Guardian (UK) does that, but it also has published all the raw data. You can present the data to your students and ask them to offer explanations for the changes between 2005 and 2009 and for the anomalies is the 2009 results.

The Iranian election results, by province
Includes a link to a .pdf map of results by province

Analysis: Iran election statistics muddy waters further
Amid a swirl of rumour, two alternative sets of statistics purporting to represent the reformist presidential candidate Mir Hossein Mousavi as the "true" winner of Iran's disputed presidential election have been circulating in Tehran.

Their authenticity is impossible to gauge. One set, attributed to an "informed source" in the interior ministry and appearing on Iranian opposition websites, shows Mousavi winning 21.3m votes, or 57.2% of the total – enough to give him outright victory without a second-round run-off…

Two US think tank analysts said today that the official results were consistent with an independent telephone poll they conducted three weeks before the vote, which showed Ahmadinejad leading by a two to one margin.

Ken Ballen, the president of Terror Free Tomorrow: The Center for Public Opinion, which studies attitudes toward extremism, and Patrick Doherty, of the New America Foundation, wrote in today's Washington Post: "While Western news reports from Tehran in the days leading up to the voting portrayed an Iranian public enthusiastic about Ahmadinejad's principal opponent, Mir Hossein Mousavi, our scientific sampling from across all 30 of Iran's provinces showed Ahmadinejad well ahead".

See also: Interactive: How Iran is Governed
Teaching Comparative blog entries are indexed.
The Fourth Edition of What You Need to Know is available at Amazon.com or from the publisher, where shipping is always free.

Labels: , ,

Friday, December 03, 2010

Supply and demand with Chinese characteristics

As described by Edward Wong in this New York Times report, supply and demand are at work in creating labor shortages in some parts of China. At least that's how it looks from one perspective. How will the government respond to market pressures?

Chinese Export Regions Face Labor Shortages
Two of China’s main export manufacturing areas are suffering from an acute shortage of migrant workers, giving laborers more leverage over wages and curtailing the expansion plans of some companies…

The regions most affected, both of them coastal, are the Pearl River Delta, in the southern province of Guangdong, and the Yangtze River Delta, near Shanghai…

[E]xperts... said that a combination of rising living costs along the coast and low wages had led to an increasing number of workers deciding to stay in the interior of China, where living costs are much lower.

Some companies have moved factories inland, to provinces where many workers have traditionally come from… Transportation costs for goods being shipped out of China are higher in those regions, but lower labor costs appear to help offset that in some cases…

The continuing labor shortage and wage pressure could eventually raise the costs of Chinese-made exports, which have been a main driver of China’s impressive economic growth...

Teaching Comparative blog entries are indexed.
The Fourth Edition of What You Need to Know is available at Amazon.com or from the publisher.

Labels: , , ,

Thursday, December 02, 2010

History, politics, economic development

The origins of the Chinese revolution were in the poorest parts of the country. Some of those areas are still among the poorest parts of the country. The Communist Party, at least symbolically, wants to address the inequalities and honor the revolution.

Top Chinese political advisor calls for economic progress in former revolutionary base areas
China's top political advisor Sunday called for the promotion of economic development in the country's former revolutionary base areas in remembrance of their "great contribution to the success of the Chinese revolution and the founding of the New China."

Jia Qinglin made the remarks at a conference… "The former revolutionary base areas were cradles of the Chinese revolution," said Jia, chairman of the National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC), the country's political advisory body.

"We must not forget these regions and their people," he said.

The areas, set up by the Communist Party of China during the Agrarian Revolutionary War (1927-1937) and the War of Resistance Against Japan (1937-1945), are spread over almost 1,400 counties and cities in 28 provinces, municipalities and autonomous regions...

Jia said the public should be mobilized to participate in the construction of these regions and "the revolutionary spirit should be carried on."

The China Society for Promoting Construction in Former Revolutionary Base Areas, mostly composed of retired cadres, generals and experts, was initiated by old revolutionaries in 1990. It is dedicated to serving for people living in these areas...

Teaching Comparative blog entries are indexed.
The Fourth Edition of What You Need to Know is available at Amazon.com or from the publisher (where shipping is always free).

Labels: , , ,

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

Some northerners unite to protect their interests

Zoning is an internal affair for the PDP in Nigeria, but it affects everyone. With President Jonathan's announcement that he'll run for office, northern politicians feared they could lose what they felt was their right to the presidency. Then there was the problem of competition to be the northern PDP candidate. So, it's come to accommodation. Maybe. This is a report on the actions of some northern politicians.

Atiku - The Making of the Northern Consensus Candidate
Former Vice President Atiku Abubakar finally emerged the consensus candidate of the Northern Political Leaders Forum (NPLF) on Monday…

It is doubtful whether the group had thought it was going to be as difficult as it turned out to be…

From indications, even though the choice has been made, the outcome may be complicated by yet another possibility that the Northern Governors' Forum may present their own choice since they were not part of the NPLF's arrangement…

The genesis of the zoning controversy is fairly known but the end is not. According to analysts, the energies that have fed and propelled the hunt for a Northern consensus candidate, was in the main, produced by the anxiety of some Northern elite to restore a firm hold on power in Nigeria after excusing itself from it for eight years…

Consequently, the insistence on zoning became a national controversy as people like… Finance Minister, Adamu Ciroma, who had been in power and knew its advantages were quick to rouse other members of the Northern oligarchy…

When it became clear that the sitting President would have a go at the presidency and could emerge victorious by virtue of incumbency, Ciroma and co, were believed to have felt called upon to protect the position of the elitist North which they belong…

Now that the battle for the PDP presidential ticket has become a straight fight between the North's consensus candidate and the sitting president, it appears that a historic party primary is about to take place in Nigeria, with both contenders having so much behind them. Will the outcome unite or destroy 'Africa's largest party'? Nigerians would know in January, 2011, when the PDP organises its primaries.

If there's disagreement, can there be consensus?
No consensus for the north, says Sambo
The Vice President, Namadi Sambo, on Thursday, said that the north has no consensus candidate for the 2011 elections.

Mr Sambo, speaking to journalists… said that the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has a constitution that is to be observed in the selection of presidential candidate. “Who said that there is a consensus candidate for the north?,” he said. “Who said so, because we are not aware of any northern consensus candidate. Our understanding differs but the north has no consensus candidate for this election for PDP.”

Explaining that the… campaign for a consensus candidate for the north is not recognized by the party, Mr Sambo said that the party’s constitution must be followed…

Teaching Comparative blog entries are indexed.
The Fourth Edition of What You Need to Know is available at Amazon.com or from the publisher.

Labels: , ,