Archive for the ‘Democracy & Human Rights’ Category

7
Dec

Marion Marechal-Le Pen greets supporters (6 Dec)

The far-right National Front’s victory in the first round of French regional elections on Sunday will have an impact far beyond the composition of local governments and the shock it will have sent through the French political establishment.

In every single European capital, politicians will ponder the results and wonder how an anti-immigration, anti-European movement could become France’s first political party. They will also worry about what it means for Europe in a time of crisis — economic and existential.

The National Front may take over two, three or even more French regions after a second round of voting on December 13, but for many, the damage has been done.
1. Le Pen’s mainstream push pays off

Marine Le Pen, the National Front’s current leader and daughter of the party’s founder Jean-Marie, is reaping the rewards for her strategy of pulling the party away from the far-right fringes, ridding it of its extremist stigma, and courting the disenfranchised working class she says is being abandoned by the mainstream political parties of both right and left.

She stands a good chance of winning and then running the Nord-Pas-de-Calais region, an area more populous than 12 EU countries. Her personal victory, winning more than 40 percent of the popular vote in an industrial area that was historically a stronghold of the Communist and Socialist parties, shows how many voters have drifted away from the ruling left, after seven years of economic crisis.

Le Pen’s niece, Marion Maréchal-Le Pen, who is seen as more conservative than her aunt, notably on social issues, did even better in the Provence region. Other leading candidates also did better than expected, showing that the party has developed a grassroots following far beyond mere adhesion to Marine Le Pen herself. Read more…

12/7/15; http://www.politico.eu

18
Nov

Last month the IE Master in International Relations Academic Director and Professor, Daniel Kselman, travelled to Washington D.C. where he gave a Master Class on democracy, prosperity, and economic growth, showing the interconnection between each as well as the practical importance in modern societies.

Professor Kselman showed this through real life examples charting the relationship between political freedom at the national level and its link with economic performance, indicating pluralism as the key factor. He then looked at how policy makers can use this information going forward when looking to create more open and democratic societies.

While professor Kselman did make note to point out the positive implications of this research, he also cautioned that governments and international funding arms such as the IMF and the World Bank should be careful of how and more importantly to whom they allocate their resources, posturing that pluralism should be their main indicator when faced with these decisions.

The event was preceded by admissions events related to IE´s Master in International Relations program and was followed by a networking cocktail with interested students, alumni, and professors.

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13
Nov

A new era in Myanmar

Written on November 13, 2015 by Waya Quiviger in Asia, Democracy & Human Rights

FOR once the headline of the Global New Light of Myanmar, the rag that churns out the paranoid delusions of Myanmar’s ruling generals, told the real story: “Dawn of a New Era”. Even before a final result is declared, it is plain that the National League for Democracy (NLD), led by Aung San Suu Kyi, a Nobel peace-prize winner, has won by a landslide in Myanmar’s first free, but far from fair, election in 25 years.

The NLD seems likely to have won enough seats to secure a majority—even with a quarter of the parliamentary seats reserved for the army. That is a remarkable victory for Miss Suu Kyi, a vindication of her policy of compromise with the generals and a repudiation of decades of military rule (see article). One of Asia’s most isolated and brutal dictatorships may thus be setting a democratic example to an ever more autocratic neighbourhood: in recent years Thailand has suffered a military coup (again), China and Vietnam have been locking up more dissenters and bloggers than ever and Malaysia’s government has clung to power only through rigged elections.

Amid the euphoria though, there is a nagging fear that Myanmar’s generals will seek to frustrate the people’s will. The early signs are that they will not do so blatantly, as they did when they ignored Miss Suu Kyi’s last general-election success in 1990. But apart from their parliamentary block, the generals retain control of the army, police and key ministries as well as much of the civil service. The army-inspired constitution ensures that Miss Suu Kyi cannot become president. Read more…

Published on Nov. 13 in the Economist

 

21
Oct

Is the China Model Better Than Democracy?

Written on October 21, 2015 by Waya Quiviger in Asia, Democracy & Human Rights

Is the China Model Better Than Democracy?

On Oct. 15, Daniel A. Bell, the author of The China Model: Political Meritocracy and the Limits of Democracy, sat on a panel hosted by Asia Society’s China File Presents series. The event, co-hosted by the New York Review of Books, also included panelists Timothy Garton Ash, Zhang Taisu, Andrew Nathan, and others, who discussed with Bell the question his book addresses — does China have an identifiable political model, and if so, what is it? The following ChinaFile conversation includes excerpts, edited for clarity, of that discussion.

Daniel A. Bell, chair professor of the Schwarzman Scholars program at Tsinghua University in Beijing and director of the Berggruen Philosophy and Culture Center:

For much of Chinese imperial history, public officials were selected first by examination and then by performance evaluations at lower levels of government. The fascinating thing is that this system has been reestablished in form over the past 30 years in China — highly imperfectly, as we’ll see. When this idea hit me, I began writing op-eds, and I was severely criticized by my liberal friends and my Confucian friends who asked, “What’s happened to this guy? He’s become a staunch defender of the government.” But that’s not what I mean.

I call my method contextual political theory: the idea that a political theorist should aim to make coherent and rationally defensible the leading political ideals of a society. I happen to find myself in China, so what are the leading political ideals of Chinese society? I label it “vertical democratic meritocracy,” the ideal that has informed political reform in China over the past 30 years. But there is still a huge gap between the ideal and the practice. This ideal is good, at least reasonably good, and can and should continue to inspire political reform in China in the foreseeable future.

What is this idea of “vertical democratic meritocracy”? This is the idea that democracy works well at lower levels of government. This is a view that Western political theorists have argued, starting with Aristotle, Montesquieu, and Rousseau. If you have a small political community the issues are fairly easy to understand, and you know the moral character of the leaders you’re choosing, thus making a strong case for democracy at the lower level. But, in a huge country, as you go up the political chain of command, the issues become more complex and mistakes become more costly. Read more…

 

By Daniel A. Bell, Timothy Garton Ash, Andrew J. Nathan, Taisu Zhang; October 19, 2015; http://foreignpolicy.com

 

 

28
Sep

Defeat and victory

Written on September 28, 2015 by Waya Quiviger in Democracy & Human Rights, Europe, Op Ed

No one can ignore this result. Everyone, including the government, must react. The elections held in Catalonia on Sunday night were incredibly significant. Despite the confusion over the character of the vote – was it a plebiscite or an election – and despite the poor quality of the debate during the campaign, the voter turnout was extraordinary, setting a historic record for regional elections of this kind.

In effect, the turnout not only exceeded that of the 2012 polls, but all of those that came before. What’s more, the number of voters rose in all areas, whether urban or rural. As such, the September 27 polls should bring about great consequences.

But what are those consequences? The outgoing regional premier, Artur Mas, positioned the vote as a plebiscite on the future of the region. “We want a plebiscite and that is what we will have,” he said at the close of the campaign. Meanwhile, Antonio Baños, the leader of the CUP party, a radical pro-independence group, stated before the polls that the pro-secession forces would need to win at least “50% of the votes, because these elections are a plebiscite.

As EL PAÍS pointed out before the elections were held, the desired character of a plebiscite on independence was deceptive, given the nature of the elections – people were voting for parties, not a single question – and due to the lack of a legal framework.

With nearly 100% of the votes counted, the pro-secession parties did not reach half of the votes cast. But it is clear that the Catalan citizens have revealed themselves to be severely fractured into two blocs. The plebiscite on independence that the pro-independence groups wanted has been lost. This is a fundamental factor, in particular in an international context – especially when in other countries voting on similar questions an ample majority is usually required (Montenegro, Quebec, for example). Read more…

 

Published on 28/09 in elpais.com

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