The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has created history by crossing the 100-seat mark in the recently concluded state-assembly elections in Maharashtra, a state in western India. The BJP has single-handedly won 123 seats out of the 288 member-House. This is historic, as no party has been able to cross the mark since the early 1990s. In the 1990 state assembly polls, Congress had secured as many as 141 seats. Since then, no national or regional party had come anywhere near the 100-seat mark. Although the party is falling short of the 141-halfway mark (which is required to form a majority government in the House), the party’s victory is impressive considering the fragmented nature of Maharashtra’s party system.
Today sees the launch of a Specialist Group project that’s been over a year in the making. The plan, hatched by the Elections, Public Opinion and Parties specialist group, was to get elections and electoral behaviour researchers to each write a short, punchy essay on their area of expertise. The result is Sex, Lies, and the Ballot Box, which we have edited, which is launched tonight and published tomorrow.
It is not – absolutely, categorically not – an introductory textbook. There are plenty of such books on the market; indeed, several of our contributors have written such books. It isn’t a compendium or an atlas, but a series of thumbnail sketches, each introducing an aspect of elections and electoral behaviour.
By Wyn Rees
Conventional wisdom tells us that a re-elected American President has a two-year window of opportunity in which to carry through his agenda before becoming a ‘lame duck’. Obama approaches that halfway stage and mid-term elections are sounding the end of his incumbency. So how will history judge him on the issue of counter-terrorism, that defined his predecessor? George Bush’s presidency was marred by wrangles with his transatlantic allies over the ‘War on Terror’, by Guantanamo Bay and by issues such as ‘extraordinary rendition’. When Obama came into office he promised to overcome the issues that had poisoned transatlantic cooperation and Europe greeted his administration with relief, hopeful that he would transform the relationship.
I have made it. I can rest easy now, having appeared (if fleetingly, and anonymously) on Friday night’s edition of Have I Got News For.
I was the author of this quote about Ed Miliband’s performance in any TV election debates, which was read out to much amusement.
The thing is: this is (or was meant to be) a pro-Miliband point. It came from an interview I’d done with Channel 4 News earlier in the week, most of which focussed on the debates in 2010 (although none of that made the eventual broadcast), but which also discussed the role expectations play in these events. The point I was making is that Ed Miliband’s abilities are often under-estimated. This is the full quote (you can watch it in this package) is:
…people have such low expectations of Ed Miliband that when Ed Miliband comes on stage and doesn’t soil himself on camera and actually presents a very coherent and articulate case, because whatever else you think about him he is a very coherent articulate person, that he will out perform expectations.
Following our blog published on 10th February, which featured the ‘Go Home Van Campaign’ as ‘evidence’ of the deepening and expansion of the immigration enforcement regime, we have now conducted an empirical study with migrant support organizations, refused asylum seekers and those without legal leave to remain, generating their views on the impact of this high-profile campaign. Although it has been almost a year since the vans have been taken back to the garage, preliminary findings show that their presence continues to reverberate in the lives of many migrants. While the official withdrawal of these infamous mobile objects could have publicly marked the end of the campaign, many migrants have continued to experience violence and stigmatization in other forms and in different settings. In addition to the increasing community level checks and harassment of people suspected of having an irregular status, the migrants we interviewed cited reporting centres as hidden sites where people are consistently bombarded with the language of ‘Go Home’. Individuals are also being routinely searched and harassed, and having mobile phones with cameras being confiscated in order to ensure that what happens in these securely guarded places does not leak to the outside world.