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2015: the year in elections

The following short articles come from academics with the School of Politics and International Relations (SPIR) and discuss the 2015 elections in Nigeria and Poland.  These blog posts form part of a wider series from The Conversation that discussed all major elections that year.

Nigeria: matters of urgency

Written by Catherine Gegout.

When Muhammadu Buhari was elected president of Nigeria in March, he certainly had his work cut out. Nigeria’s economy badly needs to be diversified; petroleum exports revenue represents more than 90% of total export revenue, even as only half of all Nigerians have access to electricity. Education is in a dismal state, especially in the north, where only 6% of children have primary education.

There have already been some promising moves. Buhari has renewed Nigeria’s beleagured fight against corruption, including oil corruption and both he and his deputy took a symbolic pay cut. He must now start honouring his promise to improve gender representation in politics. Currently, only 16% of cabinet members are women, and only 6% of senators and members of the House of Representatives.

Then there’s the fight against Boko Haram. Approximately 1,500 people have been killed since June 2015, there is the serious prospect of true co-operation between the group and Islamic State and the group is still targeting the north’s few schools.

Poland: right turn

Written by Simona Guerra and Fernando Casal Bértoa.

Even though Poland has low levels of unemployment and inflation and an overall positive macro-economic outlook, its people still threw out the incumbent Civic Platform party president in favour of the opposition Law and Justice (PiS) candidate. A socially conservative party, PiS doubled down on its success in October’s legislative polls, when it won in almost all regions and across different demographics.

Since then, PiS has been on a tear, not least with some rather sobering appointments. Controversial nationalist Antoni Macierewicz is still minister of defence despite allegations of explicit anti-semitism, while Zbigniew Ziobro became minister of justice despite having already been in the spotlight after a number of politicised prosecutions.

The party also holds serious sway over the Polish Constitutional Court, which has sole authority to declare laws unconstitutional – and because of impending retirements and amendments, PiS is moving forward the controversial debates on the court’s future. As Poland becomes more Eurosceptic, more protective of Polish interests and more disinclined to accept refugees, PiS now has a chance to implement its own distinctive version of law and justice.

Catherine Gegout is a Lecturer in International Relations at the University of Nottingham. Fernando Casal Bértoa is a Research Fellow at the University of Nottingham.  is a Lecturer in Politics at the University of Leicester. These articles were first published on The Conversation and can be found here. Image credit: Wikipedia Commons.

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