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Category archive for: EU

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. Continue reading 2015: the year in elections

All I want for Christmas… is a democratic political culture in Hungary

Written by Fanni Toth.

It is that time of the year again. People rushing by with endless shopping bags hanging from their hands, Christmas music blasting in the shops, fairy lights decorating every street in sight. ‘Tis the season to be jolly, the season for love and peace on Earth. Well, maybe not everywhere on Earth; in Hungary, this Christmas the sounds of jingle bells are being drowned out by a cacophony of angry voices, shouting insults on each side, arguing – perhaps rather surprisingly for most of the Western world – about the place of women in society. Continue reading All I want for Christmas… is a democratic political culture in Hungary

What actually happens if Britain leaves the EU?

Written by Christopher Grey.

Europe is always a heated topic at a Conservative party conference. This year much debate has focused on David Cameron’s ongoing renegotiation of terms for staying in. By contrast, relatively little has been said about the terms on which Brexit might happen. Those advocating it oscillate between – and often treat as interchangeable – quite different and incompatible scenarios.

The truth is that anyone who works for, or consumes the products of any organisation – in other words everyone – would be affected by a UK exit from the European Union. As someone who studies organisations for a living, I believe that it is strongly in Britain’s interests to remain in; it is why I am a member of the European Movement. Now, you may disagree with that view, but it is surely vital that when it comes to the Brexit referendum, voters know what happens next if Britain chooses to leave. Continue reading What actually happens if Britain leaves the EU?

Can the EU keep the peace in Europe? Not a chance

Written by Chris Bickerton.

The European Union won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2012 because of its “six decade-long contribution to peace and human rights in Europe”. In 2015, as the UK gears up towards its referendum on EU membership, we hear very often that the EU played a key role in building peace after World War II. For all its faults, the argument goes, the European Union is the best peace project Europe has.

There are three reasons why this is wrong. The first is that European integration contributed very little to the building of peace in post-war Europe. The second is that the EU’s record in keeping the peace on its external borders is poor. The third is that the Euro has aggravated conflicts between the members of the Eurozone: between north and south, creditor and debtor, exporter and importer. Continue reading Can the EU keep the peace in Europe? Not a chance

How Poland’s political landscape was redrawn overnight

Written by Fernando Casal Bértoa and Simona Guerra.

With the results of Poland’s parliamentary election finally in, the Law and Justice (PiS), the nationalist conservative Eurosceptic party of the notorious Kaczyński twins, has won with 37.6% of the vote. It was trailed by the incumbent market-liberal and socially conservative Civic Platform (PO), which managed only a very weak 24.1%.

There was some good news for Poland’s three smaller parties. Two of them are new: the populist Kukiz’15, led by former presidential candidate and rock-star Paweł Kukiz, which won 39 seats in the 460-member lower house; and Modern (.N), a pro-market and socially liberal party founded just five months before the vote by economist Ryszard Petru, which won 31 seats.

Then, with 5.13% of the vote, there’s the agrarian Polish People’s Party (PSL), currently the junior party in the losing PO-led coalition and the only party to have sat in every single Polish parliament since 1991. The German Minority is expected to have secured two seats. Continue reading How Poland’s political landscape was redrawn overnight

Explaining Cameron’s Confrontational Approach to EU Reform

Written by Nathan Jones.

In his speech to the Conservative Party conference on 7 October 2015, David Cameron described the UK’s role in Europe thus, ‘We don’t duck fights.  We get stuck in.  We fix problems.  That’s how we kept our border checkpoints when others decided to take theirs down.  It’s how we kept the pound when others went head first into the Euro.  Because we do things our way.  We get rebates. We get out of bailouts … Britain is not interested in “ever closer union” – and I will put that right’.  By contrast, in a joint speech to the European Parliament on the same day, the leaders of France and Germany, Angela Merkel and François Hollande, outlined their vision for an ever closer union, using the immigration issue to justify their case.  Merkel pointed out that, ‘In the refugee crisis, we must not succumb to the temptation of falling back into national action. Quite the contrary, now we need more Europe’.  Hollande argued that ‘We need not less Europe but more Europe. Europe must affirm itself otherwise we will see the end of Europe, our demise’.  Both leaders also emphasised the need for a more integrated eurozone to strengthen Europe’s power. Continue reading Explaining Cameron’s Confrontational Approach to EU Reform

European Better Regulation between Populism and Technocracy

Written by Francesco Stolfi

To what extent do policies decided at the European Union (EU) level actually get implemented by its member states? This fundamental question is not easy to answer. In fact, most work in the vast literature on the implementation of EU policies confines itself to studying the degree of formal transposition of EU legislation. In our  recent article in Comparative European Politics, The implementation of administrative burden reduction policy: Mechanisms and contexts in the study of Europeanization,  Fabrizio Di Mascio, Alessandro Natalini and I go a step further, analysing the extent of change in the behaviour of domestic actors and in actual policy outcomes resulting from the EU initiatives for better regulation (reducing the regulatory burden on citizens and firms) between 2007 and 2014. The article focuses on the four largest continental member states (France, Germany, Italy and Spain).

Continue reading European Better Regulation between Populism and Technocracy

Europe and the Disaggregation of Cyberspace

By Ignas Kalpokas

‘Cyberspace’ has, for the most part, been one of those terms that are constantly used and yet difficult to define. However, one attribute is commonly held to be unquestionable: its indivisibility. As the argument goes, there is only one cyberspace that transcends state borders and regional specificities, thus bringing the world closer together and challenging traditional power relations. It is also seen as a fundamentally decentralised environment that is impossible to control. However, that is not necessarily what the future holds, and Europe might be teaching the world how to carve out its own distinct piece of cyberspace.

Cyberspace itself has acquired quite a few connotations: it is a source of information, a medium of self-expression, a tool for empowerment of groups that would not otherwise be heard, a work tool and contributor to employment through the growth it generates, a marketplace used for commercial activities of every kind, etc. Moreover, access to it is often even considered to be a new fundamental human right. Hence, cyberspace is global by both design and usage. Given this context, it is difficult to imagine anything but a single universal cyberspace. However, an important distinction needs to be made: between cyberspace, the Internet, and the physical layer. The latter refers to the infrastructure required for the signals to travel and reach the intended destination, the Internet is the medium of communication, while cyberspace is the experience enabled by the Internet. Not all of those elements are likely to change in the same manner (or to change at all). In fact, both the Internet and the physical component underpinning it are likely to remain as they are, i.e. global. But cyberspace as experience is going to change.

Continue reading Europe and the Disaggregation of Cyberspace

Party Systems and Governments Observatory: A New Research Tool

By Fernando Casal Bértoa

Have you ever wondered who governs the countries of Europe? Would you like to know who governed your country more than a century ago? Are you not sure about the partisan affiliation of ministers in your neighboring states? Are you interested in discovering how has the (economic and financial) crisis affected the composition of European governments and party systems?

Now a quick answer to all these questions, and more, is possible thanks to a new research project at the University of Nottingham: namely, the Party Systems and Governments Observatory (PSGo), a new research interactive tool (whogoverns.eu)[1] where data on government formation and party system institutionalization in 48 European democratic states since 1848 can be found. European indicates those countries stretching from the Atlantic to the Urals. Democratic refers to those countries displaying (1) a score of 6 or higher in the Polity IV index, (2) universal suffrage elections (including universal male suffrage only, when historically appropriate), and (3) governments formed and/or relying on a parliamentary majority, rather than on the exclusive will of the head of state. States includes those countries recognized by either the United Nations or the Council of Nations.[2]

Continue reading Party Systems and Governments Observatory: A New Research Tool

The Greek government, EU policy constraints, and the tension between responsiveness and responsibility

By Kyriaki Nanou

In January 2015, after failure to agree on the nomination of a president, national elections were held in Greece – a country at the eye of the storm of the Eurozone crisis. The main opponents were New Democracy, the main party in the governing coalition arguing in favour of the necessity of the memorandum agreements and the continuation of the reforms as part of the external support package; and, on the other side, SYRIZA, arguing that there is a different way for Greece to exit the crisis – involving renegotiation of the the terms of the bailout agreements and not undertaking all of the reform measures. Together with its governing partners, New Democracy stressed ‘responsibility’ and argued that Greece had no other way out of this crisis but to implement all of the austerity measures, which it argued had already improved the state of the economy, and to satisfy external creditors and EU partners. Their campaign was focused on a rightist agenda underlying the dangers of deviating from the implementation of the painful reforms, which had the potential of upsetting the creditors, stopping the transfer of further payments and leading to a potential ‘Grexit’ from the euro. On the other hand, SYRIZA emphasised ‘responsiveness’ and argued that politicians should listen to the needs and concerns of Greek people, who were disillusioned with austerity politics. It had a leftist agenda that aimed to provide hope to the Greek electorate by promising measures that would ease the burden of austerity – by either not implementing planned reforms or by changing or reversing some of the reforms implemented by the previous government.

Continue reading The Greek government, EU policy constraints, and the tension between responsiveness and responsibility