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Category archive for: European Politics

Taking over schools is taking over the heart and minds of the next generation: The case of Hungary

Written by Ksenia Northmore-Ball.

Whoever, in a given society, controls the content of school textbooks is in the highly privileged position of shaping how the next generation of citizens views the world. As the American Pulitzer-winning journalist and historian, Frances FitzGerald has said, school textbooks “tell children what their elders want them to know.” School textbooks take a special position in that they command unquestioning authority. The younger the school children reading the books, the less equipped they are to question the content – in other words, school children are the ideal captive and impressionable audience. Any ambitious political leader, movement, or regime with a strong guiding world view will ultimately desire to influence and control the education system, particularly the content of school textbooks. In a liberal democracy, one hopes that a plurality of social and political actors can influence this content.

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Populist and Extreme Parties: To Ban or Not To Ban?

Written by Fernando Casal Bértoa and Angela Bourne.

Extreme, populist and anti-systemic parties are on the rise! Only this year elections in the Netherlands and Bulgaria and Germany returned excellent results for radical right parties (e.g. Party of FreedomAlternative for Germanyor Ataka). Even in usually quiet Liechtenstein The Independents (DU), a right-wing populist party, managed to obtain more than 18 percent of the votes. In France, Marine Le Pen came second in the presidential elections. Last Sunday the Freedom Party of Austria got more than 20 percent of the vote, and in countries like Greece or Slovakia support for neo-Nazi parties (i.e. Golden Dawn or People’s Party Our Slovakia) reach a notable 7 percent of the electorate.

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For the Catalan and Spanish government to negotiate, the EU must be involved

Written by Simon Toubeau. 

Unless the Catalan and Spanish immediately open channels of dialogue about the constitutional future of Catalonia, the scenes witnessed last Sunday may only be a mild precursor of things to come. But for this dialogue to take place, the EU must be actively involved.

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Red lines and compromises: public opinion on the Brexit negotiations

Written by Lindsay Richards and Anthony Heath.

The heated nature of the public discourse around Brexit suggests that the British public are not in a compromising mood, but is there evidence to back this up? We set out to discover what people think about the various aspects of the EU negotiations. Where are people more willing to compromise and what do they say are the ‘red lines’? Our results suggest there is more to see than the ‘two tribes’ politics of leave and remain.

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Euroscepticism during the debt crisis in Portugal and the mass media´s focus on national politics

Written by Britta Baumgarten and Vicente Valentim.

Portugal was one of the countries most affected by the European sovereign debt crisis. Following the external IMF/EU intervention on the country in 2011, the economic crisis and the current and future state of the European Union became a major theme in the public debate in the country.

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Socio-economic drivers of the 2016 Italian referendum vote

Written by Silvia Merler.

On December 4th 2016, Italy held a constitutional referendum in which almost 60% of the voters decided against a reform proposed by the government. The vote triggered the resignation of Prime Minister Renzi and opened a phase of political transition that will lead to new elections in 2018. In light of the elections ahead it is important to understand the factors driving this vote.

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From wannabe to president: how Emmanuel Macron beat Marine Le Pen to win the French election

Written by Paul Smith.

After a tense and often antagonistic election campaign, Emmanuel Macron is to become the next president of France. The result is, of course, in all sorts of ways extraordinary. In a little over a year, the 39-year-old former finance minister has gone from being a wannabe to the future tenant of the Elysée Palace. He struck out alone to form his own political movement and while much of the froth surrounding the election has focused on his opponent, the enormity of his achievement needs to be acknowledged and cannot be underestimated.

Even before the first round, all the polls had Macron pegged to win the second round 60/40. But then, between the rounds, Le Pen seemed to be nibbling away at Macron’s lead – not by much, but by enough to cause some butterflies among her opponents. Macron appeared lacklustre at a crucial time. Fears of a low turnout and Jean-Luc Mélenchon’s refusal to formally endorse Macron also threw a number of unknowns into the mix. Continue reading From wannabe to president: how Emmanuel Macron beat Marine Le Pen to win the French election

What’s Left of the Left?

Written by Simon Toubeau. 

The paradox of the contemporary European left is that while many of the burning issues defining political debates- growing economic inequality, employment precariousness, the sustainability of health spending or pension entitlements- are traditional left-wing concerns, Social Democratic parties seem incapable of credibly addressing them either in office or in opposition.

So, what’s left of the left? The origins of the paradox stems from the mis-match in the architecture of authority between democracy and capitalism, rendering the notion of democratic capitalism ever more hollow. This tension has compounded broader demographic and economic transformations to divide the electoral base of the left. In France, the UK, the USA and elsewhere- there is a split between those in favour of regulated openness and those in favour of nationalist closure. Continue reading What’s Left of the Left?

Macron and Le Pen to face off for French presidency – but she won’t be pleased with first round result

Written by Paul Smith.

In the end, the polls were right. Emmanuel Macron will go into the second round of the French presidential election against Marine Le Pen. For a while it seemed as though a dead heat were on the cards but, in the end, Macron took first place, with nearly 24%, ahead of Le Pen at just under 22%.

Republican candidate François Fillon and far-left contender Jean-Luc Mélenchon followed close behind, with Socialist Benoît Hamon trailing badly. Continue reading Macron and Le Pen to face off for French presidency – but she won’t be pleased with first round result