Skip to content

Category archive for: International Politics

Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf in International Relations?


Written by Vanessa Pupavac.

Martha:            Truth or illusion, George; you don’t know the difference.
George:           No, but we must carry on as though we did.

                                                Edward Albee’s Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?

Edward Albee’s Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? opened on 13 October 1962 under the shadow of the Cuban missile crisis and its literary interpretation has been shaped by the threat of nuclear war. I saw Albee’s play at the National Theatre in 1981, the start of the decade which witnessed the Cold War reignited politically and the threat of nuclear war renewed. The play had not been performed in London for a generation, but the film version starring Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor had maintained its appeal. Continue reading Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf in International Relations?

Young people are detached from politics – schools can be the solution

Written by Anja Neundorf and Kaat Smets.

Young people have been turned off politics. Only four out of ten 18- to 24-year-olds made it to the ballot box in the last four general UK elections. In the last 20 years, the turnout gapbetween young and older voters has doubled from about 10 to 20 percentage points.

Many political, media and academic commentators have tried to understand why today’s youth seems more and more detached from public life – and what can be done to get them back in. Drawing on our recent study looking at children’s political engagement in Belgium, we found a simple answer: young people need to be taught more about politics in school. Continue reading Young people are detached from politics – schools can be the solution

Super Tuesday: Clinton and Trump lift off as rivals straggle behind

Written by Todd Landman.

The results of “Super Tuesday”, when a clutch of US states voted to choose the two parties’ nominees, have seriously ironed out both the Republican and Democratic primary campaigns. Both Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton scored major gains, and their rivals are now fully on the ropes. It may be that the campaigns are finally stabilising after a truly wild start to the primaries.

Donald Trump has bounced back remarkably from his loss in Iowa. He went into Super Tuesday having won New Hampshire, Nevada, and South Carolina; he’s also seen off experienced Republican candidates including onetime frontrunner Jeb Bush and New Jersey Governor Chris Christie – who has made the shocking move of endorsing Trump, to widespread disgust. Continue reading Super Tuesday: Clinton and Trump lift off as rivals straggle behind

The cost of caste in India’s universities

Written by Diego Maiorano.

Last week I was supposed to give a couple of lectures at the University of Hyderabad, India. However, the students there – some of whom are on ‘indefinite’ hunger strike – had locked most university buildings and were not in the mood to let normal academic activity to be restored.

A few days before, on 17 January 2016, Rohith Vemula, a Ph.D. student, had hanged himself to the ceiling of one of his friends’ room, sparking off the students’ protest. In India, between 2007 and 2013, 25 students ended their lives on campus; 23 of them were Dalits (former untouchable castes) like Rohith himself. Indeed, his caste identity – which relegated him at the very bottom of India’s social order – is what brought him to kill himself. “The value of a man was reduced to his immediate identity”, Rohith wrote in a very poetic suicide note. A few weeks before, in a letter to the Vice Chancellor, Prof. P. Appa Rao, Rohith had suggested to equip all Dalits students’ rooms with “a nice rope” and to provide them with poison “at the time of admission itself”. Continue reading The cost of caste in India’s universities

Europe wades into debate over Poland’s constitutional crisis

Written by Fernando Casal Bértoa and Simona Guerra.

Poland’s prime minister Beata Szydło recently found herself summoned to the European Parliament in Strasbourg to defend her government over accusations that its commitment to democratic values is on the slide.

This was an unprecedented meeting. The parliament had called a debate under the auspices of a law introduced in March 2014, giving it the right to question a national government if it thinks a systemic threat to democracy is about to take place in a European country.

In Poland’s case, concerns were raised over government plans to limit the power of the national constitutional court, and change the way the media is governed and civil servants hired. Continue reading Europe wades into debate over Poland’s constitutional crisis

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

Paul Ryan just accepted the worst job in American politics

Written by Anthony J Gaughan.

Republicans voted overwhelmingly to make Paul Ryan the new speaker of the House of Representatives last week, but the Wisconsin congressman has no reason to celebrate. He just got the worst job in American politics.

In theory, the House speaker is an immensely powerful office. Among other things, the House speaker controls when and whether legislation gets voted on.

But since the late 1980s, the job of House speaker has been a career killer for most of the people who have held the position.

And today the job is harder than ever. Continue reading Paul Ryan just accepted the worst job in American politics

Going negative in Germany – but why and with which effects?

Written by Jürgen Maier.

Most scholars agree that in many countries there is a high amount of negative messages in political elites’ campaign communication. Moreover, some experts even find a steady increase of negative campaigning. But why do candidates opt (more and more) for attacks instead of sending positive campaign messages? And do such negative campaign strategies really work?

Although there are a vast number of studies on negative campaigning, both questions have not been fully answered yet. On the one hand, there is a serious lack of research on negativity outside the United States. Because society, politics, and the media in the U.S. are very different from European countries, it might be inappropriate to simply transfer our knowledge about negativity from one culture to another without prior verification. On the other hand, research on negative campaigning is basically research on campaign advertising. No matter if we look at the United States or at other countries, there is remarkably little evidence on the use and the impact of attacks in other campaign messages. Continue reading Going negative in Germany – but why and with which effects?

The Necessity of Negativity

Written by David Redlawsk and Kyle Mattes.

Finally, as regards the Roman masses, be sure to put on a good show. . . It also wouldn’t hurt to remind them of what scoundrels your opponents are and to smear these men at every opportunity with the crimes, sexual scandals, and corruption they have brought on themselves.

—Purported to be from Quintus Cicero to his brother Marcus, advising him on his campaign for Roman Consul, 64BCE

How do you feel about negative campaigning? If you’re like most Americans, you probably don’t feel so good about it. Americans (and others, we suspect) readily tell pollsters that they are negative about negativity. Polling in the 1990s and early 2000s consistently reported such results: for example, 61% were “very much” bothered by negative campaigning, and 60% claimed negative ads make people feel less like voting. The polling consensus was so clear that few pollsters even bother asking about negativity any more. We just know voters hate it. Continue reading The Necessity of Negativity

What are the UN sustainable development goals?

Written by Asghar Zaidi.

At the end of one of the largest summits at the United Nations headquarters in New York, government representatives from all over the world will sign a commitment to new global development goals. These will replace the millennium development goals, setting objectives for bringing peace and prosperity, and reducing the impact of climate change.

UN member states have agreed on a list of 17 broad goals and 169 more specific targets. These goals are not legally binding but they will be important. They are aimed at eradicating hunger and poverty, while at the same time promoting peace, prosperity, health and education and combating climate change.

The SDGs come into effect at the end of 2015, following the completion of the millennium development goals (MDGs), and cover the period 2016-2030. Unlike the MDGs, which were aimed largely at poorer countries, the SDGs are designed to be universal. The idea is to involve the whole world in taking responsibility for development. Continue reading What are the UN sustainable development goals?