Skip to content

Month: November 2015

Why the Sinai Peninsula is so dangerous – and why the rest of us should care

Written by Julie M. Norman.

While the cause of the Russian airliner crash in Egypt remains unknown, the incident has re-focused the world’s attention on the Sinai Peninsula – site of a number of popular tourist resorts, and host to a long-running security crisis with regional and international implications that cannot be ignored.

Unrest in the Sinai is nothing new. During the political and civil unrest that followed Egypt’s revolution in 2011, the Sinai Peninsula became a base for militant activity. Armed groups took advantage of the security vacuum there, using weapons smuggled from Libya to begin enforcing their jihadist ideology. Insurgent activity further intensified in 2013 after a military coup ousted President Mohamed Morsi and the subsequent crackdown on Islamists by the current Egyptian president, Abdel Fattah al-Sisi.

But even though the Sinai crisis has been underway for years, the rest of the world has only really begun to pay attention in the last year or so.

Negative campaigning in Turkey

Written by Emre Toros.

The highly competitive and rapidly changing scenery of electoral activity throughout the world seems to be more chaotic than ever. In different contexts, political actors test various tools in order to influence the voter preferences. Operating in this diverse environment, these actors still have to decide on one common and crucial aspect of their electoral campaigns: whether to prioritise their own assets or draw attention to the weaknesses of their rivals. This decisive choice is conceptualised under the categories of positive and negative campaigning. Recently, the latter, namely the negative campaigning, attracted an increased attention both from academic and non-academic circles.  In that sense, Turkey seems to be an interesting case. The Turkish Republic has been a multiparty democracy since the mid-1940s and although it has been interrupted by three military coups, the party and election system in Turkey has brought real alternations in the government from the very early years of the multiparty system.

Remember, remember…it’s about counter-terrorism

Written by Louise Kettle.

Every year, on 5th November, the British celebrate Guy Fawkes Night. Local communities hold bonfires, place a “Guy” effigy on top and set off a spectacular array of fireworks. But what is all about?

The tradition dates back to a Parliamentary Act passed in 1606 (the Observance of 5th November 1605 Act) which called for an annual celebration and thanksgiving. The event was introduced to commemorate the successful thwarting of a terrorist attack against King James I of England and IV of Scotland – perhaps the most famous counter-terrorist operation in British history.

The year before, on 5th November 1605, a group of English Catholics had attempted to assassinate the King by blowing up the House of Lords at the state opening of Parliament. The objective was to remove King James, a Protestant, from the throne in order that he would be succeeded by his daughter Princess Elizabeth, a Catholic.

Negative campaigning in Austria: Abundant, colorful and ingenious

Written by Marcelo Jenny and Martin Haselmayer.

Systematic empirical research on negative campaigning in Austria has focused on the past decade (Dolezal et al. 2015). It has demonstrated that a lot of unfriendly rhetorical sniping is exchanged not only across the government – opposition divide, but also between coalition partners, especially in SPÖ-ÖVP coalitions. Figure 1, which is based on party press releases, shows that the two largest Austrian parties traded a lot of negative messages during the last four national election campaigns, no matter whether they were in government together (2008, 2013) or not (2002, 2006).

Screen Shot 2015-11-04 at 09.04.09

Why Indonesia can’t stamp out fires that have cast a haze over South-East Asia

Written by Scott Edwards.

The South-East Asian haze crisis has made Indonesia very unpopular with its neighbours. Yet its government can’t do much about it. Local elites, who call the shots in the forested regions, don’t want to tackle the crisis – and they’re able to stand up to national leaders in Jakarta.

The haze is caused by man-made forest fires, mostly on the Indonesian islands of Sumatra and Kalimantan, often started to clear land for palm oil plantations. It’s an annual event, though this year El Niño has meant drier conditions and thus particularly bad haze – the worst since 1997.

During a major haze year, smoky air can harm the health of an estimated 75m people. It has been estimated that the fires will cost the Indonesian government $47 billion – and Singaporean and Malaysia’s will also be affected, thanks to airport and business closures and increased healthcare costs.

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.

Turkey election: Erdogan and the AKP get majority back amid climate of violence and fear

Written by Bahar Baser and Ahmet Erdi Öztürk.

Turkey’s president, Recep Tayip Erdoğan, appears to have strengthened his grip on the country after the Justice and Development Party (AKP) won an outright majority in a snap election just five months after an inconclusive poll. It is a result that will shock and frighten many in the country.

Unofficial preliminary results, appeared to give the AKP 49.3%, followed by the centre-left Republican People’s Party (CHP) on 25.7%, the far-right Nationalist Action Party (MHP) on 12.1% and the pro-Kurdish left-wing Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) on 10.5%. The AKP is predicted to take 312 seats in the 550-seat parliament, the CHP 135 seats, the HDP 60 and the MHP 43.

This result is a big surprise, since pre-election polls forecast a result not much different from that of the June election – and it undoubtedly owes a lot to the toxic atmosphere in which the election was held.

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.