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Month: February 2016

Democratic Dysfunction in the Philippines: “Pateros ” as a Microcosm

Written by Ernie R. Gonzales.

Democracy run by patriotic democrats empowers the masses whom they represent, and facilitates the attainment of genuine justice, freedom, peace and progress.  But kept in the hands of Kleptocrats, democracy becomes dysfunctional and pushes society into the depths of poverty, hunger and modern slavery. Social life becomes locked into systemic graft and corruption. This undermines both the polity and the integrity of human habitats and ecological systems.  The system of representative democracy is damaged and the system of statesmanship is killed literally.  In this dysfunctional democracy the government itself becomes the oppressor of the very people that it  should serve and govern.

Caste protests in Delhi spring from deep economic distress

Written by Diego Maiorano.

After days of stalemate, the Indian army has taken control of the water supply to the capital New Delhi. The canal had been damaged by protesters from the Jat caste, who are demanding they be added to the list of castes eligible for reserved government jobs.

So far, 19 people are confirmed to have died in the protests. Freight trains and buses were set on fire, as were at least seven railway stations, and hundreds of people had to flee their homes.

These shocking protests have come from a seemingly unlikely source. The Jats of north India are traditionally a farming community. In the state of Haryana, where the protests are concentrated, Jats are the dominant landowning caste. Since independence, they have been able to use their dominance over the ownership of land to wield influence in politics and other sectors of the economy; today, they are without doubt the single most powerful community in the state.

Sovereignty is Illusory! The UK should embrace its power-sharing experience at home to engage with the EU

Written by Simon Toubeau and Jo Eric Khushal Murkens.

A fascination with control

David Cameron returned from Brussels last Friday with the most politically feasible deal for the re-negotiation of Britain’s terms of membership in the EU. The outcome is a far cry from the ambitious set of reforms he laid out in his Bloomberg speech of 2013. But, nevertheless, having secured a special status in the economic governance of the EU, an “emergency brake” and a temporary four year suspension on the in-work benefits of EU migrant, he feels confident that the UK now has the best of both worlds: the access, affluence and security of membership are now balanced by greater national control. Control over borders, control over policy, control over the future evolution of the EU. And this allows him to recommend to the British people that they should vote to remain ‘in’.

Voters are sceptical about Europe, but that doesn’t mean they’ll vote for Brexit

Written by John Curtice.

After all the haggling around the dinner table in Brussels, voters in Britain will now have to make their big choice. In a referendum to be held on June 23, they will either have to say they want to stay in the European Union on David Cameron’s renegotiated terms or indicate that they would prefer to leave.

For many voters this will not be an easy choice. New research based on NatCen’s latest British Social Attitudes survey reveals that scepticism about the EU is widespread. Yet at the same time, many are not sure about the wisdom of actually pulling out.

Philippines 2016: Democracy for the Bobotante

Written by Carmina Yu Untalan.

Spend just 30 minutes reading commentaries on Philippine presidential elections online, and there is a 99 percent chance that you will come across the word bobotante. You may guess that it is a derogatory term from the context in which it appears: we have four candidates and each have weaknesses: Mar Roxas, member of one of the country’s oldest dynasties; Jejomar Binay, the incumbent vice president being tried for graft and corruption; Rodrigo Duterte, an iron fist with a dirty tongue; and, Grace Poe, a novice facing disqualification due to her ‘dual’ citizenship. But what is spectacular about this election discourse is that we not only see commentaries lambasting the candidates but also their supporters in public space. Bobotante and its “derivatives” are the choice words to strike the ultimate affront to the other.

Introducing a new Nottingham project on the legacy of dictatorships

Written by Anja Neundorf.

Dr. Anja Neundorf from the School of Politics and International Relations started working on a new project that is funded by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) Secondary Data Analysis Initative. This project will study the legacy of past authoritarian regimes on its citizens’ political attitudes today. Here we are talking with Dr. Neundorf about this new research project.

Philippines 2016: We Need to Talk About Manny

Written by Pauline Eadie.

Political aspirants in the Philippines routinely trot out religious piety, devotion to family and humble origins as mechanisms to appeal to the masses. These humble origins often turn out to be somewhat exaggerated as in the case of Manny Villar.  If a claim to humble origins is simply not credible then a love of or affinity with the poor will do. This worked well in the case of former President, and now Mayor of Manila, Joseph Estrada who capitalized on his former career as a movie star where he often played the role of defender of the poor.

However one man whose humble origins cannot be disputed is Manny Pacquiao. Pacquiao was born in Mindanao in 1978 and dropped out of school aged 12 to support his mother and siblings after his father left the family home for another woman. In due course he travelled the 500 miles to Manila as a stowaway on a boat. Once there he moved from manual labour and living on the streets to professional boxing. Pacquiao went on to win ten different world titles in eight different weight divisions. Manny Pacquaio is the stuff of legends. It is reported that when he fights there is virtually no crime in the Philippines as everything stops for the match. Pacquiao’s appeal is so great that the Philippine Marines and the Moro National Liberation Front were able to put their differences aside and watch the fight against Ricky Hatton together. He is courted by politicians and celebrities, in the hope that some of his magic might rub off on them.

2016 Philippine Presidential Elections: Turning Point for Internal Conflicts?

Written by Joseph Franco.

The 9th February 2016 marks the official start of 90-day campaign period for the Philippine presidential elections. Boisterous and even bordeline slanderous remarks are par for the course as with prior presidential races. Beyond the day-to-day flurry of campaigning lies potential turning points for the different internal conflicts raging across the Philippines.

Political cadres versus fighters: Communists at the crossroads?

The Philippines has played host to one of the longest-running insurgencies in the world—led by the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) and its armed wing, the New People’s Army (NPA). Figures from the Philippine militaryestimate that the NPA is down to 3900 armed fighters in 2016 far below its peak strength of around 26000 during the late President Corazon Aquino’s administration.

How the European Union could still fall apart

Written by Ettore Recchi. 

Some say the true capital of the EU is not Brussels, where the European Commission, Council and Parliament lie, but rather Frankfurt, the seat of the European Central Bank (ECB). After all, it is the ECB that has done most to overcome the severest threat to European integration. In the wake of the sovereign debt crisis, ECB president Mario Draghi’s 2012 promise to do “whatever it takes” to rescue the euro is one of the most successful speeches ever made by a EU politician.

In Frankfurt, a short walk from the new ECB headquarters takes you to the Paulskirche. There, in 1848 an early parliament was elected by all the small sovereign states of the German-speaking world. It was an exciting moment, a forward-looking project towards a unified Germany. But the fire of enthusiasm was soon extinguished. The parliament lasted no more than a year, and in 1849 its representatives started to desert it until it was eventually disbanded.

What the Philippines 2016 Elections Mean for the Mindanao Peace Process

Written by Pauleen Gorospe.

It has been decades since the armed conflict in Mindanao erupted. Almost 50 years later, the Government of the Philippines (GOP) was able to enter into peace agreements with two secessionist groups: in 1996, with the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) and, in 2014, with its breakaway group, the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF). However, recent developments could be undone by a change in leadership, which makes the May 2016 general elections a critical juncture in the peace process.

The peace process so far

The 1996 final peace agreement between the GOP and the MNLF enabled the expansion of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM), an autonomous political entity created in 1989 in accordance with a constitutional amendment. Former combatant and MNLF founder Nur Misuari was elected as the ARMM’s third governor. Amidst all this, the armed conflict continued, as breakaway groups, such as the MILF, did not recognize Misuari’s leadership and found anything short of independence unacceptable. In addition, for many years after its establishment, the ARMM remained one of the poorest regions in the country, fueling allegations of corruption against MNLF leadership. The armed conflict also disrupted long-term development, and the lack of progress served as one of the impetuses for the MILF’s campaign.