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Month: March 2016

Brussels terror attacks: a continent-wide crisis that threatens core European ideals

Written by Fiona de Londras.

The attacks of March 22 in Brussels were shocking, but not surprising. They reinforced what many have known for years: Belgium has a serious problem with terrorism.

For a long time, security analysts have expressed anxiety about the depth and extent of radicalisation and fundamentalism in the country. It is thought that Belgium has the highest per capita rate of foreign terrorist fighters of any EU country. A February 2016 “high-end estimate” puts that number at 562 out of a population of just over 11 million.

Last November it was revealed that some of the Paris attackers had Belgian connections and were known to the security forces there, and Brussels was virtually locked down for almost a week.

Challenging Oligarchic Politics in the Philippines

Written by Roland G. Simbulan.

Electoral candidates in national and local positions who mostly come from the elites, always promise to carry out a ‘good governance’ initiative. Our response to this must be to widen participatory governance. That is, to broaden the participation of the marginalized sectors and progressive organizations and civic groups in the political process.

This article examines the possibilities and challenges of participatory governance under the present oligarchic political system and electoral process.

Dynastic families compete among themselves in ad hoc political parties to monopolize politics for their families, and use their power to control government projects and finances to further enlarge their economic power. The resurgence in Philippine politics of the unrepentant Marcos family, which for two decades plundered our economy into impoverishment while murdering democracy for 14 years, is proof of how money dominates money dominates our so-called political parties. The Marcos dictatorship looted $10 billion from the Filipino people. This money is being used to do a political ‘Lazarus’.

Typhoon Yolanda Survivors Need More than Pro-poor Rhetoric from Politicians

Written by Pauline Eadie.

Market researchers in the Philippines stratify socioeconomic classes into A, B, C, D or E classes. The distinction between the classes is not absolute however it is clear that the D and E classes make up around 90%  of the electorate. Therefore politicians have to appeal to the ‘masa’ vote in order to secure political office. This was done extremely well by former President Joseph (Erap) Estrada who campaigned on the slogan Erap para sa masa or mahirap (Erap for the masses/poor). Meanwhile, outgoing President Benigno Aquino III, who was swept into office by a wave of sympathy for his recently deceased mother (and national icon) former President Cory Aquino, addressed poverty by campaigning on an anti-corruption/good governance ticket. Aquino claimed that ‘if no one is corrupt then no one will be poor’. 

Iain Duncan Smith resignation: flesh wound or more serious blow to Cameron?

Written by Tim Bale.

If there were a Richter Scale of Political Resignations, then prime ministers such as Margaret Thatcher, Harold Wilson and Harold Macmillan would register at the very top – on nine.

Big beasts such as Conservative Chancellor Geoffrey Howe and Defence Secretary Michael Heseltine would register at about seven. Iain Duncan Smith’s departure, on the other hand, would probably score around six.

The work and pensions secretary’s departure is the sort of earthquake that would only inflict slight to moderate damage on solid structures but is capable of causing more severe problems for less stable edifices. Unfortunately for the Conservative Party, at least in the run up to the EU referendum, it fits all-too-easily into the latter category .

Marcos and Duterte: Authoritarian Nostalgia in the Philippines

Written by Jeremiah Reyes.

Our country is said to be in the midst of ‘authoritarian nostalgia.’ According to a study of six countries in Asia, the Philippines exhibits growing yearning for strongman rule and sympathy for a military intervention in government. Among the countries studied, the Philippines rejects authoritarian rule the least. The study used statistical analysis of the first and second rounds of the Asian Barometer Survey and was authored by Yu-tzung Chang, Yunhan Zhu, Chong-min Pak and. The Journal of Democracy published their findings in 2007.

I am not surprised by these findings. This election has yielded a colorful variety of personalities vying for the highest posts of the land. Despite the myriad assortment of interesting personalities, two have caught my attention, and for very exacting reasons. I refer to Bongbong Marcos, currently a Senator and running for the position of Vice President, and Rodrigo Duterte, Davao City mayor and a ‘presidentiable.’ These two people have stood out from among the rest because of the kind of government these two have come to represent. I refer to it as an authoritarian form of government.

Philippines 2016: Is America’s military presence affecting the Philippine elections?

Written by Elliot Newbold.

On the 28th of January, 2016, only days before the official start of the Philippine elections, United States Ambassador Philip Goldberg outlined his nation’s vision for military cooperation between the Philippines and the United States. Under the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (E.D.C.A.), the United States has earmarked over $60 million to help strengthen the Philippines’ anemic military. Signed in April of 2014, the deal affords U.S. troops, planes, and warships increased rotational presence in Philippine military bases and allows Washington to build facilities and store equipment. In a statement to the Manila press, Goldberg declared “[the] E.D.C.A. is designed to support what the Philippines is trying to do in terms of… modernizing and equipping its armed forces.”

The forgotten side of Tony Benn

Written by Steven Fielding.

Most of the reactions to the death of Tony Benn in early 2014 focused on the man who turned left in the 1970s, embraced union militancy and became “the most dangerous man in Britain”. That was, however, Benn Mark II, arguably the less interesting version, and certainly the one less relevant to our own times, one in which the parties are desperately seeking to regain a connection with the people.

A while back I wrote a book about how Labour responded to the many cultural changes generated in the 1960s. In that decade Benn emerged as one of the party’s few leading figures who tried to seriously think though how the party might engage with at least some of them.

Giulio Regeni, Egypt, and the deafening silence of Europe

Written by Catherine Gegout.

Giulio Regeni, a doctoral student at the University of Cambridge, disappeared in Cairo on 25 January, and was found dead with signs of torture on his body on 3 February. Giulio Regeni conducted research which contributed to our knowledge of social and global justice, the impact of civil movements on power structures before and during revolutions, the role of women in political activism, and the role of trade unions in providing living wages to citizens.

Over 4,600 academics worldwide asked the Egyptian authorities to ‘cooperate with an independent and impartial investigation into all instances of forced disappearances, cases of torture and deaths in detention during January and February this year, alongside investigations by criminal prosecutors into Giulio’s death, in order that those responsible for these crimes can be identified and brought to justice.’

Just a reminder that Spain still doesn’t have a government

Written by Paul Kennedy.

There appears to be little chance of Spain’s political stalemate being broken any time soon. Just listen to the divisive tone of parliamentary debates held in the first week of March – two-and-a-half-months after a national election failed to deliver a government.

Pedro Sánchez, leader of the Spanish Socialist Workers’ Party (PSOE) had sought to form a coalition government with the centre-right Ciudadanos (Citizens) Party. He secured the backing of his own party and his proposed coalition partner but failed to get enough support from other MPs following heated debate in the chamber.

The 2012 Delhi protests: towards a scalar analysis

Written by Srila Roy.

The brutal gang rape and murder of 23-year-old Jyoti Singh Pandey in Delhi in December 2012 has come to constitute a ‘critical event’ in contemporary India. This is largely ascribable to the unprecedented public protests that the event propelled. The protests are one critical and representative moment in a changing landscape of mobilisation in the name of women with significant global currency, insofar as they travelled farther than other events of a similar nature. Operating on a national as well as a global scale and drawing in new actors like middle-class youth and men, such a landscape demands an analysis that is able to capture the spatial and scalar expansion of feminist politics.