The Great Debate UK
from The Great Debate:
By Cliff Young and Chris Jackson
The opinions expressed are their own.
The Obama administration finds itself between a rock and a hard place. On one side, an emboldened Republican Party smells blood, with their largely successful (politically speaking) full court press on the debt issue and dominance of the news cycle. On the other, the economic news—both domestically and internationally—has been depressing at best, and downright scary at worst.
Given this dreary backdrop, the common wisdom among pundits and politicos is that Obama has been winged and is beatable in 2012. Pundits offer varied reasons for this new found pessimism in Obama.
Some cite the dangers of a weakening economy on voters’ mood for “more of the same.” Indeed, history suggests that no post-WWII president has won reelection when the unemployment rate was above 7.2 percent—bad news for Obama since unemployment looks to remain above 8.5 percent over the next year. Others stress Obama moving too far to the left with a “big government” agenda, while others say Obama has alienated his base by giving in too readily to Republican demands. Underlining all these critiques are warnings of a Carter-esque “crisis of confidence” scenario where voters lose faith in Obama’s leadership.
However, is this pessimism warranted? Is Obama truly on shaky ground? To answer these questions, we base our analysis on a database of 140 elections from 25 countries used for electoral forecasting and poll validation here at Ipsos.
Come back Mr Fukuyama, all is forgiven.
In his 1992 book "The End of History and the Last Man", American political scientist Francis Fukuyama famously argued that all states were moving inexorably towards liberal democracy. His thesis that democracy is the pinnacle of political evolution has since been challenged by the violent eruption of radical Islam as well as the economic success of authoritarian countries such as China and Russia.
Now a study by Russian investment bank Renaissance Capital into the link between economic wealth and democracy seems to back Fukuyama.
from Pakistan: Now or Never?:
Never in the history of Pakistan has a democratically elected civilian government served out its full term and then been replaced by another one, also through democratic elections. It is that context that makes the latest political crisis in Pakistan so important.
Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gilani is scrambling to save his PPP-led government after it lost its parliamentary majority when its coalition partner, the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM), announced it would go into opposition. A smaller religious party, the Jamiat-e-Ulema-e-Islam (JUI-F), already quit the coalition last month. If the government falls and elections are held ahead of schedule in 2013, the opportunity for Pakistan to have a government which serves its full term will be lost.
-Jane Foley is research director at Forex.com. The opinions expressed are her own.-
Next month’s UK general election is not the only one of significance in Europe. There is the possibility that the German regional elections in North Rhine-Westphalia on May 9 could result in the end of the CDU/FDP government’s majority in the upper house of parliament.
- Col. Richard Kemp is a former commander of British Forces in Afghanistan and the author of Attack State Red, an account of British military operations in Afghanistan published by Penguin. The opinions expressed are his own. -
Disillusionment with the inability of the Kabul administration to govern fairly or to significantly reduce violence played a role in the reportedly low turnout at the polls in Helmand.
- Luke Baker is a political and general news correspondent at Reuters. -
The mountains and deserts of southern Afghanistan are far removed from the elegant charms of Trieste in northern Italy, but there will be a link between the two this weekend.
Foreign ministers from the Group of Eight nations meet in the Italian city on the Adriatic on Thursday for three days of talks, with the state of play in Afghanistan, as well as developments in Iran and the Middle East, front and centre of their agenda.
- Justin Fisher is Professor of Political Science and Director of the Magna Carta Institute at Brunel University. The opinions expressed are his own. -
It’s fair to say that the results of the European elections in Britain were something of a shock. Of course, it was evident that Labour was going to do badly and the BNP’s success in winning its first European seats did not come entirely out of the blue. But the collapse of Labour’s vote exceeded what most had predicted, and the realisation that the BNP now has 2 of the UK’s 72 MEPs is more dramatic than the possibility that it might occur.
- James Graham is the Campaigns and Communications Manager of Unlock Democracy The opinions expressed are his own. -
The rise of the far right in Britain is not a sign that people are flirting with fascism but a signal that disengagement has reached a crisis point.
The elections this Thursday are widely expected to be bad for Labour. And depending upon which poll you believe, they may not be brilliant for the Conservatives. But a familiar call will emerge nevertheless – that a loss of seats, particularly at local council level, will lead to a further decline in that party’s grassroots. This reality is, however, a bit more complex.
- Soe Paing is Director of the Office of the National Coalition Government of the Union of Burma, based in the U.S. The opinions expressed are his own. -
The arrest and the filing of criminal charges against Aung San Suu Kyi for alleged violation of house arrest rules under Section 22 of the 1975 State Protection Law or “Law to Safeguard the State Against the Dangers of Those Desiring to Cause Subversive Acts” indicate that the incumbent military regime in Burma is not interested in the offer of Aung San Suu Kyi’s party — National League for Democracy (NLD) — to join the elections scheduled for 2010 if certain conditions are met.