As political trends snap into sharp focus next week with the crowning of the new Labour leader, the party is already level-pegging with the Conservatives again, and the edge has for the moment gone off the Tories’ poll ratings. Meanwhile Patrick Dunleavy and Chris Gilson find that Liberal Democrat support has halved and the party would face electoral extinction if an election was held tomorrow.
With Labour receiving just 29 per cent of the vote in the 2010 general election, Ed Miliband has a mountain to climb as the party’s new leader. Robin Archer argues that a purely centrist approach to his new job would be self-defeating and that he has an unusual opportunity to revive British social democracy.
As Ed Miliband builds his new Labour front bench team without his talented and experienced older brother, Bart Cammaerts wonders if David Miliband’s purdah is just the latest cost of the UK’s strong, national media system and its personality-driven coverage of political life.
The Ugandan capital, Kampala, increasingly appears to be a city in a crisis. Constant political interventions from the central government have repeatedly frustrated efforts towards improved planning for the city, while the city government itself - starved of resources and hounded by corruption scandals - is failing to provide basic services to the burgeoning urban population. The situation has deteriorated to the extent that the central government has tabled a bill that would enable it to take over the management of the city, in a dramatic reversal of Uganda’s celebrated decentralisation programme. Meanwhile urban unemployment, poverty and seemingly intractable struggles over the land tenure system have compounded with deteriorating relations between the government and the leaders of the Buganda Kingdom in which the city is located, resulting in deep-seated unrest that culminated in violent riots that left 30 people dead in and around the city in September 2009. This paper argues that formal institutions for managing the city - particularly those relating to land, planning and decentralisation - have been consistently undermined by informal bargaining between elites and urban interest groups. Far from just being a case of 'getting the institutions right'...
Ed Miliband’s election as leader of the Labour party could be seen as a break from the technocratic New Labour project which disillusioned much of the party’s traditional support and took it away from its traditional values. In the first instalment of a three part series from across the political spectrum, Pete Redford argues that the party must embrace its social democratic roots and resist populist ‘Blue Labour’ ideology which threatens to roll back the state when it is needed most.
Youth unemployment has skyrocketed and government schemes to get young people into work are literally not paying off. Bart Cammaerts argues that forcing young people to work for free unveils a cynical contradiction in the government’s appeal to young people to invest in their futures.
In response to Peter Redford’s call for a renewed support for social democratic values within the Labour Party, Tim Oliver offers three Liberal critiques of the social democratic approach and advises the Liberal Democrats to ask what shape of Liberalism might lead them into the next election.
In Dynamics among Nations, Hilton Root looks at the waning influence of the West’s policy of liberal internationalism in the face of rising demand for alternative forms of development, centered on China. Peter Trubowitz finds the book’s argument to be a compelling one, but also argues that it may underestimate the continuing ‘demand’ for liberal internationalism, and downplay fears in Asia of American abandonment in the face of China’s increasing economic and geo-political power.
While many speculate that the U.S. could elect its first female president in 2016 with Hillary Clinton, many countries in Latin America already have female leaders at the helm. Jana Morgan examines if these advancements reflect wider support for female leadership or are conditional and subject to change. She finds that male attitudes towards women in politics are susceptible to elite cues and economic conditions, and that support for female leadership is higher among those who are frustrated with the status quo.
Recent cases on corporate personhood argue that the free speech protections of the First Amendment render many commercial disclosure requirements unconstitutional. Ellen Goodman traces the progression of these cases, arguing that the “more speech is better” ethos of First Amendment law, combined with consumer “rights to know” and the minimal interests of commercial speakers in avoiding disclosure, all work against a permissive review of reasonable commercial disclosure requirements. She writes that these cases reflect a growing trend of economic liberties displacing political liberties in the United States.
In June 2013, the U.S. Supreme Court struck down part of the 1965 Voting Rights Act, prompting fears from many commentators about minority representation. Analyzing Congressional election results from 1960 to 2010, Barry Edwards argues that the Supreme Court’s finding that the Act’s historic coverage formula does not accurately reflect current political conditions is correct. He also finds that the Voting Right Act’s uniform redistricting standards are problematic because while they improve opportunities for African American voters, they are likely to diminish opportunities for Latino voters (and vice versa).
The U.S and the European Union are about to begin the latest round of negotiations towards the proposed Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership. Many argue that the agreement could have considerable economic and political benefits on both sides of the Atlantic. Controversy has erupted, however, over plans to include investment protections provisions typically used in agreements with developing countries. The House of Lords yesterday released its recommendations to the British government about the agreement. It is largely sympathetic to including investor-state arbitration in the agreement, but only on one condition. Lauge Poulsen, who gave evidence to the House of Lords’ hearing process, reflects on the report.
Political parties play a central role in democracies, helping to mediate between citizens and governing elites by running candidates for office who promise to pursue policy programs. But what if “the party” is really more of a collection of interest groups than a traditional party organization? Using data from US congressional elections and campaign finance, Bruce Desmarais, Ray La Raja and Mike Kowal show that parties are networks of partisan groups that converge on select groups of challengers. They explain that parties in the U.S. have become so distinctive and polarized, because they represent unique coalitions of policy demanders that influence the ideological composition of Congress.
When do government policies motivate people to vote? Tiffany Davenport uses the historical example of military draft policy in the United States to study the conditions under which public policies motivate political participation. Using the Vietnam War era draft policy as a case study, she finds that people who face potential loss as a result of government policies are more likely to respond; parents whose sons were at greater risk of being drafted voted at higher rates than parents of sons who were safe from the draft. She also finds that the effect of draft risk on voter turnout was much stronger among parents in towns that had experienced local casualties from the War.