The increasing polarization of U.S. politics has seen the rise of partisan ‘echo chambers’ with little interaction between those at opposite poles. This division has broadened to include lifestyles, with liberals often characterized as ‘latte-drinking’ and conservatives as ‘gun enthusiasts’, for example. In new research, Daniel DellaPosta, Yongren Shi, and Michael Macy look at how political ideology becomes linked to people’s lifestyles. They show how demographic influences on opinions can be amplified by the self-reinforcing dynamics of peer group interactions.
Why do voters recognize some commentators as political experts and others not? In new research using election survey data and survey experiments, Carl Palmer and Rolfe Peterson find that people evaluate those that are more attractive as being more competent and intelligent. More attractive individuals are also seen as more politically knowledgeable, with people preferring to seek them out to learn more about politics.
The German social democratic party initiated in 2003 the greatest overhaul of labour market
legislation in decades, severely cutting unemployment benefits and slashing employment
protection legislation. How can we explain this radical policy shift? This paper will present a
counter-intuitive answer, arguing that the SPD implemented the reforms because of electoral
interests. The rationale is two-fold and relates to changes in labour market policy supply and
policy demand. First, the German social democrats strategically adjusted their labour market
policy supply, seeking to maximise their office pay-offs by appealing to the median voter in a
competitive political space. Second, the shift in policy-supply is also a reaction to changes in
labour market policy-demand, with crucial segments of the electorate turning more
favourably to welfare state retrenchment. This shift disproportionally benefited the
conservative CDU and liberal FDP and forced the SPD to reposition itself in the party
In the public policy literature, there is a widespread belief that industry self-regulation would
only take place—and lead to satisfactory results—if industry was faced with a credible threat
of hierarchical government intervention. At the example of intermodal transport
standardization, however, this paper demonstrates that this does not have to be the case. It
may even have a counterproductive effect by exposing self-regulatory processes to political
Theoretical work on state formation and capacity has focused mostly on early modern Europe and on the experience of western European states during this period. While a number of European states monopolized domestic tax collection and achieved gains in state capacity during the early modern era, for others revenues stagnated or even declined, and these variations motivated alternative hypotheses for determinants of fiscal and state capacity. In this study we test the basic hypotheses in the existing literature making use of the large date set we have compiled for all of the leading states across the continent. We find strong empirical support for two prevailing threads in the literature, arguing respectively that interstate wars and changes in economic structure towards an urbanized economy had positive fiscal impact. Regarding the main point of contention in the theoretical literature, whether it was representative or authoritarian political regimes that facilitated the gains in fiscal capacity, we do not find conclusive evidence that one performed better than the other. Instead, the empirical evidence we have gathered lends supports to the hypothesis that when under pressure of war, the fiscal performance of representative regimes was better in the more urbanized-commercial economies and the fiscal performance of authoritarian regimes was better in rural-agrarian economies
"New Dynamics in East Asian Politics: Security, Political Economy and Society." Edited by Zhiqun Zhu. Continuum. April 2012. ---
This collection highlights new features and developments in East Asian politics today. Chapters examine how China, Japan, North and South Korea, and Taiwan are responding to challenges such as globalization, information technology, and the global recession as well as the impact of resulting domestic and foreign policies for the region and the world. Hansley A. Juliano finds this a comprehensive and fascinating read, vital not only for policymakers and scholars, but suitable also for general readers interested in the transformations East Asia is undergoing.
Since its initial bailout by the EU, IMF and the European Central Bank in 2009, Greece has struggled to implement the agreed measures. Theofanis Exadaktylos and Nikos Zahariadis write that declining levels of public trust across Greek political institutions mean that the government’s efforts at reform will continue to be ineffective. They argue that a long-term change in cultural paradigms is needed to embed trust and enable reforms to take place.
In Hungary, political opinion has polarised, with Prime Minister Viktor Orbán and the Fidesz party enjoying considerable support as they continue to attack the EU. Erin Marie Saltman writes that only time will tell if Hungary’s divided left opposition will be able to put aside their differences and unite to overpower the radical right.
In October 2011, the Basque separatist group ETA announced the cessation of its armed activities. While studies of terrorism typically focus on the consequences of violent acts, Javier Martin-Peña and Ana Varela-Rey argue that the discourses used to legitimise political violence are just as important. Without this legitimation it would be impossible for groups like ETA to carry out violent acts without alienating their own supporters.
Wide ranging proposals for political union and closer co-operation between EU member states
have been put forward as a solution to the eurozone crisis. Heribert Dieter argues that this
preoccupation with centralised forms of decision-making on economic issues is misguided and
may bring with it several unanticipated problems. A better strategy would be to update the
current framework under the Maastricht Treaty, particularly by creating a concrete mechanism
through which states can leave the single currency.
A common argument is that the Eurozone crisis necessitates greater fiscal and political integration among countries using the single currency. Simon Wren-Lewis disputes this idea, arguing that we should be cautious about forming concrete conclusions from a single observation. He states that the lesson of Eurozone failure is largely about bad design, rather than disproof of concept.
Democratic representation has never been so misrepresented as in the current European climate, and this new collection argues that if the EU wants to regain the support of its citizens, more avenues for democratic representation are necessary. Reviewed by Madalina Dobrescu.
The Challenge of Political Representation in the European Union. Sandra Kröger and Dawid Friedrich. Palgrave Macmillan. November 2011.
Valentino Larcinese argues that, as is the case in Europe, the UK should adopt public financing for political parties to help avoid elite capture by wealthy private individuals or corporations, and allow politicians to devote their time to activities other than just fundraising.
Silvio Berlusconi was Italy’s longest-serving prime minister since Benito Mussolini, and his resignation was a turning point in modern Italian history. Duncan McDonnell argues that his successor Mario Monti’s government marks an era of ‘democracy without choices’. He believes that Monti’s technocratic government damages the very idea of the political party’s role as an indispensable agent of democracy.
Patterns of globalisation and liberalisation need to be examined in light of their political consequences, especially in the context of situations of state collapse and violent conflict. Champions of globalisation can be divided into two camps – the advocates of economic liberalisation and the promoters of global governance. They share a common scepticism of the state, which ignores both the developmental lessons of history and the perverse impact liberalisation has had on peace and security. While liberalisation has transformed the terrain of politics, privileging a form of semi-democracy, problems of violent conflict highlight the urgent need for the reconstitution of modern states in the developing world.
This paper is devoted to the description of the paramilitary intent of establishing a distinct social order in a specific region of Colombia (Puerto Boyaca and its hinterland) and the way in which it coexisted and interacted with state structures. It seeks to understand how and why such structures and political order co-evolve and how such evolution was related to the type of provision of security offered by the State and other actors.
This paper discusses the policies and characteristics of the two main organisations that deal with youth violence in Nicaragua. It reveals their problems, deficiencies, ways of insertion into the institutional framework, contradictory priorities, and dysfunctional interactions. The paper presents the political interference that characterises and shapes these policies and organisations, subjecting their performance to power structures articulated by the national elites’ hegemony, the weak capacity of the Nicaraguan state apparatus, and the external nature of their sources of legitimacy.
This working paper analyses the shift from corporatist to liberal economic policy regimes in Zimbabwe that led to the crisis of the late 1990s. It outlines the rationale for both regimes, the reasons for their introduction and major achievements and failures, and how they contributed to the subsequent adoption of the dysfunctional policies of the late 1990s. It argues that the failures of both these regimes were avoidable, and the outcome of ‘political’ rather than economic variables. It concludes by calling for economic policies that take more account of their political implications, and of the need to strengthen state capacity in weak states.
In this paper, Jonathan Di John critically examines the so-called 'rentier state' argument, the idea that abundance of natural resources causes poor growth, and raises the incidence, intensity and duration of conflict. The basic premise of the rentier state model is that rentier state leaders, by relying on 'unearned' income (in the form of mineral rents and/or aid), do not develop a set of reciprocal obligations with citizens via the nexus of domestic taxation. The model also posits that the more leaders can finance state activities through 'unearned' income, the more likely predatory behaviour, including violence, will follow. The author argues that mineral resource abundance does not determine politics in a systematic fashion and finds the empirical evidence that political violence is greater in mineral abundant poor economies unconvincing. The paper concludes with a brief discussion the policy implications of bringing politics back into the causes of war in less developed countries.
In Democratic Decline and Democratic Renewal, Ian Marsh and Raymond Miller link the decreasing quality of democracy to the failings of political parties. This detailed study of the politics of the UK, Australia and New Zealand is an ambitious attempt both to document decline and to reverse the trend, finds Jack Simson Caird, who is impressed by the authors’ proposals to enhance the role of parliamentary committees.