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Comparative Government

Last week, Professor Rehman Sobhan, Chairman of the Center for Policy Dialogue in Dhaka, Bangladesh, visited the UN Development Programme in New York City to discuss his most recent book. I had the opportunity to speak with Professor Sobhan about the motivation behind his work and learn about the years of field research that preceded it. Challenging the Injustice of Poverty: Operationalizing an Agenda for Inclusive Development Across Southeast Asia is a culmination of Professor Sobhan’s efforts to understand the roots of economic exclusion across 5 countries over the past 4 years. At its core is Sobhan’s uncompromising insistence on identifying the source, as opposed to merely addressing the symptoms of poverty. According to Sobhan, poverty is not a social …

In the wake of the scandal currently afflicting Britain’s news industry, it is tempting to believe that anything might be better than putting our faith in the ethics and trustworthiness of professional journalists. So it is a good time to review what social media means for a news industry that is, to put it kindly, in a state of flux. As Tom Standage’s special report makes clear, social media and bloggers can contribute far more to news than was once thought. In recent years mainstream news organisations have often relied on them to break stories that professionals either couldn’t get to or didn’t know about, or to expose weaknesses or failures of interpretation amongst those same professionals. So there is …

In the US debate over news there is an assumption among many that the Internet is killing news organisations.   People point to the worrying figures about the numbers of journalists that have been laid off  (with net newsroom employment down by more than 10,000 since 2007), the difficulties facing city and state newspapers, and to the dramatic decline of ad revenues. There’s no denying that these developments are worrying. But focussing on the US picture only tells a very partial part of the story about the relation between the news industry and the internet.  The recent book that we produced at the Reuters Institute on The Changing Business of Journalism and its Implications for Democracy reveals that the US newspaper …

On June 21, at the Manor Road Building, Oxford University, Daniel Large and Luke Patey discussed the role of China and India in Sudan’s oil sector. This industry is of particular interest today, as on the 9th of July the country will split into Northern Sudan and Southern Sudan. The recent border clashes illustrate the lack of agreement between the two sides about the sharing of oil revenues. The two speakers situate this issue within an international context by contrasting the involvement of China and India and discussing the long-term prospects of Sudan’s oil industry, among other interesting questions. China’s involvement in Africa has become a hot topic in media and political discussions. This has concealed that of other Asian …

The credit crunch and the disillusion with parliamentary democracy prove that there is a problem with the way we govern ourselves, as organisations and states. I would like to propose a solution which, if implemented, would go a long way to providing effective governance, economic growth, and social stability. THE PROBLEM All our existing institutions and regulations failed to prevent the credit crunch, the Madoff and Stanford frauds, the obvious risk of bankers lending to people who can’t afford to repay, and the collapse of numerous financial organisations. The banking crisis was caused by banks knowingly lending to people who couldn’t repay; therefore the crisis was predictable. So why did they do it? Because current governance processes don’t work. In …

David Cameron took office having pledged during his campaign to reduce net migration to the “tens of thousands rather than hundreds of thousands,” a commitment that has been reiterated numerous times since then by Cameron and other Conservative ministers (although it is technically a Conservative party goal rather than a coalition government policy).  But reducing migration appears much easier said than done.  The coalition government has put forward policies designed to reduce net migration through limitations on international students and skilled labour migrants. It has opened a consultation on policy toward settlement—the granting of indefinite leave to remain in the UK, as opposed to mere temporary resident status—and it plans to address marriage- or family-related migration soon. My colleagues at …

Numerous questions pose themselves for political economists about the crisis – enough (never waste a good crisis) to keep PhDs engaged for a generation. But in my view there are two big picture questions which modern comparative political economy needs to answer. One is why the epicentre of the crisis was in Wall Street and the City of London. The other is this: the crisis occurred as a result of failures in the main regulatory frameworks – the financial and the macroeconomic – which govern much of the workings of advanced economies. Why, in sharp contrast to the 1930s, have these frameworks changed little since the crisis? These questions raise major issues for our understanding of modern capitalism and its …

In the past couple of days, Germany and Canada have joined the group of countries that have declared that they consider the National Transitional Council (NTC) in to be the “legitimate representative” of the Libyan people. But what exactly does this mean? According to the BBC, the group of countries extending this recognition includes France, the UK, Italy, Spain, Germany, the UAE, Qatar, Jordan, Gambia, Senegal and Australia. Russia and the United States have had meetings with the NTC and have also made similar declarations about the illegitimacy of the Gaddafi regime and about the legitimacy of the NTC (see previous post by Stefan Talmon on the US position in March). What are the legal implications, if any, of these …