Posts In Category

Democracy and Elections

The Five Star Movement is one of the most interesting political ‘experiments’ on political landscape of Western democracies. Once again Italy, which with Berlusconi has experienced Trumpism before Donald Trump, is a political laboratory for novel political phenomena that the world looks at, with a mixture of concern and excitement, to learn something about the future of our democratic systems. Only five years ago Beppe Grillo, a stand-up comedian and the founder of the Five Star Movement (M5S), launched his parole guerriere (warlike words) and M5S obtained a remarkable 25% of the national vote in its first electoral showing. Italian voters again expressed loudly and clearly their preference for the Five Star Movement in last weekend’s general election. The M5S not …
Marihuana plants

Election day 2020 was another big moment for drug policy reform in the US as voters across diverse states rejected the status quo and endorsed liberalizing drug laws. Arizona, Montana, New Jersey and South Dakota legalized marijuana for recreational purposes as the news proclaimed voters had “just said no to America’s war on drugs,” calling it “a banner year for drug decriminalization.” That election day brought significant wins for drug policy reform is not new. Beginning in 2012 with Colorado and Washington state, 13 out of the 15 states that have legalized recreational cannabis thus far have done so through ballot measures.[1] In 2014, Alaska and Oregon followed suit along with Nevada, Massachusetts, Maine and California in 2016 and Michigan …

Zbigniew Brzezinski noted that the politics of fear is an efficient means of control because it “obscures reason and intensifies emotions.” After more than 34 years in power, President Museveni of Uganda—who toppled Milton Obote’s regime in 1986 after years in the bush with the National Resistance Movement (NRM)—understood the politics of fear better than anyone else. If one still had doubts, the death of around 40 people in Kampala at a political rally organized by Bobi Wine, Museveni’s main opponent, in November came to confirm one thing: it is election season in Uganda. On 14 January 2021, Ugandans will go to the polls. Museveni will most likely win re-election, after having scrapped the presidential term and age limits in 2005 and 2017 respectively. However, this piece argues that the intense politics of fear used by his regime can be interpreted as the possible end of post-liberation politics in Uganda.   Post-liberation …

On 14 July, following legal proceedings, the National Archives of Australia released correspondence between Sir John Kerr, who served as Governor General of Australia from 1974–77, and Sir Martin Charteris, the Principal Private Secretary (PPS) to the queen. The letters concern Kerr’s decision to dismiss Gough Whitlam, the Labor Prime Minister, who was then locked in a battle between the House of Representatives, where he held a majority, and the Senate, which opposed him and was blocking supply (the federal budget).  Leading scholars, such as Anne Twomey, as well as Buckingham Palace, have argued that the letters contain no smoking gun connecting Kerr’s actions to the monarch or her PPS. However, we believe that we can see a wisp of smoke. And it lingered. Kerr and Charteris …

All summer, as protests raged over the United States, fears grew that an increasingly polarised United States was heading for another civil war. There was great worry over violence erupting across the land, and a distinct sense that there were at least two rival and distinct Americas in the country: Red America and Blue America. Political movements such as the Lincoln Project and the Wide Awake Boys explicitly made comparisons between the present time and the Civil War-era. Almost two thirds of Americans, in May 2020, believed that the country was close to civil war. The 2020 presidential election might therefore have the same effect as that of 1860 election: then, the election of Abraham Lincoln as President persuaded the …

In the month of November, Boris Johnson’s government will most likely instate a committee review of the Fixed Term Parliaments Act (FTPA) with the ultimate goal of fully repealing it. This Act, introduced in 2011, was supposed to fix the date of the general election to be every five years. Its planned repeal is part of a number of sweeping constitutional reforms that would empower the British executive over Parliament, which the Conservative Party vowed to push for in its 2019 electoral manifesto. With the ongoing global pandemic and the protracted Brexit talks with Brussels, the Conservative’s plan to repeal the FTPA have largely flown under the public’s radar. Yet if a repeal goes through, it would have a significant …
Mural of postal workers sorting mail

As the coronavirus continues to spread across the United States, questions concerning American voters’ ability to cast their ballots safely in person on 3 November became increasingly urgent this election season. Despite his own record of voting by mail, President Trump has frequently attacked mail-in voting, making unfounded claims about the potential for fraud and playing favorites to suggest its validity only in states with Republican governors like Florida. Depicting vote by mail as a Democratic tactic to steal his re-election, Trump’s campaign even filed an ultimately dismissed suit in battleground Nevada to stop the state from sending absentee ballots out to all active voters. However, mail-in voting has historically not been such a partisan issue. Even now, Fox News …
Photograph of old presidential campaign buttons

The president’s recent diagnosis with Covid-19 sent the US presidential election race into a tailspin. As Donald Trump and Joe Biden jockey to regain control of the media narrative at a crucial phase of the campaign, speculation about a possible “October surprise” is widespread. Today, the term refers to any news story that breaks late in an election cycle and has the potential to affect the outcome of the election. Yet its origins are firmly rooted in foreign policy. In particular, the phrase describes a sitting president’s alleged propensity to manipulate events to boost their electoral prospects. The president’s recent tweet calling for all remaining US forces in Afghanistan to return home by Christmas has fueled suspicions that Trump is playing politics …

Ghana goes to the polls on December 7th. However, for the first time in 24 years, the major stakeholders—including the Electoral Commission (EC) and the leading opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC) party—could not arrive at a consensus over the electoral rules that will govern the election in 2020. Agreed upon electoral rules have historically been critical towards securing a stable electoral process. Amidst the prevailing dispute on the electoral rules, we argue that a tense political climate is building which, if not well managed, could lead up to violent contestation of the results of the December 2020 elections and, in the process, undermine Ghana’s time-honoured integrity as a beacon of democracy in Africa.  Background on the dispute The dispute over the rules for this year’s election …