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DPIR Research

The South Korean legislative election on 15 April 2020 received high attention in international news as the first national election held under the constraints of the COVID-19 pandemic. Still, voter turnout, at 66.2 per cent, was the highest in 28 years and a North Korean defector, for the first time, was elected to the unicameral National Assembly (Gukhoe). The election, which resulted in a landslide victory for the incumbent government’s party, was the first under a new electoral reform that introduced compensation seats within the proportional representation (PR) tier of the mixed electoral system. In response, both major parties set …

To what extent is the international community truly international? And, to what extent are non-Western norms and practices excluded? The choice of language in international relations is one important aspect of this broad topic. Each international organization has official languages. The United Nations, for example, has six official languages, and the European Union 24, though only three – English, French and German – are used in procedures of the Commission. The choice of language is partly driven by the need to communicate to the widest number of people, but it also has an endogenous relationship with state power. Powerful states promote the languages they use, …
Photograph of George Bush sitting at a table with advisors including Dick Cheney and Colin Powell surrounding him.

U.S. presidents have powerful political incentives to think twice before escalating a conflict in the lead-up to an election. Recent events in the Gulf suggest that President Trump is no exception when it comes to avoiding the commitment of “boots on the ground” in an election year. As both commander-in-chief and holder of the highest elected office, presidents must carefully weigh the political consequences of any decision regarding military strategy. Since voters tend to bear the brunt of the human and financial costs of war, decisions to send additional U.S. forces into combat are often fraught with risk of consequent reprisal at …

Anette Idler summarizes some of the findings from her new book Borderland Battles, which reveals how violent non-state groups compete for territorial control, co-operate in illicit cross-border activities and replace the state in exerting governance functions in borderlands. Borderlands are like a magnifying glass on some of the most entrenched security challenges of the world. In unstable regions, border areas attract violent non-state groups ranging from rebels and paramilitaries to criminal organisations who exploit their neglect by central governments. These groups compete for territorial control, cooperate in illicit cross-border activities, and substitute for the governance functions usually associated with the …

Researcher: Dr David Leopold Is there a place for utopian ideas in political theory? The appropriate relation between political theory and utopian ideas has become a much discussed topic in political theory. This project is concerned with a historical aspect of that topic and is focused on the hostility towards ‘utopian’ forms of socialism that can be found in the writings of Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels. This project suggests that the character and foundation of that Marxian hostility has often been misunderstood, and demonstrates that Marxian hostility is both more muted, and more clearly defended, than is typically appreciated. Marx …

Researchers: Dr Radoslaw Zubek and Dr David Doyle Funder: John Fell OUP Research Fund Most governments would claim to support business, but is government policy enhancing business activity or constraining it? Are government regulations becoming more or less business friendly? Is government policy more favourable to some sectors of business than others? These and similar questions are ones that citizens and businesses ask every day. It has been difficult for social scientists to measure governments’ business policies. Until now, such assessments have mainly been through broad-brush surveys of regulatory environments, which have been limited in scope and frequency. This project …

Researchers: Dr Ricardo Soares de Oliveira (with Ian Gary, Associate Policy Director – Accountable Development Finance, Oxfam America) Funder: ESRC Impact Acceleration Grant Revenues from oil, gas or mineral resources have the potential to transform a country and the lives of its citizens, by reducing poverty and increasing prosperity. But it is rare that countries and their citizens benefit from their natural resources. Why? Many of the problems that remain in resource-dependent countries are political, rather than technical. Problems are often framed as “technical capacity gaps” that need external assistance. Yet governments can fill these gaps if they define them as …

Researchers: Professor Robin Harding (with Mary Clare Roche, PhD Candidate, University of Rochester) In the 1990s, a wave of protest and a democratic global climate led to the fall of autocratic regimes and a series of elections across the African continent. More or less competitive elections were held in dozens of African countries. Much has been written on the subsequent prospects of democracy, but scholars still know little about the effects of this transformation in governance on the distribution of development resources. Do African governments use public resources to help win votes? And if so, how? Up until now, it …