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Political Science

"US Supreme Court" by zacklur

The U.S. Supreme Court’s recent decision to uphold the Affordable Care Act (ACA, also known as Obamacare) is the latest in a series of failed attempts by Republicans to repeal the law. From its passage in 2010, the ACA has been responsible for reducing the uninsured population significantly through its key provisions requiring individuals to purchase health insurance, extending coverage for individuals with pre-existing conditions, and expanding Medicaid for low-income Americans¹. Republican legal challenges to the ACA started within hours of its signing. Filed by states, associations, and individuals, several cases made it to the Supreme Court, which rejected challenges to the ACA in 2012, 2015, and, most recently, June 2021. These legal defeats coincide with other failed attempts by …

We interviewed Raphaël Lefèvre about his new book Jihad in the City: Militant Islamism and Contentious Politics in Tripoli, available now. OxPol: What motivated you write your book? Raphaël Lefèvre: I wanted to shed light on a little-known historical event with large contemporary echo: the creation by a militant Islamist movement of an “Islamic Emirate” on the city of Tripoli, Lebanon in 1982-1985. This movement has modern parallels​ with the “Islamic Caliphate” created by ISIS in parts of Iraq and Syria after 2014 and with similar attempts by Al-Qaeda to create “Islamic Emirates” on the territories it has sporadically controlled recently, from Southern Yemen and Northern Mali to Northern Syria. I am not suggesting that the 1982-1985 “Islamic Emirate” in Tripoli …
Photo of AMLO with a red-inked thumb

In June 2021, amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, Mexico will face what is bound to be one of the most complex mid-term elections the country has seen in the last two decades. At stake is control of 15 (out of 32) governorships, 30 state legislatures, 1,900 municipalities and a complete renewal of the Lower Chamber of Congress. The outcome will clearly be either a punishment or a reward for the leftist administration of Andrés Manuel López Obrador (AMLO) and the ballots cast this summer will undoubtedly make or break the second half of his presidency. The extent to which the COVID-shock has impacted individual political preferences in Mexico remains unclear. Looking at the most recent available data to conduct an exploratory …

COVID-19 has hit European citizens dramatically, not only creating a general risk-driven environment with a wide array of economic vulnerabilities but also exposing them to pervasive digital risks, such as biosurveillance, misinformation, and e-democracy algorithmic threats. Over the course of the pandemic, a debate has emerged about the appropriate techno-political response when governments use disease surveillance technologies to tackle the spread of COVID-19. Citizens have pointed out the dichotomy between state-Leviathan cybercontrol and civil liberties. Moreover, the giant technological flagship firms of surveillance capitalism, such as Google, Amazon, and Facebook, have already assumed many functions previously associated with the nation-state, from cartography to the disease surveillance of citizens. But particularly, amidst the AI-driven algorithmic disruption and surveillance capitalism, Smart City Citizenship sheds light on the way citizens …
Marihuana plants

Welcome to the OxPol Blogcast, a podcast where we will be sharing research, analysis, and experiences from members of the University of Oxford’s Department of Politics and International Relations. On each, episode we will talk to a guest about a piece they’ve written for the OxPol Blog. Then, we’ll discuss their larger research agenda, their insights on conducting political science, and their time at Oxford. On the 3rd episode of the OxPol BlogCast, host Chase Harrison talks to recent DPhil graduate Jonas von Hoffman about the results of recent drug legalisation referendums in the United States. We compare those to legalisation movements across the Americas before chatting about his experience studying a more taboo topic in academia.  
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 …

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 …