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Special Series

The Oxford University Politics Blog hosts special series on topics ranging from Scottish independence to violence and the state in central Africa, from constitutional issues to sociology.

Scotland held a vote on independence on 18 September 2014, with 55 percent of the voters rejecting leaving the United Kingdom. Yet, the issue was thrust back into the spotlight in 2016, when the UK voted to withdraw from the EU, with repeated calls for a second Scottish plebiscite growing louder ever since. As in 2014, the generally accepted (albeit not universal) position has been that Westminster’s approval is needed to put a referendum on Scottish independence beyond legal doubt. The two British Prime Ministers (PMs) who held office during this time (2016–2021), Theresa May and Boris Johnson, consistently reiterated their opposition to another referendum and ruled out granting any such consent. In doing so, they employed various discourse strategies …

In the context of the U.S. Supreme Court repeal of Roe v. Wade, the struggle for access to abortion and reproductive freedom continues. In Germany, abortion remains a criminal act only granted under specific conditions and requirements. Apart from ethical and legal requirements, abortions are hardly mentioned in most medical curricula. There is a shortage of medical practices that perform abortions, especially in rural areas and if there is no “medical or criminological indication”, the procedure is not covered by health insurance, costing between €300 to €600. §218 of the criminal code that criminalises and regulates abortion is a remnant from the imperial penal code of 1871 (only the GDR legalised abortion in 1972). Radical feminists in Germany were at …

The common view in both scholarship and practice is that politics is an exclusively human concern: a practice by humans for humans. Man, as Aristotle described him, is ‘zoon politikon’, a political animal. For Aristotle, governing and being governed is both the essence and purpose of human beings, and this quality not shared by any other creature that we know of. Crucially, this human-exclusive understanding of politics is still widely shared today. That is not to say, of course, that politics is completely unconcerned about animals. Policy-makers do sometimes turn their attention towards animals, and most states have instituted, for example, a set of animal welfare laws that prohibit practices which are deemed to be ‘cruel’ or to cause ‘unnecessary …

On June 6, Prime Minister Boris Johnson survived a vote of no confidence from the Parliamentary Conservative Party. The vote was triggered by 15 percent of Tory Members of Parliament (MPs) writing to the chair of the 1922 Committee, which represents backbenchers. Thus far, six of the last nine leaders of the Tory Party have faced a leadership challenge of some sort while in office. Yet, while Johnson has joined the list of leaders who survived such a vote, the results of the ballot show that his leadership of the party in the long term remains precarious. How bad were the results? While the relatively low threshold for a vote means Johnson is far from the first leader to face …

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 this episode of the OxPol BlogCast, host Chase Harrison talks to DPhil student Christoph Sponsel about Colombia’s credit rating, the Latin American debt crisis of the 1980s, and doing work at the intersection of political science and economics. Read the original blog post here: https://blog.politics.ox.ac.uk/colombian-mass-protests-foretelling-an-emerging-latin-american-debt-crisis/  

Recently, scholars have reflected on how to make political theory more relevant to policy. While most of the ideas around this charge are centered around the debate between ideal and non-ideal theories¹, one might ask whether there are other methodological insights we can advance to make political philosophy more useful to politics and society. In this piece, I suggest that one avenue that should be explored consists of building a bridge between political theory and comparative political economy to theorise varieties of ideal regimes. As vaccination campaigns proceed throughout the globe, policymakers, activists, and scholars are thinking about what the post-Covid world will look like and how to repair their national economy. Many view this moment as a critical juncture …

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 …

Times are grim for human rights and the rule of law in Colombia. Since the end of April, tens of thousands of Colombians have taken to the streets after President Iván Duque announced a controversial tax reform. While the government has withdrawn the reform proposal, protests are ongoing as citizens express their frustration over structural inequalities. Discontent is high across the country, especially among lower- and middle-class Colombians who have experienced increased hardship while enduring the COVID-19 pandemic. By 22 June, 83 people were killed and over 1,600 wounded, with much of the violence attributed to the Colombian National Police. The police’s anti-riot unit, known as ESMAD, has become a symbol of disproportionate policing based on the excessive use of force. The Constitution …