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Europe

Dr. Sophie Heine is a visiting scholar at the University of Oxford Department of Politics and International Relations, a Research Fellow at the Universtité Libre de Bruxelles and FNRS and a Wiener-Anspach Foundation Scholar; her research engages with identity politics and ideology in contemporary Europe. Here, she takes a moment to speak with Politics in Spires regarding the Occupy protests of 2011, and offers a preview of her forthcoming book. I. Your recent work, Oser penser à gauche (“Dare to think to the left”), argues that contemporary progressive politics must redefine its underpinning ideology and articulate a coherent, emancipatory platform for change. This analysis proves particularly relevant to the waves of “Occupy” protests that began in New York in October …

Just returned from a talk by the current Turkish Ambassador to the UK. The event was under Chatham House Rules, hence I will not be able to report from it. But I will use this and previous events in the last couple of weeks as an anchor for some reflections on Turkish Foreign Policy. // A rising power… Last week Davutoglu, Babacan, Boris Johnson and Jack Straw gave some interesting speeches at a dinner in London. The overall tone was clear: Turkey is a rising regional if not global power. It is the 16th biggest economy in the world with phenomenal stable growth figures currently approximately at around 8% per annum. Erdogan is a leader empowered with all three Weberian …

In ‘Duck Soup‘ – the 1930s Marx brothers’ film – a powerful rich lady tells the ailing government of Freedonia, she will only bail them out with another loan, if her favourite – Groucho Marx – becomes president: chaos follows. Europe may or may not escape chaos as the euro crisis unfolds. But when asking what sort of European Union will emerge out of the Duck Soup of the crisis, there are no upbeat scenarios. Desperate Politics drives all scenarios The euro crisis has battered the EU’s political dynamics, clout and democratic credentials. The sight of technocrats running the Greek and Italian governments has been criticised as anti-democratic . But Europe’s political failings go beyond this. Neither Angela Merkel nor …

The first week of November 2011 has been a tipping point; the moment when it belatedly dawned on pundits and politicians alike that the euro crisis at heart is political – and that if it’s politics versus the markets, then politics is losing hands down for now. From outgoing Greek Prime Minister Papandreou’s torpedoing of the G20 by his ‘bolt from the blue’ referendum call, swiftly withdrawn under outraged pressure from the Merkel-Sarkozy tandem, to Italy’s Berlusconi teetering on the edge, then announcing he will resign and abandon his attempts to cling to power, to Sarkozy  himself introducing larger than expected ‘austerity’ cuts despite the upcoming presidential election in 2012 – politics is back. But normal EU politics this is …

Though Western media systems are going through a rapid and often painful transformation today with the rise of the internet and mobile platforms, the decline of paid print newspaper circulation, and the erosion of the largest free-to-air broadcast audiences, the ways in which governments provide direct and indirect support for the media have remained largely unchanged for decades. The bulk of the often quite considerable direct and indirect subsidies provided continue to go to industry incumbents coming out of broadcast and print, while innovative efforts and new entrants primarily based on new media receive little or no support. In central ways, public support for the media remains stuck in the twentieth century, and some parts of these support systems are …

When in 1992 the decision to provide Europe with the single currency was adopted, voices were raised claiming that it may be difficult to have a monetary union without a political union. This is considered to be particularly the case on occasion of “asymmetric shocks” which may hit weaker “peripheral economies” in a monetary union, but not stronger “core ones”. The Eurozone, even at its infancy, has never constituted an Optimal Currency Area, but at a time of relative economic growth the Stability and Growth Pact (SGP) was by most considered as a sufficient tool to secure the sustainability of the single currency. However, the economic crisis of the early 2000s and the current “Euro crisis” have proved the opposite. …

As regular denizens of Oxford’s Centre for Political Ideologies (a research centre in the DPIR) know, unlike most branches of political theory and political philosophy, studying ideologies requires more than unpacking the canonical texts of great thinkers. Not always bad things (like totalitarianism or fundamentalism), ideologies occupy the space between ivory tower ideas and day-to-day politics and thus come in many forms – speeches, slogans and sermons. But even ideology-focused students, including your blogger, forget to look for political messages in more creative spaces. Like dance. Luckily this is what my Dphilling colleague Dana Mills, an accomplished dancer herself, focuses on most. Dana always urges me to look at the similarities between my word heavy work on liberalism and the …

Following the ICJ ruling about the legality of Kosovo independence on July 22nd, Italy, Austria and Slovakia have argued that Serbia’s accession process should be accelerated to support pro European Serbian President Boris Tadic. On July 27th Iceland initiated its official negotiations, despite the erosion in the pro-EU camp in the aftermath of the Icesave case. Among the other candidate countries, Croatia is set to join in 2011, while Macedonia has not yet started the negotiations. Turkey, having several negotiating chapters blocked or vetoed,  has still no accession date, but the UK seems to strongly back its candidature, as PM David Cameron claimed in its visit to Ankara on July 27th.