With public opinion polls suggesting that Biden will win the US Presidential race in November, there are concerns that President Trump may not accept the results and will try to hang on to office. Trump himself has fed these concerns by talking and tweeting about the potential for fraud with postal voting, by his accusations about cheating, and by his kite-flying for a delay in the vote. He has not denied that he could dispute the result if it goes against him (see also blog of 5/1/2019 where the 1863 model of persuasion of George Eliot predicts defeat).
A key underlying issue is about the importance for democracies of what is called ‘losers’ consent’.
Before coronavirus made its appearance, the decline of liberalism from its highwater mark of the late 1980s was already the focus of attention (see blog of January 2019). The massive outlay of public finance and explosion in public debt associated with mitigating the economic effects of the coronavirus, together with social distancing measures to control the spread of the virus, and direct government interventions in the production and allocation of scarce items, means that the role of the state has now expanded dramatically. If liberalism was teetering before the coronavirus, it now seems on the floor. Some economists claim to have found a new 'paradigm' for market organisation in the post COVID 19 world.
Of course, liberalism does not deny the need for the state to try to provide reassurance and social protection in times of emergency. It represents an aspiration for a political system in more ‘normal’ times. The question remains about the validity of this long-term vision.
In a previous blog I referred to the importance of style in democratic politics - qualities such as civility and moderation. (sept.14, 2018 post). It is President Trump's total disregard for such qualities that makes him so toxic to democracy in America.
This blog looks at two different qualities: coherence and congruity and, in particular, to their relevance to problems of ‘illiberal democracy’.
The EU was originally scheduled to launch in May a three-year Conference on the Future of Europe. The start now looks likely to happen in the autumn instead. The EU faces challenges on many fronts. Divisions laid bare by the coronavirus pandemic have made the need to revitalise the Union even more urgent. The purpose of the Conference is to shape both a policy response and an institutional response to the challenges. This blog looks at the institutional strand.
For some, the Conference is an opportunity to define steps towards a fully federal future Popular opinion however could support moves in the other direction towards a more confederal future. This blog compares the two agendas.
It has been a constant refrain in recent years that, with globalisation, borders no longer matter. Supply chains are global. Capital is mobile across the world. Cashless payments systems cross borders. Pollution is no respecter of borders. Neither are infectious diseases. Data flows through the world wide web. Professionals connect through international networks.
One corollary is that small nations might as well pack up shop. Only the big brigades count (the US, China. India, Nigeria, Russia, the EU). Non-state actors are the future.
Yet, despite these assertions, borders are making a comeback. .Trite thinking ascribes the comeback to 'economic nationalism'. This blog gives seven reasons why they still matter.
In the UK the surprise resignation of the Chancellor of the Exchequer in the middle of a cabinet reshuffle in February over his loss of control over the appointment of his special advisors has drawn attention to the role of the advisor. So too has the prominence of David Frost the Prime Minister's advisor and Brexit negotiator.
The passage of the EU Withdrawal Bill marks the end of a more than three-year period of great uncertainty in British politics. The UK’s new relationship with the EU remains to be negotiated. Nevertheless, the government has a comfortable majority in the House of Commons. The question is how far we should now expect politics in the UK to return to ‘normal’, or to ‘business as usual’, as it used to be prior to the referendum vote on Brexit in 2016.
When political scientists refer to ‘capture’ they usually refer to a situation where business interests take control of the levers of political power alongside politicians.
It is a worldwide phenomenon that can be seen, in different forms, from Russia to South Africa and from China to Brazil.
This blog outlines three ways of looking at these situations. It points to the difficulty of cure.
We all claim to value our privacy. At the same time, we are all extraordinarily careless about the amount of personal information about ourselves that we allow to be available on the internet.
This blog identifies four main routes to the protection of personal information. It suggests we will need to move away from the current reliance on the principle of informed consent to a more robust approach to the structure of the internet industry, including a ‘safe harbour ‘obligation placed on data controllers and data processors.
There is an increasing level of concern about the erosion of democratic standards in the world.
There is less agreement about what is causing this erosion of democratic standards. Some observers blame economics and, in particular, the growth of income and wealth inequalities. Others suggest that we need to rethink the constitutional frameworks under which democracies work.
Getting constitutional discussion going is difficult. The subject appears remote and abstract. Most constitutions deliberately discourage change and make amendment difficult. Power holders under existing arrangements react defensively. In addition, there is no generally agreed starting point.
This blog looks at different alternative starting points for constitutional discussion.