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  • Author: Rodger Shanahan
  • Publication Date: 03-2018
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Lowy Institute for International Policy
  • Abstract: Terrorists have manipulated the humanitarian crisis in Syria to create a cover for foreign fighters and to raise funds for terrorist groups under the guise of charitable donations. While terrorist abuse of charitable donations is a limited problem, even small amounts of funding can have disproportionately large effects. Early government intervention in setting due diligence standards for humanitarian aid groups operating in, or raising funds for use in, high-risk conflict zones is essential. The Australian Government should use the ‘declared area’ legislation more widely to raise the risk threshold for those seeking to use humanitarian assistance as cover for supporting terrorist causes overseas.
  • Topic: Humanitarian Aid, Terrorism, Counter-terrorism, Conflict, Syrian War
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Australia, Syria
  • Author: Andrew Rosser
  • Publication Date: 02-2018
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Lowy Institute for International Policy
  • Abstract: Indonesia’s education system is low in quality and the underlying causes are political. Indonesia’s education system has been a high-volume, low-quality enterprise that has fallen well short of the country’s ambitions for an “internationally competitive” system. This outcome has reflected inadequate funding, human resource deficits, perverse incentive structures, and poor management but has most fundamentally been a matter of politics and power. The political causes of poor education performance include the continued dominance of political, bureaucratic, and corporate elites over the education system under the New Order and the role that progressive NGOs and parent, teacher, and student groups have had in education policymaking since the fall of the New Order, making reform difficult.
  • Topic: Education, Government, Politics, Children, Youth, NGOs
  • Political Geography: Indonesia, Asia, Australia, Australia/Pacific
  • Author: Andrea Aversano Stabile, Paola Sartori
  • Publication Date: 12-2018
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Istituto Affari Internazionali
  • Abstract: On 15 October 2018, the Italian Ministry of Defence released its Plurennial Programmatic document (Documento Programmatico Pluriennale, DPP) outlining Italy’s defence expenditure forecasts until 2020.[1] The DPP was eagerly awaited this year, especially in light of the defence cuts announced by the current government, which is already embroiled in a difficult negotiation with the EU over Italy’s increasing budget deficit. Coming at a time when the EU is devoting increased effort and resources to boost its defence cooperation and the US Trump administration is admonishing its European allies for not paying their share to defend Europe through NATO,[2] Italy’s envisioned defence cuts are likely to cause some concern in Brussels and Washington. Ultimately, these may also increase scepticism as to Rome’s reliability as a key European partner in the defence realm.
  • Topic: Defense Policy, NATO, Military Affairs, Budget, Military Spending
  • Political Geography: Europe, Italy, European Union
  • Author: Andrea Maccanico
  • Publication Date: 12-2018
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Istituto Affari Internazionali
  • Abstract: The EU is involved in economic diplomacy since the establishment of the Single Market and the ensuing negotiations for trade and economic partnership agreements conducted by the EU’s Directorate-General for Trade (DG Trade) for all EU member states (MSs). European economic diplomacy (EED) is a new EU venture that aims to improve the coordination between EU institutions and MSs in an effort to enhance their economic and trade relations and strengthen their ability to compete with major countries such as the US, China and Russia.
  • Topic: International Political Economy, International Trade and Finance, Politics, Governance, Institutions, Trade
  • Political Geography: Europe, European Union
  • Author: Riccardo Alcaro, Nathalie Tocci
  • Publication Date: 12-2018
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Istituto Affari Internazionali
  • Abstract: A coalition government that is largely, if not entirely, alien to mainstream party politics has run Italy since June 2018. The coalition is made up of the League, a right-wing anti-immigration party, and the anti-establishment Five Star Movement (Movimento 5 Stelle, M5S), which refuses to categorize itself as either left or right wing. While the two parties did not campaign on a joint agenda, and actually competed in the March 2018 election, a number of important commonalities are present, particularly if one looks at party politics not through the horizontal “left-right” prism but through a vertical “open-closed” one.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Elections, Political Parties, European Parliament, Domestic Policy
  • Political Geography: Europe, Italy, European Union
  • Author: Jeremy Konyndyk
  • Publication Date: 12-2018
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Center for Global Development
  • Abstract: The Government Reform and Reorganization Plan released earlier this year by the White House calls for substantial reform of US humanitarian institutions. The plan mandates that the State Department and USAID produce a “specific reorganization proposal” to “optimize” humanitarian assistance and “eliminate duplication of efforts and fragmentation of decision-making.” This policy note lays out guidance for how an ambitious but feasible optimization could be achieved. It is informed by two high-level private roundtables convened by the Center for Global Development to solicit expert input, as well as a desk review of documents, expert interviews, and the author’s own experiences serving in the humanitarian arms of both USAID and the State Department. While numerous experts contributed thoughts and feedback, the author takes sole responsibility for the views represented herein.
  • Topic: International Affairs
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Susannah Hares
  • Publication Date: 12-2018
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Center for Global Development
  • Abstract: It’s tricky to evaluate government education policies. They’re not implemented in NGO-like laboratory conditions, and political motivation and public sector capacity constraints play as much of a role in their success or failure as policy design. Using the examples of three rigorous studies of three different education policies, this note aims to shed some light from the perspective of someone on the policy side on how, why, and when to evaluate government-led reforms. A government education policy is not an abstract theory that can easily be replicated in a different place. In each new context, it is effectively a brand-new programme and needs to be evaluated as that. None of the three examples presented was “new” as a policy: school inspections, school vouchers, and charter schools have all been tried and evaluated elsewhere. But the evaluations of these policies—when implemented in new contexts—illuminated a new set of challenges and lessons and generated a different set of results.
  • Topic: Education, International Affairs
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Bart Gaens, Marcin Kaczmarski
  • Publication Date: 09-2018
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Finnish Institute of International Affairs
  • Abstract: Even though bilateral relations have warmed somewhat, Japan has failed to convince Russia to make concessions with regard to the territorial issue of the Northern Territories/South Kuril Islands, or to cut back its cooperation with China
  • Topic: International Affairs
  • Political Geography: Japan
  • Author: Ville Sinkkonen
  • Publication Date: 08-2018
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Finnish Institute of International Affairs
  • Abstract: Foreign policy rarely plays a decisive role in congressional elections in the US. However, President Trump’s tendency to mix foreign policy into the domestic debate might increase its salience. Electoral success for the Democrats could both constrain and embolden the president’s international conduct.
  • Topic: International Affairs
  • Political Geography: America
  • Author: Jason D. Delisle , Preston Cooper
  • Publication Date: 07-2018
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research
  • Abstract: Contrary to popular perception, the share of students at the 200 most selective public and private colleges who are from low-income households did not decline over the past 16 years. However, the share of students at these institutions who are from middle-income families has steadily declined.
  • Topic: International Political Economy, Poverty
  • Political Geography: America
  • Author: Daniel Míguez, Matias Dewey
  • Publication Date: 11-2018
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Max Planck Institute for the Study of Societies
  • Abstract: A growing body of research, based on large-scale international comparisons, has associated socioeconomic development with several intervening factors, such as levels of respect for social norms, interpersonal trust, degrees of confidence in public institutions, or incidence of corruption in governmental bodies. The paper contributes to this body of scholarship by comparing the differing socioeconomic development experienced by Chile and Argentina between 1983 and 2013. Specifically, the paper inquires whether the greater socioeconomic development experienced by Chile was actually related to greater legitimacy of the law, higher levels of trust in public institutions, lower perceived levels of corruption, and greater interpersonal trust. The results of our exploration do not completely confirm or disprove this thesis. Instead, they reveal not only the need for a nuanced approach to how these factors relate to socioeconomic progress but also for their forms of association to be considered in the context of politically, socially, and economically fluctuating conditions.
  • Topic: Development, Political and institutional effectiveness, International Development
  • Political Geography: Chile
  • Author: Fritz W Scharpf
  • Publication Date: 11-2018
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Max Planck Institute for the Study of Societies
  • Abstract: The performance of EMU member economies is shaped by different and structurally entrenched “growth models” whose success depends on specific macro-regimes – restrictive for export-led growth, accommodating for demand-led growth. These two types of models cannot be equally viable under a uniform macro regime, and their divergence threatens the stability of the EMU. The present attempt to enforce structural convergence in the eurozone appears economically ineffective and lacks democratic legitimacy on the national and the European level. Assuming that complete integration in a democratic federal state is presently unattainable, the paper presents the outline of a more flexible European Currency Community that would include a smaller and more coherent EMU and the member states of a revised “Exchange Rate Mechanism II” (ERM) whose currencies are flexibly linked to the euro. It would restore the external economic viability of autonomous domestic policy choices, and it would protect its members against speculative currency fluctuations.
  • Topic: International Political Economy
  • Political Geography: Europe
  • Author: Sebastian Kohl
  • Publication Date: 10-2018
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Max Planck Institute for the Study of Societies
  • Abstract: America’s “infatuation with homeownership” has been identified as one cause of the latest financial crisis. Based on codings of 1,809 party manifestos in 19 OECD countries since 1945, this paper addresses the question of where the political ideal to democratize homeownership came from. While conservative parties have defended homeownership across countries and time, center-left parties have oscillated between a pro-homeownership and a pro-rental position. The former occurs in Anglo-Saxon, Northern and Southern European countries, while the latter prevails among German-speaking countries. Beyond partisan effects, once a country has a majority of homeowners and parties defending homeownership, larger parties are more likely to support it. The extent of center-left parties’ support for homeownership is conditionally associated with higher homeownership rates, more encouraging mortgage regimes, and a bigger housing bubble burst after 2007. The ideational origins of the financialization of housing and private Keynesianism are, after all, not only conservative and market-liberal.
  • Topic: International Political Economy, Domestic politics
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Lea Elsässer
  • Publication Date: 10-2018
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Max Planck Institute for the Study of Societies
  • Abstract: Empirical studies have shown that US politics is heavily tilted in favor of the better-off, as political decisions tend to reflect the preferences of the rich while largely ignoring those of the poor and the middle classes. These findings have prompted a lively debate about potential mechanisms that cause this pattern of unequal responsiveness. Existing studies suggest that specific characteristics of the political system are a major explanatory factor – in particular, private donations and campaign financing. We build on these studies but focus for the first time on an entirely different case. In this paper, we ask whether similar patterns of unequal responsiveness are discernible in Germany, which not only is a more egalitarian country, but also funds election campaigns entirely differently from the US. We analyze an original dataset of more than 800 survey questions posed between 1980 and 2013. The questions deal with specific political decisions debated at the time and cover a broad range of politically relevant topics. Our results show a notable association between political decisions and the opinions of the rich, but none or even a negative association for the poor. Representational inequality in Germany thus resembles the findings for the US case, despite its different institutional setting. Against this background, we conclude by discussing potential mechanisms of unequal responsiveness
  • Topic: International Political Economy, Hegemony
  • Political Geography: America
  • Author: Mark Lutter, Karlijn L. A Roex, Daria Tisch
  • Publication Date: 04-2018
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Max Planck Institute for the Study of Societies
  • Abstract: Anomie and imitation have been prominent mechanisms explaining the Werther effect, i.e., the effect of celebrity suicides on a general population’s suicide rate. This study presents a new approach to empirically disentangle both mechanisms. Imitation theory suggests that celebrities act as role models, and that the Werther effect is triggered by the status of the celebrity in question. Anomie theory, on the other hand, suggests that the Werther effect is triggered by the unexpectedness of the event. To this end, we empirically compare the effects of celebrity suicides with the effects of celebrities who died unexpectedly from causes other than suicide (accidents, illnesses, alcohol abuse). Based on language and page-link data from 3,855 Wikipedia pages of 495 celebrities who committed suicide between 1960 and 2014, we measure the status a celebrity has in a particular country and calculate the potential country-specific imitation effect of their suicide. In the same manner, we measure status effects of celebrities who died unexpectedly from accidents, illnesses, or alcohol abuse to reflect anomie-related effects. We use these measures in a time-series cross-sectional dataset for 34 OECD countries to assess their effects on a country’s overall annual suicide rate. Fixed-effects analyses reveal that country-specific status effects of celebrity suicides lead to significant increases in overall suicide rates, while anomie-related, unexpected celebrity deaths show no effects. The findings remain robust across a number of alternative specifications, such as controlling for further anomic factors at the macro level (divorce or unemployment rate, for instance). We conclude that the results support the imitation mechanism as an essential social explanation for the Werther effect.
  • Topic: International Relations, Health
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Donato Di Carlo
  • Publication Date: 04-2018
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Max Planck Institute for the Study of Societies
  • Abstract: German public sector wage restraint has been explained through the presence of a specific type of inter-sectoral wage coordination in the industrial relations system – i.e., export sector-led pattern bargaining. This paper has a twofold ambition. First, as a literature assessing exercise, I review the literature in industrial relations and comparative political economy (CPE) and find that (1) the origins and mechanics of inter-sectoral wage coordination through pattern bargaining have never been laid out clearly; (2) the mechanisms of the pattern bargaining thesis have never been tested empirically; and (3) the CPE literature reveals a limiting export-sector bias. Second, as a theory-testing exercise, I perform hoop tests to verify whether the pattern bargaining hypothesis can really account for wage restraint in the German public sector. I find that Germany cannot be considered a case of export sector-driven pattern bargaining. These findings challenge core tenets of a longstanding scholarship in both CPE and industrial relations. Most importantly, they open a new research agenda for the study of public sector wage-setting that should shift its focus to public sector employment relations, public finance, public administrations, and the politics of fiscal policy
  • Topic: International Political Economy, International Affairs
  • Political Geography: Germany
  • Author: Daniel Kinderman, Mark Lutter
  • Publication Date: 04-2018
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Max Planck Institute for the Study of Societies
  • Abstract: Two strands of literature have emerged to explain the rise of a new form of private governance, Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR). One camp argues that CSR expansion is likely during periods of economic liberalization because CSR tends to substitute for growing institutional voids and a lack of social regulation. The other camp argues that CSR is likely to diffuse within coordinated economies because it mirrors these institutional settings. While both camps find empirical support for their arguments, no one has yet managed to combine both perspectives. In our study, we develop three hypotheses based on two (rationalist and constructivist/sociological) strands of institutional theory. Based on a new dataset comprising the corporate membership in business-led CSR organizations in over thirty countries from 1981 to 2008, we show that economic liberalization has a strong effect on CSR expansion when the legitimacy of CSR is low. However, when the practice has achieved substantial cultural acceptance, economic liberalization no longer drives CSR expansion. In this setting, CSR expansion is most likely to occur within socially regulated economic contexts.
  • Topic: International Political Economy, International Trade and Finance
  • Political Geography: Europe
  • Author: Fritz W Scharpf
  • Publication Date: 02-2018
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Max Planck Institute for the Study of Societies
  • Abstract: The end of the Bretton Woods regime and the fall of the Iron Curtain deepened the export orientation of the German model of the economy. Only after entry into the Monetary Union, however, did rising exports turn into a persistent export–import gap that became a problem for other eurozone economies. This Discussion Paper shows why the present asymmetric euro regime will not be able to enforce their structural transformation on the German model. Neither will German governments be able to respond to demands that would bring the performance of the German economy closer to eurozone averages. Instead, it is more likely that present initiatives for financial and fiscal risk sharing will transform the Monetary Union into a transfer union.
  • Topic: International Political Economy, International Affairs
  • Political Geography: Germany
  • Author: Maria J. Stephan, Leanne Erdberg
  • Publication Date: 02-2018
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: As governments and communities seek the right combination of methods to halt terrorism, one that we too often miss is nonviolent resistance. It’s not that we haven’t seen the power of protest movements that use mass marches, sit-ins, boycotts and other forceful but nonviolent tactics. To the contrary, people worldwide have been moved by watching such movements sweep aside the walls of apartheid, the tanks of dictators or the impunity of kleptocracies. But governments and civil society alike have failed to connect the dots—to promote nonviolent action that can help communities address grievances while absorbing the youth alienation upon which terrorist movements feed.
  • Topic: International Affairs
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Publication Date: 02-2018
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: Afghanistan’s government is focused on building consensus—both domestically and among states in the region—to support a peace process with the Taliban insurgency, according to the Afghan national security advisor, Hanif Atmar. The main challenges, he said, include continued support from Pakistan for the Taliban and an incremental recent Russian move toward immediate cooperation with the Taliban even without a peace process. Also, Atmar said, a web of disparate extremist groups is deploying increasing numbers of foreign fighters in his country.
  • Topic: International Development
  • Political Geography: Global Focus