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  • Author: Omar Al-Jaffal
  • Publication Date: 01-2021
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Arab Reform Initiative (ARI)
  • Abstract: In December 2019, the Iraqi parliament approved a new electoral law following demonstrations calling for fundamental political change. However, it took over 11 months for the president to ratify it as Iraq’s political parties fought over the shape of electoral districts. This article examines the disputes that surrounded the adoption of the law and the compromises that led to diluting its potential for reform. It concludes that while the new law represents a small step in the right direction, it ultimately is insufficient to respond to the aspirations of protestors looking for an overhaul of their political representation.
  • Topic: Reform, Elections, Democracy, Transition
  • Political Geography: Iraq, Middle East
  • Author: Zied Boussen, Mohammed Islam Mbarki
  • Publication Date: 01-2021
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Arab Reform Initiative (ARI)
  • Abstract: Tunisian youth are no different from their peers across the world when it comes to their indifference to public life. This apathy towards politics is not new; it goes back before 14 January Revolution. A 2008 national survey of youth showed that around 83% of Tunisian youth were not concerned with politics and 64% were not concerned with elections or joining civil society associations. Nonetheless, the Tunisian youth surprised observers and played an essential role in the revolution that led to the fall of Ben Ali. Immediately after, however, they returned to their position of indifference. The political tensions and episodes of instability that accompanied the democratic transition disappointed the youth greatly and led to apathy towards politics in all its forms. Successive elections were the most glaring example of this attitude: the youth abandoned the ballots and stopped taking initiatives of political work, either as candidates or as voters. The rise of Kais Saied as a presidential candidate seemed to have reignited the Tunisian youth’s interest in politics. They walked with him through all the stages of his elections. They led his most unusual campaign at the smallest cost; they confronted media attacks against him and provided him with alternative and new media platforms that improved his image. This support brought the youth and Kais Saied closer together. Saied also showed great understanding of the youth’s economic and social demands and gave them priority. He shared their anger at the political establishment, so they decided to stand by him to punish the establishment that they see as the source of their successive disappointments. The results of the presidential elections, in which one candidate won the bulk of the votes of the youth participating in the elections, generated many questions about the reasons for the youth’s support of Kais Saied, and the hopes that they hanged on him. What can we infer from this experience that can benefit the youth political participation generally? How does this experience help us understand the actual needs that push young people to participate in public life?
  • Topic: Political Activism, Elections, Youth, Participation
  • Political Geography: Africa, Tunisia
  • Publication Date: 01-2021
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: The Global Centre for the Responsibility to Protect
  • Abstract: After four dark years during which President Donald Trump systematically weakened the United States’ commitment to multilateralism, international law and universal human rights, the Global Centre for the Responsibility to Protect congratulates President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris on their impending inauguration. As an international civil society organization with its headquarters in New York, we join human rights defenders both here and abroad who view this historic moment with relief and hope. President Biden and Vice President Harris will be sworn in at a time of unprecedented crisis. The COVID-19 pandemic has caused tremendous suffering around the world and killed over 380,000 Americans. Globally, more than 80.3 million people are also currently displaced by conflict, persecution and atrocities, the highest number since the Second World War. In all too many countries the laws, institutions and individuals who defend human rights appear to be under threat. This includes the United States, where disturbing political developments over the last four years led to the proliferation of online hate speech, the criminalization of asylum seekers and a prejudicial “Muslim Ban” aimed at refugees.
  • Topic: Human Rights, Elections, Responsibility to Protect (R2P), Atrocities, Joe Biden
  • Political Geography: North America, United States of America
  • Author: Natalie Masuoka
  • Publication Date: 01-2021
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Political Science Quarterly
  • Institution: Academy of Political Science
  • Abstract: Explanations for American voting behavior and attitudes have taken on a curious frame since the election of Barack Obama in 2008, such that there have been growing claims that race is no longer central to American politics. Obama’s election was labeled evidence of a new “post-racial” America. Then, when Donald Trump was elected in 2016, public narratives emphasized the role of social class by pointing to the voting bloc of white, working-class, and rural voters who had helped decide the outcome of the election. Zoltan L. Hajnal’s Dangerously Divided joins an important collection of recent academic work that directly challenges the argument about the reduced role of race in American politics. Hajnal does not sugarcoat his position: “A key aspect of this story is not just that race matters but also that it eclipses the other important dividing lines in American society” (p. 13). Race has always been a core feature of American politics, and it is present even in the constitutional Framers’ debates over the structure of government. The interpretation that recent events indicate a reduced role of race discounts the historical centrality that race has always played in American government. Hajnal offers empirical evidence and an unambiguous argument that race continues to direct most patterns in American politics.
  • Topic: Politics, Race, Elections, Book Review, Political Science, Class
  • Political Geography: North America, United States of America
  • Author: Krševan Antun Dujmović
  • Publication Date: 02-2021
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Institute for Development and International Relations (IRMO)
  • Abstract: The general elections held in Montenegro on 30 August 2020 has once again drawn the attention of the Western Balkans to the smallest, measured by population, among seven nations that emerged after the breakup of the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. This attention is due to a number of factors. Back in May of 2018 Montenegro has opened the last of the thirty-three chapters in the negotiation process with the European Union, making it a harbinger among Western Balkans nations on the path to Euro-Atlantic integrations, especially as the country had joined the North Atlantic Alliance in June 2017. Other countries in the region linger behind Montenegro – Albania and North Macedonia, both NATO members, are still waiting for the opening of the negotiations with the EU. Serbia has no intention to join NATO, and in spite of EU negotiations and ambitions, sees itself in balance between the West on one side, and Russia and China on the other. Kosovo and Bosnia and Herzegovina are far from NATO membership and have merely the status of potential candidates for EU membership. This is why all eyes of the region and of the advocates of continuation of EU enragement policy are on Montenegro. The second factor are strong historical ties of this country on the Adriatic coast with its northern neighbor Serbia. Serbian minority makes up to one third of Montenegro’s population, and the Serbian Orthodox Church (SPC- Srpska Pravoslavna Crkva) plays a vital role in Montenegrin society, as this country does not have its own autocephalous Church recognized by other Orthodox Churches in Eastern Christendom. This gives Serbia and the SPC a significant clout within borders of its southern neighbor. The third factor is the involvement of global players in this country. The United Sates has advocated strongly to include Montenegro in NATO in order to stretch the line of NATO’s southern flank in the Northern Mediterranean from the Iberian Peninsula to the west to Greece and Turkey in the east. On the other hand, Montenegro’s authorities accused Russia of meddling in the general elections held in October 2016 when the alleged coup d’état occurred on the election day. Many feared a similar scenario on the eve of 30 August 2020 election, fathoming the outbreak of riots and violence that could ignite the powder keg in the Balkans. Although none of these happened, Montenegro is not ceasing to be the subject of the geopolitical chessboard. Considering these factors, the attention of neighbors to the events in this Balkan country is understandable. The unfolding situation after the elections in which the government of Montenegro is backed by a very thin majority in the Parliament (Skupština Crne Gore) and with no clear vision nor strategy for further political and economic development of the country, is only fueling the wariness of its neighbors and of Brussels about Montenegro as a success story.
  • Topic: NATO, Regional Cooperation, Military Strategy, Elections, European Union, Transition
  • Political Geography: Europe, Balkans, Montenegro
  • Author: Rachel Lastinger, Sandra Urquiza
  • Publication Date: 03-2021
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Georgetown Journal of International Affairs
  • Abstract: Election observers are a crucial mechanism for transparency in the electoral process and can play a key role in electoral reform. In the United States, election observers’ findings can be more efficiently utilized to catalyze needed reform. The Carter Center has observed over 113 elections and supported citizen observer efforts in various countries. Drawing from this international experience, we suggest that US election observers can monitor the electoral process beyond election day, from voter registration to election dispute resolution and have a similar impact on electoral reform and integrity.
  • Topic: Civil Society, Governance, Law, Elections
  • Political Geography: United States of America, North America
  • Author: Albert B. Wolf
  • Publication Date: 02-2021
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: Whoever wins, the result will intimate deeper trends in Iranian society, such as public support for the regime and the Supreme Leader’s intentions for the country’s future. The Washington Institute has been sponsoring a series of discussions about sudden succession in the Middle East. Each session focuses on scenarios that might unfold if a specific ruler or leader departed the scene tomorrow. Questions include these: Would the sudden change lead to different policies? Would it affect the stability of the respective countries involved, or the region as a whole? What would be the impact on U.S. interests? Would the manner of a leader’s departure make a difference? The discussions also probe how the U.S. government might adjust to the new situation or influence outcomes. This essay, thirteenth in the series, assesses the situation in Iran, where a June election will determine the successor to President Hassan Rouhani. An IRGC-backed candidate such as Majlis speaker Muhammad Baqer Qalibaf or former defense minister Hossein Dehghan could ultimately prevail—but a history of election surprises in the Islamic Republic suggests no outcome is certain. Whoever wins, the result will offer clues about deeper trends in Iranian society, such as public support for the regime and the Supreme Leader’s intentions for the country’s future.
  • Topic: International Relations, Government, Elections, Domestic politics
  • Political Geography: Iran, Middle East, United States of America
  • Author: Marcus Noland, Eva (Yiwen) Zhang
  • Publication Date: 03-2021
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Peterson Institute for International Economics
  • Abstract: By Election Day 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic had killed 234,244 Americans and caused the sharpest macroeconomic downturn in US history. Hypothetical calculations using county-level electoral data show that in a “no pandemic” scenario or a scenario in which the severity of the pandemic was mitigated by 30 percent, Donald Trump would have lost the popular vote but won the electoral vote. In the 20 percent mitigation scenario, the electoral vote would have been tied, giving Trump a presumptive victory in the House of Representatives. For the second time in a row (and the third time since 2000), the candidate who lost the popular vote would have been elected president of the United States.
  • Topic: Government, Politics, Elections, Donald Trump, COVID-19
  • Political Geography: North America, United States of America
  • Author: Michał Wojnarowicz
  • Publication Date: 05-2021
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: The Polish Institute of International Affairs
  • Abstract: The cancellation of the 22 May parliamentary elections in the Palestinian Authority (PA) by President Mahmoud Abbas deepens the Palestinian political crisis and contributed to the escalation between Hamas and Israel. The decision is a result of internal disputes in the PA leadership and insufficient external support, primarily from the U.S. The lack of elections will preserve the current political turmoil in the PA and weaken Palestinian relations with Israel.
  • Topic: Politics, Elections, Crisis Management, Escalation
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Israel, Palestine
  • Author: Veronika Jóźwiak
  • Publication Date: 04-2021
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: The Polish Institute of International Affairs
  • Abstract: For the first time in 12 years, the ruling Fidesz and the opposition have even chances of winning the parliamentary elections in April 2022. Unification of the opposition gives it strength, however, the institutional and financial advantages of the ruling party will be difficult to overcome. The government may be weakened by the effects of the pandemic and the loss of membership in the European People’s Party (EPP). The authorities aim to get funds from the new EU budget before the elections. As a partnership with the European extreme right will not contribute to this goal, the formation of a new grouping in the European Parliament (EP) by Prime Minister Viktor Orbán is unlikely for now.
  • Topic: Politics, Elections, European Union, Far Right
  • Political Geography: Europe, Hungary, Central Europe