Archive for September, 2011

Social Democratic Parties need a constant Dialogue with Citizens

By Bjorn Sundin

When the votes were counted after the re-election in the northeastern constituency of Örebro, Sweden, the Social Democrats increased their votes in all electoral districts in the area, with a total of 47.2% of the votes. In no part of the constituency the result was less than 30.6% (which is what the Social Democrats received nationally in the general election in fall 2010).

To understand why 47.2% is such a remarkable success, you need to know the background.

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Why Parties need to become Movements again

By Marcus Roberts and Daniel Elton

Winning progressive parties in the 1990s were those that had learnt the lessons of the 1980s: that division, disorganisation and an obsession with a core left vote was no way to win. As a consequence from Blair and New Labour to Schroeder and the SPD’s Neue Mitte, progressive parties in the ‘90s embraced change through discipline, professionalism, tight message control and a focus on the political centre ground. Such an approach made sense at the time both as a response to the defeats of the previous decade and as a positive appeal to the moderate-minded electorates of the affluent 1990s.

But the electoral and economic challenges of recent years call for a change as dramatic as that of the 1980s to 1990s. In short, the era of political organisation predicated upon hierarchy has passed and the time has come for political organisation based on movements.

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The politics and promises of O’Farrell’s first budget

by Kristina Keneally




The key to understanding the O’Farrell Government’s first budget is to follow the politics.

Every politician is interested in the politics of any given situation. But Barry O’Farrell is all about the politics, obsessed actually, and damn the facts.

The Premier and his Treasurer, Mike Baird, began the budget process back in April with a lie: that there is a $5.2 billion “black hole” in the budget, left by Labor, and that Labor had “cooked the books”.

Four independent reports have ripped this claim to shreds. Two of the most damning come from the O’Farrell Government’s own report on state finances, the Lambert Report, and the Parliamentary Budget Office.

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Let’s not revive the ill-conceived Pacific Solution

By James Dunn

The High Court’s decision on the sending of asylum seekers to Malaysia has apparently brought a welcome end to an ill-conceived and mismanaged policy. It cut across our commitment to international human rights, and is endangering the Gillard government. The Court’s position is a welcome change to Australia’s political commitment to these humanitarian standards inspired by the Universal Declaration proclaimed in 1948 which has been uncertain and uneven, contrary to the boast of our politicians in international forums. In the circumstances it is encouraging that the risks involved in the Malaysian solution were apparently too serious for our High Court judges to let it pass. The judgement should also make it impossible for the Government to consider the Nauru Pacific Solution that Mr. Abbott regrettably continues to brandish.

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The Price of 9/11

By Joseph Stiglitz

The September 11, 2001, terror attacks by Al Qaeda were meant to harm the United States, and they did, but in ways that Osama bin Laden probably never imagined. President George W. Bush’s response to the attacks compromised America’s basic principles, undermined its economy, and weakened its security.

The attack on Afghanistan that followed the 9/11 attacks was understandable, but the subsequent invasion of Iraq was entirely unconnected to Al Qaeda – as much as Bush tried to establish a link. That war of choice quickly became very expensive – orders of magnitude beyond the $60 billion claimed at the beginning – as colossal incompetence met dishonest misrepresentation.

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