Posts Tagged ‘campaigning’

Social media and the Arab Spring: Where did they learn that?

by Will Stebbins

In my work as an external affairs consultant in the Middle East North Africa (MENA) division of The World Bank, I have had the opportunity of becoming very familiar with the region’s development literature. One of the key questions the literature attempts to answer is the source of the incredibly high unemployment rates in Middle East and North Africa: Far higher than any other developing region, and especially high among college graduates.

This is a key economic context for the ‘Arab Spring,’ and one of the sources of the mass frustration that led to the protests. The literature identifies a number of well known culprits: non-diversified economies, highly dependent on oil, both for those that have it and those that don’t, and very small private sectors, as the state continues to dominate MENA economies and hence the labor markets. Yet, it’s the  public sector that is under stress as a result of the global financial crisis.

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One Year to Go: President Barack Obama’s Uphill Battle for Reelection in 2012

by  Bill Galston

Despite recent signs of a modest upturn in President Barack Obama’s political fortunes, the 2012 election is likely to be close and hard-fought. More than in any contest since 1992, the economy will be the overwhelming focus. But fundamental clashes about the role of government will also be in play against a backdrop of record low public confidence in our governing institutions. And contests involving incumbents tend to be referenda on their records more than choices between candidates. If the election pitting Obama against the strongest potential Republican nominee, former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney, were held tomorrow, the president would probably lose.

But a year is a very long time in American politics, and three factors could change the odds in Obama’s favor.  Economic growth could exceed expectations, and the unemployment rate—long stuck at 9 percent—could come down fast enough to restore a modicum of Americans’ shattered hopes for the future.  The Republicans could commit creedal suicide by nominating a presidential candidate outside the mainstream or unqualified for the office.  And the Obama campaign could make a wise decision to focus first and foremost on the states—principally in the Midwest—that have decided presidential elections in the past half century and are poised to do so again next year.  If the president tries to rerun his 2008 campaign under very different circumstances, he could end up turning potential victory into defeat.

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The Language of Global Protest

by Jan-Werner Mueller

The protest movements that have flared up across the West, from Chile to Germany, have remained curiously undefined and under-analyzed. Some speak of them as the greatest global mobilization since 1968 – when enragés in very different countries coalesced around similar concerns. But others insist that there is nothing new here.

The Bulgarian political scientist Ivan Krastev, for example, has claimed that what we are actually experiencing is 1968 “in reverse.” “Then students on the streets of Europe,” he says, “declared their desire to live in a world different from the world of their parents. Now students are on the streets to declare their desire to live in the world of their parents.”

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Plan B: The Building Blocks of a Progressive UK

by George Irvin

By now, even the most die-hard Tory must realise that the UK economy under George Osborne has flat-lined; like the Python’s dead parrot, it wouldn’t ‘voom’ if you pumped 4 million volts through it.[1]

The highly respected National Institute of Social and Economic Research (NIESR) defines a ‘depression’ as that period of time during which the country’s economic output (GDP) has not returned to its prior peak. During the Great Depression of 1930-34, UK output fell by 7.5% and did not return to its pre-depression level for four years (48 months). Since the 2008 peak, UK output has fallen by about the same percentage. But here’s the rub: NIESR predicts that we’ll take 61 months to escape depression. Moreover, as Osborne tightens the economic thumbscrew, the pain is increasing to such a degree that even City financiers are now worrying about the real economy.

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The ‘Why’s’ and ‘What for’s’ of People taking to the Streets

by Zygmunt Bauman

“The Arab Spring triggers popular rebellions against autocrats across the Arab world. The Israeli Summer brings 250,000 Israelis into the streets, protesting the lack of affordable housing and the way their country is now dominated by an oligopoly of crony capitalists. From Athens to Barcelona, European town squares are being taken over by young people railing against unemployment and the injustice of yawning income gaps…” – so wrote Thomas L. Friedman of the New York Times on 12 August 2011.

People took to the streets. And public squares. First on Prague Vaclavske Namesti, well back in 1989, and right after in one after the other capital of Soviet bloc countries. Then, famously, on the main Kiev city square. In all those places and some others as well, new habits started to be tested: no longer a march, a demo, from a gathering point to the destination. Rather, a permanent occupation of sorts, or a siege lasting as long as the demands are not met.

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