Jun 29 2021

Vox, Covid-19, and populist discourses in Spain

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By José Javier Olivas Osuna and José Rama

The radical right party Vox has been a harsh critic of the Spanish government’s handling of the Covid-19 pandemic. Based on the qualitative and quantitative content analysis of parliamentary speeches, during the first wave of the crisis we find that Abascal’s interventions became increasingly populist as the pandemic progressed and that there is also evidence of a ‘spillover’ or contagion effect, with the level of populism displayed by other parties also increasing. This post summarises some of the most important findings of the research we recently published in Frontiers in Political Science Continue reading

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Jun 15 2021

The EU has lost its touristic touch: Countries like Cyprus, Spain and Malta are trying to regain it

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By Kristi Allaj

The European Union has been one of the most classic tourist destinations in the world. The freedom of travel for its natives and tourists visiting one continent with various cultures has allowed the EU to take advantage of the plethora of tourism. Yet, the spread of COVID-19 has had a grave impact on the EU whose 10% of GDP flows from the industry. With the spread of vaccines to fight the pandemic countries are slowly opening up their borders and some of them have invented unique plans to enhance tourism.

This article will focus on Spain, Malta and Cyprus and their divergent approaches to revitalizing a sector that provides them with a big percentage of their GDP. First, I will cover the impact of COVID-19 on the profit of the EU. Then, I will focus on the different approaches the countries are taking and, lastly, I will analyze the influence of their approaches in the tourism development sector over the EU.  Continue reading

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Jun 15 2021

The Weaponization of Laïcité Against Muslims: Pushing More Towards Extremism

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By Tanzila Jamal

In the last decade, France has seen particularly devastating terrorist attacks with incidents such as the Nice truck attack in 2016 sustaining a death count of nearly 84 people, the series of stabbings at the Notre Dame basilica, or more recently the fatal stabbing of a policewoman in Southern France. With a rise in terrorist attacks, a fervent demand from the public for protection and French policymakers has answered with several policies targeting what they assume to be the primary cause. Policies have included a ban on niqabs (full-face covering) and a ban on burkinis, among others. More recently came a proposal for a series of policies that would aim to target radicalism. These policies are not seen as an infringement on religious freedom through the French concept of “Laïcité”, a principle created in 1905 to promote a more secular France. This article will explicate laïcité and its recent weaponization in marginalizing the French Muslim community, thus pushing more to extremism.

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Jun 26 2020

Ideology and Polarization in times of Coronavirus

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By Javier Padilla and Belén Hípola

The coronavirus crisis has reinforced some of the tendencies that were already taking place for some time. In the United States, before the demonstrations initiated by George Floyd’s death began, Donald Trump alternated between public appearances calling for lockdown and appeals to ‘liberate’ the democrat states from the ‘oppressing’ measures their governors would have been taking. His erratic management led to conflicts with several governors, among them some republicans. However, the population’s perception of Trump’s management of the health crisis has been determined by their mentality prior to the pandemic: Most Republicans approve of it while Democrats almost unanimously consider it a failure. This phenomenon, called affective polarization by Iyengar y Westwood, can affect technical as well as personal issues.  In the recent years, the number of Americans who declare that they would not want their children to get married with someone of the opposing party has increased. As Rogowski and Sutherland have shown, affective polarization is conditioned by ideology: the closer the person gets to the extremes, the greater the contempt for the opponent. 

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Apr 27 2020

The vaccine Portugal discovered which Italy doesn’t know about

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By Alessio Colonnelli

The importance of April 25 in Italy and Portugal can hardly be overstated. Both celebrate being freed from a violent dictatorial regime. A day to get the flag out and put it on your balcony on full display. Lots of green and red everywhere in town. And plenty of sunshine to make it a perfect day. A southern European July 4 of sorts.

Similarities end here, though. Portugal has experienced the coronavirus crisis very differently; it went into lockdown comparatively earlier. The gravity of it all was grasped sooner. António Costa’s government’s measures – health and financial – have been endorsed by the opposition throughout.

Rui Rio, president of the centre-right Social Democratic Party and leader of the opposition, publicly said last week that attacking Costa’s left-leaning executive “is not patriotic” at times like these. He also sent a letter to party members to remind them of this vital message, which also advocates for the country’s unity. A sign of political maturity. You should be so lucky to find anything like this in Italy.  Continue reading

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Apr 26 2020

The European Ecological Transition in the ‘Post-Covid’ Era

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By Andrea Pérez Ruiz and Kilian Wirthwein Vega

Only a few months ago, the Ifema congress centre in Madrid, now a field hospital, hosted the COP 25 climate summit, whose task was to close the rule book of the Paris Agreement. At that time, an energetic von der Leyen had just taken up her post as President of the European Commission in a difficult context to lead the European Union. The green parties were gaining strength in the European Parliament, which had lost the traditional absolute majority between the European People’s Party (EPP) and the Socialists & Democrats (S&D) in the May 2019 elections. This parliamentary fragmentation, the need for a new impetus to the European project in the context of Brexit, and the aim of addressing citizens’ concerns about climate change were important factors in the adoption of the ambitious European Green Deal as the flagship project of Ursula von der Leyen’s new mandate. The current Covid-19 crisis, however, opens up a new set of political and economic uncertainties: decisions taken now could either hamper the Commission’s green agenda or lay the ground for paradigmatic shifts to facilitate the transition to a green economy.

Von der Leyen’s efforts to get the new Commission off to a productive start and to set the tone for the entire legislature have been reflected in the speed with which the Green Deal was proposed (in the first 11 days of her term). In addition, as early as March, the Commission unveiled several of the initiatives arising from this pact. First of all, the European Climate Law, which aims to give force of law to the objective of climate neutrality and which is pending approval by the European Parliament and the Council. Secondly, the new European Industrial Strategy, which aims to help European industry maintain its global competitiveness in the new geopolitical context, while making the transition to climate neutrality and digital leadership. In addition, the New Circular Economy Action Plan has also come to light, which aims to transform product manufacturing methods and give consumers tools to choose sustainable products, thus accelerating the ecological transition. Continue reading

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Dec 21 2019

Greta does not need to be saved, she needs to be listened

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By Victoria Abi Saab and Miguel Angel Zhan Dai

Through a comparaison with Malala Yusafzai, the authors aim to undertsand the campaign of demonisation and decredibilisation specifically targeted at another young activist, Greta Thunberg. First, the nature of their messages is different: the education of women is not a challenge for the western status quo. Meanwhile, Greta poses a systemic change, which is inherently conflicting. Secondly, the form of the messages is different, while Malala has been reduced by some to a girl who inherently needs to be saved. Greta advocates for actions, she uses her anger and refuses to be reduced to the role of passive victim. Thus, Malala is accepted as a fetishized object, consolidating the narrative of European liberal progress and satisfying the Western Savior complex while Greta receives insults because she poses a double challenge to hegemonic discourses regarding the climate crisis, both in nature and in form.

As people who grew up as a political activists, we deeply respect what Malala Yousafzai and Greta Thunberg have done to raise awareness among the youth and the not so young. They became important, global voices. They both carried the burden of becoming poster child. Yet, despite both being girls of approximate the same age, willing to come forward and deliver a message to a global audience, Malala never suffered the level of misogyny, decredibilisation and hate experienced by Greta. Continue reading

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Dec 11 2019

Debate: Social Fragmentation in Catalonia: a civil conflict?

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This event explored the endogenous historical factors and contemporary dynamics that have led to unprecedented political polarisation and social fragmentation within Catalonia around the issues of secession, ethnic identity and language. The event took place on Faw 2.04, Fawcett House, on Tuesday 3 Decemeber 2019.

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Dec 11 2019

Turkish populism as a “Theory-reconstructing” case study

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By Yaprak Gürsoy

Although there is consensus that the AKP is a populist party it does not directly resemble European or Latin American cases of populism. By exploring the case of Turkey and its difference with Europe and Latin American populism, the author argues that rather than trying to adapt the cases to the pre-existing typologies of populism, scholarly work should also be open to the idea of reconsidering their definitions if it does not fit the peculiarities of the countries.

General interest and academic work on populism have significantly expanded since the 1990s, as evidenced by the number of books with “populism” or “populists” in their title jumping from around 450 in the 1990s to above 700 in the first decade of the 2000s. This surge of interest was certainly due to the rise of radical right in Europe and the changing character of populist movements in Americas from the 1990s onward. Reflecting the trends in these regions, academic work and commentaries on populism still maintain their focus on Europe and the Americas. Despite progress that has been made in understanding populism, its consequences and causes, the literature still lacks a truly global perspective. Continue reading

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Dec 11 2019

Why the European Stability Mechanism reform should be postponed

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By Shahin ValléeJérémie Cohen-SettonPaul De Grauwe and Sebastian Dullien

Eurozone finance ministers reached a preliminary agreement on a reform of the European Stability Mechanism in June, but failed to conclude it last week. The reform is now set to be discussed during the European Council meeting on 12-13 December. The authors argue that the proposal should not be endorsed in its current form. They argue it would represent a missed opportunity to secure a broader and more ambitious reform package.

At the December European Council, EU leaders will be asked to endorse a reform of the European Stability Mechanism (ESM). They should refuse to do so. Closing the ESM negotiations now would remove an important element from a better potential reform package. Indeed, the reform is highly imperfect and imbalanced, and the issue of euro area reform deserves a broader and more ambitious agenda. Continue reading

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