current-affairs

Boris Johnson’s real agenda: The ‘Singapore scenario’

While much attention has focused on when or if Britain’s new Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, will succeed in taking the UK out of the EU, the longer-term agenda of a Johnson-led Conservative administration has been pushed into the background. This is unfortunate. Johnson’s dream, should his premiership survive, is of a post-Brexit Britain akin to a European ‘Singapore of […]

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    When parliaments’ second chambers are reformed and the implications for democracy

When parliaments’ second chambers are reformed and the implications for democracy

In recent years there have been several attempts by Western European governments to reform second chambers, though the majority of proposals have failed to pass. Michelangelo Vercesi assesses the conditions when such reforms are proposed, and finds that they are often instigated during times of democratic strain when the governing party wishes to reduce the number of veto players. However, the […]

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Which courts are driving legal integration in Europe?

It has long been believed that judges at the lower echelons of the judiciary are the drivers of legal integration in Europe. Yet, drawing on a new study, Arthur Dyevre and Monika Glavina show that this is not what the data says. Analysing the entirety of preliminary references submitted by domestic courts from 1961 to 2017, they demonstrate that […]

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    Popular populists: Do anti-establishment voters stick with populist parties after they enter the mainstream?

Popular populists: Do anti-establishment voters stick with populist parties after they enter the mainstream?

Self-proclaimed populist challengers to the ‘establishment’ have taken hold in many European countries, but what lies behind the success of these parties? Werner Krause and Aiko Wagner show the reasons for voting for populist parties vary systematically with the degree of establishment of these parties. If citizens distrust national parliaments and believe the political mainstream is not responsive to […]

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    How the beliefs of European leaders changed throughout the Eurozone crisis

How the beliefs of European leaders changed throughout the Eurozone crisis

The management of the Eurozone crisis reflected the beliefs held by Europe’s political leaders. Drawing on a new study, Marij Swinkels assesses how these beliefs shifted throughout the crisis. Spanish, Italian and French leaders moved away from their Keynesian core beliefs and adopted a more ‘ordoliberal’ orientation as the crisis progressed, while Dutch, UK, and Irish leaders held more […]

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    How interest groups inform policymakers about what the public wants

How interest groups inform policymakers about what the public wants

Interest groups provide policymakers with policy relevant information such as technical expertise and legal information. However, an important question is whether interest groups also inform policymakers about what the public wants, given that they are often seen as transmission belts of public preferences. Drawing on a new study, Linda Flöthe presents a detailed analysis of whether and when interest […]

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    Is democracy going digital? Why the Twitter debate on Catalonia’s independence matters

Is democracy going digital? Why the Twitter debate on Catalonia’s independence matters

Looking at the case of the Catalonia independence debate, Joan Balcells and Albert Padró-Solanet find that the popular perception of social media as creating polarised echo-chambers of extreme political opinions is far from the full picture. They find evidence that Twitter can foster engaged, substantive conversations across partisan lines. This picture demonstrates how social media has the capacity to genuinely improve democratic discussions, […]

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    How informal groupings of like-minded states are coming to dominate EU foreign policy governance

How informal groupings of like-minded states are coming to dominate EU foreign policy governance

When the Lisbon Treaty came into force in 2009, many observers anticipated the newly established High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, together with the European External Action Service, might facilitate greater unity and coherence in EU foreign policy. Drawing on evidence from the EU’s role in the Middle East Peace Process, Federica Bicchi and Lisbeth Aggestam illustrate […]

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    Post-Brexit trade policy must serve British society, not just free trade

Post-Brexit trade policy must serve British society, not just free trade

Brexit provides an opportunity to agree new Economic Partnership Agreements with the world’s largest economies such as the US, China, and India. These cannot make up for the trade it will lose through leaving the Single Market, according to Swati Dhingra and Josh De Lyon. Nevertheless, the UK has an opportunity to forge a new generation of trade deals that […]

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The symbolism of the new Greek government

New Democracy, led by Kyriakos Mitsotakis, won the Greek legislative elections on 7 July. Zoe Lefkofridi and Sevasti Chatzopoulou write that although it is still too early to judge the new Greek government, there are already some clear indications of the trajectory it is likely to take in the coming years.

On 7 July, Greeks went to the polls for […]

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Five transport policies that could build thriving cities

One of the key roles of transport planners in large cities is to ensure that high levels of mobility are maintained while traffic congestion is kept to a minimum. Sarah Colenbrander and Catarina Heeckt write that accessibility within cities hasn’t become better despite urban planners’ best efforts. Creative solutions are needed to create better interconnected and concentrated cities.

Over the […]

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    Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer’s uphill battle as Germany’s new defence minister

Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer’s uphill battle as Germany’s new defence minister

Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer, who remains the favourite to succeed Angela Merkel as German chancellor, became the new German Defence Minister on 17 July. Marcus Walsh-Führing examines what her appointment means for the CDU and Merkel’s political legacy.

Ever since Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer (AKK) took over as chair of the German Christian Democratic Union (CDU), the party has had to deal with […]

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    Most trade in services happens between cities rather than countries

Most trade in services happens between cities rather than countries

Services, as opposed to goods, may provide the opportunity for trade diversification that the world is seeking. Saul Estrin and Daniel Shapiro write that facilitating trade in services, particularly knowledge-intensive ones, will require developing strong global cities as trade hubs.
Many countries have begun to think about trade diversification. After all, one of the reasons for Brexit was to allow […]

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Grand corruption and the authoritarian turn

If incoming governments in liberal democracies wish to use public contracts to benefit those loyal to them, they face institutional constraints. To implement corrupt procurement strategies they would need to sabotage these checks and balances. By comparing procurement data from Hungary and the UK, Liz Dávid-Barrett and Mihály Fazekas identify the relative effect of such anti-democratic institutional changes, as seen in Hungary, on government patronage.

Is […]

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    The waking giant goes back to sleep: European integration in the Greek elections

The waking giant goes back to sleep: European integration in the Greek elections

The prospect of Greece leaving the eurozone once dominated the country’s political agenda. Yet as Susannah Verney writes, in the 2019 Greek elections, relations with the EU were simply not an issue. She argues this quick change in the political climate demonstrates that unlike in the UK, Greek citizens were not motivated by a desire to reject the principle […]

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    How politicisation facilitates responsiveness in the European Union

How politicisation facilitates responsiveness in the European Union

The politicisation of EU policies is often seen as a threat to European integration. But as Iskander De Bruycker explains, politicisation also presents possibilities for better public scrutiny of EU policymaking. Drawing on a new study, he illustrates that the politicisation of EU policy processes can strengthen both public and policy responsiveness.

The recent negotiations to appoint key EU positions […]

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The impact of job loss on political ideology

Do citizens alter their political ideology when they lose their job? Drawing on data from the Netherlands, Dingeman Wiertz and Toni Rodon find that – if anything – people revise their ideology to the left upon becoming unemployed.

What happens to citizens’ political preferences when they are confronted with economic hardship? This longstanding question has recently attracted renewed attention in […]

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    Assessing Ursula von der Leyen’s proposals for a new chapter in European cooperation

Assessing Ursula von der Leyen’s proposals for a new chapter in European cooperation

Ursula von der Leyen will take over as the new President of the European Commission on 1 November. Dennis J. Snower examines her proposals for the European Union and what the likely effect will be for the integration process, noting that a key theme in her vision for the EU is the need to invest in the hearts and […]

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The EU’s institutional response to the Brexit vote

Angélica Szucko discusses the EU White Paper on the future of the union and analyses the institutional response to the Brexit vote. The EU has to tackle future challenges in a more flexible way than before and acknowledge that the integration model needs to be revisited.

The UK’s decision to leave the European Union – alongside the recent crises on the continent […]

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What German citizens want from democracy

Although democracy is viewed positively across Europe, surprisingly little is known about the type of democratic processes citizens support. Drawing on new research in Germany, Saskia Goldberg, Dominik Wyss and André Bächtiger illustrate that disenchanted citizens want stronger involvement in political decision-making, irrespective of the concrete participation format.

What do people want from democracy and democratic decision-making? Are they happy […]

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