Understanding and measuring political leadership is a complex business. Though we all have ideals of what makes a ‘good’ leader, they are often complex, contradictory and more than a little partisan. Is it about their skills, their morality or just ‘getting things done’? And how can we know if they succeed or fail (and why?). From Machiavelli onwards we have wrestled with our idea of what a perfect leader should look like.
Theresa May’s desperate search for an ally after a calamitous 2017 General Election saw the Democratic Unionist Party come under scrutiny like never before. The DUP is a party which has moved from its fundamentalist Protestant Paisleyite past – but not at a pace always noticeable to outsiders. The DUP is comfortable in its own skin. So, who are the DUP’s members and what do they think?
Branding predicted Brexit. This bald assertion points to a fascinating truth about the art of branding. Because branding feeds on, and feeds into, popular culture, it’s often a leading indicator of bigger, political phenomena. Where branding leads, the rest of us follow. Let me explain. 2016 was the year of populism. Among other things, the phenomenon of Brexit and Trump was a popular backlash against the globalisation.
In 2006, the political scientist Lieven De Winter pronounced “overdose of success” as the cause of death of the Belgian autonomist party, the Volksunie (People’s Union). The trajectory of the United Kingdom Independence Party bears some striking resemblances.
Is the world becoming less belligerent and more peaceful? This proposition encounters widespread disbelief, as most people are very surprised by the claim that we live in the most peaceful period in history. Are we not flooded with reports and images in the media of conflicts around the world today?
Climate change is one of the most pervasive global threats to peace and security in the 21st century. But how many people would list this as a key factor in international relations and domestic welfare? In reality, climate change touches all areas of security, peace building, and development. The impacts of climate change are already adversely affecting vulnerable communities, as well as stretching the capacities of societies and governments.
This year marks the 50th anniversary of the Supreme Court Case that ruled prohibitions on interracial marriages unconstitutional. The decision and the brave couple, Richard and Mildred Loving, who challenged the Virginia statute denying their union because he was deemed a white man and she, a black woman, deserve celebration. The couple had grown up […]
The complex (and often tragic) saga of post-presidential retirements is well-known. Some presidents, such as Herbert Hoover, were independently-wealthy and thus spent their years after the White House in economic security. Other presidents, such as Woodrow Wilson, lived only briefly after their service in the Oval Office. Yet other former presidents experienced great financial difficulties in retirement.
There is something unusual about the 2017 UK general election. It is the way in which all the manifestos clearly make their promises conditional on the ‘good Brexit deal’ that they claim to be able to secure. They are not the only ones. On 11 May the Governor of the Bank of England Mark Carney reassured the markets that the ‘good Brexit deal’ would stabilise our economy after 2019, and the markets were duly sedated.
On the evening of 7 May, Emmanuel Macron walked, almost marched, slowly across the courtyard of the Louvre to make his first speech as the President elect of the French Fifth Republic. He did so not, as others would have done, to the music of the “Marseillaise” but to the final movement of Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony – the “Ode to Joy”, the anthem of the European Union. It was, wrote Natalie Nougayrède in the Guardian, “the most meaningful, inspiring symbol Macron could choose”.
Apparently there is a Chinese proverb that says ‘unless there is opposing wind, a kite cannot rise’ but in the context of British politics it appears that only one kite is really rising, and the other is tumbling down. If truth be told the wind of opposition has arguably been so feeble that the Labour Party’s kite appears leaden rather than light.
While these behaviors may be no more troubling to a large swath of the electorate in the United States than revolving door lobbyists or campaign finance run amok, they should be. Some legal scholars contend that cumulatively, Trump’s actions may well violate the emoluments clause of the US Constitution. Taken individually, however, none of his actions seem likely to be illegal or corrupt.
Today, the United States is experiencing a surge of law and order fundamentalism in the US-Mexico borderland. As it pertains to the international divide, law and order fundamentalism as a political ideology has a long genealogy that stretches back to the late nineteenth century. It is grounded in anti-Mexicanism as well as the abiding conviction that the border is inherently dangerous and “needs” to be policed.
This March, President Trump paid a visit to the Hermitage, the Tennessee home of his favorite predecessor, Andrew Jackson. Trump was uncharacteristically modest. He stood at the grave of Old Hickory, saluting for the cameras. Then he sent this beyond-the-grave message: “We thank you for your service. We honor your memory. We build on your legacy and we thank God for the USA!” What legacy does Trump want to build on?
Brazil has had a strong diplomatic tradition of being involved in international affairs, and has recently intensified its efforts to acquire more prominence and leverage in global issues. At the beginning of the 2000s, and under the leadership and popularity of former president ‘Lula’ da Silva, all eyes were on this country. Brazil was portrayed as a promising emerging market and rising power.
A majority of Britain’s farmers voted for Brexit in the referendum. This is perhaps surprising in the context of an industry which receives around £3 billion in subsidies from the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP), and yet comprises only about 0.7% GDP. Of all the vested interests, British farmers have more to lose from Brexit than almost any other industry. From the public interest perspective, there is much to gain.