Political Economy

Japan's Next Lackluster Election Comes this Weekend

On 10 July, Japanese voters will go to the polls in the triennial upper house election. The candidates will be all-too-familiar faces; the party leaders wooden; and policy menus unpalatable. The contest is for only half the seats and voters are expected to either vote for the political status quo or not vote at all.

British Brexit was a Victory for Far Right Politics

The Leave Campaign’s relentless focus on immigration has seen a rise in hate crime and been acclaimed by Far Right groups across the EU.

Members of the victorious Leave Campaign in June 23’s referendum on EU membership (Brexit) claimed to have noble ambitions for the UK. They wanted to “take back sovereignty” and “democratic control”.

Will this be the Year of Japan's Democratic Party (DP)?

The 2016 triennial House of Councillors or upper house election is set to test Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s policy and popularity. Although the House of Councillors is less powerful than the House of Representatives, past prime ministers have been forced to resign after poor electoral results in the upper house. Prime Minister Abe does not face that prospect. His party is likely to suffer losses, though not big enough to lose majority.

Liberalism Takes Some Punches

Back in 1991, the eminent political scientist Samuel Huntington pointed out that democratic transitions around the world often come in waves.  He pointed to a “third wave” of democratization that began in the 1970s with Spain and Portugal and continued into the 1980s, particularly in Eastern Europe and Latin America.  After he wrote his book, this liberal wave seemed only to pick up speed, with transitions in the 1990s in parts of Africa and Asia.

Additional Thoughts on the UK and Spain

The UK has decided to seek a divorce from the EU after a 43-year rocky marriage.  It was not an overwhelming decision.  Brexit won by 52%-48% margin, seemingly too small for such a momentous decision. The UK has not decided exactly when it will formally begin the divorce proceedings, and it still wants to be friends.

In Asia, Gender Quotas Were Supposed to Help Female Politicians

In January 2016, Tsai Ing-wen made history after being elected as Taiwan’s first female president. Several women before her such as Park Geun-hye in South Korea, Ying-luck Shinawatra in Thailand and Aung San Suu Kyi in Myanmar have all risen to top political leadership in recent years. With these high-profile female politicians featured in the media, it may appear that the political glass ceiling has been shattered in East Asia.

The Young Need to Turnout to Vote

We showed that younger age cohorts in the UK are more inclined to vote to stay in the EU than their elders.  However, some suggested that this consideration is blunted by the fact that the younger people are less likely to vote.

That may have been the case, but as this Great Graphic of intention by the pollster ORB (h/t @joshTANoble) shows, the situation is more dynamic.

Gun Manufacturers Face another Legal Challenge

Last year families of the Sandy Hook shooting filed a potentially precedent-setting lawsuit. They sued the manufacturer of the AR-15 rifle that Adam Lanza used to gun down 20 schoolchildren and their teachers in a small town in Connecticut in 2012.