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Only public dialogue can resolve Poland’s judicial reform crisis

New disciplinary procedures for Polish judges have generated a sharply polarised response from Polish citizens. The reforms are part of a wider judicial reform programme the ruling Law and Justice party has implemented since coming to power in 2015. Anna Matczak argues that while politicians often cite public opinion when making their case for or against the reforms, there has been little considered reflection on what the public actually wants. Since 2015, Poland has experienced a gradual...

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Britain needs friends in the post-Brexit era. Alienating EU allies would be counter-productive

Amid the posturing about trade, the fact that Britain no longer has a voice in the EU has gone largely unremarked, writes N Piers Ludlow. He warns that alienating European allies by talking tough risks harming the UK’s soft power and long-term interests. At the heart of Edward Heath’s speech winding up the so-called ‘Great Debate’ in October 1971, when the Commons was asked to take the decision in principle whether or not Britain should join the European Economic Community (EEC), was an...

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Lessons from another extraordinary general election in Ireland

Sinn Féin won the highest share of the vote at Ireland’s general election on 8 February. As Conor Little explains, the late surge in support for the party was so unexpected that it failed to run enough candidates in the election to fully capitalise on its popularity. The resulting volatility, fragmentation and polarisation will make coalition negotiations challenging, and a new general election later in the year remains a possibility. Ireland’s general election took place on Saturday 8...

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Introducing eastern Germany’s far-right intellectuals

On 5 February, Thomas Kemmerich of the Free Democratic Party (FDP) was elected as Minister President of Thuringia with the help of the Alternative for Germany (AfD). Sabine Volk explains that the incident, which has generated a heated reaction in Germany, highlights the role of far-right groups in shaping public debate in eastern Germany. Following the AfD’s coup in Thuringia and the resulting political earthquake in German party politics, eastern Germany has once again moved into the...

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What are the prospects for the Polish Peasant Party?

The unexpected success of Poland’s agrarian-centrist party in last autumn’s parliamentary election suggests that there could be a niche for a moderate conservative-centrist grouping among voters uncomfortable with the country’s right-wing ruling party and liberal-left opposition, writes Aleks Szczerbiak. But, critics argue, in spite of its changing electorate and apparently more open political style, the agrarian party remains a deeply pragmatic, office-seeking grouping rooted in provincial...

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Book Review: The Bourdieu Paradigm: The Origins and Evolution of an Intellectual Social Project by Derek Robbins

In The Bourdieu Paradigm: The Origins and Evolution of an Intellectual Social Project, Derek Robbins explores the intellectual and social background informing the development of the theoretical perspective, or theory-as-method, of Pierre Bourdieu. Given the increasing application of Bourdieu’s theoretical tools across the social sciences, this book is a timely addition to scholarship, writes Ross Goldstone.  The Bourdieu Paradigm: The Origins and Evolution of an Intellectual Social Project....

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A political economy forecast of Ireland’s 2020 general election: Will the government lose fewer seats than expected?

Irish voters will go to the polls today for a general election. Michael S. Lewis-Beck and Stephen Quinlan outline a new forecast model which suggests that Leo Varadkar’s Fine Gael will lose seats, but perhaps fewer than opinion polls currently suggest. Irish voters head to the ballot box today. According to recent national opinion polls, we are on the cusp of a seismic shift, with the outgoing Fine Gael led minority coalition bound for defeat and the dominant two parties, Fine Gael and Fianna...

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Far-right, populist or bourgeois? How the election of Thuringia’s regional governor shakes up German politics

The election of liberal politician Thomas Kemmerich as regional governor of the German state of Thuringia has shaken up German politics. Julian Göpffarth writes that the surprise vote shows far-right ideas in Germany not only resonate with the economically left-behind, but also with an educated bourgeoisie. Wednesday, 5 February 2020 is likely to enter German post war history as a political earthquake. Against all expectations, the incumbent left-wing regional governor Bodo Ramelow, who has...

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Brexit and the liberal elephant trap

Given the success of populist politicians across Europe, some pro-Europeans have openly wondered whether they should adopt the same tactics as populist parties to make the case for European integration. Michael Cottakis argues that this would be a mistake. To reverse the trend, pro-Europeans must quit dabbling in populism and instead play to their strengths by promoting dialogue and substantive policy reform. This week, pro-European politicians will feel a deep sense of Brexit regret. On...

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Azerbaijan’s snap election: a real contest or business as usual?

Azerbaijan will hold a snap parliamentary election on 9 February. Arzu Geybullayeva explains that although there is little expectation the vote will be genuinely free and fair, there is a sense that this election could constitute a break with the past given the visibility of new candidates. However, it remains to be seen whether this will translate into real change once voters go to the polls. On Sunday, 9 February, Azerbaijani citizens will vote in a snap parliamentary election. But only...

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