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Tag Archives: current-affairs

The fate of Alexander Lukashenko’s regime rests on the loyalty of his security apparatus

Despite widespread protests, Alexander Lukashenko was sworn in for his sixth term as President of Belarus on 23 September. Olena Nikolayenko writes that while there have been a small number of resignations by rank and file police officers over the state’s handling of the protests, the security apparatus has largely remained loyal to the regime. Unless this situation changes, it will be difficult for the opposition to gain the upper hand. On 23 September, Alexander Lukashenko took the oath of...

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Assessing the impact of Covid-19 on the EU’s response to irregular migration

Covid-19 has once again put EU solidarity to the test. Nadia Petroni writes that while much of the focus has been on the pandemic’s impact on healthcare and the European economy, it has also pushed states further apart on the issue of irregular migration. Prior to the Covid-19 outbreak, the issue of irregular migration had been at the top of the EU’s political agenda for over a decade. At the same time, the governance of migration proved to be the most complex and problematic area of...

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Governments will soon be talking about ‘benefit cheats’ and ‘scroungers’ – political scientists should do the same

The Covid-19 pandemic is expected to create significant unemployment across Europe. Carlo Knotz writes that if past-crises are anything to go by, there is a high likelihood this could revive political debates about benefit fraud and disincentives to work. He argues that political scientists should aim to play a central role in these debates to explain the trade-offs that come with reforming benefit systems, and the dynamics and drivers of public concern about the unemployed. Concerns about...

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Why far right party success is about alliances between voters with different immigration grievances, and not just about culture

Support for the far right is often explained with reference to a ‘cultural backlash’ against cosmopolitanism, globalisation and immigration. Drawing on a new study, Daphne Halikiopoulou and Tim Vlandas explain that while these cultural explanations have some merit, there has been a tendency to overlook the importance of economic concerns about immigration for the electoral success of far right parties. Academics and pundits alike often attribute the rise of the far right to cultural threats....

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Europe and the Digital Cold War: Is the EU technologically vulnerable?

The tech rivalry between China and the United States has been characterised by some observers as a ‘Digital Cold War’. Dimitar Lilkov argues that in the technological arms race of the future, the EU may quickly find itself falling behind. In a seminal article, Swedish polymath Nick Bostrom posits the ‘vulnerable world’ hypothesis. It is a complex premise which assumes that the chance of a destructive event occurring globally is quite likely if technological advancement continues in a...

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Italy’s constitutional referendum: The right solution to long-standing problems?

On 20-21 September, Italy will go to the polls for a referendum on reducing the size of both chambers of the Italian Parliament. Matteo Garavoglia previews the referendum, which opinion polls suggest is likely to result in a strong vote in favour of the proposal. He argues that while the appeal of reducing the number of politicians is understandable, there has been relatively little attention paid to the question of whether or not the reform will actually enhance or diminish the quality of...

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Why the EU should put innovation at the centre of its recovery plan

Innovation is often viewed as a key driver of economic growth. Yet as Marcel de Heide and Gosse Vuijk write, the recent agreement between EU leaders on a Covid-19 recovery package cut funding for some programmes linked to innovation. They argue the European Parliament should push for innovation to be placed at the centre of the recovery plan. Europe is facing an unprecedented crisis and as a consequence a threat to its unity. The health, social and economic consequences of the Covid-19...

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Social distancing: Why has compliance been so different across Europe?

A common response to the Covid-19 pandemic across Europe has been for states to promote social distancing. Yet the level of compliance from citizens has varied substantially between countries. Drawing on data from Switzerland, Neha Deopa and Piergiuseppe Fortunato provide an illustration of the impact cultural attitudes and behavioural norms can have on compliance with social distancing measures. Rarely in history have we witnessed such a homogeneous policy response to a shock as in the case...

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Italy’s constitutional referendum: Yet another reform to improve the country’s governability

Italy will hold a constitutional referendum on 20-21 September which proposes to reduce the size of both chambers of the Italian parliament. Matthew E. Bergman provides the background to the vote and assesses the potential political consequences. On 20-21 September, Italians will go to the polls for yet another constitutional referendum aimed at reforming the political system – the country’s fourth such referendum since 2000. This referendum specifically targets the size of the legislative...

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Team performance and the perception of being observed: Insights from a natural experiment in football

Due to Covid-19, many football matches across Europe have been played behind closed doors. Drawing on recent research, Massimiliano Ferraresi and Gianluca Gucciardi assess how team performance is affected by the presence of supporters. Using data from the top divisions in England, France, Germany, Italy, and Spain, they find that home teams won fewer points when playing behind closed doors than they would have achieved with supporters in attendance, which potentially offers some insights on...

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