Why the Golden Dawn is a Neo-Nazi Party

Daphne Halikiopoulou (University of Reading) and Sofia Vasilopoulou (University of York), first posted on Huffington Post

With the on-going Golden Dawn trial in Greece there has been much debate as to whether the Golden Dawn is a neo-Nazi group. The party itself has rejected the Neo-Nazi label, arguing that that this terminology may only be applied to Hitler’s regime. They instead term themselves ‘Greek nationalists’, emphasising that the party does not espouse the ideas of German National Socialism of the inter-war period. Proponents of terming the Golden Dawn Neo-Nazi have focused on the party’s past use of Nazi symbols, for example the swastika, the Nazi anthem and various other paraphernalia. The Golden Dawn however has been careful to remove such references in its more recent activities, since its election in 2012. Continue reading

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Anti-immigrant attitudes in the UK are among the strongest in Europe

Dr Tim Vlandas, First posted at LSE Brexit blog

The vote for Brexit took place. I had hoped that this would have been the end of the obsession with immigration. Brexit would allow the UK to ‘take back control’ of  its immigration policy, thereby nullifying the need for politicians to talk about it on an almost daily basis. However, in fact the reverse is happening. Having decided to leave the EU, the vote is increasingly interpreted as a call to end immigration almost entirely and, furthermore, it is discussed even more often and more negatively than before the referendum.

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GEOPOLITICS AND TRADE – What Sir Halford Mackinder would have said about the Referendum

A singular failure of the current referendum campaign that can be attributed equally to both sides has been an absence of any attempt to articulate the nature of Britain’s geopolitical relationship to Europe. By geopolitics I do not mean its current form of usage: serving merely as a synonym for international strategic rivalry. What can be described as classical geopolitics is a confluence of three subjects: geography, history and strategy. The reason why geopolitics can provide guidance in practical matters is because it doesn’t obey the artificial boundaries of disciplinary knowledge; it requires synthetic thought to address policy problems and issues. Furthermore, the problems and issues themselves do not respect those boundaries: nor do the solutions. Continue reading

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‘Once more unto the breach’

‘Once more unto the breach’ –

On Hillary Benn and Fighting Wars with Words

Dr Nadya Ali

Shadow Home Secretary Hillary Benn has emerged as the unlikely oratory hero through his speech to the House of Commons during the debate on whether to carry out airstrikes in Syria. It has been hailed as ‘extraordinary’ and as one “that will go down as one of the truly great speeches made in this House of Commons”. Benn has been described as ‘the mouse that roared’ and now even as a potential leadership candidate. The effusive coverage of the speech comes in the aftermath of the successful vote which enables the extension of British airstrikes targeting Islamic State (IS) from Iraq into Syria. Leaving aside the context of internal Labour party politics, Benn’s words have a resonance and political utility that extend far beyond the party. Nadya Ali argues despite the plaudits and unlike Shakespeare’s Henry V, Benn did not deliver a great speech but simply the right speech. Continue reading

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How do we decide what is in the national interest?

Dr Adam Humphreys

David Cameron recently described Jeremy Corbyn’s support for nuclear disarmament as a threat to national security. During his premiership, Gordon Brown argued for sweeping reforms to tackle global challenges such as climate change, poverty and the failing banking system, all in the name of ‘the national interest’. But how should we evaluate such political rhetoric? Adam Humphreys highlights the distinction between reformist and conservative reasoning in deciding what a nation really needs. Continue reading

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Electoral Disproportionality: What Is It and How Should We Measure It?

Alan Renwick

Note: A shorter, less technical version of this post is available on the Constitution Unit blog. Readers seeking a quick answer to the question of whether the UK election was the most disproportional the UK has seen are encouraged to go there.

In a report published earlier this month, the Electoral Reform Society declares the 2015 general election “the most disproportional election to date in the UK”. The ERS’s website cranks up the rhetoric further: “It’s official: this election was the most disproportionate in UK history.” In marked contrast, my own first cut at analysing the election results, published a few weeks earlier, said that this was not the UK’s most disproportional election: that, indeed, it was the least disproportional since 1992. Continue reading

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What Does Eurovision 2015 Tell Us about Voting Systems?

Would a different voting system have produced a different result in Eurovision 2015? And what are the implications for our understanding of the merits of different electoral rules? In this post, Dr Alan Renwick investigates.

The Eurovision Song Contest is over for another year and Sweden has been crowned the winner. But can we be confident that Sweden really deserve the crown? We know that different electoral systems can produce very different outcomes. That applies to Eurovision just as much as to any other contest: in 2011, for example, while Azerbaijan won the official vote, other voting systems that are widely used in public elections around the world would have given the top spot to Bosnia and Italy. So could different counting rules have selected a different winner this time round? Continue reading

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The Chances of Electoral Reform Revisited

Has the election result made electoral reform more likely? In an update to a post published just before the election, Alan Renwick argues that it has not.

On Wednesday I wrote a post suggesting that, while the election result might well strengthen the case for electoral reform, the barriers to such reform would remain very high. The election result turns out not to be quite as we were expecting. So are my earlier thoughts on electoral reform in need of revision?

The answer is yes – at least a bit. The case for reform has not been strengthened as much as I expected. And the barriers to reform are even higher. Continue reading

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Could electoral reform really happen?

Could the results of tomorrow’s general election really lead to change in the electoral system? Many commentators seem to think yes. Alan Renwick here offers some reason for caution.

Lots of people are suddenly talking about electoral reform. Never mind that the British electorate voted by 68 per cent to 32 per cent in a referendum in 2011 against dropping First Past the Post in favour of the Alternative Vote (AV) system, there is a growing feeling among some activists and commentators that change is on the way. First Past the Post, the argument goes, works well in a world of two-party politics. But now that we have seven-party politics, it produces absurd results that no one can defend. Pressure for reform will bubble up and force a shift.

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Designing a Constitutional Convention for the UK: Getting the Details Right Really Matters

Dr Alan Renwick

The prospects for a citizen-led constitutional convention in the UK have been transformed over the past twelve months.  When I wrote a pamphlet last April arguing the case for such a convention, I was frequently told that, much as my analysis was interesting and the idea intriguing, it just wasn’t going to happen.  Politicians care about the institutions that shape their power and they therefore won’t accept processes that give influence over the shape of those institutions to others.

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