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  • Author: Scott Flower, Jim Leahy
  • Publication Date: 03-2012
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Lowy Institute for International Policy
  • Abstract: This paper draws on fieldwork undertaken by the authors between January 2011 and January 2012 among local communities in Port Moresby and three of the more unstable highlands provinces of PNG (Southern Highlands, Western Highlands and Enga).
  • Topic: Political Violence, Democratization, Government, Politics, Fragile/Failed State
  • Political Geography: Asia, Australia/Pacific, Guinea
  • Author: William Case
  • Publication Date: 01-2011
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: East-West Center
  • Abstract: In an influential study, Fish and Kroenig argue that "overarching institutional designs" (i.e., presidential, parliamentary, and dual systems) tell us less about the prospects of a new democracy than does the particular strength of the legislature. Specifically, executives are best checked where legislatures are powerful, generating horizontal accountability. In addition, ordinary citizens are better informed by the robust party systems that strong legislatures support, fostering vertical accountability. In comparing Freedom House scores with their Parliamentary Powers Index (PPI), Fish and Kroenig show clear correlations, leading them to conclude that democracies are made strong by legislatures that are empowered. In this monograph, this thesis is tested in five country cases in Southeast Asia: the Philippines and Indonesia, both new democracies, and Malaysia, Cambodia, and Singapore, cases of electoral authoritarianism. Analysis uncovers that in the new democracies, though their legislatures may be rated as powerful, members are geared less to checking the executive than to sharing in state patronage. In addition, although the legislature is evaluated as weak under electoral authoritarianism, it features an opposition that, with little access to patronage, remains committed to exposing executive abuses. What is more, when the executive operates a regime type that lacks the full legitimacy gained through general elections, he or she grows more receptive to at least mild legislative scrutiny. Contrary to Fish and Kroenig, then, this study concludes that the executive is held more accountable by legislatures under electoral authoritarianism than in new democracies. But rather than leading to a transition to democratic politics, this accountability strengthens authoritarian rule.
  • Topic: Civil Society, Democratization, Development, Government, Politics
  • Political Geography: Malaysia, Asia, Cambodia, Singapore
  • Author: Simon Henderson
  • Publication Date: 08-2010
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: For nearly two weeks, the Persian Gulf island state of Bahrain has experienced near-daily disturbances following government arrests of opposition activists from the majority Shiite community. The timing of the arrests seemed geared toward preempting trouble in advance of the scheduled October 23 parliamentary and municipal elections, which minority Sunni parties and candidates are currently projected to win. The street violence and other incidents are of particular concern to the United States because Bahrain hosts the headquarters of the U.S. Fifth Fleet and Naval Forces Central Command, whose mission is to "deter and counter disruptive countries" -- a wording likely aimed at Iran, which claimed the island as its territory prior to 1970.
  • Topic: Political Violence, Government
  • Political Geography: United States, Iran, Middle East, Asia, Arabia
  • Publication Date: 01-2009
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: The election for governor in Indonesia's North Maluku province was one of the most bitterly contested since direct elections for local government heads were introduced in 2005. Held in November 2007, it remains in dispute more than a year later, although a winner has been named and inaugurated. At one point it seemed as if violence between the two sides could escalate into serious communal conflict, in an area where thousands had died in religious violence a decade earlier. By early 2009, however, it looked as though Indonesia's democratic institutions would be resilient enough to cope with an election gone wrong, and the dispute would be quietly resolved in the Constitutional Court. The Court's decision is expected in early February. The dispute that many thought could trigger further turmoil may prove instead to be a minor wrangle in Indonesia's largely successful effort to choose local government leaders by direct popular vote.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Civil Society, Democratization, Government
  • Political Geography: Indonesia, Asia
  • Author: Alexandru Luta
  • Publication Date: 10-2009
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Finnish Institute of International Affairs
  • Abstract: The recent elections for the lower house of Japan's Diet herald the end of the Liberal Democratic Party's (LDP) domination of Japanese politics. The winner, the Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ), aims to thoroughly reform the way the country is governed. The strategic goals of the DPJ's reform agenda are to shift the locus of policy-drafting away from civil servants to the legislature, and to bring the latter firmly under the control of the Prime Minister's Cabinet. In order to be able to work towards its strategic goal, the DPJ needs tactical victories to maintain its popularity with the electorate. The climate negotiations' high profile makes domestic climate policy a natural area for the DPJ to differentiate its political brand from that of the LDP. Just as with governance reform, the DPJ has time and again asserted its commitment to pro-active climate goals both in pre-and post-electoral speeches, at home and abroad. Therefore it is very likely to continue pouring political capital into this policy area. The division between major ministries about how to formulate Japanese climate policy presents a willing Cabinet with structural advantages to assert its leadership successfully. The wider reforms currently being implemented further strengthen the new government's position. There are some factors that might limit the ability of Japan's new leadership to fight climate change. These include how their relationship with domestic media outlets shapes their approval ratings, how the positions of other stakeholders develop, how other electoral promises conflict with the new climate platform, and how the climate negotiations progress on the international level.
  • Topic: Democratization, Government, Politics, Governance
  • Political Geography: Japan, Israel, Asia
  • Author: Katri Pynnöniemi
  • Publication Date: 02-2008
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Finnish Institute of International Affairs
  • Abstract: During recent years, transport and infrastructure development has acquired the status of a 'topic to be mentioned by the president' and other high-level state officials in their public appearances. The rise of transport from almost complete oblivion into the sphere of state strategic interests has been rapid, and it is a subject which is likely to maintain a high profile in the years to come. Success in implementing the current plans for infrastructure development is considered critical in order to generate further economic growth. From the longer-term perspective, it will also be critical in ensuring the diversification of the economy and securing Russia's place amongst the most advanced economies in the world. The modernization of the transport infrastructure is also seen as a lever with which Russia can reposition herself as a power-house in Eurasia. In actual fact, Russia is not a bridge but the dead-end of Eurasia. The country is faced with the enormous task of modernizing its transport infrastructures and implementing structural reforms that have been postponed for years. This would pose a tremendous challenge even in the best possible external circumstances, never mind against the backdrop of inflation and uncertainty in the world markets which exists at present. Something which has changed is that Russia now has the resources and the appropriate legislation in place to carry out these tasks. Yet, even if considerable effort has gone into defining strategic priorities, infrastructure investments are still implemented in an ad-hoc manner. The country is in dire need of massive construction projects. If the quality of the state apparatus in managing government spending does not improve – and there are few signs of that materializing – infrastructure development will become the Trojan horse of the Russian economy.
  • Topic: Development, Government, Political Economy
  • Political Geography: Russia, Europe, Asia
  • Author: Simon Henderson
  • Publication Date: 08-2008
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: Today's resignation of Pakistani president Pervez Musharraf creates a power vacuum in the most crucial country in the fight against al-Qaeda and Islamic extremism. For the foreseeable future, political power in Pakistan will not be in the hands of lackluster prime minister Yousef Raza Gilani, but in those of the ruling coalition rivals -- Benazir Bhutto's widower Asif Ali Zardari and former prime minister Nawaz Sharif. Future political contests will likely emphasize Musharraf's perceived closeness to Washington, an issue that united domestic opinion against him. This growing political reality, in addition to Islamabad's unwillingness to confront Islamic militants, further complicates U.S. policy toward Pakistan.
  • Topic: Government, Islam, Terrorism
  • Political Geography: Pakistan, United States, Asia
  • Author: Simon Henderson
  • Publication Date: 02-2008
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: After a six-week delay following the assassination of opposition leader Benazir Bhutto, Pakistanis will go to the polls on February 18 to elect a new National Assembly. Pakistan and Afghanistan are "where many of our most important interests intersect," as Director of National Intelligence J. Michael McConnell told the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence on February 5. Accordingly, the election results could affect the position of a key U.S. ally in the war on terror -- the increasingly unpopular President Pervez Musharraf.
  • Topic: Government, Politics, Terrorism
  • Political Geography: Pakistan, Afghanistan, United States, Middle East, Asia
  • Author: Nicholas R. Lardy
  • Publication Date: 09-2008
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Peterson Institute for International Economics
  • Abstract: China\'s banking sector has been largely transformed over the past decade. Several of the largest banks have been restructured, recapitalized, and listed. Governance has improved, notably through the appointment of independent members to boards of directors. A vigorous new regulatory and supervisory agency, the China Banking Regulatory Commission (CBRC), has introduced new accounting standards, a revised risk weighting system for measuring capital, more rigorous loan loss criteria, heightened provisioning requirements, and other significant changes. Foreign banks have entered the market, both through their own branches and subsidiaries and through strategic investments in domestic banks, bringing better banking practices and much needed additional competition.
  • Topic: Economics, Government
  • Political Geography: China, Asia
  • Author: Vesselin Popovski, G Shabbir Cheema, Cameron Lowry, Mark Notaras
  • Publication Date: 07-2008
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: United Nations University
  • Abstract: Scholars and development practitioners recognize the centrality of governance capacity to achieve sustainable peace and development objectives, including the eradication of extreme poverty, access to services and livelihoods, promotion of economic growth, environmental protection and gender equality among others. With these in view, developing countries are emphasizing the need to improve governance systems and processes to promote people-centered sustainability. The United Nations, development banks, bilateral donors and private sector foundations have been supporting these efforts through governance assistance programs.
  • Topic: Civil Society, Government, Political Theory
  • Political Geography: Asia