Win an Apple Macbook Air and a 32GB Ipod Touch!

For your chance to win an apple macbook air and a 32GB ipod touch either share our Facebook photo and like our facebook page or RT our photo on twitter and follow us.

The winner will be announced next thursday and we must have over 50 shares or 50 retweets! So get sharing/retweeting now and you could have these 2 fantastic items by the end of next week!

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Digestible Politics

Please Help Us If You Can – Thank You!

Digestible Politics is a blog with a big ambition to help you become more informed with politics and current affairs in an easy-to-understand format. In the short amount of time we have been running we have already had hundreds of comments, thousands of page views and likes.

We just hope that you appreciate and enjoy this blog as much as we do publishing it and if you get spare a penny, pound or dollar for us would be very kind – but, of course, you DO NOT have to! We have a long term ambition of publishing a weekly/monthly magazine on politics made easy, to help those, who, like me, desired to have access to simple politics and not the confusion we can often face with other news/political sources! So please do help us to fund this if you can. Also, please do tell us if you like the idea of having a ‘Digestible Politics Magazine’!

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Hungary’s Constitutional Controversy

What has happened?

Hungary has approved a series of amendments to their constitution that had been deemed unconstitutional in past rulings. As a result, this could mean increased power for the state, increased power for the conservative Fidesz party and remove/weaken a number of checks and balances. The Prime Minister of the country,  Viktor Orban has declared that the amendments are necessary if the country is to continue moving away from Hungary’s legacy of communism.

What are the amendments?

One amendment is to weaken the Constitutional Court meaning they will not have the power to remove laws already contained in the constitution. Another amendment, which other critics say weakens the Constitutional Court, is to lower the retirement age of judges in the country. Election campaigning has been restricted to the state-owned media, which has been argued to reduce freedom of expression in Hungary. A number of civil liberties (citizen freedoms) have been restricted and an anti-gay law has been created.

orban

How was the government allowed to implement these amendments?

The wining conservative coalition (Orban’s Fidesz party and the Christian Democratic People’s Party) gave the government a two-third majority in their parliament, giving them substantial power to pass these changes with little opposition.

Who has opposed the amendments?

The United States government and a number of European Institutions have shown their concern over the amendments stating that it will undermine the democracy of the country. Furthermore, human rights organisations (e.g. Amnesty International) have also shown opposition

In the country, the Socialist Party refused to vote and thousands of protesters turned out in the capital, Budapest.

How has the government reacted to opposition of the amendments?

Orban stated that he was “fully committed” to European standards, but he has no intention to not go ahead with the changes. His deputy prime minister, Gergely Gulyas, said that “It’s natural for the governing majority to make use of the authority it received in democratic elections”.

What are your views on the amendments? Has Hungary’s government overstepped it’s power? What if this was your government?

Thanks for reading,

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Nicolas Maduro Wins Election In Venezuela

A couple of posts ago we wrote about the lead up to the election, and the tension felt between Nicolas Maduro and Henrique Capriles:

https://digestiblepolitics.wordpress.com/2013/04/14/venezuela-vote-to-elect-president/

The president of Venezuela has now been confirmed as Maduro after a close election battle. Protests by Capriles, and his party, were made but the National Electoral Council continued to defend Maduro’s narrow victory of 50.7%:49.1%.

Nicólas Maduro celebrates victory in election

Conflict broke out in the capital, Caracas, between protester and police declaring that the votes had been miscounted. Some students took to the streets to show their discontent, whilst others took to balconies and the streets hitting pots and pans in protest. The protests had been expected as Capriles had urged people to protest the results if Maduro won.

However, thousands of supporters also took to the street in support of Maduro’s win. Singing and dancing was seen and horns were heard. Maduro told his supporters that the result was “just, legal and constitutional” and that he looks forward to leading the country.

Here are some challenges currently Venezuela face:

  • Internal divisions: Society is deeply divided into those who see Chavez’s “Bolivarian revolution” as the solution to their problems and those who think it has been the country’s ruin.
  • Shortages: Everyday goods in short supply and power cuts common
  • Inflation: 25% inflation is threatening to stop all increases in the minimum wage.
  • Crime: One of the highest homicide and kidnapping rates and few crimes are  punished.
  • Prisons: Overcrowding and poor conditions have caused a series of deadly prison riots. Many of those in jail have been awaiting trial for years.
  • Relations with the US: Have been tense over the past decades as President Chavez engaged in anti-US rhetoric.

Thanks for reading,

Digestible Politics

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The American Constitution

For our American readers, a lot of this, if not all of this, will probably be something you have known since your childhood. But, I feel that it is necessary that we write a blog on the fascinating constitution: how it was formed, what it involved and how different people view it!

How and why was the Constitution formed?

In 1776, thirteen colonies declared their independence from Great Britain by signing the Declaration of Independence, making them ‘free and independent’ states. Consequently, this lead to the War of Independence between the former colonies and Britain from 1776-1783. The colonies had to pay tax to Britain, even though they had no representation in the British Parliament, so wanted to form their own system of government. In 1781, the newly independent colonies established a confederacy through the Articles of Confederation – a confederal government has a lot of power given to the states but little to the national government. However, this confederacy almost turned their victory in gaining independence into a defeat because it proved to be a disaster as their was little power for the national government, thus they failed to make a nation. In 1787, a group of people (now collectively known as the Founding Fathers) agreed to meet up at the Philadelphia convention to amend the Articles of Confederation. In the end, they scrapped the Articles of Confederation and created a new constitution with a number of compromises as to the allocation of powers.

Washington_Constitutional_Convention_1787

What were the compromises?

Three key compromises were the formation of government, state representation and choosing the president. Under British rule there had been a central government (unitary) with a lot of power for the national government, but the Articles of Confederation created a confederal government which gave a lot of power to the states (not the national government). The compromise was a federal government where the states and the national government had equally important powers. Representation for the states varied depending on their size. Large states wanted proportional representation where they would have more representatives compared to small states, but small states wanted equal representation regardless of state size. The compromise was to have a bicameral system (two houses): the House of Representatives would be proportional and the Senate would have equal representation. Finally, some people wanted a directly elected president and others wanted him/her to be appointed. The compromise was to have an indirectly elected Electoral College who would be elected by the people (in the Primaries) who then go on to choose the president (at the national party convention).

How liberals view the constitution

Liberals (such as the Democrats) would argue that the constitution creates a lot of gridlock (difficult to pass laws) and little accountability. Liberals also believe the Bill of Rights (defines citizen’s rights) is very important, but the system allows for the erosion of civil liberties during times of emergency. Finally, to a liberal, the courts have shown themselves slow and unwilling to intervene on a number of issues – especially social issues such as guns, abortion and gay rights.

How conservatives view the constitution

Conservatives (such as the Republicans) believe that the federal government exploits the vagueness of the constitution at the expense of states right and powers. The vagueness of the constitution can be seen through the ‘elastic’ clauses, such as the ‘necessary and proper’ clause, which allows the government to make laws which are ‘necessary and proper’ – conservatives wonder what laws are necessary and proper. They also question the growth of the courts through their power of judicial review, which allows the court to interpret the meaning of the constitution

const

From a non-partisan view

The American constitution is the longest serving constitution in the world and the fact that compromises were made from the left and right meant that that there should be a good balance between the federal government and the state governments. Also, the difficulty of amending the constitution means that it requires broad based support for changes to be made to it.

Questions

  • Does the constitution fulfil its main functions?
  • Does the constitution need changing?
  • What are the pros and cons of the constitution?

Thanks for reading,

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Venezuela Vote To Elect President

You may remember a couple of posts we made on the Venezuelan Presidential Election in early January:

https://digestiblepolitics.wordpress.com/2013/01/05/venezuela-re-elects-diosdado-cabello/

https://digestiblepolitics.wordpress.com/2013/01/09/swearing-in-day-of-hugo-chavez-in-venezuela/

These posts were about Hugo Chavez’s election as president, but he was unable to be sworn in due to illness and there were outcalls for his swearing in day to be postponed and nominate a temporary president. However, since then, Hugo Chavez has died and Venezuela is now preparing for a vote to elect a new president.

The current, acting president President Nicolas Maduro, who Chavez selected to be his successor, is challenging the governor of Miranda state (Henrique Capriles) for the position. Capriles had narrowly lost to Chavez in the election of October 2012. There are approximately 19 million registered voters in Venezuela for the upcoming election whose votes will be recorded electronically – one machine will confirm their identity and vote and another will identify their fingerprint.

maduro-capriles

There has already been significant tension between the two candidates. Capriles accused Chavez of breaking the rules of the election by continuing campaigning after the polls had opened and for visiting Chavez’s tomb which he stated was “violating all the electoral norms”.

The winner of the election is to be sworn in on the 19th April to complete Chavez’s six year term which began in January.

Who will win the election? And, what sort of president is Venezuela looking for?

Thanks for reading,

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North Korea – Your Questions Answered!

North Korea is a large concern internationally and we want to clear up some questions you may want answered:

Do they have a bomb?

It is fairly certain they do in fact have one, but it is uncertain whether they have a missile that can carry it. In 2006, 2009 and this year North Korea have stated that successful tests have occurred and are prepared to launch – but nothing came of it. There is some satellite data that suggests they have been testing and conducting experiments underground in the East side of the country, and although it is certain they have enough chemicals to produce the bomb it is still unverified whether they have made a bomb small enough to fit on a missile.

North Korea’s Nuclear Programme

In 2008, North Korea said that they would stop operations and even dismantle their facilities, but this year they have stated that they will restart these facilities in opposition to the latest US sanctions (a threatened penalty for disobeying a law). However, it is believed the operations were never actually stopped in 2008 and that North Korea have a number of uranium-enrichment programmes. Furthermore, a number of new facilities are being built in the country which they say are for civilian purposes, but it is very likely that they are in fact facilities which will aid their Nuclear Programme.

rocket_jpg_2459473b

What is being done about their Nuclear programme?

So far there has been a lot of negotiation with North Korea from many countries (including USA, Russia and China) to stop the programme. In 2005 it seemed the Nuclear programme had been stopped with a deal that led to the country agreeing to abandon it nuclear ambition. However, enforcing the terms of the deal proved hard and it was believed they continued the Nuclear programme. In 2011, significant evidence suggested they had not stopped so talks and negotiations began again. In 2012, they agreed again to stop Nuclear testing and America would reward North Korea with food aid. But further testing in late 2012 and early this year broke down the talks.

The third nuclear test

This test, according to North Korea, was the test that confirmed that they had created a device small enough to fit onto a missile. This is very concerning to the international community and especially if the rumours of it being their most powerful device is true. It is also a concern that the monitoring of North Korea’s testing has failed to detect radioactive isotopes, meaning that it is uncertain what the bomb may contain. But, North Korea’s warning of “high-level” tests has led many experts to believe the bomb contains Highly Enriched Uranium (HEU) – if this is true, then this is very concerning for countries worldwide.

What are your views on Korea and their nuclear programme?

Thanks for reading,

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Ex-Egyptian President Retrial

In June 2012 Hosni Mubarak (the previous president of Egypt) was convicted of conspiracy to kill protesters and was given a life sentence, but a retrial is to begin in Cairo. The retrial is being called after his appeal against his life sentence was accepted by the Egyptian court. About 850 protesters were killed in the 18 day protests in 2011 but it is still uncertain whether Mubarak is responisble.

mubarak

Currently, he is being held in a military hospital as a result of his poor health. He was flown to a courthouse in Cairo, on Saturday, to begin his retrial, but his poor health meant he had to be carried to the trial on a stretcher (just as he had done in his previous trial, which lasted 10 months). Also being re-tried are are Mubarak’s two sons, a former minister Habib al-Adly and 6 aides. Al-Adly and his two sons were both charged for corruption.

However, some Egyptian citizens think that retrial is not necessary. One citizen, called Ahmed, reflected a widespread mood in Egypt that retrial was no longer the biggest issue. When speaking to the Associated Press he stated: What we care about now is how to make the country develop better, Mubarak no longer has any influence on our economy. The most important thing we should do now is to help industries recover.”

Is Mubarak guilty? Should Egypt move on or is the retrial important?

Thanks for reading,

Digestible Politics

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UKIP – Can They Compete With The Conservatives And Labour?

The United Kingdom Independence Party (UKIP) has already been on the rise in national opinion polls, but May 2nd county council elections will show Britain what they are capable of.

In these elections 1734 candidates are standing for election from UKIP, just 22 short of the Liberal Democrat party who are considered the third largest party of Britain. For UKIP to get these candidates elected they will preach their concerns of tax increases and immigration, both of which seem to be similar concerns felt by the country as a whole.

Ukip

Nigel Farage, the leader of the party, has predicted UKIP will win a seat in each of the 34 county councils where elections are going to occur. UKIP’s success has already been seen at a by-election (which takes place when a seat in the House of Commons becomes vacant) in Eastleigh where they pushed their flagship policy of ending “open door” immigration. Other policy measures they are pushing include:

  • Get out of the European Union
  • Increased spending on defence
  • Life sentences mean life
  • Franchise out key services including hospitals and GP surgeries to companies and charities
  • Child benefit for the first three children only
  • No benefits for anyone who has not lived in the UK for five years
  • Support coal-fired power and oppose wind farms

What are your views on UKIP? Will they be strong in the 2015 general election? Could your country do or do without a party like UKIP?

Thanks for reading,

Digestible Politics

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