The Eurozone

What is the Eurozone?

The Eurozone is a collection of countries in Europe who all use the same currency – the Euro. It came to existence in 1999 with 11 countries opting in, now there are 17 member countries. The Eurozone does not contain all members of the European Union and its monetary rules are controlled by the European Central Bank. The most recent country to join the Eurozone was Estonia in 2011.

The Eurozone Crisis

The main cause was that the PIGS (Portugal, Italy, Greece, Spain) had lost control of their finances since the global recession – borrowing and spending more than they could realistically afford. Because of this, the other European countries had to bail them out costing billions of dollars. Greece was the first country to accept bailout money in May 2010, followed by Ireland and Portugal. However, this money was doing nothing to help their economies because they were trying to pay off loans, contributing to their debt crises, of a infinitesimal percentage. For these countries, the issue is is that if they have to keep repaying off loans to other countries they could effectively go bankrupt, which could have an even greater adverse effect on Europe, their economy and citizen spending power.

Eurozone

However, before the loans could be approved, the Governments of each of these countries had to agree to adopt ‘austerity measures’ to show they were doing what they can to tackle their economic problems themselves. ‘Austerity measures’ are measures which are taken by government in economic crises in order to cut the budget deficit by using a combination of spending cuts or tax rises. This has led to mass public protests in Greece, with many people demonstrating against more job losses and tax rises as a result.

In the news 2013

Today, 2013, there have been increasing issue over the unemployment level which has hit an all time high of 11.8%, meaning that over 26 million people are unemployed across the European Union. The country with the highest unemployment rate is spain at 26.6% unemployed. In the Eurozone alone,unemployment is approximate 18.8 million people – a substantial amount which could prove costly on the economy of Europe.

BBC Economics Correspondent Andrew Walker said: “The general trend of unemployment however remains upwards and it makes it even harder for the governments concerned to collect the taxes they need to stabilise their debts.” The record low for the eurozone unemployment rate was 7.2%, which was recorded in February 2008, before the financial crisis that first gripped the banking sector spread to the real economy. When will the Eurozone reach these levels again?

It has been a bumpy road for the members of the Eurozone and it is a question of what it will take for the economy of Europe to recover fully.

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Legitimacy In The UK And Around The World

What Is Legitimacy?

Legitimacy is the principle that a regime, institution or individual has a legitimate right to exercise power. Legitimacy is usually, though not always, bestowed through election, but the legitimacy of many political bodies can be disputed. It is a contestable term in that it is not always clear whether an institution is legitimate or not as we will show you using these UK and world examples that follow.

Legitimacy in the UK’s political bodies

– The House of Commons is legitimate because it is elected. However, many claim that the electoral college system is unfair and distorts political representation, so legitimacy can be challenged

– The House of Lords is arguable not legitimate because its members are not elected. However, it does have traditional authority and its political influence remains widely recognised

– UK government is legitimate because it is elected with a clear mandate to govern. However, every government in the UK has been elected with a minority of the popular vote, so we can challenge its legitimacy

– The power of the Prime Minister is legitimate because it is widely acknowledged that he/she is the supreme policy maker in the political system. However, there is no legal basis for prime ministerial power, so it could be said to lack legitimacy

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Legitimacy can be challenged far more in other countries

– Regimes that seize power by force are not considered to be legitimate. This applies to the government of Cuba, where the communist party came to power after a civil war

– States which have one-party systems, such as China, lack democratic legitimacy even though they might receive widespread popular support

– States where democracy is considered to be a facade or ‘sham’ lack legitimacy, such as in Iran

– Hereditary monarchies, such as Saudi Arabia or Bahrain, lack democratic legitimacy

Thank you very much for reading, please do tell us why the country you live in is legitimate/not legitimate?

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The Importance Of Women In Politics

The role of women in politics has only been accepted very recently with women getting the vote in the 1920s in both America and the UK. However, some countries only gave women the vote far more recently, such as in the United Arab Emirates where they got the vote in 2006. Other countries, such as Saudi Arabia, women are still not allowed to have the vote and will not do so until 2015. So, as a world where the demographics make a roughly even split between males and females, there is quite an obvious and important role that women play in politics today.

In the 2012 presidential election there was considerable debate over women and how they would vote – of course, most of their views were in favour of equal rights, which corresponded with the Democrat Party. Unfortunately for the Republican party women are not so interested in their conservative agenda. This can be seen by the result of the presidential election where 55% of Women voted for Obama and 44% of women voted for Romney (1% other parties). This is partly due to gaffes made within the Republican Party, such as Todd Akin who made a remark about ‘legitimate rape’, however it is equally due to Obama – through the ‘coat-tails effect’ – where lower ranking women candidates gain popularity through a high ranking person within the party.

We-Can-Do-It

The result of the ‘coat-tails effect’ has seen the destruction of the glass-ceiling enabling women a greater role in Congress. Therefore, women’s rights and women in general are better represented further increasing the importance of pleasing this section of voters and aggregating their demands.

The 2012 election produced 20 senators who are women, which is the most ever in history. One of these women is Elizabeth Warren, who is the Senator of Massachussettes, replaced Scott Brown who came into office shortly after Ted Kennedy’s death in the state. There are also a record amount of congresswomen, beating the previous record of 73 women.

In previous times, women have been disregarded in politics claiming that they are not citizens. However, now, they are the future of politics and it seems only inevitable that we will see more women reaching increasingly powerful spots in politics; and it is likely that in the near future the world’s most powerful office – the president – will be a women.

What are your views on women in politics?

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The Lisbon Treaty

When Was The Lisbon Treaty Signed?

It was signed on 1st December 2009, thus ending several years of negotiation about institutional issues.

What Was It?

The Lisbon Treaty amends the current European Union and European Commission, without replacing them. It provides the Union with the legal framework and tools necessary to meet future challenges and to respond to citizens’ demand.

What Did The Lisbon Treaty Include?

1) A more democrat and transparent Europe – a strengthened role for the European parliament and national parliaments with more opportunities for the citizens to have their voices heard and a clearer sense of who does what at European and national level

2) A more efficient Europe – simplified working methods and voting rules. Also, streamlined and modern institutions for an EU of 27 members and an improved ability to act in areas of major priority for today’s union

3) A Europe of rights and values, freedom, solidarity and security – Promote the union’s values, introducing the Charter of Fundamental Rights into European primary law, providing for new solidarity mechanisms and ensuring better protection of citizens

4) Europe as an actor on the global stage – bring together Europe’s external policy tools, both when developing and deciding new policies. The treaty should give Europe a clear voice in relations with its partners worldwide. It harnesses Europe’s economic, humanitarian, political and diplomatic strengths to promote European interests and values worldwide, while respecting the particular interests of the Member States in Foreign Affairs

Thanks for reading, please tell us what your views are on the Lisbon Treaty!

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Hispanics In America

As Joe Biden (the Vice President) put it earlier this week they are ‘the centre of [the USA’s] future’. He said this in the lime-light of the White House’s push for major reforms of the US immigration system

Hispanics currently make up 10% of America’s population which means that they have significant influence in elections. Furthermore, the number of Hispanics in Congress reached a record 36 meaning that they are section of society which simply can no longer be ignored.

The Hispanic population overwhelmingly support the Democrat with President Barack Obama winning 71 per cent of the Hispanic vote in November, compared to only 27 per cent for Mitt Romney. The vice president said the stark election results meant politicians now understood the “awesome potential” of the Hispanic community and realised that it “must be courted”. However, the Hispanics have also infiltrated the Republican party with well known senators, such as Marco Rubio (Florida), being one. Rubio embraces immigration reform highlighting that the Republicans growing call to address and connect with the Hispanic community.

hispanics

If the Hispanics are able to be dominated by the Democrats this could prove very costly at both the mid-term election in 2014 and the presidential election in 2016. This issue is most prominent in Texas where a lot of the Hispanic population are moving in to from Mexico. If their population continues to rise here the Democrats could begin a takeover of the southern states not seen since the 1980s.

How important do you think the Hispanic population is?

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A Digestible Week – Week 1

Sunday 6th January 2013 is the first week of ‘A Digestible Week’. This is a weekly video of the new and politics of the past week in an easy-to-understand and digestible format! Please watch the video below:

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How Democratic are Pressure Groups?

Democracy is all about enabling the people to participate in the political process. But to what extent do pressure groups truly represent the peoples’ opinions and how democratic are they?

On the one hand, pressure groups do represent groups and disperse power in a pluralist fashion. Pressure groups are designed to represent the many views of society, especially those in the minority, to give power to their voice and provide a greater opportunity to influence policy and the decision-making process. Dispersing power in a pluralist fashion prevents any form of dictatorship and enables discussion and consultation to occur before any final decision is made. For example, the British Medical Association consulted often with parliamentary committees before any decision was made. Similarly, health groups consulted with congressmen before the final decision of ‘Obamacare’. Pressure groups also educate and inform as well as providing useful advice. If there is an issue that needs addressing or there is confusion over a particular issue pressure groups can teach the people about what is happening enabling them to form an opinion – this is highly democratic. For example, Action for Smoking Health provided a significant amount of information on the effects of smoking on your health before helping to pass the ban on smoking in public places. In America, anti-drug groups have protested against the legalisation of marijuana commenting on the negative effects it has on the body. Groups are a key control mechanism against over-mighty government. As a result, it prevents an elective dictatorship. They can scrutinise government and the government are held accountable, meaning they must explain and justify their actions and the policies they create. Finally, it boosts participation, which has unfortunately dwindled in many countries throughout the world. Pressure groups are vital outlet for public grievance and a ‘tension release’. Politicians can then aggregate the demands of society and change the demands into a plan of action for society

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However, pressure groups are not wholly democratic. To a certain extent, they are undermining the elective officials. When elections happen within a state or constituency you are giving someone mandated power to make decisions on your behalf. So, by getting involved with pressure groups you are taken that role away and effectively ‘corrupting’ the system. Furthermore, it may become a ‘politics of self interest’ which threatens order of society. People will become emotional, lacking the rationality of those in government, creating social decay and tensions. Outsider pressure groups, such as Greenpeace and Fathers4Justice start using protests and direct action to get their views heard – Fathers4Justice climbed onto many famous monuments to gain media attention and to ‘force’ politicians to discuss their issues. This surely cannot be democratic. Finally, they lack elective legitimacy. Leaders of pressure groups are unaccountable and have not been directly elected to represent the people’s views which means that ‘dictatorship in pressure groups’ is plausible. Rich and greedy pressure groups can dictate the political process without sufficient consultation with other pressure groups and their own members. For example, in the USA, it is quite common for a Republican pressure group to outspend a Democratic pressure group on conservative policy within a state.

What are your view on pressure groups and would you say they are democratic or not?

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