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Chávez vs UKIP? How Latin America Has Reinvigorated the European Left

Nigel Farage, the leader of UKIP

Nigel Farage, the leader of UKIP

This article was originally published by SPERI on 13 August 2014.

The numbers speak for themselves. Though currently in opposition, both its plurality in European elections and recent polling suggest that Syriza (Coalition of the Radical Left) will soon become Greece’s largest political force. Only founded in March, Spain’s Podemos (We Can) took five seats and 8 per cent of the vote in May’s European elections. Its support now stands at 15 per cent, compared to 25 per cent apiece for the traditional parties. How did both manage it? Surprisingly, the answer is by emulating the Latin American left. Syriza leader Alexis Tsipras has undertaken numerous fact-finding missions to Venezuela over the past decade and considers Hugo Chávez a personal hero. Podemos, meanwhile, was established by a group of longstanding advisors to the governments of Bolivia, Ecuador and Venezuela, all based at Madrid’s Universidad Complutense. So central has their experience been that Podemos cite ‘thorough analysis and learning of recent Latin American processes’ as one cornerstone of their approach. » More

South Africa’s Growing Challenges

Jacob G. Zuma, President of South Africa at the World Economic Forum on Africa 2013. Image by World Economic Forum / Flickr.

The media coverage decreased in August outside the hospital in Pretoria, where Nelson Mandela was treated until he was sent home last week for the final stage of his life. Two South African television crews sat at folding tables next to their cars, looking at their computers and chatting. The outside area was full of posters, postcards and prints, all with greetings to Mandela expressing hopes for his recovery.

South Africa is waiting.

Mandela’s career and personality is unique. And his role as a national and international icon has continued to grow since he finished his calling and left public life.

However, South Africa is unique in many respects. The country stands out from the rest of Africa. » More

The Imperial Dream of the Muslim Brotherhood

Pro-Mursi groups and Muslim Brotherhood militias attack anti-Morsi protestors at the presidential palace in Egypt.

The end will justify the means to unite the Islamic peoples into a world of virtue and prosperity to where the Muslim Brotherhood says that it will bring them. Egypt is their launching platform. The entire Islamic world is their objective.

If they were running for office in the United States or any European country on their economic platform of job creation, the sanctity of private property, and a social safety net, they will likely win. It all sounds perfect. Then, you learn that you have just voted for the Muslim Brotherhood.

Members of the movement come from the upper levels of Egyptian society. They are the businessmen, doctors, university professors, military officers, and other professionals. Over their eighty four year history, they have infiltrated every area of government, education, and industry.

If its economic policies are all there is about the movement, it would pose no threat in the public mind. What does frighten so many is the secrecy that shields the organization from scrutiny and the negative propaganda spread by worried authoritarian regimes. Under such circumstances, it is understandable that the attacks by various governments would have forced the Brotherhood to protect itself beneath a cloak of secrecy.

They have grown in societies that are authoritarian, corrupt, and have shown little inclination to invest in the development of the society. Saudi Arabia has a quarter of its youth unemployed in spite of the wealth generated by the vast oil resources. Beyond the petroleum industry, the Kingdom has done little to expand its economy in order to absorb the coming generation: and that is true of most of the region where sixty-five percent of the population is under the age of twenty-nine years.

» More

Japan’s Coming Political Earthquake

Japan's Nationalists

Japan’s Nationalists. Photo: Al Jazeera/flickr

OSAKA – Japan is now confronting challenges at home and abroad that are as serious as any it has had to face since World War II’s end. Yet the Japanese public is displaying remarkable apathy. The country’s two major political parties, the governing Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) and the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) recently chose their leaders, yet ordinary Japanese responded with a collective shrug. But Japan’s political system is unlikely to remain a matter of popular indifference for much longer.

The DPJ first came to power in September 2009, with an ambitious program promising comprehensive administrative reform, no tax increases, and a freer hand in Japan’s alliance with the United States. But, owing to the party’s inexperience and incompetence at every level of policymaking – shortcomings that were compounded by the unprecedented devastation of the great earthquake of March 11, 2011 – the first two DPJ governments, under Yukio Hatoyama and Naoto Kan, ended with those pledges in tatters. Consequently, several dozen legislators, led by the perpetual rebel Ichiro Ozawa, defected from the DPJ, forming a new rump opposition party. » More

Libya’s Defeated Islamists

Libya flag

Libya flag. Photo: Collin David Anderson/flickr.

TRIPOLI – “We certainly did not expect the results, but…our future is certainly better than our present and our past,” said Sami al-Saadi, the former ideologue of the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group and the founder of the political party al-Umma al-Wasat, which finished third in Central Tripoli during Libya’s recent parliamentary election. The man whom Taliban leader Mullah Omar once called the “Sheikh of the Arabs,” and who authored the LIFG’s anti-democracy manifesto The Choice is Theirs, accepted the apparent victory of Libya’s more liberal forces. » More

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