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Hola Mexico: A Post-election Reflection

The Mexican tricolour of green, white, and red , photo:Tracy Lee Carroll/flickr.

The Mexican tricolour of green, white, and red , photo:Tracy Lee Carroll/flickr.

In five weeks from now I will be moving to Mexico.

They say there is no place like home – and indeed, the state of things will be very different from what I know in Switzerland.

People not finding themselves under extraordinary circumstances emigrate because they want a lifestyle that can be best accomplished in their country of destination.

But I guess thoughts about lifestyle and how to best accomplish it would require deeper consideration – especially when it comes to accomplishing it in a country we associate with drug violence, economic problems and …swine flu. I will avoid going deeper and offer simply a brief reflection about the recent Mexican elections.

Has the country reinstitutionalized the revolutionary myth? The Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) took power for the first time 80 years ago, enjoyed seven decades of domination, and has now accomplished a successful comeback. Therefore, I cannot help associating the PRI with the country’s authoritarian past.

When I go back and read James M Malloy words from 1977 about authoritarianism in Latin America, I can only hope that the described states of affairs would not still apply today:

“Mexico’s political system is characterized by patrimonially controlled participation exercised by the political elite based on the underlying assumption of privilege rather than right. (…) The decision-making process is legitimated by massive support from precisely those sectors of society that participate least in the distribu¬tion of benefits: labor, peasants, and Indians. For more than forty years the Party (PRI) has maintained this monopoly by preempt¬ing and institutionalizing the revolutionary myth and by creating for itself an image as the key component of an indissoluble trinity composed of Party, government, and political elite.”

However, things have changed during the past 30 years since Malloy’s writings.

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Counter-Strike, the 10th Anniversary

Counter-Strike: Dragon2309/flickr

Counter-Strike, photo: dragon2309/flickr

Ten years ago, during the summer of 1999, a piece of software was distributed over the internet to the still small but quickly growing community of online gamers. Counter-Strike, developed by a team of private individuals by ‘modding’ the game Half Life, soon became a mass phenomenon that has fascinated the gaming community and haunted family politicians and authorities ever since.

In Counter-Strike two teams go head-to-head and try to prevent each other from reaching set objectives by killing each other with an arsenal of contemporary military hardware. Back in 1999 that didn’t rise many eyebrows. Neither did the fact that the teams battling it out were terrorists and anti-terrorists and the objective of the ‘terrors’ was to either protect a bunch of hostages from being liberated or to blow up stuff like power plants with a bomb. The terrorists came in various uniforms and fictional groups that had such funky names as ‘Phoenix Connection’ or ‘Elite Crew’ ‘1337 Crew’.*  One of the player models showed a man of Middle Eastern decent with Gaddafi-style sunglasses.

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Fifteen Questions to Save Earth

If you have ever asked yourself one of the following questions, August 1st will bring you answers:

  • 1. How can sustainable development be achieved for all while addressing global climate change?
  • 2. How can everyone have sufficient clean water without conflict?
  • 3. How can population growth and resources be brought into balance?
  • 4. How can genuine democracy emerge from authoritarian regimes?
  • 5. How can policymaking be made more sensitive to global long-term perspectives?
    Futurism, photo: Adam Kang/flickr

    Futurism, photo: Adam Kang/flickr

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Following the Somalia Crisis

Map of population displacement by ReliefWeb

Map of population displacement by ReliefWeb

I find it rather hard to follow the Somalia crisis in mainstream international media. I guess it has something to do with the killings of journalists in the country.

According to the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ), six reporters have been killed there since the beginning of the year. They say it makes Somalia the most dangerous country for journalists right now.

Frustrated at my regular news providers, I set out looking for up-to-date web-based  information on the crisis.


Here’s a selection of the websites I came across, with direct links to the relevant page on Somalia:

Electoral Geography

Screenshot from Electoral Geography 2.0

Screenshot from Electoral Geography 2.0

Ever since my first hiking holiday, I’ve been a big fan of maps! So I was thrilled to discover the website Electoral Geography 2.0. It gathers election and voting data from all over the world and illustrates most of it with maps.

For example, check out the results of last weekend’s elections in Bulgaria or Mexico. International media usually reports on overall national results. But I like comparing regional patterns, since these are often very telling about ethnic and social cleavages. Electoral Geography 2.0 also provides election results from previous years, which also make for interesting comparisons.

According to the authors of the website, electoral geography is the study of regularities and patterns of election results. They don’t provide original analysis (yet?), but they do have a page listing a few good papers and articles on the topic.

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