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Government

Libya’s Struggle with Federalism

Libyans rally against federalism. Image: magharebia/flickr

Opponents and supporters of federalism clashed with knives, guns and rocks in the eastern Libyan city of Benghazi on Friday 16 March. The violence erupted after hundreds of people demonstrated in favor a political project aimed at dividing Libya into three autonomous regions.

That demonstration was one of several rallies that started after a conference of tribal and political leaders in Benghazi. The conference unilaterally declared Cyrenaica (Berqa in Arabic) an autonomous polity, polarizing public opinion and prompting fears that the country might split up. These developments seem to intensify the struggle for the future of Libyan governance.

Under these conditions, does federalism have a future?

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Government

Until Politics Do Us Part

It's Only Love. photo: Olivier Kaderli/flickr

If Latin American politics can sometimes look like a bad Telenovela, Guatemala has just added two more characters to the cast: Alvaro Colom, the country’s president, and Sandra Torres, the first lady.

Torres announced on 8 March that she planned to run for president as the candidate of a coalition of her husband’s UNE party and the Great National Alliance in September’s general elections. However, as the Guatemalan constitution blocks relatives of sitting president’s from running for office, the couple now decided to quietly file for divorce in an attempt to circumvent the country’s set of fundamental principles.

The Colom-Torres divorce set off an avalanche of criticism from opposition parties, members of the Catholic Church and conservative elements of Guatemalan society, with the leading right-wing Patriot Party (a favorite to win the next elections) calling it an “electoral fraud.” Shortly thereafter, a group of university law students filed the first legal challenge to the divorce, followed by seven further petitions by representatives of different sectors within Guatemalan society.

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Government Internet

Misguided Priorities for Internet Governance

Server room, courtesy of Torkild Retvedt/flickr
Server room, courtesy of Torkild Retvedt/flickr

This is a cross-post from the Lowy Institute’s blog, The Interpreter.

If you had to choose between human rights and governance, which one would you pick? Most might go for human rights, but when it comes to the internet, that would be the wrong answer.

In February, the Internet Governance Forum (IGF) held its last preparatory meeting before the 2011 annual meeting, due to take place in Nairobi. The IGF was created following the UN World Summit on Information Society (WSIS) held in Tunis in 2005. The summit was an attempt to internationalise internet governance and make it more open.

The summit had four principal goals: ensuring the access, openness, development and security of the internet. The WSIS attempted to shape a new form of internet governance, that would give more power to international organisations and less power to the private sector organisations like the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN). Since no agreement was reached in Tunis, UN member states agreed to mandate the IGF to continue discussions on internet governance.

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Government Environment Elections

Last Night a DJ Stole My Life…

Only one of Madagascar's many plagues, courtesy of William Warby/ flickr

Almost a year and a half after protests led to a coup removing elected president Marc Ravalomanana from power, the island state of Madagascar remains in political deadlock. The current rule of Andry Rajoelina, a young man born into a well-off family who rose to prominence as a disc jockey, remains paralyzed and isolated. Formal development is reeling, with hundreds of millions of much-needed aid dollars frozen by donors.

As a consequence of the illegitimate removal of an acting head of state, governments around the world declared Madagascar a pariah state. The Obama administration suspended Madagascar from the Africa Growth and Opportunities Act in December 2009, which resulted in the suspension of the country’s trade benefits. The African Union, the EU and the South African Development Committee all followed suit, quickly forcing punitive sanctions upon the country, thereby devastating the country’s already feeble industrial sector. With hundreds of thousands of jobs lost, a humanitarian crisis now seems an imminent threat.

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Government

Italy: Double Standards

'Povera Patria', courtesy of Daniele Muscetta / flickr
'Povera Patria', courtesy of Daniele Muscetta / flickr

A dogmatic society ruled by organized criminals and an antidemocratic populist leader… Sounds like some post-Soviet state? Well actually, I mean Italy.

I don’t understand why the country continues to enjoy such a privileged place in the EU, the G-8, and among the Western elite generally. Italy shows a serious democratic deficit and presents some worrying features of failing governance.