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Security Politics

The Politics and Science of the Future

Assembling Future Knowledge and Integrating It into Public Policy and Governance

This article is the concluding chapter of The Politics and Science of Prevision: Governing and Probing the Future, published by Taylor & Francis Group. To read this open access book, click here.

In a world of complexity, interconnectedness, uncertainty, and rapid social, economic and political transformations, policy-makers increasingly demand scientifically robust policy-advice as a form of guidance for policy-decisions. As a result, scientists in academia and beyond are expected to focus on policy-relevant research questions and contribute to the solution of complicated, oftentimes transnational, if not global policy problems. Being policy-relevant means to supply future-related, forward-looking knowledge – a task that does not come easy to a profession that traditionally focuses on the empirical study of the past and present, values the academic freedom of inquiry, and often sees its role in society as confronting and challenging power and hierarchy.

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International Relations Elections Politics CSS Blog

Electoral Turnout in Russian Presidential and Parliamentary Elections, 1991 – 2016

Data sources: International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance, at <https://www.idea.int/data-tools/data/voterturnout>, Central Electoral Commission of Russia, at <http://www.izbirkom.ru/region/izbirkom>, and the CD-rom Rossiiskievybory v tsifrakh i kartakh (Mercator and IGRAN 2007).

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This graphic tracks overall voter turnout in Russian presidential and parliamentary elections from 1991 to 2016. To find out more about voter turnout trends and electoral mobilization in Russian federal elections, see Inga Saikkonen’s contribution to the latest edition of the Russian Analytical Digest here. To check out the CSS’ full collection of graphs and charts, click here.

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Politics

In China, a New Political Era Begins

Image courtesy of Kurious/Pixabay.

This article was originally published by Geopolitical Futures on 19 October 2017.

Blending the policies of his predecessors, the Chinese president is trying to liberalize with an iron fist.

The world has changed since modern China was founded, and it seems that China, not for the first time, is changing with it. When Mao Zedong established the republic in 1949, having fought a civil war to claim it, China was poor and unstable. To reinstate stability he ruled absolutely, his government asserting itself into most other state institutions. Private property was outlawed, and industrialization was mandated, from the top down, in an otherwise agrarian society. The goal was to disrupt China’s feudal economic system that enriched landlords but left most of the rest of the country in poverty. Mao’s techniques ensured compliance with government policies, but they did little to improve the country’s underdeveloped economy. This is what we consider the first era of communist rule.

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Government Regional Stability

Iran’s Elections: What You Need to Know

Courtesy of orientalizing/Flickr. (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

This article was originally published by the European Council on Foreign Relations (ECFR) on 12 May 2017.

On May 19, the Islamic Republic of Iran holds presidential elections, the first following the landmark 2015 nuclear agreement. Incumbent President Hassan Rouhani is running against five other candidates, approved by Iran’s Guardian Council to compete in the election. The race has centred heavily on economic policies for tackling high unemployment and growing inequality, together with how to reintegrate the country into global financial platforms following the rollback of sanctions in the aftermath of the nuclear deal.

Policy decisions in Iran are largely devised through consensus among the various leadership figures represented in the Supreme National Security Council (SNSC).  The SNSC is headed by Iran’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, who is the final arbiter on matters of national security, but the presidential role has proven capable of steering decisions towards moderate or radical positions. For European governments and businesses that have long dealt with the Islamic Republic, there is a clear distinction between the administrations of former presidents Mohammad Khatami, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and Rouhani.

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Government Politics

Finis Europae? Historical Cycles and the Rise of Right Wing Populism

Courtesy of Fabrizio Rinaldi/Flickr. (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

This article was originally published by openDemocracy on 26 April 2017.

Why has Europe failed to inspire its citizens in a similar way to other ideas such as the nation, socialism or human rights? Here are some answers and some solutions.

In 2002, Jurgen Habermas and Ulrich Beck celebrated the great successes of the European Union: the re-unification of Germany, the expansion to the East, the successful introduction of the Euro. Old enmities had been left behind and former enemies collaborated in peaceful competition creating the most successful economic region in the world. Europe was becoming the model for the future of humanity.

The reality is different today. Europe is a dysfunctional entity that has betrayed its foundational values. Politicians, commentators and mainstream academics were aghast at the victories of Brexit and Trump. ‘Politics has gone mad’ said many. ‘The world is crumbling before our eyes’ intoned the French Ambassador to America.

Yet the rise of right wing populism and euroscepticism was not unpredictable. The economic, political and cultural trends leading to Brexit, Trump and the rise of the xenophobic and nationalist right-wing are similar and well-known. They did not seem to worry the European elites until recently.