Listening to George Osborne’s autumn statement over a picnic lunch at my desk today I was struck by the thought that there was a lot of window dressing and deck-chair arranging going on.  Wonderful as the Brown-esque [thanks, Olly] tinkerings were, the main message that I took from the statement was that the economic future of the UK wasn’t really in the Chancellor’s hands, if it ever really had been.

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In the past couple of weeks I’ve noticed a creeping sensation that I might be more deluded than usual.  As befits my historical institutionalist leanings, I tend to think that things look like they used to look, and will look like they look now: not quite homeostasis, but at least self-stabilising.  At the level of the EU, that plays out as saying that even in the face of a crisis, the Union comes out the other side looking pretty much like it did before.  It’s coped with Empty Chairs, Eurosclerosis, Thatcher’s handbagging, and the end of the Cold War; always moving on its trajectory to a mixed system of national and supranational governance.  It’s not been pretty and it’s not been immediately obvious  at the time, but it’s muddled through.

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Away from the on-going turmoil of the eurozone crisis and the faltering economic recovery, the long-running saga of funding politicians has just seen its latest development.  The Committee for Standards in Public Life – set up in the mid-1990s after a series of scandals – has just published its report on party financing.  It recommends the capping of donations, limits to trade union funding and the creation of a system of centralised funding, based on votes received.

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Prof. Warleigh-Lack

Turkey and the EU – Continuing the Debate

Anne Bostanci’s response to my You Tube piece on Turkey’s possible accession to the EU makes many interesting and salient comments. I agree with much of what she says, and I think it’s brilliant that the [email protected] blog can serve to generate debate between us as a scholarly community.

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In Episode 8 of the Politics Pod, Prof. Alex Warleigh-Lack is interviewed on the issue of Turkey’s accession to the EU. This interview is available to watch now on YouTube. Inspired by his expert analysis and in the School’s spirit of open discussion and the complementarity of ideas in a research community, it prompted our PhD student Anne Bostanci to respond and this response forms this piece for the School of Politics’ blog.

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Prof. Alex Warleigh-Lack joined some of our colleagues (Dr. Cristiano Bee, Dr. Roberta Guerrina and Dr. Luca Mavelli) in conversation about the latest developments in Italian Politics over the last few weeks.

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To pick up on the theme of last week’s post, I have been thinking more about the message that the installation of technocrat governments in Greece and Italy sends out.

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As we wave (slowly) goodbye to both Papandreou and Berlusconi, it’s worth reflecting that neither departure solves the current eurozone crisis in of itself.  Instead, it merely removes some barriers (both real and imagined) to salvaging something from the whole sorry episode.

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Dr Theofanis Exadaktylos, Lecturer in European Politics, comments: “The Greek political system has a poor record of coalition/cooperation governments: in fact any contemporary attempts have failed in producing a stable government scheme. However, this coalition is starting on the right foot: all sources seem to converge on the name of Loukas Papademos (former VP of the ECB) as the new interim PM. Not only does he have wide technocratic and administrative experience, but also carries the political clout necessary for negotiating with the EU. Evaggelos Venizelos (current VP of the Government and Minister of Finance) has to stay in his current position, as he was the main political figure involved in the negotiations for the new bailout agreement as well as the revised memorandum of understanding between Greece and its lenders. It has been suggested that the ministers of interior, defence, justice and public order will also change as a concession to the demands of the opposition party to join this unity government. The caveat in the success of this new government will be whether Mr. Samaras will in fact accept some of the political burden for his party given his previous stark opposition to the memorandum of understanding and to the character of the austerity measures, and not turn this into a vehicle for a longer-term electoral campaign.”

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with Dr Tereza Capelos and Dr Theofanis Exadaktylos
Our in-house political psychology and behaviour expert, Dr Capelos, cross-examines our in-house Greek politics expert, Dr Exadaktylos, in an effort to make sense of current developments unfolding in the Euro-area and Greece itself. The exchange took place between 11.40 and 12.40 local time Continue reading »

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