The topic of electoral reform, a recurring feature of the Italian political agenda, resurfaced in 2014. At the start of the year, a ruling by the Constitutional Court returned the country to a proportional system, similar to the one in place during the First Republic. This chapter examines the key political responses to that ruling and how the decision has spurred further electoral reforms, resulting in the most majoritarian system in Italy's democratic history.
Gianfranco Baldini and Alan Renwick
In 2006, the energy question—and in particular the natural gas emergency
that will be discussed here—was brought to the attention of
public opinion, of political and economic debate, and of the electoral
contest. First, it needs to be made clear that on both sides, and within
the two coalitions, demagoguery prevailed over pragmatism. Similarly,
the propensity to demonize the proposals of opponents tended
to hold sway over attempts to contribute constructively to the discussion.
Thus, a game of mutual vetoes and false propositions took place,
characterized by erroneous diagnoses aimed solely at avoiding the
electoral costs that the required choices would have imposed. This
had the inevitable result of confusing public opinion, which should
be aware of the issue, and feeding the general “right of veto,” which,
since before the reform of Title V of the Constitution, has allowed
anyone to prevent others from doing anything—with the result that
Robert Rohrschneider and Michael R. Wolf
During the summer of campaign year 2002, the election already
seemed lost for the SPD/Green government. Public opinion polls
saw the governing coalition trailing by several percentage points,
whereas the CDU/CSU, together with the FDP, looked like the sure
winner. A central reason for the malaise of the red-green government
was the ailing economy. Unemployment rates hovered at the 4
million mark and would have been even higher if governmentfunded
jobs had been added to the official unemployment rates.
Consequently, a substantial majority of citizens considered the creation
of jobs Germany’s most important problem.1 This constituted
an especially severe burden for Chancellor Schröder. In 1998 he had
promised to push unemployment rates below 3.5 million or, he
stated, he did not deserve re-election. Thus, many observers and
voters expected the September 2002 election to be a referendum on
the governments’ handling of the economy. Since the chancellor had
not delivered, voters were about to vote the incumbent government
out of office.
Dueling in the Greek Capital, 1870–1918
Based on some forty duels that took place in Athens between 1870 and 1918, this article examines the different connotations middle-class dueling assumed in the political culture of the period. Drawing on newspaper articles, monographs, domestic codes of honor, legal texts, and published memoirs of duelists, it reveals the diversified character of male honor as value and emotion. Approaching dueling both as symbol and practice, the article argues that this ritualistic battle was imported to Greece against a background of fin de siècle political instability and passionate calls for territorial expansion and national integration. The duel gradually became a powerful way of influencing public opinion and the field of honor evolved into a theatrical stage for masculinity, emanating a distinct glamor: the glamor of a public figure who was prepared to lay down his life for his principles, his party, the proclamations he endorsed, and his “name.”
‘William Le Queux, Master of Misinformation’
Ailise Bulfin and Harry Wood
The Introduction prefaces a double special issue of Critical Survey examining the work of controversial popular author, journalist and amateur spy William Le Queux from 1880 to 1920. Known as the ‘master of mystery’, Le Queux was prominent in transmitting exaggerated fears about British national security before, during and after the First World War. The Introduction provides a historical and literary framework for the special issue and outlines its central premises: that cultural production in Le Queux’s era was intimately connected with contemporary socio-political forces; that this relationship was well understood by authors such as Le Queux, and often exploited for propagandist purposes; and that the resulting literary efforts were sometimes successful in influencing public opinion. The Introduction also outlines the overall finding that Le Queux’s work tended to distort his subject matter, misinform his readership, and blur the lines between fact and fiction in pursuit of his defencist agenda.
The referendum of 18 April 1999 was intended to force parliament,
by pressure of public opinion, to revise the mixed electoral system
in a more decisively anti-proportional direction. The existing system,
introduced in 1993, was a compromise outcome which had
resulted from a similar mobilisation against the still powerful parliamentary
elites of the so-called First Republic. Subsequently, supporters
of proportionality had sought to reinforce their position
and the principle of proportional representation, for example via
new legislation on party financing. With the failure of the third
attempt at constitutional reform via parliament (1997–8) and continuing
government instability exemplified by the change of prime
minister and cabinet in October 1998, many despaired of the establishment
of the much invoked and much contested Second Republic.
The failure of the 1999 referendum to reach the quorum,
despite a huge majority in favour of its majoritarian implications,
led many to conclude that a cycle of referendum-driven reform had
come to an end, and with it the chance of achieving a new institutional
framework for the Republic. The pressure for reform
remained strong, however, and new referendum campaigns for
electoral and wider reform were immediately launched.
Peter Anton Zoettl
In the north-east of Brazil, the last decades have seen an unfamiliar phenomenon: the rise of 'new' indigenous groups in areas that were long considered as 'acculturated' by both the state and public opinion. In their pursuit to be recognized by the authorities and by fellow non-Indian citizens, these 're-emerging' Indians have continually carried out a peculiar re-construction of their 'image' as Indians, torn between romantic ideas of Indianness and the demand to integrate fully within national society. Drawing on recent fieldwork experience with a group of Pataxó Indians in the state of Bahia, the article discusses how the visual-anthropological method of participatory video can be used as a means of reflecting on the importance of images within identity-formation processes of minority groups. By producing a video about the tourists who visit their Indian village and nature reserve, the Pataxó came to question the stereotypic use of images and the relation between the Other's notion and their own representation of 'Indianness'.
Against State Failure or the State Itself?
Although the Czech Republic (CR) is not a favorite destination nor even a transit country for migrants through Europe, the refugee crisis has materialized into a strict state policy of rejection. The CR rejects proposals for European solutions and detains and imprisons immigrants, most of whom are inadvertently arrived there. This preliminary refusal strategy is peculiar to both the political and media spheres (and public opinion) and is described in the opening sections of this work. However, the CR, is also a country in which the tally of immigrants is less than the number of Czechs citizens traveling beyond their national borders to help refugees congregating along the “Balkan Route”, where they frequently outnumber volunteers from other countries. This paper goes on to describe the development of these grassroots Czech volunteer organizations and activities in 2015. From the beginning it was characterized by spontaneity and a lack of hierarchy, with the Internet and social media playing a vital role during mobilization and organization. The methodological section defines how this sample was analyzed and the manner in which it was dealt. Section five summarizes the most important findings of the case study: (1) the results of a questionnaire survey among volunteers, (2) the results of a qualitative content analysis of their communication in social networks. Besides basic mapping steps (features of volunteer’s participation), the analysis attempts to capture motivations for volunteer’s participation. Comparison with selected motivation typologies emphasizes the protective (later the normative) motivation, on which the hypotheses are based regarding the dispute about the national identity of volunteering as an ideological, and therefore foreseeable, dispute.
Penny Welch and Susan Wright
group did not have an embedded librarian or information literacy training. While both groups of students reported increased confidence in their ability to find information about public opinion polls, campaign donations and candidates’ backgrounds in U
Edited by Jonathan Magonet
environment’ to would-be immigrants and the media reinforce negative attitudes. Nevertheless, Maurice Wren notes how public opinion in the summer of 2015 became very positive in favour of the refugees, forcing the UK government to make a significant policy