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Francesca Vassallo

The 2012 French presidential election witnessed an increase in discussion about the European Union and its policies. To an equal degree the two top contenders, Nicolas Sarkozy and Fran?ois Hollande, criticized European policies and made promises to rectify EU mistakes, if elected. European institutions and decisions became scapegoats for domestic failures and tough economic choices, reflecting a long-term surge in Euroscepticism among French voters, especially in comparison to EU averages. Both candidates sought advantage by engaging in “EU-Negative“ campaigns to be able to mobilize as many potential voters as possible. Surprisingly, a half-year of EU criticisms has not led, at least in the short term, to a further increase in anti-EU positions in the public opinion.

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'The Bray of the Gramophones and the Voices of the Poets'

Art and Political Crises in Between the Acts

Jane de Gay

In ‘Why Art Follows Politics’, published in The Daily Worker in 1936, Virginia Woolf remarked on a change in the conditions for creativity in the late 1930s. She wrote that the artist’s studio was now ‘far from being a cloistered spot where he can contemplate his model or his apple in peace’, for it was ‘besieged by voices, all disturbing, some for one reason, some for another.’ She characterised the developing political crisis in terms of auditory disturbance or interruption, including the noises of radio news; the voices of dictators addressing the public by megaphone in the streets, and public opinion, which, Woolf wrote, called for artists to prove their social and political usefulness. In extreme political systems, artists were forced to compromise and use their work for political purposes – to ‘celebrate fascism; celebrate communism’ – in order to be allowed to practise at all.

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Bella Zisere

Popular public opinion concerning the Jewish community of Latvia is that it is an 'exemplary and well-organised community', which experienced a great revival and has functioned efficiently since Perestroika and particularly since the fall of the USSR. Nevertheless, this assertion can be countered by multiple phenomena, such as the dramatic decrease of the number of Latvian Jewish community members, the abrupt increase of inter-marriages, and the clear transformation of references to self-identification of Latvian Jewry. This article seeks to shed light on different spheres of the Jewish life in post-communist Latvia, in order to analyse the impact of the demise of the Soviet system on the Jewish community in this area.

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Marc Morjé Howard

This article puts the 1999 German Nationality Act into a comparative European perspective. By applying a common measure of the relative restrictiveness or inclusiveness of a country's citizenship policy to the countries of the EU-15 at two different time periods, it provides an analysis of change both within and across countries. From this perspective, Germany has clearly moved "up" from having the single most restrictive law before the 1999 reform to a more moderate policy today. Yet Germany's major "liberalizing change" was also tempered by a significant "restrictive backlash." The German case therefore provides support for a broader theoretical argument about the potential for mobilized anti-immigrant public opinion to nullify the liberalization that often occurs within the realm of elite politics.

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Masculinity on Stage

Dueling in the Greek Capital, 1870–1918

Dimitra Vassiliadou

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.”

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Introduction

‘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.

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Radical or Not So Radical?

Tactical Variation in Core Policy Formation by the Front National

James Shields

Starting from a number of general tenets about radical political parties, this article examines the Front National (FN) in relation to its core policy issue of immigration. To what extent has FN immigration policy been defined from the outset by its radicalism? Has that radicalism been constant or variable over time? And how far can a reciprocal influence be detected between the FN and the center Right in immigration policy formulation? Focusing on election campaigns, manifestos, and key moments in the FN's evolution, the article assesses how the party has tailored its radicalism to contextual factors and tactical considerations. It reveals an FN less bound to a fixed policy and more ready to seek accommodation (with circumstance, public opinion, or the center Right) than is generally acknowledged. Conversely, it also assesses how the FN's mobilization of strong support on the immigration issue has had radicalizing effects on the center Right. The article concludes by considering whether the change of leadership in January 2011 might confine the FN to the radical Right or see it adopt a more center-oriented course.

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Mark Donovan

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.

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Pascal Bourdeaux

Indochina played a pioneering role during the decolonization of the French empire, and the religious issue proved important to the process. Even to this day, state-church relations bear signs of this contentious and painful past. The historiography of the Indochina War, as well as that of the Vietnam War, clearly call attention to the activism of religious leaders and religious communities, especially Buddhists and Catholics, who fought for independence, peace, and the needs and rights of the Third World. And religion was put to the service of shaping public opinion both in Vietnam and internationally. Naturally, ideological convictions during the era of decolonialization account for the dominance of political analysis of this subject. But with the passage of time we can now develop a more sociological understanding of people's religious motivations and practices and the role they played in the conflict between communism and nationalism. The historian can also re-examine the secularization process in decolonized societies by analyzing, on the one hand, the supposed loss of ascendancy of religions in society and, on the other hand, the appearance of new religious movements that tended to adapt to modernity. This essay explores these politico-religious dynamics in the context of the decolonization of Vietnam.

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Emma Liggins

The social purity ‘crusade’ that gathered force after 1885 initiated a change both in ways of representing prostitution and in public opinion about ways of dealing with the sexually deviant woman. Since the 1860s the police had been granted the power under the Contagious Diseases Acts to apprehend women of doubtful virtue in the streets and insist that they be medically examined; if found to be diseased, they could then be detained in lock hospitals. Once these acts were repealed in 1885, prostitutes had greater freedom but were also kept under surveillance by philanthropists and the medical profession. A variety of discourses constructed the prostitute either as an innocent victim of male lust or as a ‘demon’ and ‘contagion of evil’. Judith Walkowitz has argued that such an ideological framework excluded the experience of women who drifted into this lifestyle temporarily, and provided ‘a restrictive and moralistic image’ of the fallen woman. Arguably, literary representations of prostitutes tended to flesh out the potentially restrictive images used in feminist, medical and periodical writing on the subject, though no form of discourse was immune to the strong influence of the language of purity used by the members of the National Vigilance Association (NVA) and its advocates.