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To Show, But Not to Disclose. The Willingness of Polish Political Parties to Disclose Information On their Structures

Abstract

Constituting the key element of a democratic system, political parties are among entities obliged by the Polish legislator to comply with the principle of disclosure by providing public information. The main objective of this paper is to determine the level of Polish political parties’ disclosure, understood here as their willingness to disclose information on their own structures. It seems that the practice of disclosing such basic organizational data may constitute a specific measure of Polish political parties’ respect for the idea of disclosure. The subject matter of the conducted research was particular parties’ sites in the Public Information Bulletin as well as their official websites. An attempt was made to acquire data concerning party structures by way of direct contact with particular parties’ organizational units – questionnaires were sent to both central and regional/district organizational units. In order to acquire a wider perspective, the research also included data provided by the Central Statistical Office concerning political parties’ organizational structures and election manifestos. The conducted analysis was summarized in the form of a ranking of the examined political parties based on a proposed political party disclosure index. This attempt to measure disclosure on the basis of data on internal structures provided by parties themselves is of a preliminary character which, nevertheless, makes it possible to capture the general properties of the phenomenon under analysis. Among the examined parties, it is PSL, SLD, and PO that, to an acceptable degree, follow the principle of disclosure in the analysed scope (indexes at the level of 60%-80% of the maximum value). Four other parties, i.e. N, Wolność, Razem, and Kukiz’15, are on the edge of the zone making it possible to regard their disclosure as sufficient (indexes at the level of around 50% of the maximum value). In the case of PiS, whose index does not reach 20% of the maximum value, it should be concluded that this party implements the principle of disclosure at a minimum level. The ranking did not show relationships between parties’ willingness towards providing information and their sizes or positions on the political scene (parliamentary parties vs. extra-parliamentary parties).

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Trade Embargo as a Geopolitical Tool: A Case of Nepal-India Trade Relations

Abstract

As interdependence grows, economic issues are increasingly political in their nature and impact, and political issues are increasingly economic. The interdependence is acute in issues that relate to international trade, and especially in the case of landlocked countries. Nepal is one such land-locked country, being between India and China, whose economy depends on the trade relations with its neighbouring countries. Two-thirds of Nepalese trade depends on India. The article presents a summary of Nepal-India trade cooperation, primarily the Nepalese dependence in trade and transit route to India and its effects. It also presents an overview of the trade pattern between the two countries and focuses on the trade embargoes by India. The article analyses the reason behind the embargoes of 1969, 1989 and 2015 and how the situations have been resolved. The embargoes imposed by India on Nepal seem to be more political in nature and their impacts are both political and economic. The Indian embargoes in Nepal follow an objective of compliance, deterrence and subversion. By analysing India’s pursuance of trade embargoes against Nepal, the article reaffirms that landlocked nations such as Nepal are susceptible to manipulation by geopolitical threats since neighbouring countries adjust trade ties or use trade ties to fulfil their political, security and economic interests.

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“This is a Controlled Invasion”: The Czech President Miloš Zeman’s Populist Perception of Islam and Immigration as Security Threats

Abstract

This paper is a contribution to the academic debate on populism and Islamophobia in contemporary Europe. Its goal is to analyze Czech President Miloš Zeman’s strategy in using the term “security” in his first term of office. Methodologically speaking, the text is established as a computer-assisted qualitative data analysis (CAQDAS) of a data set created from all of Zeman’s speeches, interviews, statements, and so on, which were processed using MAXQDA11+. This paper shows that the dominant treatment of the phenomenon of security expressed by the President is primarily linked to the creation of the vision of Islam and immigration as the absolute largest threat to contemporary Europe. Another important finding lies in the fact that Zeman instrumentally utilizes rhetoric such as “not Russia, but Islam”, which stems from Zeman’s relationship to Putin’s authoritarian regime. Zeman’s conceptualization of Islam and migration follows the typical principles of contemporary right-wing populism in Europe.

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Anti-Islamism without Moslems: Cognitive Frames of Czech Antimigrant Politics

Abstract

The paper deals with the way that the Czech extremist – as well as the mainstream – politicians use to frame the issues related to Moslem migration. The paper seeks to find the answer to a situation of successful use of anti-Islam and anti-immigrant campaigning in the country, which is neither a destination country nor an important transit country for the migrants. The paper approaches the topic through the conceptual lenses of the concept of cognitive frames. By discursive analysis of selected Czech politicians’ rhetoric in the period of 2015–2016, the authors show how politicians are constructing the cognitive frameworks on migrants and refugees, connecting these groups with radical Islam and the construct of danger, thus shifting the migration issue from the framework of international assistance and aid to securitized frameworks.

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Between Language Revitalization and Assimilation: On the Language Situation of the German Minority in the Czech Republic

Abstract

Language preservation is considered to be one of the central missions of ethnic groups. For the German minority in the Czech Republic too, language plays an important role in group identity. Its current language situation is a result of the negative historic developments after World War II and under the communist regime. Due to the forced resettlement of most German-speaking inhabitants and the subsequent assimilation policies of the communist regime, the German community underwent strong cultural and language assimilation, which is also attested by the steady decline of its membership. The study focuses on issues of the language situation of the German minority and the revitalization efforts that have been undertaken by its elite in cooperation with other relevant institutions. A research survey of the main representatives of the minority and its regional associations demonstrates their evaluations of the ways in which German language is currently used and promoted in the Czech Republic, and it also points to the different strategies they have been striving to implement to reverse the language shift.

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A Bridge to the Past: Public Memory and Nostalgia for the Communist Times in Modern Georgia

Abstract

This paper deals with the politics of memory in contemporary Georgia’s public space. It explores the relations between official and vernacular commemorations of the Soviet past in Tbilisi. In this paper, I have studied the forms of materialization of vernacular memories in the public space and provided a frame in which they exist, including the ideological background of decommunization in Georgia and peculiarities of the Soviet era museumizing in state museums. The official discourse demonizes the previous epoque and neglects all its benefits, whereas the ordinary people are quite nuanced in their memories of their past – this contradiction leads to manifestations of vernacular memories. Therefore, this paper focuses mostly on Tbilisi’s Dry Bridge, a famous flea market where the memory of the recent Soviet past is negotiated. The main argument is that this particular flea market and its artifacts might be regarded as a “vernacular memorial” and “lieu de memoire” where nostalgia for an officially demonized era can be expressed and materialized. This paper explores the items that are on sale, explaining their meaning for the post-Soviet people, and describes the intangible practices that can be observed there. In addition, this paper unpacks that these nostalgic practices should not be considered as “unhealthy” or “retrospective” as it helps people to adapt to modernity and develop by considering more than one hegemonic version of their past.

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Online Comments as a Tool of Intercultural (Russian–Czech) “Anti-Dialog”

Abstract

This study presents a content and qualitative discourse analysis of readers’ comments made on Czech journalism on sociopolitical topics published in Russian translation at InoSMI.ru. Following the tradition of ethnomethodology, which examines the formation of subjective views of the world from the viewpoint of the general population, the interpretation of the examined discourse focuses on analyzing the verbal attitudes of regular Russian readers of political journalism toward the opinions of the Czech public on the current-day Russia and toward Czechs and the Czech Republic in general. Specifically, the study examined the expressions of intolerance toward the opinions of others and linguistic aggression on the part of the Russian-speaking commenters toward the authors of critical Czech journalism as natural and instinctive dismissive reactions to “different” or hostile language and cultural and ideological expressions. The study is based on language data acquired by analyzing readers’ comments left on a total of 45 Russian translations of Czech journalistic writings published between January and September 2016 on 12 different Czech websites. The qualitative, critical analysis of the linguistic material is based on a sociocognitive approach, which assumes a dialectical relationship between the discourse and society operating through cognitive structures (knowledge and ideology). The aim of this study was to highlight the negative aspects of unsanctioned public sociopolitical discourse, which is currently made possible and accelerated by technology advances of the Internet network and, at a time of a de facto information war, contributes to the spread of negativistic and hostile attitudes and sentiments, rather than to a genuine intercultural dialog.

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The Troubled Pasts of Hungarian and German Minorities in Slovakia and Their Representation in Museums

Abstract

In the 20th century, the two world wars reshaped the map of Central Europe as well as the status of Central Europe’s diverse societies. In my article, I focus on the Hungarian and German minorities in Slovakia and the representation of their problematic historical past in contemporary Slovak museums. More specifically, I zoom in on the exhibition Exchanged Homes displayed in Bratislava, which aims to commemorate the fate of Hungarians, Germans, and Slovaks, all of whom were affected by the population transfers after World War II. Based on the concept of memorial museums theorized by Paul Williams, I aim to show how the different exhibitions engage with the traumatic past of forceful resettlement. By offering multifaceted memories of a troubled past, these exhibitions avoid categorizing “victims” and “perpetrators” along national or ethnic lines. My paper thus analyzes the concepts and components of the exhibitions—the context of the postwar events, oral history interviews, and objects of everyday use that should bring the visitor closer to the experience of the people who were forced to leave. I argue that exhibitions of this sort have the ability to challenge the dominant historical narrative focusing on a national “Slovak” history and help the process of reconciliation between the Slovak majority society, and the Hungarian and German minorities.

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US–Kenya Economic Relations under Obama and Their Image in the Kenyan News Discourse

Abstract

Economic cooperation between the US and Kenya has reflected the ups and downs in the relations between the two countries. Since independence, both countries have converged on security issues and diverged on questions of democracy and human rights. When Barack Obama was elected as the President of the US, Kenya expected to get an “Obama bonus” in the form of closer trade and investment cooperation. This article analyzes what is the image of US–Kenya economic relations in the news discourse. The analysis reveals that three different and competing narratives are present in the news discourse in Kenya. The US disseminates a narrative that economy, security, good governance and human resources are four interconnected and mutually reinforcing pillars of African development; Kenya must make progress in all these four pillars, and the US is ready to help Kenya. Kenyan leaders seem to internalize the economic part of the narrative and accept the nexus between economy and security, but they reject the nexus between economy and political issues. Finally, the Kenyan society internalizes both these narratives, albeit to a different degree, with the latter prevailing over the former. However, it also produces its own narrative, which presents current US–Kenya economic relations in a different perspective. The whole US engagement in Kenya hardly goes beyond the symbolical level. It is driven by US economic interests and competition with China, while there is no “Obama bonus” for Kenya.

Open access