The International Spectator, Vol. 50, No. 2, June 2015

Special cores on Turkey's Uncertain Path and Modi's India

Russia as Opportunist or Spoiler in the Middle East? Free

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Towards and Beyond a Final Nuclear Deal with Iran
Ellie Geranmayeh
World powers and Iran are on the cusp of reaching a final nuclear deal after more than a decade of negotiations. The extent of details divulged in Lausanne regarding the parameters for a comprehensive nuclear deal suggests that negotiators have overcome an impasse in the talks. But technical and political challenges remain before the deal can be sealed and delivered. In particular, an obstructionist stance from the US Congress could severely undermine the ability of the West to fulfill its obligation under a final deal. Europeans have a strategic interest in reaching a deal which addresses their non-proliferation concerns on Iran. Given its proximity to the Middle East, Europe also has a necessity to move the current détente with Iran forward beyond a nuclear-centric discourse to focus on de-escalation in the region. Europe should utilise its political space to keep up the momentum behind the nuclear talks, push all sides to the finishing line and safeguard the détente process with Iran thereafter.
Keywords: Iran, nuclear deal, Europe, region
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Russia as Opportunist or Spoiler in the Middle East?
Pavel K. Baev
The severe and fast-evolving Ukraine crisis has required a great concentration of Russia’s political efforts and is having a massive impact on Russian policymaking, including in the Middle East. This region provides the best opportunity for Moscow to reassert its status as a key player in the global arena, and the deep fall of oil prices makes Russia particularly attentive to regional conflict developments. One of the main motivations for Russia is the pronounced desire to demonstrate its capacity to thwart US policy, but another is to prove its value to China as a strategic partner. Russia’s reach remains limited but it will continue to look for opportunities to make a difference.
Keywords: Middle East, Syria, Russia, security, conflict
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Turkey's Uncertain Path
Monopolising the Centre: The AKP and the Uncertain Path of Turkish Democracy
Ziya Öniş
The loss of reform momentum and rising authoritarianism during the most recent phase of AKP government indicate that Turkish democracy is in crisis. Although the Gezi protests emerged as a movement from below reacting to the rising authoritarianism of the AKP government, it did not turn into an organised and sustainable movement. Similarly, external anchors or reputational effects are failing to reverse the backsliding of Turkish democracy. The notion of ‘bounded communities’ is a key concept in accounting for the continued dominance of Erdoğan and the AKP in the face of significant pressure for change. Erdoğan’s victory in the August 2014 presidential elections generates both benign and pessimistic scenarios for the future of Turkish democracy.
Keywords: democratic consolidation, illiberal democracy, dominant parties, Turkish politics, European Union
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Turkey's Judiciary and the Drift Toward Competitive Authoritarianism
Ergun Özbudun
Turkey has always been considered an “illiberal democracy”, or in Freedom House’s terms, a “partly-free” country. In recent years, however, there has been a downward trend toward “competitive authoritarianism”. Such regimes are competitive in that opposition parties use democratic institutions to contest seriously for power, but they are not democratic because the playing field is heavily skewed in favour of incumbents. One of the methods employed by competitive authoritarian leaders is the use of informal mechanisms of repression. This, in turn, requires a dependent and cooperative judiciary. Thus, in Turkey the year 2014 can be described as a period when the governing AKP (Justice and Development Party) made a sustained and systematic effort to establish its control over the judiciary by means of a series of laws of dubious constitutionality.
Keywords: Turkish politics, illiberal democracies, competitive authoritarianism, independence of the judiciary
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Modi's India
The 'Modi Wave': Behind the Results of the 2014 General Elections in India
Michelguglielmo Torri
Narendra Modi’s spectacular victory over Congress in the 2014 Indian general elections was made possible by many factors. However, the main and overarching cause of Modi’s victory was the process which, starting in 2009 with the backing of the Indian corporate sector, built up the image of Modi as a kind of fearless and unblemished hero who, having raised his home state, Gujarat, to an extraordinary level of economic development, was now in a position to replicate the same feat at the all-India level. ‘Modi’s legend’ first conquered the middle class’ imagination and, then, was spread among the masses and, transversally, among first-time voters by that same middle class, with the help of RSS volunteers. Thus, a juggernaut was created and deployed with devastating effects, not only against Congress but, as shown by the cases of Uttar Pradesh and Bihar, against some of India’s strongest regional parties.
Keywords: Indian general elections, Narendra Modi, Rahul Gandhi, UP elections, Bihar elections
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Early Trends and Prospects for Modi's Prime Ministership
Diego Maiorano
In May 2014 Narendra Modi became India’s Prime Minister in the wake of a historic electoral victory. He has generated two kinds of expectations: on the one hand, his voters expect him to create millions of new jobs for a fast-growing working age population; on the other hand, Hindu extremists hope that he will pursue an aggressive policy aimed at ‘hinduising’ India’s society. The first months of his premiership show that Modi is acting in both spheres, while pursuing a radical centralisation of power in his hands.
Keywords: India, Modi, centralisation, political economy, communalism
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The Emperor's New Clothes? A Political Evaluation of the Early Warning Mechanism
David Bokhorst, Adriaan Schout and Jan Marinus Wiersma
Recent years have seen several studies and proposals from national parliaments (NPs) to deepen their direct involvement in European decision-making, most notably by strengthening the early warning mechanism (EWM – also known as yellow card procedure). The EWM is a technical-legalistic procedure that is restricted to subsidiarity. This ‘straightjacket’ is too limited as a monitoring tool for European policies more broadly and can hardly be seen as a response to current democratic concerns. Framing the EWM as a democratic solution to empower NPs thus risks becoming one of Europe’s empty mantras.
Keywords: Early Warning Mechanism, national parliaments, legitimacy, subsidiarity
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Euroscepticism in the Italian Five Star Movement
Paolo Franzosi, Francesco Marone and Eugenio Salvati
The Italian Five Star Movement (FSM) is one of the most interesting political phenomena in contemporary Europe. On one hand, this populist anti-establishment party has expressed a critical, albeit ambiguous, position on the European Union and the euro. In particular, the FSM’s euroscepticism became apparent during the 2014 European Parliament (EP) elections. On the other hand, analysis of the voting behaviour in the EP shows that the Movement differs from the ‘hard’ eurosceptic UKIP, its main ally in the Europe of Freedom and Direct Democracy (EFDD) grouping, and is often closer to the pro-EU parties, in particular the Green group. Overall, the FSM’s euroscepticism is more strategic than ideological.
Keywords: Five Star Movement, populism, euroscepticism, European elections, European Parliament
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Coming Full Circle: The Euro Crisis, Integration Theory and the Future of the EU
Pier Domenico Tortola
Europe’s woes mark a new chapter in the longstanding theory/history nexus in European studies. The euro crisis has brought integration theory back onto the scholarly agenda and highlighted the value of neo-functionalism – and more precisely its key ‘spillover’ mechanism – as a framework for interpreting current politico-institutional dynamics in the European Union. We are, however, at a particular point of the neo-functionalist narration, in which the transition from low to high political integration has opened a phase of political fluidity that makes ideas and political leadership crucial in determining the future course of integration. In this phase, the positive scheme of neo-functionalism and the normative one of federalism come together, bringing the intellectual trajectory begun after WWII to full circle. Whether this new encounter will result in further integration depends primarily on the content of new federalist ideas, the emergence of an effective European leadership, and the presence of a favourable international environment. For all three factors, the record so far has been mixed at best.
Keywords: Euro crisis, European integration, neo-functionalism, federalism
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Book Reviews
A Decade with the AKP: Turkey under 'Conservative, Democratic Muslims'
Sinan Ekim
Review of: Turkey and the Arab Spring : leadership in the Middle East, by Graham E. Fuller, Bozorg Press, 2014
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Foreign Policy: A Public Policy Like any Other
Luisa Chiodi
Review of: The national interest in question : foreign policy in multicultural societies, by Christopher Hill, Oxford University Press, 2013
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