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Volume 9 Issue 2




Featuring: Understanding the Electoral College with Jonathan Rose Focus on the Middle East: The Meaning of Malala Egypt’s Constitutional Challenge China’s Leadership Transition Photo Essay: Life in a Palestinian Refugee Camp

Lost in Transition

FROM THE EDITOR Dear readers, Welcome to the pages of QIO Volume 9 Issue 2. With the knowledge that this issue would be published at the tail end of 2012, just in time to usher in yet another exciting year for international politics, a theme focused on the concept of “transition” seemed fitting. From Egypt’s constitutional reforms, to the decline of the Taliban’s influence in Pakistan, to the re-election of Barack Obama, to the appointment of China’s new Secretary General, Xi Jinping, 2012 has been a year filled with transitions in public opinion, power, and leadership that will have lasting effects on the international community. QIO strives to embody its mandate of “Bringing Global Politics to Queen’s University” by providing a quarterly platform for students to have their opinions, research, and writing on international affairs published. Consider contributing your voice to the global conversation at Queen’s! Submissions deadlines and information can be found on our website at You can also “Like” Queen’s International Observer on Facebook, or follow us on Twitter @ queensobserver for the latest in political news, and for updates about our future publications. Happy reading, Stephanie Rudyk Editor-in-Chief Queen’s International Observer


Stephanie Rudyk Editor-in-Chief Natasha Mukhtar Brenna Owen Assistant Editors Idrees Ali Daniel Bodirsky Deborah Chu Staff Writers Sara O’Sullivan Social Media Director William Leung Layout Editor

Queen’s International Observer


Playing Chicken in the South China Sea by Daniel Bodirsky


Helping or Hurting? The Nature, Process and Politics of Food Aid by Brandon Pasternak


The Problem With Being a Palestinian Refugee: My Summer In A Refugee Camp by Mike Yeomans

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TRANSITIONS IN FOCUS The Egyptian Constitution: A Declaration of Interfaith Peace by Morgan Tomalty


The Girl Who Saved Pakistan: An Analysis of the Attack on Malala Yousafzai by Idrees Ali


Understanding the American Electoral College System: An Interview with Jonathan Rose by Brenna Owen


The GOP Gets the Voters It Deserves by Stephanie Rudyk


Turning Back the Clock in Venezuela by Natasha Mukhtar


Would the Next Secretary General Please Stand Up? Reflections on China’s New Leader by Deborah Chu


The Possibility of Party Cooperation for Electoral Reform: Combining Red, Orange and Green by Robert Kiley


Youth Engagement in Politics: The QMP Effect by Sarah Jung Volume 9 Issue 2


Playing Chicken in the South China Sea by Daniel Bodirsky Prior to September 2012, most Canadians had likely never heard of the Senkaku or Diaoyu islands. However, these five uninhabited islands in the South China Sea are setting the stage for one of the most high-stakes games of ‘chicken’ in international politics.

The dispute is between Japan and China over the sovereignty of the islands, which are referred to as the Senkaku or Diaoyu islands, respectively, by the two countries. Japan first surveyed and took control of the islands in 1895, under the pretext of terra nullius (belonging to no-one). The Chinese position is that the islands were previously under Chinese rule, and Chinese officials have pointed to a number of historical documents dating from 1403 to support their position. Japan counters that China only began to claim sovereignty in 1969, when a United Nations team confirmed large deposits of natural gas near the archipelago. Tai-

wan also claims sovereignty over the islands on the basis of being the successor state to imperial China. The current rift began in August, when the controversial governor of Tokyo, Shintaro Ishihara, announced his intention to buy the islands. Ishihara is famous in Japan for his ardent nationalist credentials, having dismissed Japanese atrocities during World War II as Chinese propaganda. Protests and riots targeting Japanese stores and products broke out across China in response to the announcement. Wary of the islands falling into the hands of a figure as controversial as Ishihara, the Japanese government moved to buy the islands pre-emptively. This proved to have the opposite effect: the islands were nationalized on September 10th, almost immediately eliciting an angry response from Beijing.

The implications of increased Sino-Japanese tension must not be understated. Any escalation to the point of armed conflict would inevitably draw in the United States, by virtue of the 60 year-old U.S.-Japan mutual cooperation treaty. China’s blue water navy is rapidly expanding, and Beijing has not hesitated to flex its naval muscle. Vessels from the People’s Liberation Army Navy make regular sorties into the disputed waters, much to the chagrin of the Japanese coastguard. Japan, despite its pacifist constitution enacting severe limitations on military involvement, spent some $55.9 billion on its military in 2012. New military procedures for the Japan Self-Defense Forces indicate a shift in the country’s Cold War-era focus from Russia to China, further escalating tensions.

diplomatic relations between the two countries, which have been normalized since 1972.

Why is Beijing finally pushing its claims? In recent years, China has sought to carve out a sphere of influence in the South and East China Seas, and has a storied history of overlapping island claims with other states in the Asia-Pacific. China’s current sovereignty claims overlap with Vietnam, Taiwan, South Korea, the Philippines, Malaysia, Brunei and Indonesia. Nearly all of these disputed islands are uninhabited rocks, though many are situated near natural gas deposits in the ocean floor. China’s rise has led to a voracious appetite for resources, leading the country to pursue its previously-dormant claims on islands across the region. The Senkaku/Diaoyu islands are a part of this larger trend, though the While the U.S. military presence renders the chance fact that they are administered by Japan is what makes of an actual military conflict improbable, nationalism this particular dispute so tricky to manage. in both China and Japan serves as a wildcard. China witnesses tens of thousands of demonstrations every Both sides are reluctant to back down. If Japan cedes year, largely directed towards corrupt local officials. Ian claims to the Senkaku/Diaoyu islands, it will likely be Bremmer, President of Eurasia Group, notes that these read in Beijing as a tacit acceptance of Chinese hege-

“China’s rise has led to a voracious appetite for resources, leading the country to pursue its previously-dormant claims on islands across the region.” officials have every reason to funnel social discontent away from domestic issues and towards anti-Japanese nationalism. In Japan, nationalist politicians are on the rise. Former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe staged a rare comeback in September, after being chosen as the leader of the opposition Liberal Democratic Party. He is widely expected to steer the LDP to victory in Japan’s December elections. Abe is not alone among nationalists pushing to revise Japan’s pacifist constitution.

mony in the Asia-Pacific. Popular nationalism in China will likewise prevent Beijing from backing down, as it would be seen as compromising sovereignty to a former colonial power. What the islands lack in physical size is made up for in symbolic importance.

With its leadership transition now complete, it remains to be seen how China’s new leader Xi Jinping will handle the current crisis. Given widespread speculation that the new generation of Chinese leaders will adhere Beyond the obvious spectre of a military conflict, a trade to a focus on economic growth rather than political war between Japan and China would be disastrous. Bi- change, there is reason to hope for a peaceful solution lateral trade between the two reached an all-time high to the Senkaku/Diaoyu dispute. However, sabre-rattling of $120 billion in 2003. China further accounts for some between the world’s second and third largest economies 20% of Japan’s exports. Even if the Chinese government bodes well for no one. takes no formal action, unofficial consumer boycotts of Japanese products still carry considerable risk. Further, China risks magnifying the acute political risks of doing business in the country, potentially driving away business. This spat also risks scuttling years of deepening Volume 9 Issue 2




by Brandon Pasternak

Africa has received at least $1 trillion in aid over the

The Nature of Aid: What is aid? The nature of aid as a no-strings-attached donation contributes to its lack of successful results. According to the World Bank, conditionality has produced few significant policy changes in recipient countries because of the recipients’ failure to see conditions as binding and the donors’ unwillingness to stop providing aid when recipients do not comply. The ramifications of failing conditionality can be observed in its negative effects on (1) accountability and (2) incentives. For human development goals to be realized, it is crucial that the government be accountable to the people. For a number of countries, the problem is that aid comprises a significant portion of national income. Guinea-Bissau receives 37% of its GDP from aid, and Liberia has an Official Development Assistance (ODA) to Gross National Income (GNI) ratio of 185 percent. Larry Diamond concludes that a high dependence on unearned income that is “free for the taking” discourages the state from

past six decades which, despite good intentions, has contributed to fragility rather than development. However, the failure of aid to achieve remarkable success does not stem from patronage or a lack of government supervision as many scholars suggest. Corruption is no doubt part of the equation, but the unscrupulous practices of recipient leaders do not comprise the entire explanation for the lack of promising results coming from foreign aid.On the contrary, a comprehensive approach to corruption suggests that it is the nature of foreign aid - the way in which it is conducted and the self interested motivations that underly its practice - that is systemically corrupt and ineffective. As such, the fundamental purpose of foreign aid – to benefit the recipient population and meet their human development needs – is disconnected from its practice. For aid to be “smart,” that is, transparent and accountable, practice must be realigned with this purpose. 6 Queen’s International Observer

establishing expectations of accountability that typically arise from a system of taxation. When the state’s bureaucracy is empowered in such a way upon receiving this flow of income, the population is, according to Huntington, denied representation. Without working sanctions to force recipient governments to be accountable to its people, aid makes the recipient state dependent on foreign populations for its income, not its own citizens. If the government does not rely on the people’s money, then it is less accountable to the people in terms of how they spend their budget, and thus not as willing to accommodate their needs. A lack of conditionality also perverts incentives. Diamond argues that receiving unearned income without conditions lowers the incentive to engage in risky, yet necessary investment needed to improve economic growth. Although aid must focus on improving the social well-being of citizens, economic development is an equally important goal, requiring investment in infrastructure, public services, and industry. Nevertheless, if the government is able to profit without having to invest and take risks, even if very minimal, there is little incentive to do so. The Harrod-Domar model, one of the first economic models to incorporate the connection between aid and development planning, demonstrates this problem. If a country’s domestic savings rate is lower than that which is needed to produce a desired level of investment and economic growth, the model suggests that the shortfall can be funded by foreign donations. Once recipient politicians see that donors are committed to supporting them, they will likely recognize that further shortfalls will be compensated by more aid. As a result, this allows them to divert domestic savings away from investment towards consumption in ways that fail to benefit the populace, such as expanding an already oppressive military. Furthermore, aid lowers the incentive to re-evaluate policies, particularly those that do not function efficiently. There are always costs associated with policy reform, but in many cases benefits resulting from implementing effective policy eventually outweigh initial costs. However, when aid funds a government’s budget and fills in the gap left by inefficiency, there is little incentive to undergo the costs of re-evaluation. With post-disaster Haiti swamped with funds, Haitian officials expressed such an attitude: “Just call up...Washington, and they’ll send another cheque.” Access to flows of aid, then, can

deter officials from fixing failed policies that have adverse effects on the population. The Process of Aid: How is aid processed? How donor countries process aid is increasingly reflective of a concern not for the people that the money goes to, but for domestic interest. The US Agency for International Development (USAID), for instance, fully acknowledges that they are motivated both by national foreign policy interests, as well as a desire to aid citizens of developing countries. Unfortunately, it is quite often the case that these twin motivations cannot co-exist, and that “selfish” desires dominate the “selfless” ones. The process of “tying” aid to economic development involves providing ODA to a country that must be used to purchase goods and services from the donor. The process is inefficient since it is on average 15 to 30 percent more expensive than buying from cheaper sources. Additionally, tying aid has been harmful. In the wake of Haiti’s earthquake disaster, a large portion of US aid went towards funding private contractors lacking specific knowledge of the recipient country and the context within which their projects were carried out, making their proposed solutions often inappropriate. Additionally, these contractors receive payment up-front and only work in the area for a short time. As a result, they are not accountable to the local population. They are at best minimally affected by the success of their own projects, making them less likely to meet their objectives in satisfying the human development needs of the local population. Exemplary of this self-interested motivation to tie aid is the record of US contracts made to firms with histories of failing to meet development objectives. For example, USAID contracted Chemonics to work in Haiti even though their projects failed the last time they were hired in Afghanistan. Haitian shelters constructed by Clayton Homes, hired by the Clinton Foundation, were later found to contain toxic levels of formaldehyde, even though it was well-known before the contract was made that Clayton had built carcinogenic shelters in Hurricane Katrina disaster areas. It is evident then that the “selfish” motivation to capture business for donor country firms comes at the cost of not only efficiency, but also of the direct harm that arise from improperly completed or failed projects. The practice of tied aid, then, is detached from the purpose of meeting local needs.

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The Politics of Aid: Where does aid go and who receives it? Political considerations are prime determinants of where aid goes and who receives it. The existence of political interests tend to trump other desires for humanitarian benevolence and economic growth, sending aid not to the poorest of the poor, but to countries that best condone the donor’s foreign agenda. Once again, “smart” aid is limited because donor interests are prioritized at the expense of the recipient population’s human development needs.

hotspot for current geopolitical interests – received over twice the amount of ODA as the Latin American region, despite having only 3.4 percent of its population in poverty. It is evident that countries do not choose where to send their aid primarily based on where human development needs will best be served. Rather, they prioritize their own strategic political interests.

During the Cold War, foreign aid was given to proAmerican governments located in strategic locations, such as the Middle East. However, funding anti-communist regimes, such as Mobutu’s in Zaire, often meant funding dictatorships with rampant human rights violations. As a result, aid funds seldom served the people’s development needs. Although there has since been

Conclusion A critique of aid focusing primarily on patronage ignores the broader, systemic corruption that exists in foreign aid. Purpose is often divorced from practice. What aid has become, a source of unearned income free of effective conditionalities, deprives recipient populations of accountable governments and incentives to reform policies and produce economic growth. How aid is processed through the practice of tied aid reveals that donor countries pursue their own economic preferences at the expense of meeting recipient population needs. Finally,

some reform, it is still evident that foreign policy interests continue to dominate. The advent of the War on Terror is a testimony to this fact. After 9/11, foreign aid to Afghanistan and Iraq surged at the expense of other developing countries. According to Fleck and Kilby, need is now less significant as a determinant of eligibility than geopolitical considerations. The trend of allocating aid according to donor interests also applies to regions as a whole. Focusing on purely “need” as a requirement for giving aid, 36 percent of people in Latin America and the Caribbean live in poverty. However, the Middle East and North Africa – a

where aid goes – where strategic foreign policy interests are best served – and who it goes to – often repressive dictatorships – reflects how donors prioritize political agendas instead of the people aid flows are intended to help. Focusing on demand-side corruption places the blame heavily on one side: the recipient. However, if aid is to become effective in achieving its original purpose, Western donors must realize that the majority of the corruption exists within their own framework, their own practice, and their own selfish motivations. Before recipient populations can take ownership of their lives, as the human development goals seek to achieve, donor countries must first take ownership of their failures.


Queen’s International Observer


by Mike Yeomans Of the approximately 1.4 million Palestinian refugees

nothing to improve the situation. These things, coupled that live in UNRWA (United Nations Releif and Works with a surging camp population with 80 percent unemAgency) camps in the West Bank, Deheishe refugee ployment have been constant challenges since the 2002 camp is home to approximately 15,000 of these refu- separation wall between Israel and Palestine was erectgees. In the summer of 2012, I spent two months living ed. That is the big deal. and working with the people of Deheishe. About half of all Palestinians are refugees - though unlike most refu- The living standards may not be the worst on earth, but gees whose predicament is tentative and temporary, this that does not make them acceptable. Most notably, the is not true in Palestine. The Israel-Palestine conflict has real crime in Palestine is the lack of hope to improve not been resolved in over 60 years, leaving the refugees the situation. A lack of hope is utterly soul-destroying, in limbo. The camps have been adapted into semi-per- and is something Palestinian refugees struggle with on manent structures, reminiscent of permanent slums on a daily basis. the edge of Rio de Janerio. It is true that year-round, Palestinians have access to power and water, personal Before the 1993 Oslo Accords, all camps were encircled sanitation facilities as well as basic household technol- by a fence, with the Israeli Defence Force (IDF) guarding every gate and deciding daily who could go in or ogy. So, what is the big deal? out. It could take four hours to leave the camp in the Water is cut-off regularly, for as long as 60 days. Twice morning rush. Gates were frequently shut, cancelling I went without a shower for approximately a week. Fre- work for the day – as well as shopping for food. Essenquent power outages as well as a diet which does not tially, the camps functioned as cages. The Oslo Accords give all the necessary variety and minerals for proper divided the West Bank into Zones A, B and C. Zone A, growth lowers the quality of life substantially. A declin- under total PA control had the fences torn down around ing UNRWA budget causes ever-worsening schools, the camps. Fences remain erected and soldiers remain while fewer food hand-outs, and the refusal of the Pal- on guard in areas B and C (which makes up the majority estinian Authority (PA) or Israel to plug this gap does of the West Bank) to this day. Volume 9 Issue 2


Just because the soldiers are no longer allowed to be present does not mean they respect this rule. During my time in Dehieshe, F-16 jets flew regularly over the camp. On high school graduation day, they went berserk, firing flares at almost the same rate as jubilant students letting off fireworks. On one occasion, two helicopter gunships flew in tight circles barely 400-feet above my head, and in violation of international and Israeli law, IDF forces entered the camp every three to five nights to make arrests. Typically all-but silent, they occasionally opened fire with tear gas and regular ammunition. On the night of July 4th, the soldiers panicked in the search for a lost member and firing went on for a terrifying four hours. The IDF even called in the PA to help get the lost soldier out. This night-time presence means that a de-facto curfew exists, after which refugees can be in serious trouble if caught by the IDF, despite the “free� nature of Zone A camps. Movement is severely limited legally beyond the boundaries of Zone A, with checkpoints being a nightmare to transgress. There are countless other limitations put upon Palestinian refugees, but restricted movement, poor schooling,

unreliable access to power and water, and cramped conditions are perhaps the most pertinent. They have had to grow accustomed to these facts as part of their daily life. Most importantly, the inhabitants of Deheishe lack a sense of hope. On other charitable projects I worked on in Kenya, the living standard was desperately worse, but the quality of life was so much better. The people there had hope. They had the hope and visible evidence that if they worked hard, despite their suffering, things could, would and did get better. In Deheishe the daily reality of inhabitants was one of listless survival, trying to take joy from what they could, in the knowledge that the chances of their situation improving hugely overall were slim – and completely out of their control. I do not seek to persuade you of the legitimacy of one side or the other in such a conflict. Both sides have done horrible things to each other, and continue to do so to this day. I seek only to shed light on the human cost that is inflicted upon refugees, due to the on-going failure of the domestic and international communities to resolve this bitter conflict.

Transitions in focus: Public Opinion, Power, and Leadership in Transition

THE EGYPTIAN CONSTITUTION: A Declaration of Interfaith Peace by Morgan Tomalty A declaration of interfaith peace should be applied to the present re-drafting of the Egyptian Constitution. With the current goings-on in Egypt regarding religious (in)equality, the opportunity to discuss the need for a formal religious code of conduct in the new Egyptian Constitution cannot be forgone. By applying a religious ‘code of ethics’, Egypt’s current turmoil surrounding religious acceptance would subside. Not only would the inclusion of this declaration benefit Egypt socially, it would also benefit Egypt’s current shaky economic ties with the U.S. and surrounding Gulf countries. President Muhammad Morsi must implement a religious code of ethics in the re-drafting of the Egyptian constitution in order to support equal treatment of Egypt’s two largest religions, Islam and Christianity, and by doing so benefit Egypt economically on the world stage.

tion of a religious code of ethics, which would represent Christians who currently lack strong leadership, is necessary with a Muslim Brotherhood majority in government. In September 2012 the American Embassy in Cairo was attacked after a hateful video was released mocking the Prophet Muhammad. Egyptian protestors scaled the embassy’s walls and pulled down the American flag, which they tore apart and burned. By adding a religious code of ethics to the Egyptian Constitution, morals that are expounded upon in the Qur’an could be called upon to promote fair treatment of Egyptian Christians. For example, The Qur’an states: “Let not the hatred of others make you swerve to wrong and depart from justice.” Further, applying a religious code of eth-

In Spring 2012, Mohammad Morsi, the leader of the Islamic group the Muslim Brotherhood (MB), was elected as the president of Egypt. In October 2012, Maggie Michael, an Edmonton Journal reporter, wrote that the Brotherhood was "committed to enshrining Islamic Sharia law as the main source of a new constitution." Unfortunately, this can only mean deepening trouble for the large minority of Coptic Christians in Egypt. The aura of hopefulness for a democratic Egypt following the overthrow of Mubarak has been replaced by a bleak reality: a potentially radial Islamic form of government has replaced Mubarak’s dictatorship. There are said to be around 20 million Coptic Christians in Egypt, as well as many Evangelists. The implementaVolume 9 Issue 2


ics that promotes tolerance in the new Egyptian constitution may discourage extremists from resorting to violence when feeling maltreated by the government and non-Muslims alike. After the release of the video, new instances of Christians being oppressed in Egypt continue to arise every day. A Christian boy who shared an “anti-Islamist” video on Facebook is in jail, charged with ‘contempt of religion’, while a grown man involved with the televised ripping of a Bible in the Tahrir Square is not. Jerry Dykstra, a leader of the Christian NGO ‘Open Door’, states that, "the reality is the persecution of Christians and other minorities inside Egypt has increased dramatically since Morsi's election. The kidnapping of Christians has increased. Qualified Christians are not getting jobs.” Implementing a religious code of ethics would create responsibility among the Egyptian people and government to stop unethical behavior. Additionally, the implementation of a promise of protection for oppressed individuals into the Egyptian constitution would work to avoid the exploitation of minorities and promote long-term goals of equality.


“By adding a religious code of ethics to the Egyptian Constitution, morals that are expounded upon in the Qur’an could be called upon to promote fair treatment of Egyptian Christians.“ Egypt has been in dire economic and social straits in the last several years, including since the 2011 ousting of dictator Hoseni Mubarak. On the brink of bankruptcy, Egypt is dependent on outside aid, most significantly aid from the United States. Until recently, beginning in 1988, the United States supplied an annual $1.5 billion to the Egyptian government. In late September of this year, President Obama responded to the Egyptian violence and mistreatment of minority Christians by stating that he does not “consider Egypt an ally”. Richard Engel, NBC’s Chief Foreign Correspondent, said that Obama’s striking assertion was in reaction to shaky American relations with Morsi’s Egypt. Turbulent times

Queen’s International Observer

under the Muslim Brotherhood have jeopardized the annual delivery of American aid to Egypt. A number of American political leaders are concerned about Egypt's direction under the Muslim Brotherhood; when Morsi ran for office, he promised equality for minorities that is not apparent now. Morsi could reestablish his integrity and rekindle his alliance with the United States and others in the international community by implementing a religious code of conduct that protects minorities. Additionally, damaging its ties with the U.S. will not help Egypt with neighboring Gulf Shore countries, such as the much more powerful Israel and Saudi Arabia, who are close allies to the United States. BBC diplomatic correspondent Jonathan Marcus says “at home, amidst the strident debate of the U.S. presidential election campaign, Obama loses no friends by distancing himself from the Egyptian authorities.” This seems to contradict Hilary Clinton’s meeting with Morsi in July, when she reaffirmed Washington’s “strong support” for the Egyptian people and their change to civilian rule. While the American government endorses the implementation of civilian rule in Egypt as long as there is a push for antiviolence and anti-oppression, Obama has made clear that the United States will not offer Egypt aid while its

government continues to employ oppressive practices. As a non-religious person, I do not feel compelled to support either the Muslims or Christians in Egypt over the other, and also fully acknowledge numerous instances of Christian discrimination against Muslims outside the Middle East. It is also true that the implementation of a code of ethics would be mainly symbolic. However, it could be very effective if endorsed by Egyptian leadership, namely the Muslim Brotherhood, so that all of Egypt is aware of its existence. If a group that has a reputation for religious fanaticism were to push for the implementation of religious acceptance and care, relations between Egypt and the rest of the global community would be mollified immensely. This captures the main point of the argument: if Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood publicly endorse a religious code of ethics in their constitution, they will face less resistance to their policies and ideology both domestically and internationally.

Caption: Above: A PEW research poll suggests Egyptians remain optimistic about democracy in the country. The decreasing percentage of dissatisfied respondents indicates hope alongside a continued desire for change and equality

Volume 9 Issue 2



The attack on Malala Yousafzai, and why it represents the end for the Taliban in Pakistan.

“Malala represents the resilience of our girls and women. Her attackers aren’t just trying to kill the Daughter of Pakistan. They are trying to kill Pakistan.” -Asif Ali Zardari, President of Pakistan

by Idrees Ali

It’s not every day that a 15-year-old girl can inspire mil-

lions of people across the world, and bring one of the most brutal terrorist organizations to their knees. Yet, this is exactly what Malala Yousafzai was able to do. She galvanized Pakistan, drew international attention to the cause of women’s education, and forced the Taliban to go on the defensive. According to UNESCO, Pakistan ranks amongst the bottom ten countries in regards to the women’s education. Malala Yousafzai had been working tirelessly in order to promote education in the Swat region of Pakistan, in which the Taliban have a strong physical presence. In 2009 a Pakistan Army operation, called Operation Rahe-Rast, eliminated a large number of the group. However this army operation was unable to get rid of the ideology that the Taliban brought with them, and this became apparent earlier this year.

Even the different political parties were on the same page. The governing Pakistan Peoples Party called it an attack on Pakistan. Pakistan Muslim League (Nawaz) president, Nawaz Sharif called Malala the “pride of the nation.” Even Imran Khan, head of the Pakistan Tehreek Insaf Party - which has been sympathetic towards the Taliban and ready to negotiate with them in the past - visited Malala in the hospital and condemned the attack.

What was more surprising however, was the global coverage this event received. The deaths of innocent civilians by terrorists such as the Taliban no longer surprise the world. However, an act as cowardly as attacking a 15-year-old girl who was working to improve the education of women caught the attention of millions around the world. UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon declared the 10th of November 2012 “ Malala Day,” adding that “Malala Yousafzai is a global symbol of every girl’s right On October 9, 2012, two armed men shot Malala twice, to an education.” On November 10, citizens from across once in the neck and once in the head. The Taliban were the globe spoke out for Malala and the 61 million chilquick to claim responsibility, citing her work for wom- dren throughout the world who are still not in school. en’s education as the reason behind the attack. Malala was rushed to a nearby hospital, and later transported When it became evident that Mullah Fazlullah, the to the United Kingdom for further treatment. The reac- mastermind behind the attack on Malala, had fled to tion that followed was as powerful as it was unexpected. Afghanistan, President Hamid Karzai made it clear that he would “hunt” him down. Given the recent tension While Pakistan is a country fractured by ethnic and sec- between Afghanistan and Pakistan over border crosstarian divisions, the attack on Malala proved to be a uni- ings by the Taliban, this comes as a surprising and welfying event. There was an outcry of anger all across the come development. country. Whether Balochi, Sindhi, Pakhtun or Punjabi, all Pakistanis came together to chant, “I am Malala.” 16 Queen’s International Observer

Furthermore, the Prime Minister of Great Britain, David Cameron, came under pressure to nominate Malala for a Nobel Peace Prize for her fight to improve girls’ education, with a petition of more than 60,000 signatures widely circulating around the United Kingdom. Similar initiatives have been launched in Canada, France and Spain.

mately, an act of desperation. As Hamid Mir, a highly respected Pakistani journalist put it, the media in Pakistan was able to stand up to and defeat the draconian anti-media laws put in place by past prime minister, Musharraf, who had the support of the Pakistani army. The media was able to defy several decades of military rule and corrupt government regimes. If the Taliban believe they can silence the Pakistani media, they are soreThe attack on Malala also caused the Taliban to threaten ly mistaken. The threat against the media clearly points the media in Pakistan. Given the high level of illiteracy towards the weakening of the Taliban in Pakistan. in Pakistan, radio and television news in the country is seen as extremely important in spreading information One of the major reasons for the strength of the Taliand news to its roughly 180 million inhabitants. The ban in the past had been their ability to capitalize on media is seen as one of the most powerful institutions anger against the United States in the tribal regions in in the country and was quick to respond to the attack on Pakistan. However, the attack on Malala Yousafzai has Malala. There was hardly a talk show or newspaper in led to calls for the ousting of the Taliban. Their actions, the country that wasn’t debating or talking about the in- and the reaction in Pakistan and throughout the world, cident and the appropriate response that should follow. have made it abundantly clear that the ideology that the The Taliban, clearly aware of the influence held by the Taliban brings with it is starting to disappear. media, threatened them. They made it clear that because of the coverage given to Malala, journalists and media The beginning of the end for the Taliban in Pakistan organizations in Pakistan would be targeted. has begun, and all thanks to a brave girl named Malala Yousafzai. This was one of the strongest and most direct threats against the Pakistani media by the Taliban and, ulti-

Volume 9 Issue 2


Understanding the American Electoral College System:

An interview with Jonathan Rose by Brenna Owen

“The Citizens United decision ... really makes it a game where the rich can buy the election.”

QIO: Firstly, does the Electoral College restore some of the power of larger states that are otherwise disadvantaged by the Senatorial system [in which each state is allotted the same number of Senators regardless of size], or does the Electoral College give disproportionate power to smaller states? For example, each vote in Wyoming counts nearly four times as much as each vote in Texas [Texas has a population of over 20 million, while Wyoming’s population is under 500,000]. Is this a problem of democratic representation? JR: The first thing is that the origins of the Electoral College are such that it was, as you correctly said, a balance of the equal representation by states in the Senate versus ‘Rep by Pop’ (representation by population) in the House of Representatives. You know the Electoral College is comprised of a total number of representatives as well as senators, so it rewards larger states more. I think the effect of the Electoral College is twofold: one, I think it narrows the race significantly to a handful of key states. That, I think, leads to, along with court decisions like Citizens United*, massive ad-buying and vote-grabbing in those key states. I also think it can lead to wildly disproportionate results. In 2000, for example, Al Gore won a greater percentage of the popular vote; there were more Americans who voted for Al Gore than George Bush, but because George Bush had a greater number of Electoral College votes, 50.37 with Florida as the deciding factor, he of course won the presidency. So there’s a case of arguably the wrong person winning. The system there created a winner because of the influence of, in this case, one state. Another example is Ronald Reagan in 1984, when he won 59 percent of the popular vote and 98 percent of the Electoral College votes. So it exaggerates the winners sometimes, and it amplifies the losers other times.

The Queen’s International Observer spoke to Professor Jonathan Rose in the wake of the American presidential election. The result of the quadrennial transition is QIO: People who defend the system say that this undetermined not by popular vote, but by the mysterious even power forces candidates to focus on states that would otherwise be ignored. Is that a good thing? and largely understood institution of American democracy, the Electoral College. In this year’s election, JR: The Electoral System as you probably know is winwhile Obama won the popular vote by a margin of 2.5 percent, his victory in the Electoral College was a ner-take-all, so if you win by a handful of votes, again much exaggerated 332 electoral votes to Romney’s 206. as Bush did in Florida, you get everything. But imagine if it was a more proportional system: there would Certainly if the U.S. operated under a different electoral system the Gore vs. Bush election in 2000 would be greater incentive for Republicans to campaign in have played out differently, as Professor Rose explains. New York, and Democrats to campaign in Texas, beWhat then, are the merits of the Electoral College, and cause there, maybe a one or two percent shift in popular support in the state would result in a proportionate inwhy does it remain in place? 18 Queen’s International Observer

crease in Electoral College votes. So I think the reverse is true. I think the Electoral College system actually discourages presidential candidates from campaigning in states that they know they’re going to lose. A different system might encourage them to increase their share of the popular vote.

and ends up with millions of dollars being spent. Meanwhile, the Canadian system is quite the opposite. It’s a pretty low scale event, the Canadian leadership convention, and there’s no formalized or standardized public process for nomination of leaders. Do you think that Canada could benefit from adopting a more standardized, public nominating process?

QIO: Is there potential for reform of the Electoral College without getting rid of the system altogether? JR: Well we haven’t really thought about whether parHow could this be approached? ties are public or private entities. This government is moving them more towards private entities by reducJR: I don’t think there’s reform because it’s so entrenched. ing state support for them. They’re moving away from There have been reforms and there are modifications in that [state support], to be similar to other actors in civil some states on how the electors vote, but generally it’s society. The big difference between the American and entrenched and seen as a part of the American political Canadian system is of course the influence of money. system. I wouldn’t want to see Canada go that way. Right now, corporations and unions are prohibited from contribQIO: How does the Electoral College system compare uting to parties and there’s a limit on individual conto the First Past the Post system that we have here in tributions. In the United States, groups are allowed to Canada? It seems both systems have the problem that contribute in unlimited ways, not to parties but groups they don’t reflect the popular vote since they are based affiliated with political parties. The Citizens United deon the winner-take-all model. Does the Electoral Col- cision of last year I think really changes the landscape of lege system have merits that our system doesn’t, or American politics so fundamentally, and it really makes the reverse? it a game where the rich can buy the election. JR: It’s a bit hard to compare because of course we don’t elect a president, so it’s like comparing apples to oranges. You’re right that in some sense the logic of the Electoral College is similar to the logic of electoral districts in Canada, that’s true. But the stakes are much lower here. In the United States, the influence of a few of those states has huge implications, and that I think is different than First Past the Post in Canada. I think [the Electoral College] is a very strange system, and unique in terms of how choices are made. It reflects values about both the ambivalence of voters to make a decision and also the American system of checks and balances that you began with, about having an appropriate check on the equal power of the Senate.

QIO: Do you think that if Canada were to adopt a nominating process that is more formalized and inclusive, it would produce leaders that are more popular? To be honest I’m thinking of Michael Ignatieff here.

QIO: Apart from the Electoral College, the American electoral system also places a lot of emphasis on the primary process, which draws out the election cycle

*Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission was a 2010 court case that determined that the First Amendment prohibited the government from restricting political contributions or expenditures by corporations and unions.

JR: Different political parties have experimented with universal franchise with mixed results. So I guess the next step would be to open it up to anyone. Here in Ontario the provincial Liberal leader is about to be elected, who [by nature of finishing McGuinty’s term] will be the premier of the province... therefore, a handful of Liberals will have elected the premier of Ontario. That to me seems a bit problematic.

GOP Gets the Voters It Deserves by Stephanie Rudyk

Americans made an important decision on November

6th to give their commander-in-chief a second chance— a decision that some say was born more out of fear of the alternative than support for the president himself. Whether or not this is correct, one thing is certain: the Grand Old Party has a lot of thinking to do. Its political strategy that worked so flawlessly during the Bush years—one part tax cuts, two parts social conservatism, sprinkled liberally with religious zeal, and fermented in a bucket of cash—failed to win the 2012 election. Why? Karl Rove may very well be facing an angry mob of American Crossroads super PAC supporters this week asking that very question. In the aftermath of Romney’s loss, Rove’s accusations that Democrats beat Romney using vote suppression tactics border on heresay. It also demonstrates just how unequipped Republicans are to explain their across-the-board failure to appeal to crucial groups of the American electorate.

monarchy—galvanizing an irrational yet compelling respect that was beyond reproach by subjects of the kingdom - was the best insurance against civil unrest. A monarch’s mandate was divinely given, and citizens got the leadership they deserved. Unfortunately for de Maistre, those pesky values of democracy, freedom, and equality, have proven to hold currency far beyond the brutality of the French Revolution, making his monarchical views antiquated. Though GOP supporters would bristle at the idea of being compared to a royalist, they should take note of this lesson in underestimating the capabilities of the convicted majority to overcome the powerful few. NPR put 2012 election spending at an estimated $6 billion— the most expensive in history. The New York Times Election 2012 database featured a list of independent groups contributing large amounts of money to partisan political campaigns. Of the 45 groups listed, 10 were Democrat supporters while 35 were in the Romney camp. The largest pro-Republican super PAC, Restore Our Future, raised over $142 million, while Karl Rove’s American Crossroads super PAC invested a staggering $91 million. Yet, for all this cash to burn, Republicans lost the vote amongst females, Hispanics, Blacks, Asians, youth, lower-middle class, and metro

French philosopher Joseph de Maistre famously said, “Toute nation a le gouvernement qu’elle mérite.” That is, every nation gets the government it deserves. This was a direct rebuttal to a political transformation he thought was the moral undoing of his nation: the French Revolution and its enlightenment concepts of liberalism and egalitarianism. de Maistre believed that a state 20 Queen’s International Observer

politan Americans—instead making its bed with a losing coalition of male, white, old, wealthy, suburbanites. The party misinterpreted the “numbers game” to be about dollars rather than votes. It hasn’t received good returns on its investments. With this in mind, the GOP may want to rethink its allegiances, starting with its marriage to the religious right. David Halton, former CBC chief Washington correspondent claimed the GOP was called “God’s Own Party” in jest during the Bush presidency. Indeed, Bush’s policies on everything from science education in schools, to public health, to foreign policy, to global warming reflect that influence. While this worked in 2000 and 2004, the religious right’s views on just about every issue of political currency today are completely contrary to those of the majority of the Western world. The fact that moderate, racial minority, women and youth votes had greater leverage than money and special interests is not a case of “vote suppression.” It is an indication that the majority of Americans do not identify as White evangelical Protestants or multimillionaires. This is something they will do increasingly less as demographic trends see the Hispanic and other visible minority votes grow exponentially each year

ground game, his party did not underestimate the votes of the moderate majority. For all the power of its government lobby groups, vote mobilizing mega-churches, and powerful impassioned supporters, the religious right is a liability— not an asset. The fact is, by indulging a homogenous base, concepts like moderate politics, majority rule, and compromise will remain foreign to Republicans. Take away money and the religious right and some would say you are left with a losing party. The problem is, with these things, it already is one. Contrary to de Maistre’s famous belief , that people get the government they deserve, it is not wholly accurate at explaining the election results of 2012. Obama’s second mandate made one thing strikingly clear. Despite an unprecedented influence of big money and special interests, it was not Americans who got the government they deserved, but rather politicians who got the voters they deserved. In the GOP’s case, this happened to be a losing coalition. In the end, the votes of the majority won over the power of a few—a revelation that Americans should be cautiously proud of, and fight hard to preserve.

“Take away money and the religious right and some would say you are left with a losing party. The problem is, with these things, it already is one.” and the deficit brings the country ever closer to financial collapse. This is a not a “coalition of minorities,” but a growing majority that embraces mainstream liberal world views, and chooses a government that best reflects those. The Democrats led a far from flawless campaign and were not without their own rich corporate backers and largely trade union special interests. Obama may not have been the shining beacon of hope he was in 2008, but in an election that turned into a county-by-county Volume 9 Issue 2


Turning Back the Clock in Venezuela? President Hugo Chavez’s recent re-election marks the beginning of his 12th year in office. Does his three term reign break away from traditional social welfare principles of the Latin American left?

by Natasha Mukhtar

“The left is back, and it’s the only path we have to get out of the spot to which the right has sunken us. Socialism builds and capitalism destroys.” - Hugo Chavez


After his failed coup against the president of Venezuela in 1992, Chavez appeared on national television to announce an imminent message. His revolution had failed por ahora; “for now”, he said with unabashed optimism. These two words assured the nation that they would indeed hear from him again. In a mere sound-bite, Chavez displayed commitment to the democratic transformation of the country while capturing the attention of millions. His words garnered him the national leadership of an ambitious socio-political movement that harked back to the much-romanticized leftist Bolivarian Revolution of the late 1800s. Fulfilling his promise of seven years earlier, Chavez entered office in 1999 and has been in power ever since. His vision of participatory democracy and, more recently, 21st century socialism, strives to eliminate poverty and corruption. At the core of his platform is a focus on equalizing social conditions in Venezuela--a goal admired by feisty chavistas and critics alike. Chavez’s domestic policies marked a turn to the left, emblematic the wave of liberalism reverberating through the region. To steer the tide in the right direction, Chavez’s policies came at the price of pragmatism and strategic centralization. Chavez crafted a cult of personality by relating himself to famed Venezuelan independence leader Simon Bolivar. Feeding off nostalgia from admirers of Bolivar, Chavez translated their admiration into support for himself. His cult of personality is based on a grandiose image as a transformative leader, willing to blast anyone who undermines his goals--even if it means calling a U.S. president “the devil” in a 2006 speech before

Queen’s International Observer

the United Nations General Assembly. Former President George W. Bush is the leader in question, so the move likely enhanced Chavez’s counter-hegemonic image. Chavez appears charismatic and tenacious, willing to stay in office until his goals are achieved--even if it takes, in his words, “another decade.” Chavez’s social reforms are aimed at reducing injustice and inequality among the majority of the Venezuelan population. His misiones or missions provide access to education and healthcare. Mission Ribas, for example, provides education with the goal of emancipating the poor by giving them the tools to succeed independently. Since Chavez came into office, the poverty rate in Venezuela has been reduced by nearly half. Social spending Bolivia and Lula da Silva of Brazil represent varying levhas tripled throughout the country and the number of els of leftism and demonstrate the flexibility and diversity within the left. Of this group, though, Chavez may beneficiaries of social security has doubled. be the most radical. These leaders used differing levels However, Chavez’s social policies reflect an emphasis on of centralization and pragmatism to facilitate social quantity over quality. Instead of providing substantive reforms and reduce inequality. Their policies brought benefits to a smaller number of people, his policies pro- significant social change for the majority. They worked vide the majority with smaller-scale social projects. It with social movements and their parties to address the is a pragmatic approach to social reform. Although his needs of the people. But their unique, sometimes unsocial spending is not a panacea for social inequality, it democratic, methods have not simply resulted in hollow institutions and undemocratic regimes. Instead, they have bolstered leftist social change using a nonChavez appears charismatic and traditional approach.

tenacious, willing to stay in office until his goals are achieved—even if it takes, in his words, “another decade.”

conjures discernible benefits for the majority and paves the way for greater economic equality. Chavez’s social reforms have significantly reduced economic inequality and injustice among the Venezuelan majority. They demonstrate the state’s responsiveness to the needs and desires of the people for social benefits and equality, demonstrating some clear success of his leftist regime. In order to facilitate the implementation of social reforms, leaders of the Latin American left made use of centralization and pragmatism. The Latin American left is comprised of leaders who broke with past oligarchic regimes to establish social and economic reforms aimed at benefitting the majority of the population. Yet leaders of the left in Latin America are not homogenous in their platforms or accomplishments. Chavez, Evo Morales of

Chavez employed such strategies to bring change quickly and avoid the rigidity and deadlock of sluggish institutional politics. Some argue that although Chavez implemented social policies benefitting the poor, he did so with increasing reliance on authoritarianism, demonstrating the failure of his leftist revolution and the hollowness of his institutions. Yet Chavez’s centralizing policies are not simply authoritarian power grabs. His change from a bicameral to unicameral legislature, for instance, helped facilitate the passage of social legislation and some checks and balances on Chavez’s power do remain. Communal councils provide a counterbalance to the government’s power. They serve a symbolic function of empowering society by incorporating it into the decision-making process. Chavez also worked with social movements to further his social reforms by engaging with grassroots activists. Chavez demonstrates the fact that power is needed to enact change. When labelled as a radical democratic leader, rather than a soft dictator, Chavez’s leftism and management of institutions is fairly successful. His

Volume 9 Issue 2


pragmatism prioritizes social benefits above the more lengthy process of consolidating democratic institutions. Twelve years of this method, however, begs the question whether his sometimes undemocratic approach has finally outweighed the benefits of social change. On October 7, Chavez was democratically re-elected to serve another 6 years in office. The election was unusually close. The opposition in Venezuela was for a long time unorganized and did not provide a coherent alternative to Chavez’s brand of leftism. Recently, however, state governor Henri Capriles galvanized the opposition, attacking Chavez’s controlling approach to institutions and spreading accusations of corruption. This demonstrates a shifting environment in Venezuela. Chavez’s support appears to be dwindling and there are concerns whether his platform can survive without him. The threat of fragmentation of his leader-centric platform looms. Chavez was diagnosed with colon cancer in 2011 and, although his treatments were supposedly a success, rumours of their failure run rampant in the country and throughout Latin America. This places Venezuela at a critical juncture of either retaining the status quo of pragmatic social change or regressing into


neoliberal cuts and state unresponsiveness. A conservative anti-Chavez backlash may re-establish the austere neoliberal conditions that led to his first election almost a decade ago. Chavez’s control over the Venezuelan government fuels fears of regression in Latin America’s left turn. Growing issues such as the recent spike in crime chip away at his regime’s social achievements and spur doubts about his ability to achieve continued success. Chavez’s flamboyantly socialist-leftist ambitions were a unifying and guiding force for leftist leaders and revolutionaries in Latin America. If the opposition radicalizes and organizes for the next election, the ousting of Chavez’s regime by reactionary conservatives could mark a serious blow to the left in Latin America. Chavez faces a tough term in office with the threat of resistance mounting in the country, as well as escalating crime rates, concerns about the undemocratic aspects of his regime and the all too real strains on his health. Time will tell if Chavez’s efforts and their consequences for both supporters and the opposition will turn back the clock of populist social welfare programs in Venezuela.

Queen’s International Observer


PLEASE STAND UP? China’s Leadership in Transition by Deborah Chu

On November 15th, after days of closed-door meetings, seven men filed onto the auditorium stage of Beijing’s Great Hall of the People.

Before a sea of press, the new leaders of the world’s second largest economy were revealed. While the Standing Committee – the head decision-making body in the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) – was only officially ratified in a vote by the Party Congress earlier in the day, it is common knowledge that the verdict had been decided long in advance. Theoretically, the Party Congress selects a Central Committee, which in turn nominates the Standing Committee and its twenty-five member Politburo. In practice, however, the Congress is a mere “rubber stamp” upon decisions already made by the political elite, after a series of intensive negotiations between intra-party factions, as well as institutional and corporate interest groups. Despite the occluded nature of the selection process, the lineup yielded few surprises – Xi Jinping, who was outgoing leader Hu Jintao’s second-in-command, had already been widely tapped as Hu’s successor. The rest of the Standing Committee is comprised of Li Keqiang, the new Premier and Xi’s right-hand man, Zhang Dejiang, Yu Zhengsheng, Liu Yunshan, Wang Qishan, and Zhang Gaoli.

Xi could not have inherited the reins under better conditions. Under his predecessor Hu Jintao, China’s GDP quadrupled and outstripped Japan to become an economic superpower second only to the United States. These gains, however, came at steep social and environmental costs. Hu’s tenure was marked by heavy-handed suppression of any popular dissent against the government, despite growing demands for social freedoms commensurate to China’s economic growth. The arrest of Liu Xiaobo in 2009, who was an outspoken advocate for constitutional reform and is currently still serving his eleven year sentence, elicited much international outcry. Social divisions within the fabric of Chinese society continue to widen between urban and rural communities, with the wealthiest 10 percent earning close to 65 times more than the poorest, and with nearly 150 million people still subsisting on $1 a day. Moreover, China’s rapid and unchecked industrialisation situates the nation as the producer of 25 percent of the world’s solid waste, and leaves 120 million people without access to clean water due to extensive pollution.

The CCP’s public image also suffered a heavy blow in early 2012, when the wife of Bo Xilai, a prominent member of the Party and a front-runner for power, was charged for the murder of a British businessman. Subsequent investigations unearthed evidence of rampant corruption and intra-Party conflict, and Bo’s eventual The Chinese Communist Party have ruled China as a dismissal from politics resulted in widespread political one-party state since 1949. This will be the “fifth genera- upheaval within the CCP. tion” of Chinese leadership, many of whom came of age during the famines of the Great Leap Forward, or had It is clear that the Standing Committee understands the parents who were exiled during the Cultural Revolution obstacles it faces, both in the long and short term. In his of 1966-76. Xi himself was exiled to work in the coun- inaugural speech, Xi, who is well-known for his intolertryside at the age of 15 when his father Xi Zhongxun, ance towards corruption, lay particular emphasis on the one of the founding fathers of the Communist Party, Party’s responsibility to “serve the people wholeheartwas purged during the Cultural Revolution and impris- edly,” and promised to crack down upon corruption and bribery within the Party. His elevation to power, as well oned. as the instatement of Wang Qishan, an experienced anNow Xi is China’s next “paramount leader,” and will ti-corruption watchdog, to the Standing Committee can oversee China and its relationship with the world over be seen as an attempt to restore the public’s faith in the the next ten years. In many ways, it appears as though Party’s accountability. Xi’s answer to the growing call for reform, however, is more 25 Volume 9 Issue 2

ambiguous. Though Xi acknowledged the necessity for reform in oblique terms, the exclusion of Wang Yang and Li Yuanchao from the stage – reformists whose names had been on the shortlist for power – leaves critics in doubt. Moreover, the members of the new Standing Committee are largely known to be conservative in their policies, and the induction of Liu Yunshan, the previous head of Party propaganda, suggest that government censorship of information and expression will tighten rather than relax. Advocates for reform argue that leaving economic and social discontent unchecked could potentially threaten the Communist Party’s hold on power, and that introducing more liberal policies is necessary to the Party’s future. However, introducing any kind of change could prove to be an uphill and intensely bureaucratic battle. Gone are the days of “political strongmen” like Mao Zedong and Deng Xiaoping – since Hu Jintao ascended to leadership in 2002, policy has been made based on coalitions between various competing factions and interest groups. Most prominent is the split between the “princelings” and the “populists,” which represent dif-

ferent interests and visions for China. “Princelings,” like Xi, represent China’s economic and social elite, usually descending from veteran revolutionaries or high-ranking officials. In contrast, “populists” like Li Keqian, tend to come from less-privileged families, advanced in politics through the Chinese Community Youth League, and advocate on behalf of society’s poor and vulnerable. The Standing Committee now weighs heavily in favour of the “princelings,” and the downsizing of its numbers from nine to seven is likely to enhance Xi’s influence. It is imperative however, that the “princelings” and “populists” operate according to compromise, for any intra-party struggle between the two factions could possibly disrupt the balance of power in the CCP. This could result in two different socioeconomic classes and their respective interests coming into conflict with one another, thereby undermining the legitimacy of China’s one-party system and threatening the stability of the entire nation. The fear of this destabilization could have contributed to Xi Jinping’s ascent to power, for though Li Keqian was Hu Jintao’s favourite candi-

date, it is suspected that Xi was more acceptable to all ry of growth. Chinese and Western analysts have agreed party factions, and thereby more capable of maintaining that a major restructuring of the Chinese economy is intra-party harmony. sorely needed, with less privilege given to China’s large state-owned companies and more resources allocated to The downside of collective leadership is that the neces- its small and medium-sized businesses, which are most sity of compromise amidst various competing factions likely to be the instigators of job creation in the future. It and interests often results in constant deadlock, thus also remains to be seen whether the new Standing Commaking real change difficult to achieve. Moreover, any mittee would be willing to allow for greater competition political reform could potentially reduce the privileges both within the Chinese economy and on the internathat has caused the Communist Party’s membership tional market. More optimistic supporters of the Party to swell to 83 million people as of 2011. In the face of insist that change is imminent – that plans for structural the China’s social disquiet and uncertain economic fu- reform were pushed to the back burner when the Party ture, however, the need for coalition amongst the inner was forced to focus on the stability of its own domestic workings of the CCP to maintain their hold on power market in the wake of the global financial crisis. has become even more imperative. The new leaders will gradually take over in the next few Xi’s first speech as China’s next leader speech was aimed months, with Hu Jintao's term of leadership formally to both placate anxieties and encourage greater unity coming to an end at the annual parliament session in both within his Party and China as a nation during a March 2013. Undoubtedly, the new members of the Pocrucial period which could quite possibly decide China’s litburo are already considering the daunting question future. The exemplary growth that China has enjoyed of how to modernize the Communist Party in order for nearly a decade is hinting at a slowdown, and must for China to keep pace with the rest of the world, while be addressed if China hopes to continue on its trajecto- maintaining the CCP’s hold on power.

Special Feature: Canadian Political Engagement

The Possibility of Party Cooperation for

Electoral Reform: Combining Red, Orange and Green by Robert Kiley

Talk of cooperation amongst so called progressive

federal parties reached new heights in 2012. While the idea has been discussed for years, the by-election results of last November, the Liberal and NDP leadership contests, and a slew of questionable parliamentary manoeuvers by the Harper government has led many - including high profile politicians and pundits - to correctly conclude that teamwork is needed to provide Canadians with a viable choice for a new government that would work to refresh our democracy and reform our electoral system.

approximately seven percent national support but no seats to show for it. In the last general election, cooperation in only a handful of ridings would have ensured a Conservative minority, setting the stage for a coalition government. Presumably the situation will be similar in two and a half years (when another election is due) and thus similar logic can be applied. That is, non-Conservative parties in closely contested ridings should cooperate before the writ drops. This would be possible by backing one candidate to win the seat, and forming a coalition government with the other non-Conservative members from the nationalist parties who would agree to lend support to a policy of electoral reform. This coalition could then pass a manifestation of proportional representation, and then call an election within a year. In this way, the post-reform election results would bring greater parity between the number of seats allotted in the House of Commons and the percentage of popular votes for each party: a reality which promises more robust democratic debate and ultimately better government.

Proponents, I among them, contend that if non-Conservative, nationalist parties and politicians were to work together, their combined vote could defeat the Conservative regime. The new cooperative government would then put forward legislation to change election standards towards some form of proportional representation. The parties would do so because they have shared democratic values that are ostensibly absent under Prime Minister Harper’s leadership. They would also do so because the current electoral system serves to silence millions of votes - a reality unbecoming of a country democratic in name. Of course, opponents of this strategy point to a number of problems. First, there appears to be an internal The first-past-the-post (FPTP) electoral system dispro- contradiction in the argument. That is to say, cooperaportionately rewards victors and parties with a regional tion that is put forward under the auspices of democoncentration. Take for example the Bloc Quebecois, cratic renewal is undemocratic in itself because there which received 10 percent of the popular vote in 2008 will be fewer parties to vote for. However, this supposiand won 49 seats. In the same election, the Greens had tion is built on faulty logic. More names on the ballot 28

Queen’s International Observer

Special Feature: Canadian Political Engagement do not equal more democracy, as policy varies both in and between parties. Sometimes, this variation leads to very similar positions despite different party affiliations – and sometimes it doesn’t. Either way, I believe that the ethos by which the three parties in question wish to govern transcends their differences on most issues – a point to be further explored. The best form of cooperation is one which grants Greens, Liberals and New Democrats a chance to participate in the process. True cooperation is not a product of back room deals, but of constituency associations working together to hammer out core policies that candidates ought to advance in addition to the agenda of electoral reform. Said differently, members from all parties in a given riding can vote on who ought to move forth to face the Conservatives, constituting an internal election of sorts. In order to balance the potential discrepancy in membership numbers amongst the three parties, the chosen candidate should not represent the Greens, Liberals or New Democrats. On the contrary, shedding green, red and orange banners, the selected Robert Kiley is President & CEO of the Kingston Greens person should run as an independent committed to and Green Party of Ontario candidate for Kingston his or her constituents and the platform agreed upon – & The Islands. He studies Public Administration at namely proportional representation. Queen’s School of Policy Studies. / @robertkileygpo Cooperation is therefore a call to put aside partisan politics and trust that the local candidate represents a united group of people who want good government, sault the very system by which the other parties attempt rather than another term of the current administration. to move forward their positions - however varied. Thus, As such democracy is not challenged by cooperation, it instead of assessing the particular rhetorical/ideological merits of a potential cooperative front, I think we ought is buttressed. to take a less divisive approach and recognize that these Nevertheless, according to some, the second problem parties agree on how to govern: mainly by way of eviwith cooperation is that Greens, Liberals and New dence and debate. Democrats cannot all be called “progressive”. That is to say, they do not always agree on important issues, like how to best address climate change or position our country vis-à-vis the Middle East. While they might not agree on the best course of action, Greens, Grits and New Democrats know that these issues demand careful consideration, nuanced discourse, and the best of democratically inclined individuals and institutions.

In other words, almost all members of parliament outside the CPC (and I pray some within) believe that unprecedented omnibus legislation, tight time allocations, closed committees, and disregard for expert advice, are unacceptable ways to run a country. This is an affront to democracy. Despite their personal or party position on pipelines, foreign investment, military spending and/or other contentious issues heard in the House of Unfortunately, the Conservatives support a black and Commons, the majority of MPs know the practices of white reading of these and other issues and put aside the Harper government are deeply problematic. Simply, most evidence and most debate. The Conservatives as- cooperation between Greens, Liberals and New DemoVolume 9 Issue 2


Special Feature: Canadian Political Engagement crats can work to rectify the present parliamentary pac- have. Yet, as this message is articulated by the likes of ification. Cullen and May, it will resonate with Canadian democrats and it will be clear: power lies in cooperation. Yet, cooperation is problematized in a third way. Detractors note that there is not a national consensus on The role for a cooperative front is also gaining traction the need for cooperation, or proportional representa- in the mainstream media. Andrew Coyne recently ention across the Greens, Grits and New Democrats. This dorsed the idea in the National Post, while opinion edstatement is true, but its salience is slipping. A purview itorials in the Globe and Mail and other press around of the Liberal leadership candidates shows a growing the country have stated similar strategies. These voicrecognition for both cooperation and electoral reform. es, coupled with the momentum generated by populist David Merner, Joyce Murray and Deborah Coyne are organizations like Lead Now and Project Democracy, but three candidates speaking to these issues in their augment the argument and help to further democracampaigns. Likewise, the New Democrats’ leadership tize the process. Again, cooperation champions derace awarded third place to Nathan Cullen who was mocracy. largely differentiated due to his position on cooperation. Jack Layton also campaigned on proportional rep- In closing, while no system will ever be perfect, the resentation in 2011. Finally, Elizabeth May, leader of the situation of over-represented victors and the deterioGreen Party - a party which has championed democrat- ration of parliamentary principles is a warning sign ic renewal for decades - has openly advocated for coop- to many. It is a warning sign which calls on those operation on numerous occasions and has even proposed posed to inflated seat counts, massive legislative overthe outright abolition of political parties. haul with little debate, and increasing government secrecy, to join forces with others attune to the spirit of These politicians are of and for the people. They are the democracy to work together to defeat Harper in the ones who can and do explain the need for cooperation next election and institute a more representative electo citizens and fellow MPs. The main barrier to coop- toral system. It’s time for Greens, Liberals and New eration is high level party bureaucrats and ideologues Democrats (and perhaps moderate conservatives) to concentrated on keeping what power they think they cooperate for the betterment of our nation.

Pictured Above: Liberal MP Joyce Murray, NDP MP Nathan Cullen, and political journalist Andrew Coyne have all publically advocated for the need for electoral reform acheived through party cooperation.


Queen’s International Observer

Special Feature: Canadian Political Engagement

Youth Engagement in Politics: The QMP Effect “Our bill is going to be awesome”, one student re-

By Sarah Jung, QMP Journalist

declined from 88 percent to 81 percent during this time.” marked, with others nodding in agreement as they So then, what are the factors drive such bleak prospects scribbled down ideas and arguments. On a Wednesday for youth engagement in Canadian politics? evening, this is the same scene in all the rooms housing Queen’s Model Parliament delegates and their par- According to Elections Canada, lack of interest, political ty leaders. At weekly meetings, Conservative, Liberal, cynicism and the more institutional problem of limited NDP, Bloc Québécois, and Green Party delegates dis- contact with political parties are all factors. The imporcuss Canadian political issues and events, draft bills and tance of political curiosity and civic duty must thereprepare for the much-anticipated conference in early fore be emphasized in a way that appeals to youth, for January. Queen’s is the only university in Canada whose representative government in Canada is at stake. With students are afforded the privilege to sit in the House of 20.2% of voters falling between the 15 to 30 age bracket Commons on Parliament Hill. The four day model par- as of 2012, a significant part of the population is largely liament allows students to debate bills, form coalitions, excluded from the political process, casting doubt on pass budgets, and rub shoulders with many of Canada’s the degree to which Canadian democracy truly is govpolitical elite. An event with Canadian politics at its ernment by the people. There is a pressing need to reheart, QMP produces optimistic results: an informed verse the trend that began in 1988 with youth and low and engaged student body that can serve as an example engagement in politics. Predictably, the study proves a for campuses across the country. high interest in politics amongst youth is correlated to a higher voter turn-out, something that QMP has been According to Elections Canada, those aged 30 and be- championing for decades. low had the lowest voter turnout compared to any other voting age group in the 2008 federal election. The turn- Queen’s Model Parliament engages students in the poout for the 2011 federal election only slightly improved. litical processes. It gives them the opportunity to learn Further, a 2003 report by Elections Canada concluded first hand by playing house—House of Commons, that that “not only are young people participating less than is. Although it is a simulation, it educates and informs their elders, their willingness to participate appears to in a structured, yet entertaining way. Debates can get be declining over time”. heated and party polarities can create friendly competition between delegates, but QMP provides a glimpse of This is not simply a case of the “life-cycle” effect which, the complexities behind real political decision-making, in colloquial terms, means the older one gets, the more especially the bill passing process by which laws come likely one is to become politically conscious. Brenda O’ to fruition. QMP is just one way to encourage youth to Neill, who conducted a study on generational differenc- participate in Canadian politics, and the development es in political opinions, states that “the rate of reported of such programs in Canadian high schools and univerturnout among the youngest voters has dropped signifi- sities bodes well for future youth engagement in Canacantly since 1988,” and that“overall, reported turn outs dian society and political processes. Volume 9 Issue 2


QIO Volume 9 Issue 2  

QIO Volume 9 Issue 2: "Lost In Transition" was launched at Queen's Model Parliament on January 17th 2013.

QIO Volume 9 Issue 2  

QIO Volume 9 Issue 2: "Lost In Transition" was launched at Queen's Model Parliament on January 17th 2013.