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A Civic Engagement Lesson from the Social Media Politician

October 24, 2014
by Justine Dodgen

As we highlighted earlier this year, 2014 is the biggest year in the history of democracy and India led the charge with the largest democratic election in the world this past spring. India’s spring elections selected members of its lower house, the Lok Sabha, from which a new Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, was chosen. This election was a landmark event not only for democracy, but also for India, as it brought the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) into the majority with a landslide victory, one of only a few instances since India’s founding that a party other than the Indian National Congress or its coalition has been in power. Further, the BJP won a majority of the parliament’s seats outright, a feat that has not been accomplished by a political party since 1989.

Last week, Prime Minister Modi’s party continued to gain momentum in a round of state elections wins. The BJP won the most seats of Maharashtra state’s legislature, the state in which financial capital Mumbai is located, and Haryana, a relatively industrialized state in northern India. Modi has called his platform “cooperative federalism,” and he has advocated for state-level government to play an important role in strengthening economic growth. The BJP’s gains in two economic states thus represent a powerful boost in support for Modi’s plan. (more…)


Prop. 47 Spotlights a Bipartisan Trend in Criminal Justice Reform

October 21, 2014
by Jeremy Loudenback

What do Newt Gingrich and the American Civil Liberties Union of California have in common?

If you guessed shared support for a measure that would reduce some felony drug and theft convictions to misdemeanors, you would be right. Gingrich and the A.C.L.U. have both backed California’s Proposition 47, which would reduce mandatory sentencing for non-serious, nonviolent crimes in some circumstances. (more…)


Turkey, Step up to the Plate

October 17, 2014
by Justine Dodgen

Over the last few weeks, the United States has escalated its offensive against ISIS, also referred to as ISIL, Daesh, and the Islamic State. As ISIS continues to launch attacks in Iraq and Syria, notably the siege of Kobani, a town on the Syria-Turkey border and home to a predominately Kurdish population, the US and other NATO members have urged Turkey to play a larger role in countering ISIS advances. Turkey has the opportunity to emerge as a leader to the region and demonstrate good governance by taking a stronger stance against ISIS and upholding the peace process with its Kurdish minority.

Map source: France 24r

Map source: France 24r

While Turkey holds a unique position to influence the larger political dynamics of the region, as well as the outcome of the Kobani offensive, Turkish leaders have disagreed with the US over what actions should be taken- and who they should be taken against. As one US military official noted, the US and Turkey are involved in a “six-sided war” that includes ISIS; Bashar al-Assad’s Syrian government; the Kurdistan Worker’s Party, or PKK, a Kurdish rebel group; the Kurdish minorities in Iraq, Syria, and Turkey; the Free Syrian Army, a moderate opposition group; and the international coalition including the US. While the US is only targeting ISIS, Turkey is split between its confrontations with the PKK and ISIS as well as Assad’s Syrian regime. (more…)


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