French president Sarkozy, mainly known across the world for his love of women and redwine, stepped down and disbanded his government – only to reinstate an almost exact copy of the very same and fairly unpopular government immediately. A toast to the french for pointless maneuvres!Read more
We have just passed the midway elections and the next campaign for president is about to get into gear. So, where are we at this point? Obama stormed into office on a campaign driven by euphoria and hope under the slogan “Yes We Can!”. So, could he?
Well, the results from the midterm elections certainly speak the language of disillusion and lost hopes. The democrats suffered one of their worst defeats since World War II and long gone were the millions of enthusiastic grassroots, the complete control of the media headlines and the glorification of mysterious democrat spindoctors and geniuses pulling home floodwaves of votes to the party.
So, what happened to the euphoria? Well, the answer seems to be hidden largely in the lack of action, rather than in wrongdoings or scandals. Obama came into office as a visionaire and reformer, but has largely acted as an administator. Lets take a few examples:
Guantanamo. Obama promised it would be closed down more or less as soon as he took office, but he has failed to do so. Its still there, the legal status of the camp and its prisoners of war is still a messy blur to say the least. Might be a minor issue to some, but it has important symbolic value.
Healthcare. He tried but largely failed to make a fundamental reform of the healthcare system. The intentions were there but in the end the results looked more like status quo than revolution when words were to be transformed into working political majorities and actual change.
The economy. Obama said he had a plan to create jobs, get the wheels moving, strengthen the dollar and limit the deficits. Now, the deficits are spinning out of control, the plans to create jobs seem to have withered in the wind as fancy slogans with little positive effect for people on the street. The dollar, well its not exactly at its prime and never will be until the deficits are sorted. Basically, the standard of living for ordinary people havent improved and the macro economical developments still look closer to disastrous than to worrying. So, where is the change, this is in fact a repeat of the terrible economical mess left behind by George W. Bush – Obama promising to change it for the better, but little or nothing has happened.
Foreign policy. Obama wanted a new agenda abroad, and God knows he is a more respected world leader worldwide than George W. Bush, not that the opposite would be possible. But, the bottomline still is that Obama a managing 2 wars started by the former president, he hasnt managed to bring them to any form of peaceful end, he hasnt clamped down on the lies justifying the wars, he hasnt defeated terrorism by diplomacy or reconciled america with friendly forces in the middle east, he hasnt taken anyone to justice for the warcrimes committed and the list is endless. Why would he you might ask? Well, for now – he has nothing but friendly speeches and cheering crowds in Europe to show, no results and no actual change in the state of international matters.
And so, the list of things that hasnt happened could continue but its barely necessary. The fact of the matter is that “Yes we can” seems to have meant “Yes, we can largely avoid making more of a mess than George W. Bush” or “Yes, we can administer status quo from here”. The words still flow freely and elegantly – but the real change is hard to find. Thats what demotivates the grassroots and opens the gates of opportunity for movements such as The Tea Party – and Obama has largely created The Tea Party himself or at least the foundation for their reach and strength by failing to deliver on key policy issues that could have carried his wave of euphoria onwards.Read more
Helle Thorning Schmidt – nicknamed Gucci Helle due to her taste for expensive handbags – has unseated danish primeminister Lars Løkke Rasmussen in a tightly contested election on september 15th 2011. Helle Thornings victory is historic in the sense that she will become the first ever female to become primeminister in Denmark.
Ironically, Helle Thorning actually suffered a hefty and bitter defeat in the elections losing more than 16.000 votes personally and a single seat for her party the Socialdemocrats. Further, her expected coalition partners from the socialist peoples party lost a staggering 7 seats. Luckily for the centre-left coalition bidding for the primeministers position for Helle Thorning her 2 other supporting parties – the radical left and the communist parties both made significant gains. In fact, the danish communist party lead by Johanne Smidt Nielsen managed to triple their public support to grab 8 extra seats for a total of 12. This is strongest support the communists have had in Denmark since just after the Second World War and speculations are already murmoring that the new female pm will have a rough ride ruling her coalition of liberals, socialdemocrats, oldfashioned socialists and communists.Read more
Major campaigns in the United States are often much longer than those in other democracies.
Campaigns start anywhere from several months to several years before election day. The first part of any campaign for a candidate is deciding to run. Prospective candidates will often speak with family, friends, professional associates, elected officials, community leaders, and the leaders of political parties before deciding to run. Candidates are often recruited by political parties and lobby groups interested in electing like-minded politicians. During this period, people considering running for office will consider their ability to put together the money, organization, and public image needed to get elected. Many campaigns for major office do not progress past this point as people often do not feel confident in their ability to win. However, some candidates lacking the resources needed for a competitive campaign proceed with an inexpensive paper campaign or informational campaign designed to raise public awareness and support for their positions.
Once a person decides to run, they will make a public announcement. This announcement could consist of anything from a simple press release to concerned media outlets to a major media event followed by a speaking tour. It is often well-known to many people that a candidate will run prior to an announcement being made. Campaigns will often be announced and then only officially “kicked off” months after active campaigning has begun. Being coy about whether a candidacy is planned is often a deliberate strategy by a prospective candidate, either to “test the waters” or to keep the media’s attention.
One of the most important aspects of the major American political campaign is the ability to raise large sums of money, especially early on in the race. Political insiders and donors often judge candidates based on their ability to raise money. Not raising enough money early on can lead to problems later as donors are not willing to give funds to candidates they perceive to be losing, a perception based on their poor fundraising performance.
Also during this period, candidates travel around the area they are running in and meet with voters; speaking to them in large crowds, small groups, or even one-on-one. This allows voters to get a better picture of who a candidate is than that which they read about in the paper or see on television. Campaigns sometimes launch expensive media campaigns during this time to introduce the candidate to voters, although most wait until closer to election day.
Campaigns often dispatch volunteers into local communities to meet with voters and persuade people to support the candidate. The volunteers are also responsible for identifying supporters, recruiting them as volunteers or registering them to vote if they are not already registered. The identification of supporters will be useful later as campaigns remind voters to cast their votes.
Late in the campaign, campaigns will launch expensive television, radio, and direct mail campaigns aimed at persuading voters to support the candidate. Campaigns will also intensify their grassroots campaigns, coordinating their volunteers in a full court effort to win votes.
Voting in the United States often starts weeks before election day as mail-in ballots are a commonly used voting method. Campaigns will often run two persuasion programs, one aimed at mail-in voters and one aimed at the more traditional poll voters.
Campaigns for minor office may be relatively simple and inexpensive – talking to local newspapers, giving out campaign signs, and greeting people in the local square.Read more