03. February 2016

The Art of Balancing Power

by Anja Aune Selmer

anja-aune-selmer “Fighting with a large army under your command is nowise different from fighting with a small one: it is merely a question of instituting signs and signals.” Sun Tzu, The Art of War

China`s recent rise and development have caused tensions. Economic and military advancement never pass by unnoticed, especially not when it is a matter of balancing power on the Asian continent. With increasingly evident military capabilities, there is no wonder that neighbouring countries desiring to maintain their importance are concerned about China`s growing military power. The question remains, however, if such fears are grounded in reality.

Read more …

01. February 2016

A Syrian perspective on Europe and the refugee crisis – a chat with Razan Ibraheem

by Elisa Montesinos Aguilar

War has been raging in Syria for almost five years now. According to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), the conflict has pushed over four million refugees out of the country and made hundreds of thousands of victims. Many Syrians have embarked on very perilous journeys across the Mediterranean Sea in search of a better life in Europe.

In order to better understand the Syrian people’s perspective on living in Europe and the refugee crisis, I would like to introduce my friend Razan to you. I met Razan Ibraheem, a young Syrian currently living in Ireland, during my Erasmus year in Limerick. Razan worked for ten years in order to save money to study a Master’s degree in English language teaching at Limerick University. She arrived in Ireland on a student visa in 2011 and has recently volunteered in Kos, Greece, providing support to the Syrian refugees arriving on the island.

Read more …

29. January 2016

Is Europe roaming into a dangerous territory?

by Henrique Tereno

27 October 2015 was a historical day for everyone who enjoys to travel and talk over the phone when abroad. After two years of negotiations, the European Parliament decided to abolish roaming charges.

On the one hand, removing roaming charges could help increase the EU’s popularity, due to the fact that it gives the impression that the EU member states are connected to each other instead of being separated states. All in all, the abolishment of roaming charges could probably spread a feeling of belonging to the EU, as people will be able to communicate with other Europeans just as easily and cheaply as with their countrymen. On the other hand, this theory is debatable. It is true that communication between countries would be eased, but this will only favour people who have family in other countries of the EU, migrants, and people who often travel. This measure could provide a ‘boost’ to the feeling of belonging to a greater union, but this boost will only affect the group mentioned above. Thus, it is not likely that the remaining EU citizens will notice a significant change.

Read more …

21. January 2016

Portugal: how an unexciting election produced a surprising political earthquake

by Pedro Ponte e Sousa & Henrique Tereno

On October 4th, 2015, the Portuguese people went to the polls to vote at the Portuguese parliamentary elections. At the end of the day, according to the data given by the Ministry of Homeland Affairs, 56% of the Portuguese people voted and the right-wing parties, in a coalition entitled “Portugal à Frente” [Portugal Ahead] formed by the Social Democratic Party (PSD) and the Social Democratic Centre – People’s Party (CDS-PP) led by Pedro Passos Coelho, the Portuguese Prime Minister since 2011, won the elections with 37% of the votes. However, they did not have the qualified majority required to govern. A political coalition with the strongest party, according to the data, was necessary. As a result, the right-wing tried to negotiate with the Socialist Party (PS) led by António Costa (32%). However, the Socialist Party joined forces with the left-wing: Left Bloc (BE) (10%), and the coalition formed by the Communist Party (PCP) and with Ecologist Party “The Greens” (8%).

Read more …

15. January 2016

Rethinking foreign policymaking

by Linda Ohman

World politics is becoming increasingly tangible to Europeans. Recent events such as the war in Ukraine, deteriorating relations with Russia, as well as the migration wave to Europe bring foreign affairs – and especially conflicts – closer to home. These events not only take place in Europe and its immediate vicinity, but are also increasingly intertwined, succeeding one another at an ever higher pace. Their complexity and the uncertainty brought with it makes foreign affairs more challenging to grasp, but also increases the need for a basic understanding of foreign policy and foreign policymaking.

Read more …