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Is Obama a realist?

Chuck Hagel's nomination brings back into focus the old debate between realists and idealists over American foreign policy.

Could the Coalition steal Labor’s clothes on optional preferences?

Change in electoral law is generally driven by perceived political interest, not by principle. Shifts to more democratic outcomes happen when a major party thinks that they will work to its advantage.

James Buchanan RIP

Nobel-winning economist James Buchanan, one of the founders of public choice theory, died yesterday at the age of 93. As with most pioneers, it's a measure of his success that we no longer realise how controversial his ideas once were.

Another view on compulsory voting

There was a bit of discussion in a post on Monday about the merits of compulsory voting. Those who are interested in the topic shouldn’t miss Peter Brent’s post from yesterday at Mumble. As you’d expect from Brent, it’s very thorough and very thoughtful. It’s one of those debates that a lot of people form […]

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Parties, elections and political ideas across the globe from an Australian perspective

What if they had an inauguration and no-one came?

Hugo Chávez will be missing from Thursday's inauguration in Venezuela. It just goes to show that even the most comprehensive of constitutions can't provide for everything.

Italy latest: Berlusconi “ruled out” as PM

A new electoral pact supposedly rules out Silvio Berlusconi as a candidate for prime minister. Doesn't sound like him at all, does it?

Obama picks his man for the Pentagon

Former Republican senator Chuck Hagel is to be the new US defence secretary – provided he's confirmed by the Senate. It looks as if Obama has picked the right man for the times.

Courts, cattle and constitutions – Australia’s ailing federalism

Mountain cattle grazing in Victoria becomes a constitutional issue. The Federal Court upheld the ban, but indicated that there were still limits to Canberra's power on environmental issues.

Hungary takes the John Howard route

Hungary's government comes to grief in an attempt to change the electoral law to its advantage, in much the same way that John Howard did in Australia.

Fiscal cliff: a Civil War postscript

One more thing to say about America’s fiscal cliff, and it’s on the regional breakdown of the vote to approve the legislation in the House of Representatives yesterday morning (Australian time). I can’t claim originality for the idea – John Judis posted about it at the New Republic. But it was sufficiently interesting for me […]