South African Politics Today

apartheidSouth African politics have changed tremendously over the last few decades.  Apartheid began in South Africa in 1948 but that collapsed in 1994.  Apartheid (which is an Afrikaans word meaning separateness) basically meant that blacks and colored faced severe racial discrimination as well as total segregation by law.  This was set up by the country’s National Party government and meant that the whites had minority rule.  But 1994 signaled the start of a new era with South Africa’s first democratic election.  While this has had its advantages, day-to-day life can be extremely volatile for the whites since without the segregation of so many decades, there is constantly the threat of violence from the non-whites.  On the plus side, the economy has emerged as being “one of the most flourishing in the world.”  As well, since 1994, the National Congress Government has created various policies as a way of developing its economy.  The republic’s annual growth rate is around 3.3% but it still suffers in its health sector, being home to the largest amount of HIV patients in the world.  As well, despite its economic prominence, half of its population lives under the poverty line.  People blame this on the republic’s political situation.

Understanding European Politics

Many people have a hard time figuring out the make-up of European politics.  So here are some basics to get you started:  The executive body of the European Union (EU) (known as the European Commission) comprises 27 commissioners and is located in Brussels.  Its tasks include:  legislation proposal; ensuring treaty compliance.  The European Parliament (the European Union’s directly elected parliamentary institution) comprises 736 members and meets in Strasbourg and Brussels.  It is the EU’s legislative branch.  Then there is the European Council (EU institution “responsible for defining the general political direction and priorities of the Union”) comprising heads of each nation state’s government/states, meeting quarterly.  Of course, there is much more that goes on in European politics, but at least this makes a start to get you acquainted somewhat with European politics.

What Are the British Lib Dems to Do?

russellFollowing the resulting Hung Parliament from Great Britain’s recent election, members of the Liberal Democrat Party are attempting to find ways to preserve their voice in Parliament.  The concern among those in the Party is that by joining with the Conservative Party, they will lose their voice “at a national level.”  What is expected to happen amongst the leadership is that pressure will mount from those seeking Liberal Democrat spokespeople being appointed for “all portfolio areas where the party does not have a minister in government.”  In these areas, it is “absolutely crucial the Lib Dem distinctive voice….is made clear and that we are afforded that right on the basis we don’t have a minister,” insisted Colchester MP Bob Russell.  Only time will tell how this pans out for the Liberal Democrats and what voice will ultimately win on the House of Commons ground.