Monthly Archives: April 2015

Peru’s Political Instability

President Ollanta Humala will be forced to nominate a new Prime Minister to head an unfriendly Congress after his previous Prime Minister, Ana Jara, lost a confidence vote in the legislature. Jara was Humala’s sixth prime minister since his election in 2011, and his inability to retain a prime minister is widely seen as a signal of Humala’s waning political popularity.

In Peru’s semi-presidential system, the President is elected to a single, five-year term as head of state and head of government. The President nominates a Prime Minister, who must be confirmed by the Congress and who has specific areas of responsibility, including overseeing the country’s intelligence service. And that is the root of the current crisis. Under Jana’s tenure, it was discovered that the national intelligence service was collecting information and monitoring many of the country’s business leaders and political opposition figures. These accusations generated considerably hostility in an already unfriendly Congress and ultimately led to the confidence vote.

What do you think? Is the confidence measure an effective tool in maintaining political accountability? If you were a member of the legislature in Peru, would you have voted in favor of the confidence measure and against Humala and Jana? Or would you have supported the government? Why?

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The Politics of the Iranian Nuclear Talks

Ongoing talks between the six parties (the United States, Britain, France, Germany, Russia, and China) and Iran were extended one day to provide time for the parties to reach agreement. The talks are intended to establish a framework for ongoing negotiations around Iran’s nuclear program. But domestic American politics have often interfered with the talks. Republican critics of the Obama administration have criticized the idea of talking with Iran at all, sending a letter to hardliners in the Iranian government suggesting the US Congress would not approve any deal  and inviting Israel’s Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, to address Congress without discussing the invitation with the White House.

Republican critics have suggested that the talks are another example of a feckless and misguided foreign policy of the Obama White House, and that the United States should take a more aggressive stance on Iran, intensifying sanctions and further isolating the Iranian regime if it is unwilling to offer wider concessions. The Obama administration counters that real progress is being made as a result of the talks.

What do you think? Should the United States continue to work under the six party framework to pursue a nuclear deal with Iran? Would such a deal be effective at limiting Iran’s pursuit of nuclear weapons? Or should the United States take a more aggressive stance with Iran? Which approach would be more effective in achieving the US goal of a nuclear-weapons free Iran? Why?