Showing posts with label parlimentary politics. Show all posts
Showing posts with label parlimentary politics. Show all posts

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Europe Takes Note as Norway Smashes Through the Glass Ceiling

I guess I'm just not ready to let go of my admiration for Scandinavian thought leadership.

In 2010, my travels really taught me how America lags the world in female representation in government and industry.  America is currently ranked 85th in the world for elected female leadership. Yes, America, that wasn't a typo.  It was an 8 and then a 5 to make us 85th out of 195 countries in the world. Mediocre.

Deutsche-Welle, the German media company, has published a story that reminds me while American women are talking a good game, other women are actually making gender diversity happen.

Norwegian women have "smashed through the glass ceiling." How? By getting their government to tie corporate board gender diversity to a company's ability to be competitive for a government contract or listed on the Oslo Stock Exchange.  Well played, ladies.  I admire your obvious business acumen in executing global leadership in gender equity. Kudos also belong to the chivalrous conservative male politician in Norway who introduced the legislation. 

American women, there is hope.  Less than a decade ago, Norwegian women were represented in only 7% of their corporate board seats.  We could turn this around by following their lead.  If not, we're slated to fall even further behind as the rest of Europe adopts measures similar to the Norwegians.  The American Dream, if you're female, might be more-likely found in Europe.

Click on my title to read the article.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Egg Toss

People get the government they deserve. And if "the people" are tossing eggs at their politicians, what new politician that they would respect will come forward and serve them? None that I know of!

The behavior of Czech young people tossing eggs at Jiri Paroubek at campaign appearances because he chose to bring down the National government at the moment the world's eyes were focused on the Czech Republic is misused anger.

Work in a positive way to get someone else then. Get the government you deserve through hopeful change, not nasty namecalling and violence. Now who is making the Czech Republic look bad? Readers, what do you think?

Friday, April 3, 2009

President Obama will speak to the most vibrant part of Czech democracy: the people

Vaclav Havel was quoted in the Prague Post as saying "what bothers me most [about the government falling] is that it deepens the alienation between politicians and society." Truer words were never spoken.

Czech people are mortified that their opposition politicians chose to use this moment during the Czech presidency of the European Union to bring down their government. Also, two weeks before Czech people have a fantastic opportunity of having their views represented to the President of the United States of America when the administration is new and formulating policy on missile defense, opposition politicians kept it from happening by voting that this government doesn't have the confidence of it's representatives.

While watching the opposition bring down the government, I couldn't help but think of the bad mom in Solomon's story who wanted no one to have the baby if she couldn't. So if you're a foreigner looking at the Czech Republic from the outside, and you see this weak government and you see the Czechs squander their legitimacy as presiders of the EU, you may think that this isn't a strong democracy. You'd be wrong.

The President of the United States is going to end up speaking to the strongest leg of the triangle in Czech democracy. Not the Prime Minister, not the President, but the people. Czechs are educated, interested, and involved in their politics. They don't ignore them like many Americans used to do stateside. Now Czech democracy just needs some politicians worthy of the people. One Czech friend lamented, "we lost an entire generation of political elites. The ones we have now just fight."

I hope foreign journalists notice how in just twenty years these people have created a vibrant economy that is one of the strongest in Eastern and Central Europe. I hope foreign journalists notice how the Czech Republic is attracting immigrants from all over the East who are coming here for opportunity. I also hope foreign journalists take notice of how strongly Czech people express their grass root opinions through demonstrations. That's democracy!

The "body" of Czech democracy is healthier and stronger than it's "face." There is incredible opportunity here for a politician who doesn't play stupid power games and brings a government down just because it can.

Who in the Czech Republic is going to choose to responsibly represent the people in a way that has them feeling the enthusiasm we feel in America for our current leadership? Can it be done here? Skepticism and cynicism on the part of Czech people are just hunger for someone or something to believe in!

Related posts:

I sooooo don't understand parlimentary politics!

Dear President Obama, Please Come to the Czech Republic

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

I sooooo don't understand parlimentary politics

Mirek Topolanek, Czech Prime Minister
speaking at the EU today

Yesterday, the Czech government "fell" in a vote of no confidence. The vote was 101-96. As I understand it, what that does is make the prime minister a "lame duck" without any visible replacement. In other words, it robs him of legitimacy governing yet no one else has been given some.

Yikes! To an American used to a Presidential system that sounds like no one is in charge. And it seems even weirder when the Czechs are in charge of the EU yet the party in power representing the Czech government doesn't have "the confidence" of the people of the Czech Republic according to their representatives. How is the EU supposed to have confidence in the Czechs then?

A friend schooled in the way of European systems calmly shrugged and said "it's usually some sort of blackmail when this happens. That's how people get what they want in parliamentary systems. They trade stuff." Now that's a system I'm familiar with. It sounds an awfully lot like "Yes, I'll vote for your multi-trillion dollar (Iraq war/stimulus package/insert anything else here) if you give me my $5 million earmark so I can prove to my district back home that I"m looking out for their interests and bringing home the bacon."

But it all seems weird if you want the American President to listen to you and he's coming in two weeks but you have no confidence in the guy who's supposed to be listening. Please Czech people, explain this all to me! Why would you lessen the power of the person representing you right before company comes?

And then when it comes to the EU, who is supposed to be listening? Sometimes I see the Prime Minister representing the EU Presidency, sometimes the foreign minister, sometimes a different minister, yet another time the Czech President. Who exactly is the "face" of the EU Czech Presidency? I don't get it. I am a willing student so please explain away.

Today, the prime minister went before the EU and said "the United States stimulus is 'the road to hell.' Uhhh, OK. Gee, welcome to Prague, Mr. Obama.

Click on my title to read the full story.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Politics That I Understand For the First Time

I work with a very witty Brit who is a master of lampooning all things American. That's alright -- we give it right back to him. As often happens though, in his jokes I learn something.

Question Time in Parliament

I've always viewed the parliamentary system in Britain as entertaining (question time, for example), but likely to create situations where the whole country gets beholden to some extreme party that won a tiny percentage of the vote, yet gets to play kingmaker in cabinet creation because their tiny numbers create a governing majority. Israeli's Knesset comes to mind too.

America's present system, with just two parties, creates an overall moderation that is considered by most to be stabilizing (it also makes America slow to change which makes a lot of us impatient too).

Third parties often spring up. But having voted for alternate candidates once as my first choice, I realized I'm just enabling my third choice to get elected. I think many other Americans realize this too because the third party candidate never surpasses 10% of the vote.

My British friend said, "In my country, we don't have this phenomenon of everyone waiting around for the president to leave. When a prime minister gets THAT unpopular, his own party asks him to step down and they put up somebody new. That way the party doesn't get voted out, just the guy at the top."

Imagine how hard it would be to "cowboy up" and invade another country if you knew at anytime your party could yank you off your post. I think you would have to reach a consensus of more than five guys at the top before invading another country and starting a war, no?

It would force you to move as a swarm. If you don't feel accountable to public opinion, necessarily, you would at least be forced to sell your party on your actions.

I was explaining that I finally understood this to another Brit, and he said, "well it's not just George Bush and his unpopularity where that would have been useful. Think about Bill Clinton when he got into his troubles. Al Gore could have taken over and the Democrats would probably still be in charge. America might not have felt a wholesale 'need' to change the whole party in charge. The guy at the top isn't as important as which party. John Major, for example, was the third choice of his party when they put him up."

Aaaahh, I get it now. That is useful.
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