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SMU PLS 350 - Shadows at Europe’s Heart

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#26 Shadows at Europe’s HeartAlexandra SullivanMy article was Shadows at Europe’s Heart (number 26) and described the ex-Eastern block countries that have recently gained acceptance in the European Union, but explains the political and economic problems they still have. It seems that these countries remain unstable and rife with corruption.The first problematic country addressed is Poland. It’s leaders, twin brothers Lech and Jaroslaw Kaczynski, (President and Prime Minister), and have become a thorn in the EU’s side. They have repeatedly insulted Germany, one of the most powerful of the member states, and have incited criticism for their pushy, knit-picking attitude towards the European Union’s policies, while reaping the vast financial rewards from the organization for redevelopment in their region. The government is seen to be sloppy and ineffective, and recently been linked to a more corrupt system of rule.Hungary also faces problems within their government. While it began as an ideal ex-Communist state, the past five years of mismanagement and overspending have left Hungary as a poor and corrupt country, with poor infrastructure. The government’s deficit is over 10% of the GDP, and the country may be due for some severe economical problems in the near future.Other perilous countries are Slovakia and the Czech Republic, where leadership isprecarious and based upon large coalitions. It seems corruption is rampant throughout these governments.1The best ex-Communist countries are those of Lithuania and Estonia, whose economic growth rates are one of the highest, Estonia’s hitting 12%.The corruption of government, poor working conditions, and terrible public services have led many of these EU-8 countries to use the EU’s statute on free movement of people among the union to emigrate to countries with more opportunity. Furthermore, outside of these countries, cheaper labor can be found, making their EU membership even more costly and less desirable. Also, education in these countries are poor, and the intellectuals of the country are quickly moving out, leaving little brainpower in these underdeveloped nations.The economic instability is also a concern, and only one out of the eight are economically ready to adopt the Euro. The other seven countries are liable to have rapidly fluctuating currency, and could easily be derailed by economic shocks. Foreign investment in these countries could disappear overnight.I feel that the EU may have been premature in allowing these ex-Soviet countries into their club so quickly. The idea that these countries could easily be under Russia’s sway once again is a valid one, but these countries may be a huge tax on the EU’s economy and will require billions of dollars in development over the next few decades. The corruption of these governments has changed little, and the EU has not been critical of them. Other EU countries are also upset that their money is being used to develop an unproductive and corrupt nation rather than spent at home on their own policies. It’s no question that these countries are getting far more money than the more industrial, wealthymember states. Either more strict policies will need to be taken, or these member states will fail, or might weaken or even destroy the European Union all together.2XxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxArticle 27Davis, AlbertRussia’s Ersatz DemocracySummaryThe article by Lilia Shevtsova first explains how the system works in the Russian government. She then describes problems with that Russia will face, and how they’re currently treating some problems. Next she brings up the fact that eventually this system of power will collapse on itself.The first discussion is how the current administration is keeping up the image of ademocracy. The next then goes on how it’s not just Putin in charge, but also the bureaucrats that have been given more powers that were previously the president’s. The third part of the article shows that what the country is leading to is not a return to the past,but instead a whole new state that still keeps many semblances from the past. Part four ishow the regime will stay stable for a good amount of time. The fifth section of the articletalks about four sections of the system itself that will end up ruining it. The 6th part is a talk about the relationship between Russia and the West, how on the one hand Russia enjoys being financial partners, but refuses to become part of any Western organizations or join them in their thinking. The next part is another description of Russia’s relationship with the West, and on how neither Europe or Russia want to separate themselves entirely, nor join together. Then it goes on to explain how Russia is trying to eliminate Western influence in former Soviet republics. Finally it finishes with the fact that as of now, there is no alternative that seems to work well for now, and that until Russia finds out that their system will not work for them, it will continue to decline.3XxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxAdam WriterDr. LangillPLS 350European Politics11/19/07President Putin: Herculean Leader or Mere Mortal?President Putin is often seen in the as authoritarian, at least in Western standards. In terms of Russia’s current economic reform and development, however, his strong handed style of leadership may be just what the country needs. He seeks to implement a modern economy, end the economic oligarchy that began in the 1990’s, and to direct Russia’s new found energy resources, namely oil, to the interest of the state. When Putin assumed office on 2000, the economy was more or less a competitionbetween the oil segment and a weak industrial lobby. The top five oil producers in Russia pushed heavily for uninhibited growth in production and exports. The international market was both eager and prepared to accept this new oil source. The only opposition to this agenda was the aforementioned weak industrial lobby. These groups pushed for the government to diversify its economic focus and reliance away from oil and gas. The lobby seeks some special preferences and incentives for investment in such sectors as aerospace, aviation, defense, and steel fabrication. The advocates of this reform state that Russia can become a global leader in these areas.Putin has put forth his own plan for economic reform. His plan calls for a large reliance and capitalizing on the large oil revenues. With these revenues Putin will aggressively


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