Jun 122020
 
Italian Populism, Trump's voters, Germany's Home Office, and Neo-Nazis in Russia : 4 links I liked 1

A retired “general”, a symbolism that is borrowed from France’s Yellow Vests – what could possibly go wrong? Meet Italy’s latest populist craze, the Orange Jackets.

Germany’s Home Secretary said in an interview that the AfD wants to destroy the state and put this interview on the Home Office’s website. Now the FCC ruled that he was not allowed to do that. But the ruling does not say that Seehofer’s claim is factually incorrect. Like in previous cases, the judges upheld a kind of two-bodies-theory. As a politician, Seehofer was free to make this statement, but as a minister he was not allowed to use his official platform for distributing it.

Over at the Quantiative Peace, Joshua Zingher looks at Trump’s base. The bottom line? Trump’s 2020 path to the presidency is narrow. May he stray from it.

Why are German Nazis training in Russia“? That is a bit of a rhetorical question, but the article has at least some answers.

Bonus track: German IR theory-building kit (thread)

Jun 212019
 
Mad Christian Democrats, the AfD's internal conflicts, useless US polls, and the Wellcome Monitor: four links I liked 3

On a very slow news day, two third-tier politicians for the centre-right CDU phantasise over future coalitions with the “moderates/liberals” within the AfD (where would they find them?). Ah yes, they also want to re-unite “the National” and “the Social”, which, by the lego-like greatness of the German language, becomes the “National-Social”.

James F. Downes has an interesting long read on Alternative for Germany’s internal/inter-regional conflicts. It chimes with my own recent article on the development of the AfD and the normalisation of right-wing populism in Germany. Somewhat surprisingly, these contradictions are still not harming the party.

Sorry to disappoint: Brendan Nyhan explains why the current polls showing that Trump is trailing various Democrats are useless.

People in rich & healthy countries stop believing in vaccinations. In the so-called developing world, vaccinations are still trusted. Find these and other fascinating findings in the latest Wellcome Monitor

Jan 272019
 
Trump, Wallace & Gromit, and maximizing a function R: three links I liked 4

It is a warm but grey and gloomy weekend in Germany, so here are three links I enjoyed:

In case you were wondering whether Trump is a) evil, b) senile or c) a master strategist: here is a piece arguing that c) is unlikely, though a) and b) could easily be true at the same time.

This is surprisingly accurate: academic life told through Wallace & Gromit gifs

When I needed to maximise a two-variable function over a given range of input values, I found this brief tutorial helpful.

Bonus: a pic of Gromit:

Mar 192018
 
Trump, Blair, Shaggy: It wasn't me 6

This morning, I came across an outrageously funny a moderately amusing video involving Shaggy’s early 2000s classic, some seriously revamped lyrics, and the man himself (btw, is this blond-hairing an act of cultural appropriation?). Cheap laughs, and the almost heart-warming idea that the FBI could end this, and everything would go back to normal. And yes, they manage to squeeze a lot of legalese into these lyrics.

Which then reminded me (yes, I’m old enough to remember both the outrage over Iraq and the euphoria of Blair coming to power in 1997) of a cartoon video featuring Tony Blair, Michael Howard, and other politicians of the day, happily dancing to the same song (“I was told that there were weapons hidden underneath the sand”). I tried to google it, but it is gone, a victim of the death of flash.

What is it about this song and wildly unpopular politicians? Is there something about this song that could be coaxed into a paper (“Pseudo-Rap as Liberalism. A Conceptual Sketch and Some Applications”)? Most certainly not, so let’s just post the latest video.

Trump to Robert Mueller: 'It Wasn't Me' (w/ Shaggy)
Watch this video on YouTube.

Dec 172017
 
Feb 082017
 

Does the European Radical Right present a united front vis-a-vis the European Union, and is there a Trump effect that could further the cause of the Radical Right in Europe? I don’t think so (and here is an automated English translation).

Nov 132016
 

The one and only Philip Schrodt has written what I think is the perfect seven-take-home-messages rant on that election and it’s likely outcomes. Skip all the self-flagellation/yes-but posts and read this instead:

Then again, there is one thing that does not get enough coverage in there, and that is the whole polling/prediction disaster. So you should read this, too:

There. Your Sunday sorted out.

Nov 112016
 

Im Gespräch mit dem Handelsblatt erkläre ich, warum ich nicht glaube, daß die AfD im großen Umfang von Trumps Wahlerfolg profitieren kann.

Nov 092016
 
Ballot - Vote

I’m not a huge fan of predictive Social Science. People are not the weather; they are bound to react to our predictions, which may become self-defeating or self-fulfilling in the process. Either scenario is unpleasant for obvious reasons. Predictive models are often subject to herd behaviour. They rarely rely on first principles, which makes them rather less interesting in terms of understanding the underlying dynamics, and may therefore fail rather spectacularly if the underlying, often implicit assumptions fail. This, in turn, tends to leave us with egg on our collective face.

Having said that, and looking at the rather spectacular result of the US presidential election, it’s difficult not to be impressed by Helmut Norpoth’s “Primary Model”, which predicted a solid Trump victory back in March. The Primary Model relies on very little data, has a relatively long lead (time from prediction to event), and a good track record: It has correctly identified the winner ever since it was introduced in 1996. Whether that makes HN a happy man today is a different matter.

The Primary Model’s rather quaint website is here; the link above points to a more accessible contribution by Norpoth to the PS symposium on forecasting the 2016 election. Which brings us back to the collective egg/face problem.

Update

I wrote  the original post in the early hours of November 9, when it was clear that Trump had a majority in the Electoral College. Since then, it has become clear that Clinton has won the popular vote, probably by a considerable margin. Because (as a couple of people have noted on Twitter) the Primary Model aims at predicting the popular vote, even Political Science’s consolation prize is gone.