Finally some competition

Rumours were already around, but at this year’s APSA (American Political Science Association) conference it became clearer what was going on: the European Consortium of Political Research will have to face a challenger,  the European Political Science Association (EPSA). EPSA has  been founded in June 2010 as a competing organization to ECPR which has not always been perceived as the most efficient organization. ECPR as the central political science association in Europe organizes quite popular joint sessions (week-long workshops on certain fixed topics) and since 2001 also general conferences. However, in particular with regard to the general conferences ECPR seemed to be an organization with a declining learning curve. At last year’s ECPR conference in Potsdam it was not possible  to organize a fully working paper room in which conference papers are distributed easily before the conference takes place, also the coordination between section organizers, panel organisers and paper presenters has often been criticized. A couple of political scientists  now founded EPSA which  demonstrates its difference by being organized according to individual and not organisational membership (as ECPR) and by being active on Facebook and on Twitter .

At this year’s APSA, EPSA already challenged ECPR by organizing its reception at the same time as the popular ECPR reception funded by Cambridge University Press. This competitive approach did not seem to be the most successful since only few people turned up whereas the ECPR reception received the usual crowd. This might already be a hint that it might be more successful in the long run to organize complementary conferences than challenging conferences to ECPR. However, it is to be hoped that political science in Europe benefits from this challenger by motivating ECPR to improve and by offering attractive alternative or additional conferences.  In June 2011, EPSA will organize its first conference in Dublin – the call for papers will be out soon.

What is North-South?

Well, one would guess it should be pretty easy to identify what is North and South, especially when it comes to EU member countries…not so for political scientists.  In recent years, a debate has been ongoing in a series of studies of the EU integration literature  whether the conflict dimensions in the EU Council of Ministers are rather determined by a North-South conflict dimension, the Left-Right orientation of EU governments or maybe even a cultural dimension?

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Financial declarations for Swiss parliamentarians?

Reading about the recent scandals in Germany and the United Kingdom where it was disclosed that British Ministers and German Regional Prime Ministers and their services could be bought (a meeting with the Prime Minister of North Rhine Westphalia Jürgen Rüttgers at about 6000 Euro, a  conversation with the Prime Minister of Saxony Stanislaw Tillich at 8000 Euro…in comparison was the service of a British minister relatively cheaper at around 5500 Euro for a full day), I started to wonder why such scandals were not prevalent in the Swiss political system. Of course, it is possible that Swiss politicians are not that easily tempted by money.

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