Canadian Minister Aglukkaq’s Opening Statement at the 19th COP in Warsaw

In a couple of weeks time, we will be finishing up the course with a UN simulation. Each of the participants will be required to give a 1-minute (maximum!) opening presentation to the conference. Here is the opening statement of Honourable Leona Aglukkaq, Minister of the Environment, Minister of the Canadian Northern Economic Development Agency and Minister for the Arctic Council, to the 19th Conference of the Parties (COP19) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) held in Warsaw, Poland in 2013. Your opening statements should follow a similar structure (but not length!).

My Intro to IR Class is full of Realists

Last Tuesday in POLI 1140, the students completed an class oil-market exercise in which pairs of students engaged in a strategic situation that required them to sell oil at specific prices. Many students were able to understand relatively quickly that the “Oil Game” was an example of the classic prisoner’s dilemma (PD). As Mingst and Arreguin-Toft note on page 78, the crucial point about the prisoner’s dilemma:

Neither prisoner knows how the other will respond; the cost of not confessing if the other confesses is extraordinarily high. So both will confess, leading to a less-than-optimal outcome for both.

From a theoretical perspective (and empirical tests have generally confirmed this) there will likely be very little cooperation in one-shot prisoner’s dilemma-type situations. Over repeated interaction, however, learning can contribute to higher levels of cooperation. With respect to IR theories, specifically, it is argued that realists are more likely to defect in PD situations as they are concerned with relative gains. Liberals, on the other hand, who value absolute gains more highly, are more likely to cooperate and create socially more optimal outcomes. What were the results in our class?

The graph above plots the level of cooperation across all six years (stages) of the exercise. There were seven groups and what the probabilities demonstrate is that in each year there was only one group for which the interaction was cooperative. In year 2, there was not a single instance of cooperation. Moreover, it was the same group that cooperated. Therefore, one of the groups cooperated 5 out of 6 years, while none of the other six groups cooperated a single time over the course of the sex years!! What a bunch of realists!!

If you were involved in this exercise, please let me know your reactions to what happened.

Mock German Election Simulation–Government Formation Results

In the second part of our mock German election simulation–the government formation negotiations–we were able to get a new government voted into power by the recently elected Bundestag.  (I refer you to this post for more information about the electoral results.)

To remind you, following the election, we had the composition of the Bundestag was:

FDP–6 mandate (formateur party)

CDU/CSU–4 mandates

SPD–3 mandates

Greens–3 mandates

In order to have a secure governing coalition, a governing coalition of at least 9 mandates would be needed in this sixteen-member parliament.

The FDP were unable to convince any of the other parties to form a governing coalition with them, and the government that was voted into office, by a majority vote of 10-6 was a three-party coalition of the Greens, CDU/CSU, and the SPD.

In the end, it was the personal ambition of the CDU/CSU leader–Patrick S.–that ruled the day.  He wanted to become Chancellor and this steely determination served him well as he, with his fellow party members and advisory committee, was able to effectively forge a rather wieldy three-party governing coalition.

Why did Patrick S. want to become Chancellor so desperately?  There have been reports in some of the leading journals that it has been his dream since childhood.  But in a sit-down interview with Deutsche Welle following his ascension to the Chancellorship, Chancellor S. claimed that it was because this election was crucial to the future of the German state.  According to the Chancellor, he and his party believe that a moral crisis of epic proportions has descended upon Germany and only his party had the necessary moral acuity to set Germany back on the correct path.

The Chancellor and the six-member Cabinet is composed of the following:

Chancellor–Patrick S. (CDU/CSU)

Minister of Education–Becky W. (Greens)

Minister of the Interior–Erick K. (CDU/CSU)

Minister of the Environment–Zhivko I. (Greens)

Minister of Foreign Affairs–Kyle B. (CDU/CSU)

Minister of Health–Rip F. (SPD)

Minister of Labor–Andrew S. (SPD)

One of the advisers to the SPD commented that the SPD actually had refused to sign a coalition agreement offered to them by the FDP, which in retrospect, was better for the SPD than the one they signed ultimately.  There seemed to be a consensus within the SPD that the arrogance of the FDP had created friction between the two potential coalition partners.

I look forward to reading your impressions of the simulation exercise on your blogs.

FDP Wins Plularity of Bundestag Seats in Mock German Election–Spring 2008

[UPDATE: I made a mistake when I was initially tabulating results, necessitating a slight change in the composition of the Bundestag. As it now stands, the problem occurred in West Land, where is seems some poll workers had imbibed a little bit too much of that noted Bavarian beverage, bier. A recount (which is easy given that paper ballots were used) results in the following change: one more mandate for the FDP in West Land–I’ve slotted in the 4th candidate from the FDP party list from that Land–and one fewer mandate for the SPD in the same Land. Therefore, the final results are FDP-6; CDU-4; Greens-3; SPD-3. The party leader of FDP will still be given the role of party formateur.]

[UPDATE 2: The aforementioned poll workers have been fired and are now in AA.]

[UPDATE 3: Please see below how the adviser roles have been distributed.]

Here are the results from the mock election to the lower house of the German Reichstag held this afternoon. Those of you who were not elected to represent your district or Land in the Bundestag will nonetheless also be actively involved (as advisers to your fellow party members) in the second part of the simulation–negotiations to form a government. I will send more instructions regarding that portion of the simulation later this weekend. As you can see below, the FDP has won a plurality in the Bundestag and will be given first crack at putting together a workable coalition, trying to reach a formal agreement with one of the other parties. Signing coalition agreements with either the CDU/CSU or the SPD are most likely (given that there is a total of 16 seats in our parliament) but don’t count out a coalition with the Greens either.

As I mentioned earlier, I’ll have more information regarding the specifics of the coalition negotiations and also post a sample coalition agreement form on Blackboard later, but in the meantime think about the most important elements of the negotiation process:

  1. Which party/parties will form the government? Remember you need a majority in parliament to vote the new government into power.
  2. Who will become the Chancellor (i.e., the Prime Minister)?
  3. What will be the general orientation of the government’s policy-making agenda? Given the campaign pledges you made (either to your district and/or your Land) can you plausibly vote for a government that is dedicated to carrying out this policy agenda?
  4. What about some of the policy specifics? Changes to the citizenship law? Higher taxes on carbon emitting industries? Higher (lower) income/consumption taxes? Anything else of importance to you or your district/Land?
  5. Who will get which Ministerial Portfolios? Who will become Foreign Minister? Minister of the Environment? Minister of Health? Minister of Finance? Minister of Justice? Minister of Labor?
  6. Which individuals will be given these portfolios?

I will set up a new folder in the Discussion Board section of Blackboard so that you can all begin the “feeling out” process prior to the official negotiations on Tuesday afternoon.

Click here to see the current members of the German Federal Cabinet (which is the Chief Executive), which is made up of the Chancellor (currently Angela Merkel) and 15 Cabinet ministers.

NOTE: You will notice that some of you who ran for election in districts have nonetheless been elected to parliament on the basis of party lists. I had to do this, given the relatively small number of students in the class. In general, the party lists are much larger than the ones you saw on your ballots as there were simply not enough students and I wanted to have four SMDs. Therefore, where it was warranted, I moved non-SMD-winners over to party lists (i.e., when the proportion of votes generated a number of seats for that party in excess of the number of individuals on the party list. Of course, this would never happen in a real German election as the party lists always have many more candidates than the party will end up earning on the basis of PR. I’ll go over this on Tuesday.

Here are the advisers and the party member whom you will be advising over the course of the government formation negotiations on Tuesday.