EU Conference @BAU

This Friday (Apr 17th), we are hosting an international conference at Bahçeşehir University. Conference is funded by Jean Monnet Funds. This conference is part of a larger project we conduct on Justice and Home Affairs. In Spring 2014, we teach a course on JHA. This course is aimed at generating knowledge and awareness among students on our campus and public officials from outside the campus.

The conference will be on visa regimes applied by EU to Turkish nationals. Our distinguished guest is Jo Shaw from University of Edinburgh. Here is the flyer for the conference :


Jean Monnet Conference

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Obama’s New Term and Immigration Reform

President Obama was re-elected in 2012 Presidential elections for 4 more years in White House. This has been celebrated by Democrats along with other groups who expect American government to fulfill their promises in the next term. One of these groups consists of illegal immigrants.

President Obama is criticized by Republicans for being too easy on illegal immigrants and  failing to provide border security to avoid immigrants with malintentions entering United States particularly via Arizona and Texas borders with Mexico.

However, Obama claims that he has done ‘more than anybody would have believed’ to increase security at borders by investing on technology, protective systems and patrols who track illegal immigrants at the borders.  Obama proposed immigration reform that presents a path for citizenship to illegal immigrants who entered the country at early ages however it was rejected by Senate when it involved 59 Democrats in 2010.

What does the reform include?

The bill would provide legal status and a path to citizenship to young people who were brought to the United States illegally as children and receive a college education or want to enter the military. Under the bill, students who who came to the United States when they were 15 or under, have been in the country continually at least five years, present “good moral character,” graduate from high school or obtain a G.E.D., and complete two years of college or military service in good standing would qualify 

This bill was already rejected. But now that Obama will run presidency for the second term , he can alienate opposition towards his proposals and proceed with passing reforms that he promised to his Latino supporters. This bill, if passed, would help 11 million illegal immigrant to obtain citizenship.

Obama claims that tackling illegal immigration is an important step for middle class benefits. If labor is not legalized, they will lower wages and this will eventually hurt middle-classes.

Obama’s second term presents a challenge for immigration laws. Given the fact that he had a comfortable win against Republican candidate Mitt Romney and thus refreshed his support within Democratic Party , he should be able to go proceed with proposed reform package for illegal immigrants.

For scholars who are interested in immigration law, this is a topic to focus on in the next four years. This will give us idea about ideological positioning of political parties, party unity (?) in United States, political polarization on immigration issue and in the deeper sense social cooperation between immigrants and natives on integrating them as legal parts of community instead of leaving illegal immigrants, or cheap labor force vulnerable for abuse.

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Political Science and its Critiques

Recently, it has been debated whether to continue supporting political science research by National Science Foundation . The debate is taking place at Congress level and political scientists have been informed by ongoing debates , mobilized by emails, written petitions etc. to keep their funding. To start with, NSF funds are crucially important for research in U.S and a substantive numbers of Polsci students have used them so far.

As in all cases, when an issue is being debated, we are likely to see contradicting opinions from experts. In a recent one of them, a NY Times op-ed from a Political Scientist herself Jacqueline Stevens revealed her critical opinion towards polsci and its conclusions as being predictive with statistical modelling. You can find the article here.

On the opposing side, polsci researchers started arguing against her in their blogs etc.

I will share some of these responses to her here,

Jay Ulfelder: an American political scientist who theorizes and forecasts political development and instability. Here is what he thinks, in his blog. 

Monkey cage: Here is what they think. Why Stevens is wrong?

The Duck of Minerva: When political scientists do not understand political science. 

You can suggest any further links on the topic, I will add once I come across with anymore.

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Labor Shifts Policy on Immigration

Ed Miliband’s speech on immigration and labor market is an interesting new direction in the development of politics of immigration in Europe. Milibant, Labor Party Leader in UK, told the press that they were wrong on immigration policies when Labor governed the country prior to 2010 elections. They underestimated the number of people from Eastern Europe who would like to come for working in UK. The numbers went up to over two-hundred thousands in 2010 and caused anti-immigrant sentiment among workers in UK. For some, this was one of the major reasons for why Labor lost elections in 2010. Now, Miliband , for the first time to my knowledge openly admits that they made a mistake and they were disconnected from the workers’ interests. Miliband , now suggests limitation on incoming immigrants by imposing a transitory regime on labor market integration of immigrants.

I think another interesting point he makes is that he can not promise to make the labor market completely British, because it is beyond UK governments’ power, implying EU over immigration policies. This also shows that if possible, he could have said that.

Then is EU and its freedom of mobility of workers playing a role that makes natives more restrictive towards immigrants, or is it moderating the growing anti-immigrant sentiments  when it comes to policy-making by curbing the powers of national governments?

In both cases, it seems like EU’s role in xenophobia will be widely discussed in different spheres including theoretic and political.


Reactions : It seems like critical public opinion and pundits did not take Miliband very seriously and considered his statement as a ‘phony populism’ shooting for workers’ votes in the next election.

update #2: Tony Blair said, he does not regret opening borders to immigrants from Eastern Europe 

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Aydin and Cenker (2012)

Here is some good news from two good friends that I started grad school with in 2005 at Sabanci University , Istanbul. They recently published a paper in International Political Science Review March 2012 issue with the following title:

‘Public confidence in government: empirical implications from a developing democracy’

Here is their abstract:

This article explores the determinants of confidence in the Turkish government. We question whether confidence-related questions in mass surveys tap specific support for the incumbent government or tap diffuse support for government as a democratic institution. For this purpose, sociocultural, performance, and party explanations are tested. Four waves of the World Values Survey for Turkey are used as the data set. The article finds that performance and party-based explanations are the most relevant. Turkish citizens place greater emphasis on ‘government as the incumbent’ rather than on ‘government as a democratic institution’. The analysis also reveals the changing influences of both performance and party-based explanations across time, which points to the significance of context. Through a cross-country analysis, the viability of the findings in the Turkish case are evaluated against those of other developing democracies.


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Western Political Science Association Annual Meeting 2012

Hi , it  has been a while since I posted an article on my blog. This is partly because I am too busy to think of what would be a good blog post.

But now, i am in Portland , Oregon for a the annual meeting of Western Political Science Association. This is probably the most Western conference it can be on political science and it is also the most Western point I have ever been in my life. The most eastern corner that I have visited remains to be the city of Erzurum where my elder brother served for army for eight months.

Let’s get back to the conference. It takes place in Marriot Waterfront hotel that is very close to the river and walking distance from downtown. I am staying at a hotel that is six-minutes away from the conference hotel and there is basically no traffic in Portland. Tomorrow, I will present my paper on local voting rights of immigrants in Europe at 8 am in the morning. I am planning to share feedback here in my blog tomorrow. If it is too critical, I might have to sleep over it for a while before writing a blogpost:)

I have attended two panels so far. In the first one, there were only two panelists and I was late and missed one. The second one was  the following:

What is Freedom? An Existential Critique of Western Liberalism and International Affairs in the ”War on Terror”
Radheshwar, S. Jovian,, University of California – Santa Barbara

I think Phd Candidate did a very good job in making his point and criticizing liberalism , actually how liberalism diverted from J.S. Mill and it has become a source of many problems in the political world. I recommend you to follow his career. He is surely a passionate academic who has a wide view of the politics around the world. Other then him being a little unclear on how he defines what ‘freedom’ is , he was very clear and articulate.

In the second panel I attended, the discussants suggested that the way we measure public opinion and the way we use dummy variables for race and ethnicity is wrong. I think that was my take away point. Not that i am convinced, but i will certainly pay more attention.

Palmer and Paterson (2012) , borrowed pyscological  explanations on political participation and tested whether five major traits are significant in explaining the political outcomes.

During the lunch break, I visited Powell’s book store and it is really huge. My friend, Ege, told me about it but it is really huge. I felt like I should buy books and grabbed two from Politics section:) not surprisingly…

Currently I am enjoying Starbucks coffee at the lobby and about to go to a panel that is very similar to mine tomorrow , actually in the same room:) and my discussant is going to present a paper.

updated at 3pm on March 22nd, 2012

and now it is a Friday afternoon, and I am certainly enjoying the feeling that I am done with my presentation and now have time to interact with people and attend several lectures.

My presentation went well. There was a technical issue and I could not connect my computer to the large screen. I recommend everyone to take care of themselves in the conferences. There was a connector cord for non-apple computers, but for Macs, the conference was not prepared. I am now at the lobby and half of the people use Macs, so I think I have a right to complain, here.

The discussant of the panel was Robin Harper from City University of New York and Dvora Yanow from University of Wageningen was the chair. Robin Harper really helped to place my research in a general framework of social science and I certainly would enjoy that input. There were also obvious problems that I already knew and I justified why I used the variables that I used etc.

Later on I attended Bingham Powell’s talk. I am surprised that he could only attract 10-15 people in a conference of this scale. I think he has a lot to be learned from.

By the way for visitors of Portland in the future, I will suggest a great restaurant, called Dick’s Kitchen. I absolutely loved the place and its food and its friendly service. It made my day before the conference. Tonight is my last in Portland and i will just try a new place but Dick’s was seriously to good to ignore even though it would be two nights in a row.

Tomorrow , I am flying back to Binghamton with a long chain of flights, from Portland to Seattle, from Seattle to D.C and finally to Binghamton.

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A New Book from an Old Friend

Today, I have found out that Pelin Ayan, a good old friend from my undergraduate years at Marmara University, published her first book (to my knowledge:)) from Palgrave Macmillan. She is also the first person from my cohort to publish a book, so I want to publicly congratulate Pelin’s success.

The book titled as : Authoritarian Party Structures and Democratic Political Setting in Turkey

My MA thesis advisor Sabri Sayari, comments the following on the book:

“This well-crafted book makes a major contribution to the literature on the internal life of political parties. Authoritarian Party Structures and Democratic Political Setting in Turkey challenges some of the widely-held views about the issue of internal party democracy through meticulous empirical research on the relations between party executives and local party organizations. The author convincingly demonstrates that the nature of the principal-agent relationship should be understood as a dynamic, rather than a static, process and that it can vary depending on the material and social interests of the national party leaders and local party actors. Pelin Ayan-Musil’s book deserves a wide audience: It will be a valuable reference to those interested in the comparative study of political parties, in democracy, and Turkish politics.”

I have to get and read this book, soon:)

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French Senate Allows Non-Citizens to Vote

Yes, French Senate approved the bill on non-citizens’ right to vote in local elections. The bill passed by 173 votes in favor and 166 votes against.French Senate is mainly composed of opposition parties, namely Socialist, Communists and Greens.

The bill now has to pass the lower house and it is expected that it will fail due to government’s opposition to this bill in a right-controlled house. If the bill fails it will be the second time voting rights of non-citizens will be turned down after 2000.

I have to mention a great documentary  by Al-Jazeera on Muslims of France.



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An Interesting Thesis

I came across with Albert Durana’s PhD thesis on immigration and journalism.He defended his dissertation in University of the Basque Country and it is titled as ‘The profile of Basque journalists and their training in the social field of immigration.’

According to his findings, journalists are not trained to write articles, or report news on immigration and that causes failure in avoiding prejudices in their published work. The author remarks that social alarm should not be generated, ‘“If a prejudiced person is dangerous, then a journalist with prejudices is more so”.

Considering the tragic incident in Norway and remembering how it was reported in mass media, I strongly support his view that journalism requires further training on immigration. As he suggests, universities could offer programs or courses on this specific sub-topic in journalism programs.

I thought about a course title, and here is my suggestion ‘Journalism in Diverse Spaces’ I will start working on a course syllabus.. When? As soon as the dissertation is done!


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Contributing to EUDO Cafe

Today, my essay on local voting rights of immigrants has been published on EUDO Cafe. Here is the link to my essay.

What is EUDO Cafe:

The EUDO Cafe is a place for discussing ideas on the challenges facing democracy in today’s Europe.

Starting in Spring 2010, it hosts periodical, invited posts inspired by current events in worldwide and European politics, by groundbreaking research at EUDO, as well as by debates in the press.

Posts will be open for discussion to everyone: scholars, politicians, journalists and occasional visitors. As its name states, the EUDO Cafe is supposed to be an unrestricted place for free-flowing, open discussion on the general issues and challenges facing democracy in Europe. Its aim is to attract academic experts, practitioner and ‘regular citizens’ alike.

More specialized, deep and technical discussions among scholars and experts take instead place in the EUDO Forum, which will be launched later in 2010, where scholars and experts discuss specific topics connected to EUDOand to the research activity of its four Observatories.


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