` PIR-10038 Why Politics Matter
1. Does politics only take place in certain places? If so, why?
Doing politics is performing a political act, intended to have an effect on the established social order. It has an impact on your life, like the chances you get at the start. It also influences you personally in the way you define yourself, in the way youtake position among society, and in the way you interact with the others. Politics affects you and everyone around you.
When something can have such an impact on one’s life, it is important to be able to determine and control its sources. Where does politics happen? Is it confined to institutions of government, reserved to politicians? Or can it happen else where? It depends on the definition youassign to politics.
Politics is, in a first place, meant to happen within the institutions of the State.
As a matter of fact, politicians perform political acts. Once elected, they take decisions affecting the entire society, they model society. It is mainly the institutions of the State’s goal to do politics. For example, after the second World War, millions of people found themselveswithout a home, wandering aimlessly through a destroyed Europe. “Nations came together in the stately Swiss city of Geneva and codified binding, international standards for the treatment of refugees and the obligation of countries towards them”. It resulted in the signing of the 1951 Convention, a leading legal instrument for refugee protection. This was the fruit of tough international politicalnegotiations between governments, but proves that politicians and
governments do politics affecting the all of society, and sometime as in this example, at a supranational level.
The idea of a cooperation between the States, the relation they can have, is primordial to the question “where does politics happen”. Indeed, G. Peters establishes his definition of politics on thisparticular notion: “…politics, as I use the term here, refers fundamentally to the relations of power and influence between states and their societies… ». To Peters, politics meet special requirements to happen , the least being a set of institutions of government able to take and to implement binding decision for the all of society. According to him, politics happen within and around institutions ofgovernments. To prove his point, he contrasts the decisions taken by the government, and those taken by less formal institutions, like families. To Peters families take decisions for themselves, in opposition of the government taking binding decisions for the all of society, which is why politics don’t happen in families. However, his point is arguable, and can be proven wrong.
Politics happensas well in Court. It happens that politicians find themselves caught out in debates by non politicians actors, judges.
In the past few years, outspoken interventions mainly concerned the Human Rights. In effect, with England adhering to the European Union, and the implications it brought on the English Legal System, the awareness grew that judges had a say on some issues that were before strictlyconfined to the political sphere.
* Political issues are debated in Courts, like the asylum policy in the UK. Refugees are to be taken back to their country if this one has recovered his safety. In March 2001, judges decided that calling Pakistan a safe country was not a rational and lawful policy measure because it implied sending Pakistani refugees back without considering theirindividual asylum
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* applications. As the parties at the time were competing on who could take the toughest line on asylum, this was clearly a political act. It shows how judges can be political regulators. When politicians discuss an issue and take it outside its legal boundaries, judges can intervene.
* But is political regulation the same thing than doing politics?...
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