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Author Archives: Sean Cotter-Lem

Sean Cotter-Lem
Sean Cotter-Lem is a student at the University of Groningen, and the Editor-in-Chief of Checks & Balances for the academic year 2017-2018. Through his writing, he hopes to capture some of the nuances of contemporary international relations and politics. You can follow him on Twitter: @scotlem7

Malaysia’s 92-Year-Old Comeback Kid, Mahathir Mohamad

With the surprise victory of the opposition on May 9th, it is the first time since its independence in 1957 that Malaysia has seen a peaceful transfer of power like this. The United Malays National Organization (UMNO) had long been the dominant political force in the country, using its far-reaching patronage system to maintain power and influence. It was a ... Read More »

Misinformation & Uncertainty Ahead of Italian Election

Ahead of Sunday’s election in Italy, where a number of parties are vying for the top spot in a tight race, concerns about the dissemination of misinformation are high. Following the slate of national elections of recent years in some of the major democracies of the West – the United States, the Netherlands, France, and Germany – Russia has been ... Read More »

It’s the Economy, Stupid: Rising Food Prices Provide Impetus for Protests in Iran  

In the last days of 2017, Iran experienced the largest protests in the country since the protests that followed the disputed Iranian presidential elections in 2009. After incumbent President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad declared victory, protests arose and culminated in what became known as the Green Movement. These street protestors challenged the results of the election, alleging that voting fraud and irregularities ... Read More »

The Role of Internet Memes in Modern Political Discourse

In his 1976 bestseller, The Selfish Gene, evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins coined the term “meme”, ascribing it to any idea, behavior or style that spreads from person to person within a culture. In October 1994, Mike Goodwin applied this notion to the new phenomenon of the Internet in an article written for the magazine Wired. The term has since been ... Read More »

Reimagining “Reaching Across the Aisle”

In American political rhetoric, the oft-repeated phrase “reaching across the aisle” refers to the bipartisan cooperation, a nod to the physical separation in Congress between the members of the two major political parties, and the political terms “left-wing” and “right-wing” have their origins in the seating arrangements of the National Assembly during the French Revolution of 1789. The relationship between architecture ... Read More »

Cooperation & Competition in the Arctic Circle

Photo credit: Krichevsky

Climate change is more apparent in the Arctic Ocean than nearly anywhere else on the planet. In the coming decades, this area is likely to be of increasing interest to the international community, posing a myriad of security, commercial, and environmental concerns. As the polar ice caps melt, the area is becoming more accessible to both shipping and resource extraction, ... Read More »