Lookahead: Republican primaries 2012

The when, where and who of the Republican primary elections.

The Republican primary race has kicked off in earnest. The Iowa caucus (see here for an explanation of caucuses/primaries) marked the beginning of a flood of votes as Republican voters choose a candidate. In a race that has so-far been defined by the prevalence of the unforeseen, it is impossible to know what the next few months will hold. If you're confused by the baffling array of votes taking place, here is a guide to when they're happening, what they mean, and who we can expect to do well

Schedule

Broadly, the primaries will follow this schedule:

1 February - 5 March: Contests of traditional early states Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada, and South Carolina
6 March - 31 March: Contests that proportionally allocate delegates
1 April and onward: All other contests including winner-take-all elections

See below for a list of all primaries and caucuses that have been announced.

Who is running?

Michele Bachmann: US Representative from Minnesota's 6th Congressional District

Herman Cain: Businessman and radio-host from Georgia (campaign suspended on 3 December, following a series of sexual harrassment allegations)

Newt Gingrich: Former Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives from Georgia

Jon Huntsman: Former Governor of Utah and US Ambassador to China

Gary Johnson: Former Governor of New Mexico

Ron Paul: US Representative from Texas's 14th congressional district

Rick Perry: Governor of Texas

Mitt Romney: Former Governor of Massachusetts

Rick Santorum: Former Senator for Pennsylvania

Iowa

All eyes are on this state, which provides the first indication of which way voters will go. While success in Iowa does not necessarily translate into ultimate victory, it is a reasonable indication of whether a candidate's message is getting through, and can have far-reaching implications for the rest of the race. In the past, some candidates have dropped out altogether after a poor showing in Iowa.

UPDATE 4 JANUARY: Mitt Romney has won in Iowa, beating Rick Santorum by just eight votes.

Virginia

Another state that has drawn attention is Virginia -- because several candidates have failed to qualify to appear on the 6 March ballot after failing to provide the required 10,000 verified signatures. It is a particular blow for Gingrich -- whose campaign said that the state's electoral system is "failed" -- as he was leading the polls in the state. Four other candidates have also been excluded, with only Romney and Paul qualifying.

Polls

Almost all of the Republican candidates have had their time in the frontrunner spot at one point or another during this race. After a brief period on top, Gingrich is slipping behind once again, leaving the top spot open for Romney. However, the numbers are far from those traditionally enjoyed by the favourite. A poll by Rasmussen Reports last week gave Romney 25 per cent, followed by Paul on 20 per cent and Gingrich on 17, with the other candidates trailing behind with 10 per cent or less. Another poll, by Iowa State University, placed Paul on 27 per cent, Gingrich on 25, and Romney on just 17.

Timetable

3 January: Iowa (caucus)
10 January: New Hampshire (primary)
21 January: South Carolina (primary)
31 January: Florida (primary)
4 February: Nevada (caucus)
4-11 February: Maine (caucus)
7 February: Colorado (caucus), Minnesota (caucus)
28 February: Arizona (primary), Michigan (primary)
3 March: Washington (caucus)
6 March: Alaska (caucus), Georgia (primary), Idaho (caucus), Massachusetts (primary), North Dakota (caucus), Ohio (primary), Oklahoma (primary), Tennessee (primary), Vermont (primary), Virginia (primary)
6-10 March: Wyoming (caucus)
10 March: Kansas (caucus), U.S. Virgin Islands (caucus)
13 March: Alabama (primary), American Samoa (caucus), Hawaii (caucus), Mississippi (primary)
17 March: Missouri (caucus)
18 March: Puerto Rico (caucus)
20 March: Illinois (primary)
24 March: Louisiana (primary)
3 April: Maryland (primary), Texas (primary), Washington DC (primary), Wisconsin (primary)
24 April: Connecticut (primary), Delaware (primary), New York (primary), Pennsylvania (primary), Rhode Island (primary)
8 May: Indiana (primary), North Carolina (primary), West Virginia (primary)
15 May: Nebraska (primary), Oregon (primary)
22 May: Arkansas (primary), Kentucky (primary)
5 June: California (primary), Montana (primary), New Jersey (primary), New Mexico (primary), South Dakota (primary)
26 June: Utah (primary)
To be announced: Guam (caucus), Northern Mariana Islands (caucus)

Samira Shackle is a freelance journalist, who tweets @samirashackle. She was formerly a staff writer for the New Statesman.

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Locals without borders: governments are using diasporas to shape the migration crisis

Governments of countries key to the migration crisis are tapping diaspora influence more than ever before.

Last month, on 21 June, thousands of Eritreans descended on Geneva and marched across the city, finally stopping at the Place des Nations in front of the UN. The demonstrators had come from across Europe: Italy, Germany, London, and a young man who looked blankly at my French and English questions before exclaiming “Svenska!” (“Swedish!”).

They were here to denounce a recent report by the UN Human Rights Council condemning widespread violations of basic rights in Eritrea. According to the protesters, the report was based on shoddy research and is biased and politically-motivated: “Stop regime change agendas!” said one banner.

Two days later, a similarly sized group of Eritreans marched in the same direction, for the opposite reason. This contingent, 10,000-strong according to the organisers, wanted to show their backing for the report, which highlights many of the problems that led them to leave the Horn of Africa in the first place. Forced conscription, extrajudicial killings, and official impunity, all pinpointed by the UN inquiry, have driven a mass exodus to the surrounding region and beyond. In 2015 alone, 47,025 Eritreans crossed the Mediterranean to request asylum in Europe.

Two things stood out. First was the sharp polarisation of the Eritrean diaspora community in Europe, which muddies the waters for outsiders trying to make sense of the situation: how can one side say everything is fine while the other claims massive abuses of rights?

Second was the sheer engagement of this diaspora, some of whom may never have set foot in Eritrea. They had come from across Europe, with or without the help of funding, to stand on a rainy square and fight for the narrative of their nation.

As an Irishman abroad, would I have the commitment to jump on a plane for a political protest with no certain outcome? I probably wouldn’t, but then again my country is not just 25 years old and still struggling to define itself on the international stage.

Individual stakes are also much higher for people like Abraham, an Eritrean in Switzerland who told me how he was forced into the army for seven years before managing to escape via Sudan two years ago. With two children still in Asmara, he has significant skin in the game.

As for the naysayers, they are also under certain pressure. Some reports suggest that the government in Asmara exercises extensive power in certain diaspora circles, threatening to cancel the citizenship of those who denounce the regime or refuse to pay 2 per cent income tax each year.

Ultimately, such a situation can only lead to a committed kind of polarisation where pro-government supporters need to publicly demonstrate their backing, and the anti-government kind have nothing left to lose.

But on a more benign level, the idea of states systematically harnessing the power of the diaspora for domestic gains has also been growing elsewhere – including in Ireland. Historically a nation of emigrants, Ireland has seen its diaspora swell even further following the economic downturn: OECD figures estimate that one in six Irish-born people now live abroad.

In an age of networks and soft power, this represents a sizeable demographic, and a well-educated and well-off one to boot. The government has clearly recognized this. In 2009, the first Global Irish Economic Forum was held to tap into the business know-how of expats, and has since taken place biannually.

More importantly, two years ago the first Minister for the Diaspora was appointed, tasked with taking overall charge of engagement efforts: no longer simply cultural ambassadors operating Irish bars abroad, emigrants are economic and political seeds to be cultivated. A referendum is planned next year on whether to grant them the right to vote from abroad in presidential elections.

Elsewhere, in Germany, the 3m-strong Turkish population has attracted renewed interest from the government of Recep Tayyip Erdogan in recent years. According to a 2014 paper by think tank SWP, Ankara now explicitly designates these Turks abroad as a “diaspora” rather than a scattered group, and adopts clear public diplomacy efforts, channelled through cultural centres, to tap their influence.

This has sometimes rankled in Berlin: although Ankara’s diaspora policy encourages citizens to learn German and integrate into German society, the underlying motivation is one of Turkish self-interest rather than benign assimilation. In a battle for the front-foot, German immigration policy clashes with Turkish emigration policy.

Intra-EU movements, largely unhampered by visa questions, have also become substantial enough to warrant attention. For example, hit hard by the economic downturn and austerity measures, many educated Spaniards and Portuguese have flocked to Northern European cities to seek employment.

London, a melting pot of diasporas from all over the world, is reportedly home to more French people than Bordeaux: together they would make up the sixth largest city in France. As countries continue to rebuild following the financial crisis, forging a connection to the skills and political power of such emigrants is a policy imperative.

And if no other EU country, aside from Ireland, has introduced a dedicated minister for this, the growing economic potentials may spur them to do so.

Diasporas have been around for millennia. Why are governments getting so interested now? And what does it mean for the future of citizenship, nationality, and identity?

Technology is one obvious game-changer. Diasporas not only have more options to keep in touch with their home country, but with so much of daily life now happening on virtual platforms, they also have less reason to integrate in their host society.

It is now almost feasible to ignore the surrounding communities and live quite comfortably in a bubble of media and connections from back home. This then works both ways, with governments increasingly willing to use such communications to maintain links. The “imagined spaces” of nations are morphing into “virtual spaces”, with unpredictable consequences for traditional models of integration.

Marco Funk, a researcher at the EU Institute for Security Studies in Brussels, says that the growing ease of mobility compounds the idea of “people moving from one country to another and staying there” as simply out-of-date.

The coming years, he says, will be marked by patterns of “circular migration”, where citizens hop from one country to another as whim and economic opportunity arise. Governments, especially in an increasingly stagnant Europe, will likely try to beef up links with this mobile generation, especially since it is often pulled from the more educated classes.

Fearing a “brain drain”, yet unable to keep the talent at home, they may foster a more fluid system of “brain exchange”: the diaspora as a mobile resource rather than physical loss.

Of course, none of this will be straightforward, especially at a time when a major fault-line around the world is the future of globalisation and migration. An uptick in nationalist tendencies may mean that diasporas will find themselves (once again) unwilling pawns on a political chessboard, protected or manipulated by governments back home while scapegoated by segments of their host societies.

But one thing is sure: even as walls are rebuilt, diasporas will not disappear, and governments are recognising their power. All politics may remain local, but the local now knows no bounds.