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Schirm, Stefan A. (July 2013): Global politics are domestic politics: a societal approach to divergence in the G20. In: Review of International Studies, Vol. 39, No. 3: pp. 685-706


Since 2008, the leaders of industrialised and emerging economies have engaged in steering the global economy through the G20. Divergent national positions were to be expected based upon the different stages of economic development and according to previously existing international groups. The actual controversies in the G20 did not reflect these patterns, however, but showed divergence both between industrialised countries and between emerging economies. In explaining this puzzle, I argue that the driving forces for global economic governance have ceased to be industrialised or emerging countries' alliances and levels of development. Rather, the causes for the positions of G20 members can be found in economic interests and ideas dominant in the domestic politics of countries. These societal influences shape governmental preference formation in both industrialised and emerging countries and consequently influence their behaviour in global governance. The resulting divergences weaken previously existing groups such as the G7 and the BRICs, and create a new pattern in world politics. This societal approach to explaining governmental positions in global economic governance is exemplified on the core G20 issues of stimulus/public debt and global imbalances/exchange rates.