This week's guest editors

Let's forget about EU reforms

Those who bet their political career on EU reforms are likely to return from Brussels with little to show to their voters. It is time to embark on a more realistic European agenda.

Bulgaria: leaving no man's land behind for the EU open door

One lesson we are learning is that although Brussels is important, it is not a universal solution. Brussels is used as an excuse in Bulgaria so that we do not worry about political lobbying, the judicial system, and the media, because somebody else has the big stick. An interview with Dimitar Bechev. 

Populist snapshots: Movimento 5 Stelle (Italy)

This excerpt is taken from the encounter between Beppe Grillo and Matteo Renzi on 19 February. Commentary follows.

 

Engaging EU citizens in policy making

As part of our series of interviews with practitioners involved in public participation initiatives, Participation Now researcher Hilde C. Stephansen spoke to Deirdre Lee at Insight-NUI Galway, about Puzzled by Policy, a European Commission funded project that aimed to engage citizens in the policy making process.

Ukraine and Eurasia's imperial fault-lines

The current conflict has been brewing for a long time and is the result of two asymmetrical imperialisms: Russia's outdated, and rather formal, imperialism, on the one hand, and the west's smart, informal route to empire on the other. We must come to grips with these fault-lines in Eurasia's vast plateau.

The Clegg-Farage debate

If Nick Clegg takes one lesson from the first debate into the BBC second leg next week, it should be to spend less time on 'what the real facts show', if he does want to do more than mobilise existing EU-enthusiasts to the Lib Dem banner.

The Rohingya refugee making factory

If the production of refugees was an industry, Myanmar would be among the world’s market leaders. And of all its products the Rohingya would be one of the most lucrative. A niche but growing market of global proportions, the culmination of decades of tireless endeavour to hone a specialist craft.

Refugees on the Thai-Burma border: ready for return?

For refugees in camps on the Thailand Burma border to be able to return to Burma, two main issues need to be addressed, the political situation, and the technical arrangements. Neither are even close to being addressed.

The promise of citizenship: autonomy and abject choices

Can we imagine the conditions under which the promise of citizenship could be fulfilled? This is only imagineable ‘after orientalism’, but can we imagine such a state? Let us start from where we are now, and work out what would have to happen to the central notion of ‘autonomy’.

Challenging annexation: in Crimea, the referendum that wasn’t

The time has come – unfortunately in the midst of another political and human crisis – for the international community to develop a rapid assistance framework for nonviolent activists and dissidents who risk their lives to preserve their right to self-rule. Yesterday it was Ukraine. Today it is Crimea.

Racism: troubling truths

Fighting racism in Europe is not easy when Europe has two hands tied behind its back—debilitated by neo-liberal policies on the one hand and the securitisation of minorities on the other.

The social democratic dilemma

Centre-left parties in Europe have lost the argument for pragmatic fiscal policy and support for austerity seems to prevail. So where does this leave those who refuse to vote for more austerity?

Money laundering and sausages: the making of EU laws

Last Tuesday week, MEPs overwhelmingly voted in favour of public disclosure of the real owners of companies, trusts, and other businesses operating in the EU, aiming to curtail money laundering. How? Here's our step-by-step guide to European law-making.

Europe's future has been captured: it is time to fight back

The financial crisis has resulted in xenophobic immigration policies and a rise of far-right movements across Europe. Who is to blame?

From the Baltic to the Black Sea: things get out of control

Watching the exit polls on the Crimea referendum in Moscow, Iannis Carras contemplates the implications for a Europe that has shown little morality or competence in this affair, of a Russian nationalism turned irredentist.

The populist appeal – bottom-up perspectives: Finland and the loss of moral values

These are extracts from citizen consultations in Kuopio, regional centre of 100,000 inhabitants in the middle of a vast rural area 380 kilometres northeast from Helsinki. Kuopio is famous for its easy-going, down-to-earth people, and its contribution to Finnish arts, philosophy and the nineteenth century construction of the Finnish nation-state. 

Populist snapshots: Lega Nord (Italy)

This excerpt is from a debate in the European Parliament referring to the expiry on 1 January 2014 of temporary labour restrictions on Bulgarian and Romanian workers (on 15 January 2014). Commentary follows.

The populist appeal – bottom-up perspectives: the Netherlands, a view from the south

These extracts draw on citizen consultation in Maastricht, the capital city of Limburg, a southern region of the Netherlands that has its own identity, including its own officially recognized regional language. The region is known as a stronghold of the PVV, especially in former mining areas in the south-east.

How to address apathy and avoid confusion

The post-1989 generation is the ‘shallow generation’ because of its proclivity for apathy. How can this inherently political problem be addressed?

The populist appeal – bottom-up perspectives: The ‘Participation Society’ of the Netherlands

These remarks, extracted from a meeting with citizens in Leidsche Rijn, confirm findings that only 20% of Dutch voters have trust in politics. Nostalgia for the old times when equality and consensus were at the heart of Dutch politics and life underlie the success of populism in the country.

The populist appeal – bottom-up perspectives: Finland's biggest problems

The small city of Kouvola lies in forests where once the paper industry thrived. Recently, the region has suffered from closing factories and loss of jobs. Kouvola is one of the most important strongholds for the Finns Party. The following excerpts are taken from a focus group of party supporters.

The new European bipolarity

Russia and the EU are re-entering a state of bipolarity. How can the EU continue to provide peace and prosperity in the future?

Greece is the future of Europe

Austerity and popular resistance are essential to a political diagnosis for contemporary Europe. Political developments in Greece will show whether the future of Europe is one of neoliberal restructuring or one of a democratic socialist alternative. An interview with Costas Douzinas. 

In defence of electing the European Commission president

In May, for the first time ever, European citizens will have a chance to (indirectly) elect the next president of the European Commission. Apparently unimpressive, this small change might go a long way towards bridging the EU's democratic deficit.

Ukraine, the west, and the issue of strategic thinking

Despite many weeks and months having passed since protests erupted in Ukraine in late November 2013, the west has continued to act like a passive and awe-struck bystander.

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