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This week’s editor

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Rosemary Bechler is openDemocracy’s Editor.

Kashmir's bus ride to peace

The bus linking Muzaffarabad and Srinagar across divided Kashmir may thaw the most bitter of all disputes between India and Pakistan, writes Muzamil Jaleel in Srinagar.

The vexing call for a referendum

The call for a referendum misjudges the political mood, the dynamics of Iranian society and the level of support for the regime; but there’s another route to democracy, says Farideh Farhi.

Iran's referendum movement

The movement for a referendum is a fantasy solution to the real challenge of bringing democracy to Iran, says Kaveh Ehsani.

Catholics, Iraq, women, and modernity

Pope John Paul II’s failure of political nerve and imagination leaves the Catholic church facing a decisive choice, says Rabbi Arthur Waskow.

Sudan between war and politics

In Khartoum, Fred Halliday assesses the future of an Islamic regime relieved by peace in southern Sudan, pressed by the International Criminal Court over Darfur, and seeking a political road beyond revolution.

Washington's Iraq panic attack

The visits to Baghdad of Donald Rumsfeld and Robert Zoellick are a sign of Washington’s profound worries over Iraq’s future.

Citizens and exiles: an edifying conversation

The call for a referendum is part of Iranians’ wider demand to change a regime that traps and brutalises them, argues ex-ambassador Mansour Farhang.

Tony Blair and the Iraq war: in the eye of the law

The legal advice that sanctioned war in Iraq falls over Britain’s general election campaign. Geoffrey Bindman examines an issue that won’t go away.

An Islamic Republic? Yes or No!

Iran’s regime generates anger, fear and confusion in the hearts of its young people, says Afshin Molavi

The Catholic church and democracy: a reply to Neal Ascherson

Pope John Pauls II’s death leaves Catholics worldwide needing to grow spaces of dialogue where appropriate forms of democracy become possible, says Timothy Radcliffe.

Don't vote for Bullshit

Tom Nairn offers his advice to voters in Britain’s general election.

Iran's road to democracy

The Islamic Republic of Iran’s presidential election of June 2005 will be a vital moment for the country.

'Ravana visits the moon'

Forty-four years ago Yuri Gagarin became the first man to go into orbit. But perhaps the Soviet Union didn’t win the space race after all? openDemocracy’s second “Image of the week” looks to the Ramayana.

Iran between revolution and democracy

The Islamic Republic of Iran’s rulers are determined to keep power – by developing nuclear weapons if need be. Iran’s web-savvy young people are restless for change. Millions of the country’s citizens, disillusioned by the failure of President Khatami’s reform programme, seek a way forward that respects their country’s history and achievements. Amidst this clash of forces, where is Iran going? David Hayes introduces a new openDemocracy series.

The Vatican, the Kremlin and the Feminine

Women are leading the challenge of renewal to the 21st-century Catholic church, says Lavinia Byrne.

New Tango

Astor Piazzolla is widely regarded as the most important tango musician in the latter half of the twentieth century. His creation "New Tango/ tango nuevo" changed the face of traditional tango music. Tony Staveacre, who recorded Piazzolla's last live session, pays tribute to the man "who took no prisoners".  

The five minutes of Pope John Paul II

As millions gather to witness the Polish pope’s Rome burial, Ariel Dorfman recalls the five minutes in Chile that define his life’s paradox.

Is Britain a banana republic?

As Tony Blair launches Britain’s general election campaign, a postal-voting scandal is further undermining voters’ trust in their political leaders.

Big ideas and wandering fools: Saul Bellow

The great Chicago novelist created a unique imaginative universe that made sense of modern human experience of crisis and change, says Tom McBride.

Caught in Iraq's pincer

Iraq has a government at last, but can it cope with the insurgents who launched the large-scale attack on Abu Ghraib prison?

China's environmental suicide: a government minister speaks

China’s deputy environment minister, Pan Yue, tells Andreas Lorenz that China's economic miracle is creating an ecological crisis.

Cutting the Vatican down to size

Can democratic reform of the Catholic church escape the stifling influence of the Vatican? Michael Walsh of Heythrop College proposes creative ways forward.

Cardinal Arns of Brazil on Pope John Paul II, the Vatican and the poor

The retired archbishop of São Paulo reveals to Laura Greenhalgh the Polish pope’s unexpected sympathy for “liberation theology” and frustrations with his Vatican advisers.

Through the Vatican white smoke

Pope John Paul II's successor will be chosen by a secretive, top-down process. Austen Ivereigh, press secretary to one of the cardinals involved, calls for reform in the way the church is governed.

'Dove with olive branch', Pablo Picasso

To mark the 32nd anniversary of Pablo Picasso’s death, openDemocracy launches its “Image of the week” series with his line drawing “Dove with olive branch”.

Kyrgyzstan: revolution or not?

The complex events in Bishkek and elsewhere in Kyrgyzstan have radical implications, say Yasar Sari & Sureyya Yigit.

Through the Vatican white smoke

Pope John Paul II's successor will be chosen by a secretive, top-down process. Austen Ivereigh, press secretary to one of the cardinals involved, calls for reform in the way the church is governed.

Pope John Paul II and democracy

In his long life, the Polish pope, Karol Wojtyła, was at the forefront of the struggle for liberty. But in his twenty-six years at the Vatican, where did this towering figure stand on democracy? The distinguished writer Neal Ascherson dissects an ambiguous legacy.

Who won Zimbabwe's election?

Andrew Meldrum, in Pretoria after Robert Mugabe expelled him, reports on a decisive moment for Zimbabwe’s people – and his own intense love-affair with the country.

A Zimbabwean life

As Robert Mugabe wins a majority in the Zimbabwean parliamentary elections, Emily Barroso tells the story of “John”, one of his former pupils.