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About Tom Burgis

Tom Burgis is a freelance reporter. He has written for openDemocracy’s debates on protest and globalisation and has contributed to many newspapers.

Articles by Tom Burgis

This week’s front page editor


Francesc Badia i Dalmases is Editor and Director of democraciaAbierta.

Constitutional conventions: best practice

South Africa’s unequal prospect

The gap between South Africans’ incomes and life-chances undermines their dream of an inclusive future, says Tom Burgis.

A Loong and winding road

A year and seventy-two nominees later, openDemocracy readers vote for and against the world's primary Bad Democrat. Tom Burgis opens the envelope.

Addicted: William Burroughs and a world in heat

A controversial work of the beat generation’s leading junkie casts surprising light on the world’s climate-change predicament at the start of the 21st century, finds Tom Burgis.

Democracy bites

The Bad Democracy award for October – the last before openDemocracy's grand poll for the year's worst democrat – became the object of Hungarian passion and the target of the country's hackers, reports Tom Burgis.

All hail the Sun King

Rupert Murdoch has been voted winner of opendemocracy's tenth Bad Democracy award. What shameful ingratitude, says Tom Burgis.

A guide to the post-9/11 world

The world was changed by the events of 11 September 2001, often in unexpected ways. The impact of the attacks can be felt in many areas of global public life – from civil liberties to trade, technology to international law. Five years on, Tom Burgis charts eleven aspects of a tremulous new era.


Asked to choose the month's worst democrat, openDemocracy's readers voted for the G8. That'll be a first, says Tom Burgis.

The skewed pride of the IDF

The justifications for the Israeli Defence Forces' bombardment of Lebanon bulge with doublethink and muddled excuses. Small wonder, reckons Tom Burgis, that openDemocracy readers voted to give it the ninth monthly Bad Democracy award.

North Korea's Dr No

He may be a basket case, a depraved decadent, an unparalleled genius or a combination of the above. Either way, North Korea's colourful dictator Kim Jong-il has scooped our latest Bad Democracy Award.

Michelle Bachelet's hard lesson

Massive student protests are forcing the Chilean president to address inequalities implanted during the country's long Pinochet dictatorship, writes Tom Burgis.

Singapore's phoney democracy

Singapore's increasingly hard-pressed people deserve better than the electoral charade offered by their prime minister Lee Hsien Loong, the recipient of the seventh monthly "bad democracy" award.

Who's the daddy?

Alexander Lukashenko's brutal brand of paternalism has won him openDemocracy's sixth "bad democracy" award. Tom Burgis examines the Belarusian batka’s parenting methods and finds the kids are revolting.

Clerical errors

Abu Laban, the Danish imam at the centre of the apocalyptic row over cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed, is the recipient of openDemocracy's fifth monthly "bad democracy" award. Tom Burgis explains the accolade.

Free trade? When it suits us

The world's leading trade powers are seeking to carve out a new deal on globalisation. Tom Burgis suspects the rich world is hoping to have its cake and eat it.

Meles unveiled

A smooth operator and consummate diplomat, he was hailed in the west as one of Africa's democratic messiahs. But as Ethiopia's prime minister scoops the fourth "bad democracy" award, Tom Burgis asks if Meles Zenawi was ever anything but an autocrat.

George W Bush's nemesis

He’s got power, rich friends, and God on his side. But not Tom Burgis, who explains the selection of the United States president as January winner of the "bad democracy" award.

Howard's way

The Australian prime minister has seen off a gallery of rogues and murderers, to claim the second "bad democracy" award. Our readers’ choice shows how democratic indignation works and exposes the underbelly of John Howard’s premiership, finds Tom Burgis.

The WTO's raw deal

As another global trade summit ends in a raw deal for the poor, Tom Burgis reports from Hong Kong on the changing dynamics between protest and power.

The siege of Hong Kong

As thousands of ministers, trade mandarins and protesters gather for this week’s crunch World Trade Organisation ministerial, Tom Burgis reports from Hong Kong, where the stakes could not be higher.

The Berlusconi brief

openDemocracy readers found Italian prime minister Silvio Berlusconi a worthy winner of our first monthly “bad democracy” award. Tom Burgis commends your choice and responds to the lively criticisms the award has provoked.

Bad Democracy!

Are you angered by politicians who tell lies, accept favours, crush dissidents, steal elections or abuse powers? Then fight back by nominating them for openDemocracy’s monthly “bad democracy” award! Tom Burgis explains how it works, and names the first six candidates for shame.

The return of the Aids plague

A global regime where private corporations can enforce intellectual property rights to the detriment of public health is bad news for the millions most vulnerable to HIV/Aids, reports Tom Burgis.

Midnight traders

The battle between the neo-liberal free-trade agenda and the campaign for global trade justice resumes at the Geneva meeting of the WTO general council from 27 July, reports Tom Burgis.

Making G8 History

Between the submissive pleas of Make Poverty History and the anarchist headbangers of the Black Bloc, where is the coherent message to unite protestors against the G8’s planetary depredations? Tom Burgis reports from the Gleneagles frontline.

Insider-outsider: the NGO fracture zone

The alliance between the NGO coalition Make Poverty History and the spectacular global Live8 concerts may seem a formidable challenge to the G8, but Tom Burgis in Edinburgh hears radical NGO campaigners who think it is far too close to power.

Arresting development in Chile

Chilean congressmen, academics and peaceful activists are unaccustomed to imprisonment since Augusto Pinochet relinquished Chile's presidency in 1990. But when carabineros descend on environmental protesters in Santiago, the parallels are disquieting. Tom Burgis reports. 

'A little British revolution'

On the eve of Britain’s general election, Tom Burgis reports from the midlands town of Mansfield where an independent councillor is campaigning to storm a Labour citadel.

Vote for independence!

An army of independent, single-issue candidates is challenging the party machines in Britain’s general election campaign. Tom Burgis on a new age of guerrilla politics.
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