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Reinventing democracy in Europe

Ash Amin and Pep Subirós' June 2012 guest week on reinventing democracy in Europe.

Reclaiming democratic demands from the populists

Shutterstock/Silver Tiger. All Rights Reserved.

Amidst the financial and economic chaos engulfing Europe, openDemocracy sets up a platform to debate the democracy of tomorrow. European citizens have been left out of summits whilst being fed demagogic promises. European institutions have been ignored by national leaders and mistrusted by their citizens. Can they be remade?

Iceland: portrait of the pirate as a young politician

Halldór Auðar Svansson, 34, is the first Pirate Party member to be part of a majority coalition, in Reykjavik. He talks about the Pirate Party movement, e-democracy and the necessary generational shift among professional politicians. 

Social innovation and the challenge of democracy in Europe

The hype surrounding the innovation society obscures crucial issues of politics and power.

Towards a standard open decisions API

In the coming months, we look forward to helping move toward shared principles or standards for open government decision-making APIs. This work is highly political; therefore, we welcome the participation of any interested individuals in this project.

The EU needs better anti-money laundering rules

The EU seeks to become the standard-bearer on financial transparency. But right now, it’s still too easy to get away with shady dealings in Europe.

The habits of the heart: substantive democracy after the European elections

Despite the dramatic spread of democratic procedures in recent decades, there is a profound and growing deficit in substantive democracy everywhere. ‘They call it democracy but it isn’t’ was one of the slogans of the Spanish indignados.

Europe’s unfinished democracy

Old Europe is disaggregating. The new Europe, which has long been a reality in the mind of many European citizens, is waiting for its constitution, one that will effectively take us into the future.

The European Union’s problem is substance, not narrative

The hard fact that 'pro-Europeans' have to grasp is that for many people the EU is not at all that great. Quite the contrary, the EU imposes tough economic rules, yet gives little palpable in return.

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.

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.

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.

Who decides how European elections work: the party or the electorate?

There may be only one European election, but how the candidates in each country are elected can be quite different. Euro elections landscape, 2014.

Majority voting is outdated

Peter Emerson is director of the de Borda Institute in Belfast that works on improving voting systems. How for example could decision-making in Poland's parliament be organised, as an alternative to the absolute power that even the tiniest majority currently wields? Interview.

Europe is diverging: ignore it at your peril

In the absence of a strong and concerted political direction, the EU is undergoing a process of structural divergence, featuring diverging employment, growth, productivity, competition, and fiscal trajectories. This is not a recovery, but a joyless and jobless stagnation. Ignore it at your peril.

Are we sleepwalking into a lost generation?

Youth unemployment in Europe is a social bomb waiting to explode, and yet another proof of the EU’s lack of vision. So what is there to be done?

Lampedusa, Italy and the EU

After the recent tragedy in Lampedusa, a number of politicians and commentators have claimed that what Italy needs to face the current refugees crisis is more support from the European Union. Politics aside, what does this claim really imply?

Variations on citizenship in a wider Europe: a round-table discussion

Has ‘multilevel governance’ replaced the nation state or European confederation, creating the precondition for a multilevel citizenship? Or is this just a name we give to the empty place left by the demise of the nation state?

Democracy on ice: a post-mortem of the Icelandic constitution

In spite of clear popular support, Iceland's new crowd-sourced constitution was recently killed by politicians. An ex-member of the constitutional council sheds some light on what happened - and why there might still be some hope for this unique experiment.

Europe after Europe: the other Europe in waiting

With so many conflicting interpretations of what post-crisis Europe should look like, it is easy to forget that another Europe will only come by reconciling the people across the continent, through initiatives and institutions that sew up a broken social fabric.

As Europe is provincialized: a reply to Etienne Balibar

Europe can make sense only insofar as it becomes a space which makes it easier to get rid of the fear that the crisis is disseminating within the social fabric, a space where it is more viable to struggle against poverty, exploitation, and discrimination.

A social Europe must be a political Europe

My dear Etienne Balibar, in a recent article you explain how a new Europe can only come from the bottom up. But how would this shift from top-down to bottom-up work, and what does it even mean?

A new Europe can only come from the bottom up

Simply put, 'another Europe' must be able to suggest alternatives that make sense to the majority of the citizens across the continent.

When politics strike back: the end of the Icelandic constitutional experiment?

A wave of enthusiasm took Icelanders through the 2012 referendum after the 2008 crash, once the widely-praised 'crowd-sourced' constitution appeared to be within reach. But Icelanders’ hopes seem to be evaporating in the haze of this week-end's parliamentary elections.

Bottom up… to Europe

A currency devoid of matching political institutions becomes a promising prey of the markets, led by financial interests, including many traditionally hostile to the euro and to the prospect of any further European integration. What to do?

Syria is our business too: why Europe must take the lead on efforts to end the civil war

Simply waiting until the fight is over looks like a realpolitik option, but it is a recipe to push Syria only further into disaster. The stalemate can last for years. Europe must act now – to prevent a humanitarian tragedy and to protect its vital interests.

Enough with the European leaps of faith!

The future of Europe rests neither in a self-defeating global market, nor in a re-nationalized, German EU. What we need is a political Europe that acts in the interests of all - on the economic as well as environmental, social and educational level.

Assez de ces 'sauts de foi' européens

L'avenir de l'Europe ne repose pas sur un marché global auto-destructif, ni sur une Europe allemande rénationalisée. Il nous faut une Europe politique agissant dans l'intérêt commun tant au niveau économique qu'aux niveaux écologique, social et de l'éducation.

Conflict at the EU's southern borders: the Sahel crisis

Gradually, EU systems of governance have extended into the southern Mediterranean, linking dynamics in the Sahel with European interests through its borderlands. This could be a test of the EU's foreign policy ambitions. But is the Union ready and capable to act, and if so, what is at stake?

Are smaller avenues of collective self-determination emerging out of the crisis?

Is national citizenship still a valid organizational factor in the context of the crisis? A radical re-thinking of political citizenship, based on smaller entities such as Catalonia, Scotland or Flanders, may emerge as a reaction to growing imbalances.

Privileged access vs. public scrutiny - why lobbying transparency matters

Every day, thousands of lobbyists roam the corridors of Brussels to represent business interests, with most of their actions and affiliations hidden from the public. What can be done against the influence of special interests in European public policy-making?

Time horizons of transformation: lessons from the German unification for the eurozone

The harmonisation of national economies inside the eurozone is essentially a clash of time horizons – the future might be bright, but the transformation process in hard-hit countries is painful, and unfair. What lessons should we draw from the historical example of German reunification?

A warning and an invitation, to Europeans

On December 6, 2012, the Leader of France’s Left Front addressed a packed audience in the European Institute of University College, London on a progressive alternative to the human crises caused by today’s social relations, banking chicanery, political power and, against the background of another failed Kyoto, the far greater challenge of an adequate response to climate change.

The rise of Catalonia: unravelling the debate on Catalan independence

The Catalan separatists' greatest achievement was perhaps to change the terms of the debate on independence, from an essentially legal question to a myriad of political, economic and social interrogations. Is 'independence' really the answer to all of these questions?

Fraternité 2020: a European Citizens' Initiative

Since April of this year, European citizens can launch a pan-European civic initiative (ECI) to bring a matter to the Commission and the Parliament. How does it work in practice? Fraternité 2020, the first ECI ever registered, is a telling example.

European foreign policy: resilience versus time

With most European efforts focusing on salvaging the economy and an inaudible External Action Service, is there a future for European foreign policy?

The eurozone crisis challenge to democracy: which way forward?

Does the euro crisis ring the death knell for European citizens' influence in the EU decision-making process?

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