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This week’s front page editor

Clare Sambrook

Clare Sambrook, investigative journalist, co-edits Shine a Light.

Constitutional conventions: best practice

Brexit, Colombia and Trump: electoral and direct democracy at their best

Despite the dissatisfaction of many with the latest election results, the democratic electoral system works today better than ever. Español

Millions are missing from the UK’s electoral registers

The foundations of UK democracy are threatened by a crisis in voter registration. 

The mounting paralysis of Latin America’s Left (Part 1)

An increasingly exhausted South American Left finds itself trapped between similar contradictions to those undermining its counterparts in Europe. Español.

Philosophies of migration

Migration raises more fundamental questions than 'should these people be here': it probes into the very essence of what it means to be human, as well as how we define our communities.

Security services should not have carte blanche

It seems obvious that human rights must be compromised to guarantee security in the face of armed violence. Obvious but wrong.

Break big media monopolies and help new journalism projects—poll

Amid saturation media coverage of the coming UK general election, corporate control of big news organisations goes unquestioned. Yet if the public could vote on that, they'd change it.

After the demonstrations ...

The popular outpouring in France, taken with the climate marches in September with which it would not at first be bracketed, may be a harbinger of change.

South Africa’s parliament and the politicisation of the police

The police were a symbol of the old, apartheid South Africa. Unfortunately they are becoming a symbol of the ‘new South Africa’ too.

Shadow of military looms large over Pakistan street protests

The military is never far from politics in Pakistanand it may be implicated in the latest political crisis, as opposition forces led by Imran Khan challenge the legitimacy of the government of Nawaz Sharif.

Egypt, swallowing civil society

The new draft law for NGOs proposed by the Egyptian state further narrows the space for civil society, and openly contradicts the new constitution.

Egypt's liberal coup?

Contrary to appearances, the embrace by some Egyptian liberals of anti-democratic practices may not be in contradiction with their liberal principles. This goes to show that the ‘goods’ of liberty and democracy are not identifiably the same or always harmonious, and it is mistaken to think so.

Egypt’s cover-up

The military-backed authorities in Egypt refused entry this week to two top officials of Human Rights Watch, seeking to launch their report on the massacre a year ago in Cairo. They blocked the messengers but they may have more trouble blocking the message.

Slow and steady: Hungary’s media clampdown

The Hungarian prime minister, Viktor Orban, sent a frisson across the EU with his boast last weekend that he is building a “non-liberal” state, like in China, Russia or Turkey, free of “western European dogma”—but then his steady destruction of liberty in Hungary has gone largely unchallenged.

Arrested democracy: why Thailand needs a new social contract

The Thai military may think its May takeover has run smoothly but authoritarian dictates and an elite power monopoly will not keep the country together in the longer term.

Twenty-first century protest: social media and surveillance

The internet is a two-edged sword—a vehicle for mass surveillance on the one hand and the organisation of civil-society protest on the other.

Citizenship deprivation: A new politics of nationalism?

As instances of citizenship deprivation rise in Britain year on year, we face a situation in which rather than the governed choosing their government, governments choose who they wish to govern. Agnes Woolley reports from an event at Middlesex University. 

Selling dictatorship

Liberal opinion has been outraged by the disclosures about US and UK electronic surveillance. Yet the most unpalatable revelation is that, in an unregulated capitalist economy, liberal democracy is always threatened with authoritarian regression.

From utopia to dystopia: technology, society and what we can do about it

The superficial post-war dream that technology would solve the world’s social problems has transformed into a nightmare of electronically enabled global surveillance and suppression. Yet with consumer-oriented industries replacing the military as the main driver of innovation, citizens are acquiring tools through which they can co-ordinate their emancipation.

Misogyny in the Greek parliament and media: a problem no-one wants to deal with

Chauvinism and corruption work in tandem to stifle public life in Greece.  The disparaging and dismissive treatment of female politicians points to a wider malaise. 

Justice in the UK: back to the 1930s?

Proposals to cut legal aid and judicial review in Britain will make it harder for people fighting for their rights to challenge the government's cuts agenda, and will remove one of the few lifelines to justice for asylum seekers, refugees and undocumented workers, says Kate Blagojevic. 

Is China more democratic than Russia?

On paper, Russia’s political system is an impressive reproduction of Western representative democracy, while the Chinese system remains an unreconstructed autocracy. The reality of the situation is much more complex, says Ivan Krastev.

Funding Russian NGOs: opportunity in a crisis?

Russian NGOs have traditionally looked abroad for their funding, and are dismayed at recent legislation setting up new barriers to this practice. Almut Rochowanski argues, however, that this should be seen as a challenge to increase the involvement of the Russian public in the development of civil society.

What do Russians think of their ‘foreign agents’?

In Putin’s Russia, NGOs funded from abroad are now officially considered ‘foreign agents’. However a recent poll suggests that the Russian public’s attitude to them is rather less one-sided. Vladimir Zvonovsky reports from Samara. 

On the streets in Spain: not only the homeless

The monarchy, the political and economic systems, even the judiciary and the church appear to be failing the people of Spain as they face what amounts to a right-wing coup by a Government that legislates by decree. Their only option seems to be to protest on the streets, says Liz Cooper.

The perilous slide: towards an Islamist dictatorship in Egypt?

President Morsi’s latest constitutional declaration, even if it is cloaked in democratic and revolutionary rhetoric, presages a slide to authoritarianism, argues Mariz Tadros.

Is migration studies failing to defend migrant rights?

With more than 3,000 post graduate students studying migration in Europe each year, a more holistic approach to teaching migration must be part of the solution to help uphold migrants’ human rights, argues Agata Patyna.

Dumbing down

Culture today is dependent on shock, excess, instant effect, and the avoidance of intellectual effort. If the plastic arts are notably trivial and befuddling, literature, music, and cinema lag not far behind. From openDemocracy.

Modernising the unmodernisable : Cool Britannia and reality

John Davey argues that it's time for the English to take the initiative and put the democratically sclerotic British state to sleep.

Is Alexei Navalny sent to spoil the democratic party?

Navalny’s campaigns against corruption and his clever campaigning have won him a central role in the protests against Putin. But Navalny has also many critics. In his controversial article Daniil Kotsyubinsky, who saw how Navalny’s nationalism ruined a previous protest wave, wonders whether his programme might not end up destroying the democratic movement.

The Akunin-Navalny interviews (part I)

Just before the last Moscow demonstration on December 24, two of the protest movement’s most popular leaders — writer Boris Akunin and politician-blogger Aleksey Navalny — got together for a fascinating public conversation. The three-part interview, published on Akunin’s blog, is arguably the fullest profile of Russia’s leading opposition politician and covers many of the more uncomfortable aspects of Navalny’s politics. ODR is pleased to present the full English translation of the interviews.

Fishing: Russia’s other civil battlefront

The recent wave of demonstrations against election fraud across Russia were preceded in the spring and autumn by protests from grassroots fishermen’s organisations, who marched to defend their right to fish for free. Authorities soon climbed down from their controversial plans to privatise rivers and lakes, but not before radicalising an estimated 15-20 million amateur fishermen, writes Oleg Pavlov.

The 'Democratic Recession' has turned into a modern zeitgeist of democratic reform

It is no coincidence that the wave of protests comes in the wake of a 'democratic recession'. People are increasingly demanding democracy in the Arab world, and also in the west.

Taxation: Bahrain's alternative path to political reform

Bahrain's uprising was curtailed by a brutal crackdown. Could the rising sectarianism and tense Sunni-Shia divide be reversed through taxation?

Support a world-wide awakening

openDemocracy’s founder Anthony Barnett writes to you...

Multiculturalism and postmodernity: a challenge to our political structures

Mono-cultural nationalism can no longer provide us with the national identities we need. The formation of multi-cultural civic identities requires a new way of drawing our political maps.
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