Weekly newsletter: Fearless cities

Istanbul, Hong Kong – will Moscow and Budapest be next? Plus a selection of the week's top stories across openDemocracy.

Julian Richards
Julian Richards
17 August 2019

If, like me, you're finding it hard to feel hopeful about the state of the world, here's something to lift your spirits. All of a sudden it seems that cities across the globe are standing up for liberty and rights.

The big story at the moment, of course, is Hong Kong's protests against Chinese control. On the other side of Asia, meanwhile, the people of Istanbul are coming to terms with the success of their own peaceful revolt against authoritarianism. In June, a candidate devoted to the "language of love" was elected mayor, defeating a former prime minister from the party of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.

Sinem Adar and Yektan Türkyılmaz argue that it's impossible to say what will come next. "The political space in Turkey after 23 June has burst wide open," they say. But since the paranoid Erdoğan has dismantled so much of the normal apparatus of governance, it could be either a still narrower dictatorship or a radical liberalisation that occupies that space.

In Moscow voters will choose a new city council on 8 September – if the elections are not cancelled. Tanya Lokshina describes the personal and political problems she has faced while reporting a summer of "protests and rain".

Police have arrested thousands and beaten dozens of protesters in the heart of the city. But, as both Alexander Zamyatin and Grigory Yudin explain, Vladimir Putin's government is finding it hard to counter citizens' demand to allow independent candidates to stand. openDemocracy will be following what happens in Moscow closely.

Expect another contest with authoritarianism in October, when Budapest will hold elections for mayor and council. At present Viktor Orbán's Fidesz party rules the Hungarian capital – and on past form will stop at nothing to keep it that way.

This week on openDemocracy

On sacrifice: what must we give up to avoid climate disaster?

The word sacrifice is bandied about by both sides of the debate on climate action. Shall we unpack this loaded shuttlecock?

A long walk back to the garden: Woodstock turns 50

Whatever happened to that blissful dawn? I want it back.

The Telegraph’s Brexit poll is bogus, but broadcasters seem not to have noticed

Pollsters and broadcasters mustn’t allow themselves to become accomplices to propaganda selling a false version of the 'will of the people'.

Preparing for the next economic crisis

In 2007 the left was not ready to respond. This time it must be different.

Leaks, hacks, and scandals: a conversation with Tarek El-Ariss

On the radical transformations affecting Arab culture in the digital age.

Sign up to receive our regular email updates, like the above article, here.

Will COVID break up the UK?

Support for Scottish independence is at record levels. Support for a united Ireland is at record levels. Support for Welsh independence is at record levels.

The British state's management of the COVID crisis has widely been seen as disastrous. Will the pandemic accelerate the break-up of the United Kingdom?

Join us on Thursday 6 August at 5pm UK time/6pm CET for a live discussion.

Hear from:

Anthony Barnett Founder of openDemocracy, he has often written about the need for a progressive England to emerge from the shadow of Britain.

Allison Morris Security correspondent and columnist with the Irish News, and an analyst of politics in Northern Ireland.

Harriet Protheroe-Soltani Trade union organiser for Wales and the south-west, vice chair of the campaign group Momentum, and has written about rising support for Welsh independence on the Left.

Chair: Adam Ramsay Editor at openDemocracy and frequent writer about Scottish independence, most recently in The Guardian.

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