Across the world, political elites search in vain for public support. In France, the left are experimenting with US-style primaries, but Phillipe Marlière shows it may lead to another form of spectator distance. In India, state elections see voters roundly rejecting national parties to embrace regional ones, and Tanmoy Sharma senses federalism. In Russia, a party reform bill is going to be signed into law. And Grigorii Golosov asks, is it a real concession or (as in France) change that is no change?
The UK elite is in trouble too. The dramatic outcome of a by-election confirms popular repugnance, says Gerry Hassan, who grew up as a neighbour of the upstart George Galloway. Tony Curzon-Price agrees: cash for access scandal means time is up for Britain’s mainstream party politics, as single issue and micro-campaigns offer new ways of imposing a moral obligation on the executive. Indifferent to them, the UK Coalition is removing free legal aid from those seeking welfare benefit – undermining democracy if you agree with Deborah Padfield. An unpopular marketisation of the NHS finally became law aided by the larger problem of a silent media when things get serious, says Aeron Davis. Richard Seymour deconstructs Boris Johnson as one vapid media clown and politician of the spectacle likely to retain control of London in May, despite the riots that started under him. Neal Lawson attacks a new report on them for its timidity on consumerism and stirs up disagreement, Was it the shops what done it?, while campaigning lawyers Shauneen Lambe and Michael Oswald urge the police to change their attitudes towards young black and Asian men.
Russians prepare for the ‘return’ of Putin. John Besemeres and Andrei Soldatov and Irina Borogan doubt he will turn back the clock, especially against online Russia. Natalya Zubarevich, redraws the map and sees four countries in the world’s largest, predicting that the land of the brains will win out. Elsewhere on oD Russia: the link between football hooligans and politicans, a photoreportage of abandoned wooden churches and a reflection on what God must be telling Belo-Russia’s Lukashenka.
Photoreportage: The tragedy of Russia's abandoned wooden churches. All photos (c) Richard Davies
Take a look at Mark Lee Hunter’s impassioned defence of Julian Assange against his media ‘tormentors’. The comments on this piece are particularly lively.
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