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This week's editor

Constitutional conventions: best practice

The IDEA/oD Democracy support project

Better-off siding with Russia or China: there's no dictator's dilemma today

Democracy promotion by the west has been a grubby, hypocritical affair. Is there any hope for doing it properly?

Critical citizenship for critical times

The author ponders the protest cycle endlessly repeated in Egypt and asks what kind of critical thinking, citizenship, and indeed higher education would help a breakthrough for the country's future in these turbulent times.

Getting transition right

Gathering in Salzburg, Austria looks at improving diversity and inclusion in the post-revolution MENA region.

Evgeny Morozov attacks internet consensus single-handed

Instead of polemical cowboy columns, a systematic approach around key concepts and underlying traditions (such as libertarianism) could have a more devastating effect on the study of the internet and its political and social potential.

Let the public take over the BBC

Tessa Jowell MP who was Culture Secretary in the Blair government when she secured the BBC's future calls for it to become a mutual owned by the public who can then elect the Trust that regulates it.

A global democracy manifesto

"We want to be citizens of the world and not its mere inhabitants." A group of leading intellectuals has composed a document arguing that deeper and more extensive forms of democracy are essential to cope with the demands of globalisation and its associated transformations of governance. The document is being launched in a series of international events that begin at the London School of Economics (LSE) on 27 June 2012. It is published here, followed by a list of the fourteen author-signatories (eight of whom are also openDemocracy authors).

Latin America, an election cascade

A series of fifteen elections across Latin America in 2009-12 offers a useful guide to the region's main democratic trends, says Daniel Zovatto. 

America, India, Pakistan, China: the next game

The tension between Washington and Islamabad over the former's drone assaults on targets in Pakistan is rising. But a prospective geopolitical rivalry involving both countries has even wider ramifications.

Democratic politics: a glorious messiness

The combination of post-election protest in Egypt and parliamentary stalemate in Nepal teaches Vidar Helgesen a wider lesson about democracy.

Israel's new government: a blank peace page

The surprise formation of a new governing coalition is bad news for Israeli-Palestinian peace - unless another unlikely scenario takes hold, says Yossi Alpher.

The real-time online direct democracy challenge

Can we imagine how real-time online direct democracy might improve the following: freedom of speech; the democratic process; the accountability of the government to the electorate; fairness and the rule of law?

In defence of greatness: Britain's carrier saga

A single cost-cutting decision to an expensive naval project is in itself a mere adjustment. But in a wider context it highlights the missing debate about Britain's 21st-century security needs.

The United States and "atrocity prevention"

The formation of an official agency charged with helping Washington identify and address threats of atrocity around the world is notable. But the United States's own foreign-policy record raises serious questions over its likely impact, says Martin Shaw.

British Muslims and local democracy: after Bradford

A by-election earthquake in the post-industrial northern English city of Bradford saw a high-profile politician with a strong appeal among disaffected urban Muslims win an overwhelming victory. This "Bradford spring" reflects the changing attitudes and concerns of Muslim voters in a democracy that many feel does not properly represent them, says Parveen Akhtar.

Syria's crisis: weapons vs negotiations

A strong momentum is building for armed intervention in Syria, either by channelling arms to Syria's rebels or undertaking direct military assaults on the regime. But these proposals are based on flawed analysis and if implemented would have damaging results, says Mariano Aguirre.

Also in this oS Analysis debate:
Steven Heydemann and Reinoud Leenders disagree, urging the need for a credible threat. Mariano Aguirre responds, and Robert Matthews warns of the decades long consequences of militarisation.

Democracy for all? Minority rights and democratisation

The challenge of accommodating and promoting the rights of ethnic, religious and other minorities tends to emerge whenever a formerly authoritarian country begins to move towards democracy. It is faced today as the middle east and north Africa embarks on its own democratic transition. The region could be aided in the endeavour by learning lessons from earlier experience in countries such as Indonesia, says Mark Salter.

The Great Partnership: multiculturalism, faith and citizenship

Do the supposedly civilised values of human rights and responsible citizenry become exclusionary, used to divide rather than unite? Is religion a partner of liberty? On the day the British parliament considers a bill proposing the banning of headscarves in public places, Robin Llewellyn reviews Jonathan Sacks' ‘The Great Partnership: God, Science, and the Search for Meaning’

The Arab revolution: “We have a lot to learn from them”

What are the main social dynamics of the waves of revolt in the Arab world in 2011? Jean-Pierre Filiu, scholar and author of "The Arab Revolution: Ten Lessons from the Democratic Uprising", discusses the question with Paul Hockenos.

Torture and the Arab system, old and new

The Arab awakening of 2011 raises hope of an end to the torture and other human-rights violations that have long been endemic in Arab states. But it will be a tough legacy to overcome, says Vicken Cheterian.

Iran, the Arab revolts, and Syria

The Iranian leadership and official media portray the Arab spring as a “great Islamic awakening” targeted at the west and Israel. The turmoil in Syria explodes this narrative, says Sadegh Zibakalam.

Rise of the lumpen elite: is this really what we fought for?

The great battles waged on behalf of democracy in the 20th century have ended in crisis, proposes the painter and novelist Maxim Kantor. Shares in ‘democracy’ have crashed, while globalisation has led to the rise of a new super-rich lumpen elite which does not even notice that the world is on fire.

Afghanistan, the regional complex

Afghanistan's war enters its second decade with the Taliban emboldened and the United States enfeebled. But the power-play between Pakistan, India and China is also now central to an assessment of what comes next.

The drone-war blowback

A greater focus on pilotless armed drones as an instrument of war by the United States and its allies raises questions of political cost as well as law and morality.

Libya: a time for patience

The task of building a democratic and inclusive Libya with working institutions must overcome the international community’s key flaw as well as the Gaddafi regime’s legacy, says Vidar Helgesen.

Al-Qaida franchise: the Nigerian case

The growth of the Boko Haram armed movement in Nigeria illustrates the capacity of modern Islamist groups to diversify and make an effective impact - aided by the local state's response.

Azerbaijani demolitions: an update

The authorities’ destruction of a building and precious archive of human-rights workers in Baku is an act of mindless cruelty that damages Azerbaijan itself, says Thomas de Waal.

Georgian democracy: three rows and a lesson

A divisive period in Georgian politics has pitted a range of forces - the opposition, the Orthodox church, the media, and civil society - against Mikheil Saakashvili’s government. The disputes carry important messages for the future of democracy in the country, says Ghia Nodia.

Tahrir Square: snapshot of revolution

A huge gathering in central Cairo on 29 July 2011 is a measure of the fluid state of Egypt’s political transformation, says Vidar Helgesen.

Norway's atrocity: the mental tunnel

The deadly attacks in Norway are fuelling debate about multiculturalism, immigration, security and radicalisation. But more attention must also be paid to the behaviours and attitudes that underlie extreme political violence, says Sara Silvestri.

Argentina: democracy by default

The successive presidencies of Néstor and Cristina Kirchner are marked by a determined effort to put the state and its capacity for co-option and patronage at the centre of Argentina’s political landscape. The fate of the human-rights group the Mothers of Plaza de Mayo casts light on how this ambition is being realised, says Celia Szusterman   

The London bombs, five years on: a digest

The coordinated bomb-attacks on London’s transport network on 7 July 2005 (“7/7”) left dozens dead and hundreds wounded, and marked the lives of millions in the city and beyond. The political, intellectual and security issues raised by the event were extensively discussed on openDemocracy in the ensuing months. A retrospect of unforgettable days, by David Hayes.

(This article was first published on 7 July 2010)

Drone warfare: cost and challenge

The repositioning of the United States’s military strategy includes a great expansion in the use of armed-drones to attack targets in Pakistan and Yemen. But this development raises profound legal and ethical questions that are now entering the public arena.

The Arab prospect: forces and dynamics

The convulsions in the Arab world in 2011 are creating a new political and social reality. But what will be its character? Tarek Osman identifies three factors that are shaping the possible future.

Libya: the view from the bunker

Libya's war is being shaped by Tripoli's defiance, the rebels' endurance, and the western coalition's strains. In the mix, a Gaddafi regime faced with elimination is making larger plans.

Iran's green movement: life, death, rebirth

The movement sparked by Iran's fraudulent election of 2009 is history. The potential exists now for a bolder and clearer opposition to emerge, says Nazenin Ansari.
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