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This week's editor

Rosemary Belcher-2.jpg

Rosemary Bechler is openDemocracy’s Editor.

Constitutional conventions: best practice

Russia: an Oprichnik economy

Owning a business in Russia today is a hazardous affair: each year thousands of companies close after their owners are accused of ‘economic crimes’ and face either prison or protection payments to government officials. Andrey Zaostrovtsev describes a system reminiscent of an equally lawless period in Russia’s past (photo: RIA Novosti Agency).

If the god Janus were an economist, he would work for the IMF

The IMF may be quietly ackowledging the failures of stringent fiscal consolidation but much damage has already been done. With over a thousand economists and a wealth of evidence at their disposal a mea culpa is long overdue.

A countervailing power: an interview with Jan Pronk

We have to establish a world public power representative of all countries and all people within all countries. One cannot ‘think away’ individual countries as powers, or international companies and banks. But we need a countervailing power in the system. 

Whatever happened to Russia’s economic miracle?

The first eight years of the last decade were incredibly successful for Russia’s economy, but the crisis of 2008 hit hard and growth remains decidedly sluggish. Dmitry Travin wonders whether the country’s economy will ever be able to regain the Midas touch.

'Brexit': the Swiss model as a blueprint ?

With British Eurosceptics such as Boris Johnson openly calling for UK withdrawal from the EU, Switzerland has often been mentioned as the model to follow, for having gained access to the Market while retaining its national sovereignty and democratic rights. Yet, the Swiss-EU relationship is not without problems.

European economic forecasts: why do they get it wrong?

The European Central Bank's forecasts misread Europe’s economy three times out of four. And the European Commission, the OECD and the Bundesbank didn't do any better. What is wrong with the mainstream view of how the economy works?

Local resistance to global austerity: it will never work

The localist form of citizenship may empower us, but it cannot confront capitalism. Against a global network of power must emerge globalised forms of struggle.

Postcard from Albania, December 2012

Interestingly the change-over in 1991 is described by many as the ‘arrival of democracy’,  but there is little perception of improvements and less of having much say in the way the country is run. And what do they understand by democracy? A question not only for Albania.

Russia and the West need to rediscover each other in 2013

A year is a very long time in politics. Over the past year Russia’s relations with the West have deteriorated, not helped by events in Syria and the Magnitsky Act. A new beginning and a desire to cooperate are essential: not the ‘reset’ button, but completely new software, says Dmitry Trenin

Is Greece a racist state?

Mainstream politicians have been playing a dangerous game. It remains unclear to what extent these tactics represent a conscious attempt to distract those suffering most as a result of the longterm maladministration of the country. But this constitutes only a small part of the scenario we are investigating here.

Is Hungarian national heritage doomed?

Amid nationalist resurgence and severe recession in Hungary, many observers fear that the reforms undertaken by Viktor Orban's government in the cultural sector will severely jeopardize the country's heritage.

The freedom fallacy

It's time we threw out our notion of freedom as the mere absence of duress. A cursory look at the life of a cafe worker will tell you why.

Good guys and bad guys: The Battle of Algiers and The Dark Knight Rises

Algeria partnershipThe ‘chaos and fear’ inspired by The Battle of Algiers is certainly there, enhanced by another parallel between the two films – the location from which the uprising bursts forth. 

A terrible kind of tiredness. A report from a rough sleeper in Exeter

One of OurKingdom’s occasional first-person pieces illuminating lives often overlooked by mainstream media. This is a report from 'Bernard' to St Petrock’s, an Exeter-based charity helping people who are homeless, or vulnerably housed.

There is no such thing as ‘bad blood’

I’ve never met either of my parents and I don’t know my father’s name. She was a Catholic from over the border he was a Protestant from Belfast and they chose to give me up for adoption in Manchester rather than face the respective wrath of their families.

Tribes and tribalism in the Syrian revolution

Most of the research conducted so far into the Syrian uprising is focused on the sectarian element of the conflict, forgetting that there is a tribal dimension to the conflict as well.

The humanitarian crisis in Syria, everyone is responsible

Lack of cooperation on all sides has left the doors open to the most extremist financiers from the Arab Gulf countries to force their own agendas on the brigades they are financing, agendas that have nothing to do with Syria’s cause of freedom and dignity.

The December elections in Romania

The 9 December elections concluded a rough year for Romanian politics. Unfortunately, there is no sign of more serene times ahead.

A British Bill of Rights? Report shows none is needed

Today's report on replacing the Human Rights Act with a bill of rights reveals the confused and flawed arguments at the root of the proposition.

There and back again? Media freedom and autonomy in Central and Eastern Europe

Collusion between the press and politicians is not confined to western Europe. Central and Eastern European countries are also plagued by their own mini-Murdochs – and in these more fragile democracies, they represent an even bigger threat.

A democratic case for the free market?

What is the meaning of economic liberty? Is there a moral case for the free market? A review of the recent book 'Free Market Fairness' by John Tomasi tackled these questions, introduced here by the editor of the Democratic Wealth series.

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.

How Labour embraced the City

The political victory of the City over manufacturing has been a long and cross-party project with significant consequences for our current economic predicament. Robin Ramsay examines the journey from the 70s to the present day. 

After the elections, an alarming audit of Romanian democracy

A motley alliance of socialists, liberals and conservatives won the 9 December Romanian parliamentary elections. What they clearly share is profound dislike for the country's once-powerful president, Traian Basescu, whose five-year mandate continues into 2014. What is less obvious is how they will govern the country.

Is Erasmus Europe's success story?

In our new 'Eminent Europeans' series, we ask the continent's share of intellectuals - philosophers, artists or scientists - to share their vision of Europe. In the first article, Jan Truszczyński, the European Commission's Director-General for Education, Training, Culture and Youth, explains why the Erasmus programme is one of Europe's biggest achievements.

A return to Sovereign Money?

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) recently published a working paper arguing for the removal of private bank’s privilege of creating the national money supply.  The so called ‘full’ or ‘100%’ –reserve reform has a long history – but, with the Icelandic parliament actively investigating the proposal and little sign of current reforms rebooting the economy, might its time have come? 

Four Labour myths that scapegoat immigrants

How much distance is there really between Ed Miliband and Gordon Brown’s “British jobs for British workers”? 

This week's window on the Middle East - December 17, 2012

Arab Awakening's columnists offer their weekly perspective on what is happening on the ground in the Middle East. Leading the week: Fixing the rules of the game

Can Labour build a Britain that works together?

'This is a speech of celebration and integration'. So said Ed Miliband today, of his latest speech on the One Nation Labour approach. But is his party in touch with everyday experiences across Britain?

Mills responds to Curzon-Price on productivity, wages and the UK's low earners

We may not be able to do much about the top decile protecting their earnings, but we can drive the bottom up if we focus on areas of existing strength in productivity - here's why

Something rotten in the ANC state

The palaces of President Zuma and the massacre of miners symbolise how the gulf between rich and poor has widened in the eighteen years since the African National Congress came to power in South Africa. On the eve of the ANC conference, a report on growing disillusionment among former supporters.

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?

Bulgarian national identity in an era of European integration

Almost six years after its accession to the European Union, Bulgaria is confronted with the ghosts of a nationalist past. Barriers to Europeanism, however, are weaker than ever.

Dwelling on the cost of housing

More than a decade of viewing property as an investment has driven up prices and eroded the status of affordable housing as an enduring human need. It is time to consign “basic economics” to the scrap heap and hold successive governments to account.

Making finance work for women

Just as it is not an inherent feature of the financial system to work against society, it need not be the case that it discriminates against women. A flourishing group of financial cooperatives and mission driven banks are leading the way in showing how

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