Democracy

UK push into the Pacific to counter China

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Exclusive The United Kingdom is vowing to expand its role in the Pacific in a push for “free speech and democracy” alongside other Commonwealth nations at a time of growing concern over China’s influence in the region. David Crowe The Sydney Morning Herald The ambitions not only include new diplomatic posts and aid funding but the idea of encouraging commercial projects and possibly infrastructure funding. Britain’s Minister of State for the Commonwealth, Lord Tariq Ahmad, said the UK’s departure from ... Read More »

Divisions in EU becoming like a ’civil war,’ France’s Macron warns

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French President Emmanuel Macron warned on April 17 that divisions between democracy and authoritarianism in Europe were becoming like a “civil war”. STRASBOURG – Agence France-Presse Hurriyet In a speech to the European Parliament in Strasbourg that set out his vision of a reformed EU, Macron called on the bloc to resist the siren song of populism. The young French leader’s call to arms comes after eurosceptic populists won elections in Hungary and Italy, and as Brussels confronts Poland’s right-wing ... Read More »

Would America vote for Oprah for president?

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America has had a black president. Is the country ready for a black president who is also a woman? Chryl N. Laird The Conversation Speculation about the candidacy of Oprah Winfrey makes clear that some voters think so. Granted, Winfrey says she won’t run, but friends, commentators and many in the Twitterverse are pushing for her to reconsider. As a scholar of race and politics, I’m curious about whether Oprah will change her mind about running – and even more ... Read More »

Julian Burnside: “I worry where our democracy is going”

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Human Rights Arts and Film Festival kicks off at five cinemas across Melbourne on May 3. On May 12, the festival is screening the world premiere of Judy Rymer’s Border Politics, wherein human rights lawyer Julian Burnside AO QC travels the globe to compare how different nations are responding to the refugee crisis. Nick D TimeOut Burnside, 68, is a Melbourne-based commercial litigation barrister who became involved in human rights causes after 2001 when he was asked to act pro bono in ... Read More »

Trial by judge alone may not be the answer to giving high-profile defendants a fair hearing

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In April 2013, Adrian Bayley pleaded guilty to Jill Meagher’s murder. As the case was the subject of heavy media coverage, there would have been few Australians who were not well aware of it. John Eldridge The Conversation It’s worth pondering, then, what might have happened had – as was possible – Bayley pleaded not guilty. Would it have been possible to empanel a jury that could bring a fair mind to the assessment of Bayley’s guilt? If not, what ... Read More »

‘This is my country’: how a Melbourne suburb defied the far-right to welcome refugees

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The settlement of refugees in Eltham sparked far-right protests. But locals presented a different vision of Australia Denham Sadler The Guardian Οn a dreary Sunday afternoon in late March, the sort that provides a harsh lesson on what Melbourne weather is capable of, a Syrian refugee talks through an interpreter about her escape from the conflict that has torn her… Amena*, who along with about 100 other refugees from Syria and Iraq settled in the suburb of Eltham on the outskirts of north-east ... Read More »

Pressure for Syria vote grows as Nicola Sturgeon questions peace effort

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Pressure is building on the government to allow a parliamentary vote on Saturday’s military strikes on Syria, with Labour and the SNP demanding a full debate when the House of Commons returns on Monday. Paris Gourtsoyiannis The Scotsman Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn called for debate on a ‘War Measures Act’ that would limit the government’s power to take military action without the approval of MPs. And the Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said western allies had failed to exhaust all ... Read More »

Somaliland poet jailed for Somalia reunification poetry

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A court in the self-declared republic of Somaliland has sentenced a young poet to three years in jail. BBC Nacima Qorane was found guilty of bringing the state into contempt by advocating for Somaliland to reunite with Somalia. Pressure groups in Somaliland said Ms Qorane’s basic human rights have been violated. Somaliland self-declared independence in 1991, but is not recognised internationally. Ms Qorane was arrested in January after returning from the Somali capital Mogadishu, where prosecutors said she had recited ... Read More »

Afghans register to vote in long-delayed elections amid violence

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Afghanistan at the weekend began registering voters across the war-torn country as it seeks to ensure that long-delayed legislative elections in October are seen as credible and fraud-free. KABUL – Agence France-Presse Hurriyet Over the next two months authorities hope to register as many as 14 million adults at more than 7,000 polling centers – an ambitious goal in a country where militants control or contest much of the territory. “The main challenge is insecurity, particularly in rural areas,” Abdul ... Read More »

Major anti-Orban demo in Hungary

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Tens of thousands of Hungarians thronged Budapest on Saturday in anger at strongman Prime Minister Viktor Orban’s crushing re-election victory. AFP The crowd, around 100,000 strong according to organisers and AFP reporters, marched through the city centre in sunshine to parliament for a rally under the motto “We are the majority”. People protest against Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban’s re-election in Budapest, Hungary on April 14, 2018 “We want to live in a state of law, where checks and balances ... Read More »

Brexit: Ministers get ready for defeats in the House of Lords on key piece of EU withdrawal legislation

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Government expects to lose a key vote aiming to make Theresa May rethink her position on an EU customs union Joe Watts Independent The government is bracing itself for defeats in parliament on Brexit this week, including over its plans to take the UK out of a customs union with the EU. Ministers have resigned themselves to the fact that the House of Lords will almost certainly pass amendments backed by Tory, Labour and Liberal Democrat peers aimed at forcing Theresa ... Read More »

Italy’s president calls for ‘urgent’ solution to political stalemate

Italian President Sergio Mattarella talks with journalists at the end of the second day of consultations with political parties at Quirinal palace in Rome on April 13, 2018.
Far-right and anti-establishment forces in Italy resumed battle on Thursday over who can lead a new government, as a second round of talks began with a row over Silvio Berlusconi leaving little room for manoeuvre after last month's inconclusive election. / AFP PHOTO / Tiziana FABI

The Italian president appealed on Friday for an “urgent” solution to the deadlock over who can lead a new government as talks with anti-establishment and right-wing leaders failed amid a row over Silvio… The Local AFP On Friday President Sergio Mattarella, who guides the talks and has the job of naming the eventual prime minister, confirmed to reporters that there had been “no progress” after concluding the… However, he stressed the need to quickly form a new government given a  series ... Read More »

Are Australians ready to embrace libertarianism?

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How much influence does libertarianism have on Australian politics? The first thing to know is that the Australian political system has very few libertarians in it. Chris Berg The Conversation The only federal member of parliament to self-describe as a libertarian is Senator David Leyonhjelm of the Liberal Democratic Party. Other candidates – like my former colleagues at the Institute of Public Affairs (IPA), Senator James Paterson and Tim Wilson – describe themselves as classical liberals. Ideological classifications can get ... Read More »

Berlin to change street names over brutal African colonial past

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Berlin is poised to strip the names of streets linked to atrocities committed during its occupation of Namibia and dedicate them to liberation fighters, part of a late reckoning with Germany’s brutal colonial history in Africa. BERLIN – Agence France-Presse Hurriyet After more than a decade of debate, the three biggest parties in the Berlin Mitte district assembly voted Wednesday night to recommend new names for streets in the so-called African Quarter in the northwest of the German capital, spokeswoman ... Read More »

UK to challenge Scotland’s Brexit bill in Supreme Court

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The UK Government will launch an unprecedented legal challenge against Scotland’s emergency Brexit legislation early next week in the country’s highest court. Chris Green The Scotsman The Attorney General and the Advocate General are expected to lodge a formal application over the legality of the Continuity Bill at the Supreme Court on Monday or Tuesday. The legislation, which is designed to plug any gaps in Scottish laws on the day of Brexit, was passed by MSPs at the Scottish Parliament ... Read More »

Politicians need to know that republican sentiment is deeply felt

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Prince Charles, the Royal Tourist, and Kim Beazley, the new Governor of Western Australia, illustrate both the status quo and the potential for constitutional change. John Warhurst Brisbane Times The role of the British monarchy in Australia delivers weird moments like Charles opening the Commonwealth Games flanked by two beaming but straight-jacketed republicans, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and Queensland Premier… Every Australian political leader, including Liberal leaders, is now a declared republican. Royal visits inevitably generate publicity around the republic ... Read More »