Democracy

Should the EU have a single European President?

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Does Europe have too many presidents? Debating Europe The President of the European Council, the President of the European Commission, the President of the European Parliament, the Presidency of the Council of the European Union (that last one held by a… How is Trump supposed to know who to call if he wants to speak to Europe? If democratic institutions are too confusing for most people to follow, are they still democratic? Would it be better to merge the positions of President of ... Read More »

Why China prefers its own ideology to US-style democracy

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Western pundits, particularly those in the US, have it all wrong when they assume that allowing China into the global economic or trading system would eventually lead the country to become “one of us.” Ken Moak Asia Times The fact of the matter is that China has never wanted to  adopt Western democracy. In view of more than 80% popular support according to US-based Pew and Gallup Polls and China’s ability to deliver on most of its promises (such as improving ... Read More »

German politicians invest in opera when seeking re-election – here’s why

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In virtually all rich democracies, governments subsidise expensive highbrow culture, such as theatre and opera. And they hire artists to work for these theatres and operas as public employees. Pieter Vanhuysse The Conversation At first sight, this might seem to pose a puzzle. After all, highbrow culture is elitist. And it seems electorally irrelevant. Parties don’t really compete on culture in elections. It’s unlikely that hiring artists to turn them into grateful voters (patronage) makes electoral sense. Even if it ... Read More »

Uluru, reconciliation and republic: a chance to reimagine Australia?

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The Australian republic ought not be so divorced from the cry out of Uluru last May for an Indigenous voice to parliament and truth-telling Paul Daley The Guardian Most of us old enough to vote will remember where we were when our republic, with Malcolm Turnbull as helmsman, burbled down a whirlpool of acrimony and division to the rock bottom of public consciousness for almost a generation. I was on my way to East Timor. Indonesia and its proxies had ... Read More »

How the message of Martin Luther King’s ‘dream’ got lost

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Martin Luther King Jnr cast an enormous shadow in my childhood. By Matter of Fact host Stan Grant ABC It was a presence that outlived his death — indeed his assassination added potency to his leadership of a black struggle that mirrored our own. This wasn’t the acceptable Dr King as Santa Claus — as one black scholar remarked this week — our Dr King was a man of righteous anger who spoke with moral urgency to an American nation ... Read More »

Leading academics slam UWA student guild for putting ‘cultural sensitivities’ above free speech

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A move by the University of WA student guild to acknowledge a visit from the Dalai Lama could offend some students has been criticised by leading academics, who see it as an attempt to put cultural sensitivities ahead of free… Bethany Hiatt | The West Australian Three years after it hosted the Tibetan spiritual leader on campus, the guild last week backed a motion recognising the “negative impact” his presence could have on Chinese… UWA’s Pelican magazine reported the motion ... Read More »

What King, Kennedy, Obama’s great speeches have in common

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Two of history’s great rhetoricians – Martin Luther King, Jr and Robert F Kennedy – were assassinated 50 years ago. Their words have resonance today, writes Benjamin Ramm. Benjamin Ramm BBC Popular volumes of great speeches celebrate the mastery of the art of persuasion. These tomes are full of rhetorical flourishes, of stirring appeals to universal ideals, with elevated cadences and effortless assurances. But two of the most significant rhetoricians of the 20th Century, both of whom were assassinated 50 ... Read More »

Bring back the sensible centre

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It will not surprise many that a new study of attitudes shows Australian voters are deserting the centre ground and moving to the fringes and extremes. Editorial The Sydney Morning Herald As we have reported, an analysis of time-series data collected in the Australian Election Study after every federal poll since 1987 shows more voters are thinking of themselves as either “left” or “right” in political terms. Where in 1996 54 per cent of voters described themselves as in the ... Read More »

Electoral Poker in DR Congo

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Elections in the Democratic Republic of the Congo have been postponed since December 2016, but now seem to be slated for the end of the year. ICG All parties should work to ensure credible polls, the best hope for a peaceful transfer of power. What’s new? After repeated delays, President Joseph Kabila’s government in the Democratic Republic of Congo has made progress over the past few months toward organising elections for 23 December 2018. But there are still important concerns ... Read More »

Winnie Madikizela-Mandela

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A life in pictures Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, the anti-apartheid activist and former wife of Nelson Mandela, has died. The Guardian During her husband’s incarceration, she campaigned tirelessly for his release and the rights of black South Africans. She later became a controversial figure in South African politics due to allegations of corruption and involvement in acts of brutality. Matt Fidler Read More »

‘Glee, Satisfaction and Weeping’: How America Reacted When Martin Luther King Died

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When the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated, public perception of him was more mixed than it is today. Readers recount the mood they witnessed 50 years ago. Kelly Virella The New York Times For many years, the United States has lived under a broad consensus that the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. is a national hero, even a national saint. But nearly a half-century ago, when he was assassinated, public perception of him was far more ... Read More »

Gaza Protests Mark Shift in Palestinian National Consciousness

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Protests in Gaza on Friday 30 March, at which Israeli forces killed more than a dozen Palestinians, were the largest of their kind in several years and are likely to grow over the coming weeks. Nathan Thrall ICG In this Q&A, Nathan Thrall, Director of Crisis Group’s Arab-Israeli Project, says the series of planned marches reflect the Palestinians’ determination to take matters into their own hands after losing faith in outside mediation. What happened last Friday? Friday was 30 March, Land Day, the… Gaza Protests Mark… Read More »

Myanmar’s Suu Kyi urges nation to stay united amid ‘challenges’

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Yangon:  Myanmar’s de facto leader Aung San Suu Kyi has called  for her people to remain united, saying the South-east Asian country faces “challenges” at home and abroad, as she marked two years since her party swept to power in a… Shoon Naing WAtoday In a televised speech, Suu Kyi made only a passing reference to the crisis in Rakhine state, where her government faces mounting international condemnation for a military operation against Rohingya Muslims that has sent nearly 700,000 ... Read More »

Costa Ricans split over gay marriage vote for next president

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An evangelical pastor who has capitalized on opposition to same-sex marriage was in a tight presidential race in Costa Rica on April 1 against a novelist and former cabinet minister. SAN JOSE – The Associated Press Hurriyet Fabricio Alvarado went from also-ran to leading candidate after he came out strongly against a call by the Inter-American Court of Human Rights for Costa Rica to allow same-sex marriage. His opponent, Carlos Alvarado of the governing Citizen Action Party, has openly backed ... Read More »

China’s Ministerial March Madness

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A sudden bout of bureaucracy-building sends a strong signal to Chinese officialdom—but it’s unlikely to tackle the system’s deep-seated challenges. Scott Moore The National Interest Most of the attention paid to China’s annual “two meetings” of its National People’s Congress (NPC) and Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference has understandably focused on Xi Jinping’s accession to what appears to be a lifetime presidential appointment. But along with the removal of the two-term limit that had limited the tenure of all top ... Read More »

Why Take Student Protests Seriously? Look at Linda Brown.

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As a child, she helped to transform the civil rights movement. Her death last week is a useful reminder that students have often served on the political front lines. Joshua Zeitz Politico ”It was a bright, sunny day and we walked briskly,” Linda Brown later remembered of the morning in September 1950 when she and her father approached a set of “great big steps” leading to the entrance of Sumner Elementary School in… Linda’s father, Oliver, was determined to enroll ... Read More »