• Democracy

    Democracy worldwide: “the warning signs are flashing red”

    The New York Times reports on a study on the current state of democratic government in the world. And it’s not looking good. Yascha Mounk, a lecturer in government at Harvard, and Roberto Stefan Foa, a political scientist at the University of Melbourne, concluded that democracies are not as secure and stable as most of us would like to believe. Political scientists have a theory called “democratic consolidation,” which holds that once countries develop democratic institutions, a robust civil society and a certain level of wealth, their democracy is secure. For decades, global events seemed to support that idea. Data from Freedom House, a watchdog organization that measures democracy and…

  • Democracy,  Scotland

    The dance of democracy

    I was in Jordan once during an election. I knew nothing of the the parties or Jordan’s constitution but there were huge posters of the faces of the candidates, including women without hijabs. I got the impression of a lively democratic dance, unlike Syria across the border, where the only bill-boarded faces were chinless dictator Assad and his hard looking father. Notes at the time:- The passengers were all fairly quiet until we got to a town where the air was filled with election posters hanging from every pole and house. Suddenly everyone started talking, presumably about what candidate they favoured. … (At Petra):- Bus back – through people electioneering…

  • Britain Today,  Democracy,  Freedom of Expression,  Turkey

    How Erdogan targets British Turks via the Turkish Consulate in London

    This is a cross-post from As Turkey Sleeps. Erdogan’s anti-democratic actions have caused much negative publicity in recent years – so much so that any positive work he did in the early part of his rule has now been totally wiped out by his autocratic behaviour.  Now when his name is mentioned only one word comes to mind- that is ‘Dictator’. It is worrying to then learn that the Turkish Consulate in London has been busy targeting British Turks with Erdogan’s propaganda.  It has come to our attention that mailshots are sent to Turks in the UK encouraging them to vote for the AK Party.  This has created a climate of fear…

  • Democracy,  History,  Stateside,  Vote 2016

    The Rebel Yell on Facebook

    My piece on the railways made the obvious point that as trains were an unstoppable technology transforming society, so for us are computers. We have seen from recruiting jihadis and social media exchanges, which was one thing that stoked up the Yes vote in the indyref, how the internet is changing politics. This article by Kevin Maney makes a similar parallel in the context of the American election. The development of the railways, as well as the telegraph and industrialism in general exacerbated the differences between the North and South of the USA and ushered in the American Civil War (the first modern, much photographed war). Like today, the technological…

  • antisemitism,  Corruption,  Democracy,  Freedom & Liberty,  Freedom of Expression

    Turkish democracy erodes further after last week’s twin bomb blasts

    By Abi Adnan Oktar Turkey was shaken last weekend as two bombs exploded during a peace rally in Ankara, killing 128 people and injuring another 500. The rally was organised by several groups, including the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), to call for an end to the escalating violence between the Turkish government and the PKK. Footage of police descending on the scene immediately after the explosions shows them blocking ambulances and beating bewildered protesters who were frantically calling for help for the injured. Turkish security sources have since suggested that ISIS may have been behind the attacks but opposition figures have blamed the government itself (the bomb blasts were suspiciously…

  • Democracy,  North Africa

    Secular party leads in Tunisian elections

    Encouraging and worthy of note: Tunisia’s main secular opposition party was claiming victory on Monday over once-dominant Islamists in the country’s historic parliamentary elections. Partial results from the official election commission were expected to be released throughout the day Monday, but the Nida Tunis (Tunis Calls) party cited exit polls to say it has won more seats than any other party in the 217-member parliament. The election, in which 60 percent of Tunisia’s 5.2 million registered voters participated, will produce the nation’s first five-year parliament following the country’s 2011 Arab Spring revolt and has already been widely praised around the world. “This milestone in Tunisia’s transition to democracy exemplifies why…

  • China,  Democracy

    In China, communists and capitalists unite against democracy in Hong Kong

    As tens of thousands of people fill the center of Hong Kong to demand the right to choose their leaders freely and democratically, the communist government in Beijing reached out— not to the demonstrators but to Hong Kong’s business elite. With political tension in the southern Chinese financial hub at its highest in years, China’s leaders summoned dozens of the city’s tycoons earlier this week for talks. The rare trip by the large contingent of business leaders to meet President Xi Jinping in Beijing highlighted the unlikely role that Hong Kong’s capitalists have played as longstanding supporters of China’s communist rulers. “I see most of my old friends,” Xi said…

  • Democracy,  European Union,  Scotland

    A Democrat Wrote

    Tychy is a switherer on the upcoming Scottish referendum, and one point which would help decide for him would be the possibility of a restructured relationship between the EU and all its member states. In November last year, he wrote Let us think the unthinkable. Just imagine for a moment that the supranational institutions of the European Union were functionally democratic and actually accountable to us, the voters. In such an unlikely world, the EU Commission might be obliged to make it clear to the Scottish electorate whether their nation could or could not (re)join the EU following an independence vote. But this is not the world that we live…

  • Democracy,  Stateside

    Anne Applebaum: Republicans are endangering democracy

    Anne Applebaum, the author of Gulag and Iron Curtain, is about as politically moderate and even-handed as they come. So perhaps it’s worth paying attention when she writes from Warsaw: From my perch overseas, I’ve also been watching the run-up to the government shutdown in Washington. At times, I have tried to explain it to bemused foreigners. Many of them think, mistakenly, that Americans are having an argument about the budget or the deficit. I have to put them straight: This is an attempt by one part of the U.S. political system to use the budgetary process to stop the implementation of a single law, the Affordable Care Act (“Obamacare”).…

  • China,  Democracy,  Latin America

    Venezuelan democracy watch

    “…and that’s where you’ll put the giant portrait of Chairman Mao, er, Comandante Chavez.” Fans of the People’s Republic and the Bolivarian Republic may consider this excellent news (I’m expecting a celebratory post about it any moment at Socialist Unity); but for more genuine advocates of democracy and human rights, it’s hardly a promising sign. Noticias 24 reports: Venezuela and China today agreed to extend their political alliance with the training of Venezuelan ruling party leaders by the Chinese Communist Party. The agreement was reached during a meeting between the president of the [National Assembly] Diosdado Cabello, and Chinese Vice President Li Yuanchao, who started Monday a four-day visit to…