Posts Tagged

Democracy

On November 17th, 2019, Iran cut out access to the internet. This meant that the Iranian government could repress protests over increased gas prices without making much news. Reportedly, 180 people were killed in the process, yet people were mostly unable to share information about the repressive acts of the government. This is only one recent case of hundreds of governmental internet blackouts that have been performed in 2019. At present, countries are facing very little consequences for shutting down their citizens’ access to the internet. In a world where the internet is playing an increasingly important role both in daily life and political contestation, very little is being done to safeguard access to the internet. What is needed is a serious shift in …

On November 17th, 2018 large crowds began blockading roads around France dressed in the high-visibility yellow jackets that all French cars must store. Their initial demands focused on stopping a new fuel levy introduced to reduce carbon emissions and raise money for investments in renewables. However, this has not been the French government’s only problem: a recent survey has suggested the French are the most pessimistic people in Europe seeing little hope in the future either for themselves or the country, hate crime has risen dramatically, and, remnants of the Yellow Vests continue to organize violent demonstrations around the country. This toxic combination has left the government of Emmanuel Macron with little room to manoeuvre and, as his most recent …

‘Basically nothing is being done to halt — or even slow — climate and ecological breakdown, despite all the beautiful words and promises’. Greta Thunberg’s damning speech before the UK parliament last month highlights that the greatest challenge to international climate agreements is inaction by governments. The Swedish climate activist’s central message was: ‘You did not act in time’. The norms within the Paris Agreement on climate change are challenged not just by climate change deniers and other open critics. Perhaps more dangerously, as Thunberg pointed out, they are also contested by states like the UK that pay lip-service to the agreement but fail to reach their emissions reduction targets. To capture these diverse forms of norm contestation, a collection of articles on ‘The dynamics of dissent’ in …

Calls for a second referendum on EU membership have been growing louder without, however, properly making the case for it. They fail to address the heart of the matter: how to show adequate respect for the democratic result of the 2016 referendum on EU membership whilst making the case for a new referendum. Ultimately, the case for a second referendum requires a compelling justification for challenging the first. The real question that the proponents of a people’s vote must confront is whether the democratic process can be suspended without undermining its legitimacy. They need to be able to square the circle, because a democracy worth the name depends on the consistent application of its rules. The risk of violating consistency …

If it is part and parcel for democracies to (1) protect individual rights, (2) safeguard its citizenship from serious abuses of power, and (3) produce fair and reasonable laws which are impartially enforced, then we can assert that the misnamed “war on drugs” severely corrodes Mexican democracy. In general, the “war on drugs” is a punitive strategy which aims to increase drug prices and punish consumers, under the assumption that attacking supply can create a world without drugs. In Mexico, what is referred to as the “war on drugs” escalated in 2006, when then-president Felipe Calderón started “a frontal war against organized crime”, allegedly, to “keep drugs from reaching our children”. Calderón did so right after a highly competitive election …

More than two million Catalans voted on October 1st in a referendum on self-determination previously declared illegal by the Spanish constitutional court and violently repressed by the Spanish government led by Mariano Rajoy. The response of the Spanish government has been condemned internationally. For instance, Amnesty International described the action of the Spanish police forces in Catalonia as “excessive and disproportionate”. Despite prohibition and violence, which affected participation and the accurate counting of the votes, the referendum took place thanks mostly to the organisation, efforts, and inventiveness of different sectors of the Catalan civil society. In the thousands, citizens engaged in a strategy of peaceful resistance against the aggression of the central state. The ‘yes’ option won with 90% of …

The British parliamentary system, inspired by John Locke, Edmund Burke, John Stuart Mill and many others who believed in a system of checks and balances to guarantee our liberties, has in the past been much admired as a model of liberal democracy, one that has enabled the peaceful evolution that has been an almost unique part of our history. Today it has been superseded. The doctrine of Jean-Jacques Rousseau, that the will of the people must always prevail, much admired by autocrats ever since the days of Robespierre and the Committee of Public Safety, now prevails in Westminster instead. Speaker after speaker in the House of Commons debates on Article 50 declared that, although he or she voted Remain and …

Democracy in Africa: Successes, Failure and the Struggle for Political Reform testifies to the ability of African states to democratize against the odds. It effectively introduces a framework for understanding how leaders choose to respond to the pressure to liberalise their political systems, covering the recent history of African politics and providing great detail on the return of multiparty politics in Africa since the early 1990s. In this Q&A, Ian Cooper of the Department of Politics and International Studies (POLIS) at the University of Cambridge interviews Professor Nic Cheeseman, Associate Professor of African Politics, Jesus College, University of Oxford, on his recent publication.