Articles on Democracy

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Australia has had a consistently high voter turnout thanks to compulsory voting. Niyazz/Shutterstock

Compulsory voting, much like democracy, beats the alternatives

Queenslanders will soon head to the voting booths to either oust or re-elect the Newman government and no doubt some will be wondering why. “Why must I vote or be fined? Why must I be forced to choose…
It’s got truth serum in it? PA

Hoax calls to the PM are the price we pay for democracy

The ease with which a hoaxer was recently able to call the prime minister’s mobile phone, pretending to be the head of GCHQ, highlights a major dilemma for democratic political leaders. Cameron said he…
Ousted prime minister Yingluck Shinawatra’s impeachment is but the latest act in Thailand’s political tragedy. EPA/Narong Sangnak

Yingluck impeachment is an execution of Thai democracy

No-one should be surprised that Thailand’s former prime minister, Yingluck Shinawatra, has been impeached by the military-appointed National Legislative Assembly. This was one more act in a political tragedy…
Corruption-buster Tony Fitzgerald is urging Queenslanders to lodge a protest vote against the major parties if they want to see real political reform. AAP/Dan Peled

Four ways to vote for a better democracy in Queensland

Tony Fitzgerald had a point when he recently urged Queenslanders not to vote for either of the major parties in the January 31 state election. The 73-year-old, who headed Queensland’s landmark corruption…
Time to take a chance on the European model? De rödgröna/Wikimedia Commons

UKIP is Britain’s most European party – no, really

Don’t tell them this, but UKIP are the most European party out there. Britain’s democracy is increasingly diverse and complex, and with the growth of UKIP on the right and the Greens on the left its political…
Westminster: a cradle of democracy? Tim Ireland/PA Wire

Why the UK has little to celebrate on Democracy Day

The BBC is marking 750 years since the first elected parliament at Westminster with a dedicated “Democracy Day”. Though Westminster is recognised as the cradle of representative democracy, there are indications…
Louise Mensch was one of the first single-termers to leave our current parliament. Stefan Wermuth/PA Archive

The arrival (and departure) of the parliamentary single-termers

All university admissions tutors know about single-termers. They are those students – some badly advised and intellectually bewildered, others more devious – who decide around mid-November that they want…
William III’s ascent to the throne spurred the genesis of human rights. Wikimedia Commons

Calls for a new UK bill of rights forget the trailblazing original

David Cameron is riding into the 2015 election campaign with a promise to finally fulfil one of the Conservatives’ 2010 manifesto commitments: to repeal the 1998 Human Rights Act, restore the sovereignty…
Tony Abbott promised a government of no surprises and no excuses. 2014 delivered anything but. AAP/Lukas Coch

2014, the year that was: Politics + Society

In 1996, John Howard offered this aspiration for Australians: I would like to see them comfortable and relaxed about their history; I would like to see them comfortable and relaxed about the present and…
What do you say Dave — five more years? Stefan Rousseau/PA Wir

Should the UK call time on fixed-term elections?

The UK is having what might be called a constitutional moment. In the wake of the Scottish referendum and after nearly five years of coalition government, the fundamental rules of the political game are…
Amid clouds of teargas, the Hong Kong ‘Umbrella Man’ defies police attempts to end the protest. Wikimedia Commons/Pasu Au Yeung

Umbrella Man: a unique threat to China or symbol of wider change?

The haunting image of a masked protester defiantly hoisting two black umbrellas amid a cloud of tear gas flickered across global social media platforms in the seconds and minutes after the Umbrella uprising…
Leading Australian media organisations launched a ‘Right to Know’ campaign in 2007, citing the erosion of free speech by more than 500 laws and regulations. It’s been downhill since then. AAP/Tracey Nearmy

Suppression, security, surveillance and spin: the rise of a secret state?

I am reluctant to give more ammunition to Pacific leaders who regard Australia as some kind of exemplar in media freedom – in this case a bad example. On the other hand, truths have to be told: in Australia…
Police move in on protesters who marched on the Hong Kong Chief Executive’s office in some of the worst clashes in the two-month pro-democracy demonstrations. EPA/Jerome Favre

Splits emerge in protest ranks as Hong Kong stand-off continues

The umbrellas were out in full force on Monday night in the Admiralty district of Hong Kong – but mainly because it was actually raining. A few hundred people, myself included, had shown up to listen to…
Enough is enough. EPA/Alex Hofford

How Hong Kong’s democracy protesters overplayed their hand

Time is running out for Hong Kong’s protest movement. Beijing’s last shred of patience has worn thin; police have cleared one of the protest zones in the commercial neighbourhood of Mong Kok, arresting…
The wealthy can ensure their voices are heard via advertising, publicists or lobbyists, by owning media outlets or even by setting up their own political parties. AAP/Julian Smith

If democracy is to give everyone a say, equality isn’t an optional extra

To have a healthy democracy, it is not enough to hold regular elections, or for every person to get one – and only one – vote. At the heart of democracy is the idea that by voting for a particular party…
Thai coup leader Prayuth Chan-ocha is consolidating power but playing his cards close to his chest, giving few if any signs of a return to democratic rule. EPA/Azhar Rahim

Thai army’s firm hold on levers of power won’t win it legitimacy

Thailand is an increasingly edgy place six months after a coup removed its elected government. Protagonists on the side of the curtailment of democracy fear the elaborated military regime will stuff up…

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