Articles on Democracy

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Xu Zhiyong, jailed for four years. for inciting public disorder. Wikimedia Commons

China’s war on thought is being waged in Western universities

In the past decade, US and UK universities have embarked on a program of developing formal relationships, exchanges, and partnerships with their counterparts in China. No scholar interested in promoting…
Clint Eastwood and his empty chair don’t let facts get in the way of a good narrative. Lynne Sladky/AP/Press Association Images

All those likes and upvotes are bad news for democracy

Human beings have long been easily influenced by the opinions of others but the social media networks that have come to dominate our lives may be making this “social proof” a problem. A recent study in…
Digital democracy gives you the tools to create the society you want to live in. Dominic's pics

Digital democracy lets you write your own laws

True democracy is not just about casting a vote every five years. It means citizens being fully involved in the proposal, development and creation of laws. The Commission on Digital Democracy currently…
Surly: Zuma’s presidency has been marked by scandal and mismanagement. WEF

Zuma is just the face of South Africa’s democratic malaise

South Africa is mourning the death of Nelson Mandela, a founding father like no other. His legacy includes a still-lauded constitution, four peaceful, free and fair democratic elections (five if 2014 follows…
Silvio Berlusconi’s grip on power in Italy - albeit a hold that is slipping - has relied heavily on using his own media empire to exploit the political system. EPA/Angela Carconi

Media, power and decadence: some disquieting trends

While Australians face the possibility of the first-ever Senate by-election, as well as stormy sittings of a new parliament wrangling over the pro and cons of scrapping a carbon tax, 16,000 kilometres…
All Australians should have a right to fulfill their democratic duty this Saturday, regardless of wealth or status. AAP/Dean Lewins

Election 2013 Essays: The state of Australian democracy

Election 2013 Essays: As the federal election campaign draws to a close, The Conversation asked eminent thinkers to reflect on the state of the nation and the challenges Australia – and whichever party…
With Australians feeling like they are observers rather than participants in formal politics, is it any surprise that most voters ‘hate’ politics? DonkeyHotey

Why do Australians hate politics?

While for some Australians the recent leadership spill will be viewed as a simple act of restorative justice, many others would have spectated on events in Canberra with an equal measure of indifference…
The army massacre of June 4, 1989, in and around Beijing’s Tiananmen Square should be remembered everywhere. EPA/Michael Reynolds

Remembering Tiananmen: Chin Jin, June 4th and the future of Chinese democracy

An earthy citizen of a country led by politicians and journalists bugged by “boat people”, Chin Jin fits no standard categories. Now the foremost democrat in Sydney’s thriving Chinese community, he first…
With uprisings continuing to take place in Turkey, questions must now be asked over whether the ‘Turkish model’ for democracy is the way forward for the Arab world. EPA/Evrim Aydin

As uprisings continue, what happened to the ‘Turkish model’ for democracy?

The ongoing protests across Turkey, stretching from May 28, show there is ample evidence of a flourishing culture of democracy in the country. They also highlight a worrying counter trend. Last week, the…
Any agreement to end the forest ‘wars’ should neither prop up a failing industry nor shut down dissent. AAP Image/Matthew Newton

Tasmanian Forests Agreement: liberal society needs an alternative

Fred Gale’s article, Tasmanian Forests Agreement: deeply flawed, worth backing, provides interesting insights into the views of one segment of the Tasmanian community that supports the Tasmanian Forest…
Young people have less and less electoral clout as our population ages. AAP/Marianna Massey

How Australia’s ageing population threatens our democracy

An ageing population is a threat to not just the Australian economy, but also our political system. In The Republic, Plato wrote: “it is for the elder man to rule and for the younger to submit”. This concept…
Yes, we need energy, but sometimes it’s OK to say “no”. AAP Image/Tracey Nearmy

Fracking? Not in my back yard (or yours)

Fracking is utterly transforming the global energy industry. It has opened up new energy reserves by making it economically viable to extract natural gas from coal seams and shale formations. As a result…
Follow the money: the US may not be perfect, but Australian campaign finance laws need tightening. EPA/Erik S. Lesser

Think the US electoral system is flawed? Check out Australia’s …

In the run-up to today’s presidential election, President Barack Obama received just over $632 million in candidate contributions. Want to know who from? These direct, individual donations (known as “hard…
Some young people aren’t as disinterested in others in politics. Why is that? Flickr/Adam Scotti

Age of innocence or experience: extending the vote to teenagers

History will be made when Scots vote in October 2014 on whether their country should take independence from the United Kingdom. This has nothing to do with the outcome of the vote: the very fact that 16…
Leave “wicked” to the witches and let’s get on with the job of policy research. Witches image from www.shutterstock.com

Too many ‘wicked problems’: how science, policy and politics can work together

Wicked problems, so we are told, are everywhere. Climate change, conflict, an ageing population, obesity… the list goes on. The debate over asylum seekers, difficult and important and politically charged…
The flags of 204 nations were on display in London, but do “nations” even exist? Christophe Karaba/EPA

The Olympic closing ceremony celebrates the myth of nations

As I sat there this morning watching the London 2012 closing ceremony, I was impressed by the artistry, choreography, stage-setting (an artistry unto itself), music and the sense of celebration in the…
What percentage of Londoners said they wanted the Olympics? No one knows. Christopher Bevacqua

The Olympics are illegitimate: a call for democracy in sport

As the giant bureaucratic beast that is the IOC lumbers through London, locals can be heard saying, “I don’t remember voting for this”. The Olympics is a strangely undemocratic affair: locals of host cities…

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