Articles on Democracy

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Burma’s military junta has held on to power through violence and intimidation for 50 years. EPA/Rungroj Yongrit

The Burma question: is reform possible after 50 years of military control?

Today marks the 50th anniversary of military control over the Burmese state, marking half a century of the Junta’s tight, often brutal grip on power. But within the last year, there have been shifts towards…
Mussolini made the trains run on time. But having a strong leader is risky. Flickr/Galaxy FM

Forget politicians - be a dictator for a day and get the job done

“If I Ruled The World” was a tune made famous decades ago by English comedian and singer Harry Secombe who sang of making every day the first day of spring as well as other miraculous improvements. It…
Mass social movements, like the one in East Germany in 1989-91, don’t usually start out with clear goals. AAP

You think Occupy is incoherent? It takes time to change history

Those who call for the Occupy movement to have a coherent set of demands at its birth ignore the history of social and protest movements. Often, the coherence to the programs of protest movements is only…
The first free elections borne from the Arab Spring were held in Tunisia. Over 90% of registered adults voted. EPA/Zacarias Garcia

Tunisian hope and Greek despair: A week in the life of democracy

It has been a tumultuous week in the life and times of democracy in the Mediterranean. Seven days punctuated by joyous hope and its ugly opposite, sullen despair. The promising news came from Tunisia…
Julia Gillard spoke to Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa about allegations of human rights abuses at a pre-CHOGM summit. AAP Image/Reuters/Daniel Munoz

CHOGM: Do we need a Commonwealth Human Rights Commissioner?

CHOGM As the meeting between Commonwealth Heads of Government kicks off in Perth, a row is brewing over the idea for a new Commissioner on democracy, human rights and the rule of law. Holly Cullen from…
It’s wrong to assume that China makes no effort to reform its political system because its culture does not support such change. Flickr/Katherina

The seeds of democratic culture in China

The skepticism of contemporary China’s multilayered and painful efforts to achieve legal and political reform makes many wonder if democracy can really grow in the Chinese soil. This is such a haunting…
Unhappy with politics in this country? You’re not the only one. AAP/Alan Porritt

Gilliard Government marked down in ‘could do better’ democracy report

Australians are more dissatisfied with the way democracy works now than they were after the Rudd government was elected, a poll has found. According to the ANU poll of 2001 people, there has been a 13…
15-M started in Spain, but it has sparked protests around the globe. EPA/Jesus Diges

15-M back on Spain’s streets as protest goes global

This weekend Spain will see the return of its “revolution”. Those involved in the 15-M movement will once again take to the streets en masse to demand urgent reforms. Under the motto “united for a global…
The planet is struggling to survive democracy, but the only alternative is to improve it. Truthout.org/Flickr

Democracy is failing the planet

The carbon tax bills passed by the Australian House of Representatives on October 12 were a small vindication of climate science. But we should be concerned about the corpses of science, reason and expertise…
Prime Minister Julia Gillard and opposition leader Tony Abbott are not doing Australian politics any favours. AAP

How can Australia’s politics be improved?

Imagine a country in which politics is not a struggle among ambitious individuals for power, but the community’s way of resolving conflicts and advancing its common interests. Voters are well-educated…
The ballot paper was an Australian innovation. AAP

The secret life of the election

One hundred and fifty years ago, the South Australian House of Assembly handed down the report of its first committee into the running of elections. Its main purpose was to find the causes of two troubling…
Too much regulation of third parties like GetUp! will hurt democracy. Paul Miller AAP

Power imbalance: why we don’t need more third party regulation

MEDIA & DEMOCRACY: In the latest instalment of The Conversation’s week-long series on how the media influences the way our representatives develop policy, Andrew Norton says there’s no need to regulate…
Cate Blanchett is among the celebrities pressed into service to persuade us on political issues. AAP/WWF

Selling the political message: what makes a good advert?

MEDIA & DEMOCRACY: This afternoon, Andrew Hughes examines which recent political adverts have been a success, as part of The Conversation’s week-long series on how the media influences the way our…
Kevin Rudd used to manage his brand well, but was toppled after an advertising campaign against him. AAP/YouTube

Democracy is dead, long live political marketing

MEDIA & DEMOCRACY: Today, Andrew Hughes looks at how voters have become consumers of political marketing, as part of The Conversation’s week-long series on how the media influences the way our representatives…
Defence policy in Australia will have undergone radical change by 2050. AAP

2050: Australian decision making

AUSTRALIA 2050 – So let’s imagine it’s the midpoint of the 21st century and Australia is enjoying its third decade as a recognised innovator in democracy. Australia routinely initiates global conversations…
Embattled Labor MP Craig Thomson may lose his seat, but this doesn’t necessarily mean Labor will lose government. AAP

Why Labor can’t afford to lose Craig Thomson … or any MP

The Gillard Government relies on a wafer thin majority in the House of Representatives in order to pass legislation. The Coalition opposition has already said it will not provide “pairs” for government…
Rob Oakeshott MP tells Professor John Warhurst why he decided to free himself from party constraints. AAP

Oakeshott on the treason of party discipline

For the latest in our In Conversation series, Adjunct Professor of Political Science at the Australian National University, John Warhurst spoke with the Independent member for the NSW seat of Lyne, Rob…

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