Articles on Political reform

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When politics interferes in universities – overtly or discreetly – it makes higher education less autonomous. Thomas Mukoya/Reuters

How political interference keeps hurting Africa’s universities

Africa's universities supposedly became more independent after the early 1990s. But it appears they haven't achieved much more than cosmetic autonomy from political interference.
When our political institutions are market-driven, they risk becoming a democratic shell that no longer serves the people, as the European Union experience is showing. Theophilos Papadopoulos/flickr

Democracy that bows down to the market is a false compromise

Democracy’s problem is not the crisis but the triumph of capitalism. Democracy has become market-conforming, resulting in whole sections of society lacking meaningful representation.
Protesting students from the University of Zimbabwe take to the streets of Harare in 2001. Howard Burditt/Reuters

Five lessons from Zimbabwe’s game-changing student protests

In 1988 students from the University of Zimbabwe began demonstrating against government corruption. Their protests grew into a national movement that indelibly changed the country.
Malcolm Turnbull is promising a change in leadership style from Tony Abbott, but that alone won’t be enough to qualify as government for the 21st century. AAP/Mick Tsikas

Turnbull must break with past attempts to keep the future at bay

The Abbott government resisted the disruptive changes of the 21st century. To succeed, the Turnbull government will need to shed this reactionary mindset and embrace inevitable change.
Joe Hockey has made no secret of his republican leanings, yet his right to seek to revive debate on the issue has been questioned. Reuters/Jason Lee

What is it about a republic that stumps our leaders?

It has significant public support across party lines, but politicians who advocate Australia becoming a republic are likely to have their priorities and even their right to do so questioned.
Franklin D. Roosevelt and Winston Churchill are immortalised as political heroes, but both had personal issues that might have proved politically fatal today. AAP/Diana Plater

Why politics today can’t give us the heroes we need

Every culture needs heroes. So when our political system becomes incapable of giving us any, where does that leave us?
The road to recovery is a long one for Nepal, which goes beyond the immediate priority of disaster relief. Diego Azubel/AAP

Quake recovery can leverage change of lasting benefit to Nepal

Politics in Nepal will hinder relief and recovery efforts following the earthquake and its aftershocks. But look at it the other way around. Could the disaster help to resolve political problems?
At one climate change conference after another, leaders of the developed democracies solemnly pledge action, then return to the gridlock of political systems with 19th-century origins. EPA/COP20

Hidden crisis of liberal democracy creates climate change paralysis

Even as the challenges of climate change grow ever more obvious, what remains largely unacknowledged is the crisis in liberal democratic politics that is preventing an effective response.
On many major issues, Labor’s Bill Shorten and the Liberals’ Tony Abbott are essentially two wings of the same bird. AAP/Mick Tsikas

A challenged democracy: wicked problems and political failures

The crisis of public confidence in politics is not limited to Australia, but public disengagement, retail politics and lack of vision are crippling our ability to tackle long-term and wicked problems.
The Power of 1 exhibition explores differences in perceptions and forms of political participation across generations and how these are likely to affect the direction of our democracy. Museum of Australian Democracy

Generational divide when ‘doing politics’ vanishes on need to fix it

Australians divide along generational lines when it comes to participating in politics. Less predictably, they are almost united on the need to fix the political system and the best ways to do that.
The cross-bench senators may call to mind Paul Keating’s charge of ‘unrepresentative swill’, but they also reflect and respond to the 21st-century world in ways that the major parties can’t. AAP/Alan Porritt

Don’t blame micro-parties or the Senate – update an archaic system

The Senate is not a root cause, but part of a long list of symptoms that indicate Australia's political system is increasingly unfit for purpose in the 21st century.
Senator John Faulkner’s call for political parties to re-engage with Australians through social media is laudable, but his own efforts illustrate how much politicians have to learn. Facebook/John Faulkner

Politics as usual? Ailing parties fail to get to grips with social media

After his speech about party renewal last week, I went to Labor Senator John Faulkner’s Facebook page. It has about 2700 likes. The page features links to speeches and pictures of events that Faulkner…

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