The articles, insights, musings and analyses posted here shine a light on how relationships between parliaments, politicians and people are configured in different places and spaces, across a range of contexts and cultures.
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Opening up parliament in Argentina: the drug law reform debate – Florencia Corbelle
dr florencia corbelle | 22/03/2019
Florencia Corbelle analyses the growing influence in Argentina of civil society, in the design and debate of public policies in the legislative arena, using the 2011 drug law reform debate as a case study. In 2011, comprehensive drug law reform bills began to be debated in Argentina’s National Congress. The debate included various actors, organisations and social groups that have been advocating for the rights of illegal psychoactive substance users for many years. By 2011, these activists had successfully managed to get the issue onto the public agenda and state the need for thoughtful parliamentary debate. Although the reforms ultimately failed to materialise, Corbelle argues that increased civil society engagement in this institutional scenario has brought about significant changes in the way that people and parliamentarians seek ‘to do’ politics, as well as laying bare political and identarian conflicts between ‘the established’ and ‘the outsiders’.
Afar people in Ethiopia – Abubeker Yasin
abubeker yasin gebro | 05/02/2019
Abubeker Yasin Gebro reflects on the changing political landscape in Ethiopia through the Afar people’s experiences and engagements. Since coming to power in April 2018, Prime Minister Dr Abiy Ahmed has introduced a swathe of remarkable and often unexpected reforms. This shift towards democratisation is not without challenges however. Afar people, for example, are vacillating between hopes for a brave new world and discontent at the resurgence of an older-style of politics. For hope to prevail, writes Abubeker Yasin Gebro, what is needed in this critical moment in the history of Ethiopia and of the Afar people is great leadership.
The pretend guns of realism – Dr Zoë Marriage
Dr Zoë Marriage | 30/10/2018
Dr Zoë Marriage argues that Jair Bolsonaro’s victory in Brazil’s recent elections hinges on a political rhetoric that legitimises anger and violence. This is symbolised in the fatal stabbing of a leading capoeirista on the first night of the election, an event which brought together the diverse global capoeira community, whose origins are firmly rooted in the discourse of struggle and resistance against precisely the nationalist and fascist propaganda of Brazil’s new President.
Kirk Humphrey and ‘People over Politics’ – Shalinder Carter
Shalinder Carter | 18/09/2018
Shalinder Carter reflects on a pivotal moment in Barbadian political history – the May 2018 general election. Granted unrivalled access to the campaign of political newcomer Kirk Humphrey, Carter charts his success in revitalising political engagement amongst an electorate suffering from a surfeit of neglect by their politicians and disillusionment with parliamentary democracy. Humphrey defeated the sitting Prime Minister, and in doing so, argues Carter, he has become a symbol of hope not just for people in Barbados, but for positive and inclusive democratic political engagement everywhere.
Reflecting on leadership and Dagu in Ethiopia – Emma Crewe
Professor Emma Crewe | SOAS
The new PM Dr Abiy Ahmed, the first Oromo to lead Ethiopia, talked about leadership a few days ago. His Chief of Staff reported these words on Twitter: ‘Leadership is not about welding authority. It is about mobilizing talent, capacity and creativity of all to foster collective action.’ What a relief that he doesn’t believe the kind of nonsense taught on most MBAs – where apparently leaders need to create visions, be decisive and crush resistance to change (in the crudest versions).
Rethinking Representative Democracy – Professor Niraja Gopal Jayal
Professor Niraja Gopal Jayal, Jawaharlal Nehru University, Delhi
Till only a couple of years ago, the energies of democrats were focused on the strengthening or deepening of democracy in the Global South, including the BRICS countries. Now, suddenly, a series of events have turned the world upside down, and brought into question many of our settled, even complacent, assumptions about the triumphs of democracy in the Global North. The assumption, above all, that Anglo-American liberal-democracy stood on the firm foundations of a fine pedigree, philosophical and political, and time-tested historical practice.