Alec Russell

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Can democracy survive 2024?

There will be no fanfare outside the polling booth. Posterity may never know the voter’s name. But early on the morning of January 7, a Bangladeshi will cast the first vote in their country’s fraught national elections and set in motion the most intense and cacophonous 12 months of democracy the world has seen since the idea was minted more than 2,500 years ago.Some 2bn people, about half the adult population of the globe, will have the chance to vote in 2024, far more in one year than ever before. Eight of the 10 most populous countries are among the more than 70 states holding elections — a tribute, it could be argued, to the power of an idea, democracy, and to the spread of political freedom.…  Seguir leyendo »

A little more than 12 years ago, I stood outside the Union Buildings, the light sandstone government headquarters in the South African capital of Pretoria, where the country's dour apartheid leaders made so many fateful decisions. It was there that tens of thousands had gathered in 1994, under a diamond-bright sky, to celebrate the birth of a "new" nation with the inauguration of Nelson Mandela as the country's first black president. Two years later, I had returned to interview Thabo Mbeki, then Mandela's successor-in-waiting. After an hour I had emerged confident that South Africa would be in safe hands.

My conversation with Mbeki ranged from the global economy to literature on the Highland Clearances, the 18th-century eviction of Scottish tenant farmers by their clan chiefs.…  Seguir leyendo »