I’ll never forget my first visit to the European parliament, in 1986. I was a student from the Netherlands. MEPs from 12 member states were discussing a report on broadcasting policy – thick as a brick, full of jargon and endless footnotes – including proposals to break up national television channels, many of which enjoyed monopolies back then. For me, this was boring. All I cared about was funnelling it all into my thesis and graduating. For millions of people who spent hours in front of their TV it was potentially a huge issue – if only they’d known about it.… Seguir leyendo »
Nota: Este archivo abarca los artículos publicados a partir del 1 de febrero de 2009.
In the opening scenes of Danis Tanović’s Oscar-winning film No Man’s Land, set in Bosnia during the 1992-95 war, a soldier in the Bosnian army reads the newspaper in a trench. Worriedly, he exclaims: “Look at this shit in Rwanda.”
This scene, said to be based on a true anecdote, turned out to be a litmus test for viewers.
Whether you laughed or not, you could read it in two ways. First, as a testament to the ability of Bosnians to empathise with the misfortune of others, even amid their own dire circumstances. The second reading is less flattering: might the unnamed soldier be so insensible to his own desperate situation, the death and destruction that defined the early days of Bosnia’s independence that the Rwandan genocide loomed larger in his mind?… Seguir leyendo »
If we were a country, we would be more populous than the Netherlands or Belgium and only slightly smaller than Romania. As such, we would be entitled to elect up to 26 members of the European parliament next month. In reality, though, we aren’t a country and have no real political representatives.
Who are we? We’re the 17 million EU citizens who live in another member state of the union (including the 3.7 million living in the UK). In the last decade we have doubled in number and today represent 4% of the EU working-age population. This may seem small in comparison with the US, where 41% of its citizens live in a state other than the one of their birth – but it is still an unprecedented figure in the history of the continent.… Seguir leyendo »
The task was simple and at the same time a bit silly: in a recent French TV debate, each of the 12 leading candidates for next month’s European parliament elections was asked to bring an object that symbolised Europe for them. The conservative candidate with the Les Républicains party brought a copy of Homer’s Odyssey; the leftist politician Raphaël Glucksmann brought a piece of the Berlin wall.
Jordan Bardella, the lead candidate for Marine Le Pen’s rightwing populist National Rally, held up a red kitchen sieve to the camera. He was quite earnest as he did so, and it made for a rather absurd contrast: a young man in a suit, with his boyish face and slicked-back hair making him look not unlike a bank trainee, clutching a kitchen utensil.… Seguir leyendo »
As the European parliamentary elections approach, there’s a widespread sense that the idea of Europe as a union has been lost. We see an almost daily disintegration of a project that was underpinned by a utopian vision. This vision reread a thousand years of conflict into the possibility of an integrated Europe, and it foresaw Europe as an irreversible unit, the construction of which was believed to be the end of history. But in the wake of earlier crises, Brexit forces us to recognise that Europe as a union is no longer an unalterable project. Instead it is in grave danger.… Seguir leyendo »
Last week’s European Union summit on Brexit may have looked like a unique case of Emmanuel Macron finding himself extremely isolated in Europe. Rather, it was the latest proof that the French president’s European strategy needs a profound rethink. Two years ago Macron took France and Europe by storm. For the first time, he had been elected on a staunchly pro-EU platform. This opened the door to potentially momentous changes in the EU.
Britain’s vote to leave, the aftermath of the transatlantic financial crisis, and the failed 2005 French and Dutch referendums on the EU constitution project had already made clear that institutional reforms were needed.… Seguir leyendo »
The Tasmanian parliament is poised to pass the best laws for transgender and gender-diverse people; not only in the nation, but on the planet.
Both houses have agreed to the reform, with the only remaining step being lower house assent to upper house amendments. Unless the Hodgman government plans to stymie the clear wishes of majorities in both houses of parliament, these laws will become fact in the very near future.
When the laws come into effect, they will allow a trans or gender diverse person to self-determine their gender identity and have this identity officially recognised on their birth certificate.… Seguir leyendo »
As the flight departed from Kabul and the plane climbed, my fears started to rise as well, most notably the fear of a long, uncertain trip. My heart was heavy with the weight of leaving behind my family, friends and country. I had assumed that once I reached a safe country it would not take me more than three months before I could start working as a journalist again. Unfortunately, that wouldn’t turn out to be the case.
I arrived in Norway in early March 2015, just before the migration crisis of that year. In my very first encounter with the police I felt my identity slipping away.… Seguir leyendo »
For the past decade, the face of Dutch populism has been Geert Wilders, notorious for being anti-Muslim, anti‑immigrant, anti-establishment, anti-intellectual, anti-pretty much anything with three syllables or more.
But last month, about half of his voters jumped ship. When the Netherlands held elections to provincial assemblies – which indirectly elect the upper house of parliament – Wilders’ Party for Freedom party lost half of its seats to Forum for Democracy (FvD), the party, launched in 2016, of political newcomer Thierry Baudet. FvD even won one more seat than the current liberal governing party, the VVD.
Baudet’s midnight victory speech was one of the bigger WTF moments in recent Dutch political life (first line: “The owl of Minerva spreads his wings just before nightfall”).… Seguir leyendo »
French president Emmanuel Macron’s recent call to reform the European Union is a sign of hope for the entire continent. Even if we have our differences, we are in agreement when it comes to the fundamental questions. Macron is right about what Europe must do to continue flourishing. We must revitalise the EU by making it more democratic, cohesive, and just. And we must strengthen Europe against enemies that want to weaken it – namely, internal populist forces and the foreign powers that support them.
When populists achieve power, as the ruling Law and Justice (PiS) party has in Poland, they dream of sowing division among democratic opposition parties.… Seguir leyendo »
Democratic politics need drama. Elections are a form of therapy session in which voters are confronted with their worst fears – a new war, demographic collapse, economic crisis, environmental horror – but become convinced they have the power to avert the devastation. “As the election approaches,” Alexis de Tocqueville observed during his travels across the US in the early 19th century, “intrigue becomes more active and agitation lively and more widespread. The entire nation falls into a feverish state … As soon as fortune has pronounced … everything becomes calm, and the river, one moment overflowed, returns peacefully to its bed.”
If Tocqueville is right, then in front of our eyes the European Union is turning into a true democracy.… Seguir leyendo »
When you can’t agree on what success is, you risk failure. As Ukraine prepares for a presidential election on 31 March, five years on from what we call the “revolution of dignity” or “Maidan”, has our nation learned where its strengths lie? I often look back to February 2014, the final month of the revolution. Victory came at a price, with almost 100 protesters killed by the police in central Kyiv. The capital’s main square seemed flooded with injured people and coffins. I remember those who aren’t around any more, people I knew and admired. Many were later killed or taken prisoner in the war unleashed by Russia’s intervention.… Seguir leyendo »
On 11 July last year the UK Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) published its first report on the Cambridge Analytica scandal. This is a date I will never forget, a date that substantially changed my vision of the current threats to our democratic society. It is a day that became a call to arms for me – and, for once, I had the understanding, the knowledge and the expertise to support the fight. I felt it was time to put all of this to good use for civil society, and so I set out to discover how online electoral campaigning works. And let me tell you, the system is not in good health and we Europeans should all be made more aware of that.… Seguir leyendo »
Until his death in the early 1990s, my grandad was a committed Nazi. Most of his elder brothers died in one night at the battle of the Hartmannsweilerkopf in the first world war. In a bitterly traumatised interwar Germany, defined by hatred against foreigners, Jews and democracy as well as delusions of national grandeur, he was unemployed for most of the 1920s. He joined the Nazi party early, and volunteered to fight in 1940. He became a staff sergeant in the Wehrmacht and led a so-called “anti-partisan” unit on the eastern front, and participated in the capture of Kiev.
We believe he took part in the September 1941 Babi Yar massacre, in which more than 33,000 Jewish inhabitants of Kiev were shot.… Seguir leyendo »
When at the age of 15 I decided that I would one day become a film director, film seemed to be living up to Lenin’s famous definition as “the most important of the arts”. It was the mid-1960s and arthouse cinema was at its peak, with such incredible personalities as Ingmar Bergman, Alain Resnais, Federico Fellini, Carol Reed, Andrzej Wajda and Akira Kurosawa. They were all bound by a single shared experience: each, as grown, mature people, had lived through the atrocities of the second world war, even if for some of them it had not been that immediate. The experience of war provided them with a feeling of responsibility for what kind of stories they told and what formal choices they made, and an awareness that the world was infinitely complicated, that people were capable of absolutely anything.… Seguir leyendo »
Those of us who make art and culture for a living thrive on free and open communication. So what should we do when we see culture becoming part of a political agenda? “Music unites,” says UK Eurovision entrant Michael Rice. What happens when a powerful state uses art as propaganda, to distract from its immoral and illegal behaviour? Everybody involved in the Eurovision song contest this year should understand that this is what is happening.
European broadcasters, including the BBC, are pushing ahead with plans to hold the contest in Tel Aviv this May, as if broadcasting a hugely expensive entertainment spectacle from an actively repressive apartheid-like state is no problem at all.… Seguir leyendo »
The story of my life is, in some ways, the story of Europe. My father emigrated from Egypt to France in 1986, one month before I was born. My French mother fulfilled her dreams of becoming an English teacher after having grown up in the Calais region looking at the cliffs of Dover. Together they worked hard to give their children a bright future in a free, borderless, united Europe. I grew up with this dream, which has partly become a reality. But I’m not sure my own children will get to enjoy the privileges of belonging to the EU in the same way – if at all.… Seguir leyendo »
As a Hungarian living in Berlin, I’d watched the protests against Viktor Orbán from afar – until, like almost everyone I know, I went home for Christmas. Recent months have been very special for many people in my native country. Thousands have been demonstrating against the government, the ruling party Fidesz and its leader. Among the cheerful crowds in Budapest, I felt the significance of these events for myself too.
This was the first demonstration I’d attended since leaving Hungary in 2012. I quit my job at the Hungarian public TV broadcaster because I’d been offered a German academic fellowship. And I’d applied for that because of the introduction of a law restricting media freedom a year earlier.… Seguir leyendo »
The president of the World Bank, Jim Yong Kim, will step down on 1 February – three and a half years before the end of his term – in search of greener pastures. His readiness to resign from the leadership of one the two most powerful international financial institutions is a worrying omen. But it is also an important wake-up call.
The World Bank and the IMF are the last remaining columns of the Bretton Woods edifice under which capitalism experienced its golden age in the 1950s and 1960s. While that system, and the fixed exchange rate regime it relied upon, bit the dust in 1971, the two institutions continued to support global finance along purely Atlanticist lines: with Europe’s establishment choosing the IMF’s managing director and the United States selecting the head of the World Bank.… Seguir leyendo »
Who would want to be president of Nigeria? Well, once upon a time, me. When I was 19, I set out my manifesto on the BBC Africa website. Some of my campaign promises included quality education, constant electricity and running water for all. I planned to use my honest smile as my most efficient tool to win votes and secure the presidency.
By 21 I’d set my sights a little lower. After some research, I discovered that local government was the most effective place to implement real change. So I decided that by 30 I was going to be a local government chair in Lagos, my home state.… Seguir leyendo »