Democracy, identity and culture

Spain’s Socialist Party must carefully balance competing pressures over its policy on Catalan independence

Independence supporters within Catalonia have called for a referendum to be held in 2014 on the territory’s independence from Spain. Juan Rodríguez Teruel writes on the dilemma Catalan independence poses for Spain’s Spanish Socialist Workers’ Party (PSOE). He notes that opposing the referendum may damage the PSOE’s relationship with its sister party in Catalonia, the PSC. Supporting calls for independence […]

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The EU may have a democratic deficit, but national governments are facing an even greater legitimacy crisis

Trust in the EU has declined in several countries since the start of the financial crisis in 2007. Using Eurobarometer data, Besir Ceka compares trust in the EU with the trust citizens place in the national governments of EU states. He notes that while both have declined during the crisis, most states still show higher levels of trust in the […]

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The symbolism in Spanish football illustrates that Catalan and Spanish identities are not necessarily incompatible

This weekend Spain’s two most successful football clubs, Barcelona and Real Madrid, will play each other in Spain’s national football league. As Alejandro Quiroga writes, the fixture between the two sides – commonly referred to as ‘el clásico’ – has increasingly become associated with the issue of Catalan independence. However he argues that support for the Spanish national team among […]

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International actors such as UNESCO and the EU are key to protecting the status of Italy’s Greek speaking minority

The protection of minority groups and languages is a key issue in several countries across Europe. Stavroula Pipyrou assesses the status of the Grecanici: the Greek speaking minority located in the region of Calabria in Italy. She writes that minority policies were largely ignored under the governments of Silvio Berlusconi and Mario Monti, resulting in members of the Grecanici increasingly […]

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The New Circulations of Culture: Culture is being radically transformed by the recursive circulations of digital by-product data

Culture is being radically transformed by the recursive circulations of digital by-product data, yet we have little understanding of how this is happening or what the consequences might be. Dave Beer argues that we need to try to understand the ‘politics of circulation’ that underpins contemporary culture – that we need to try to understand how data circulate back into […]

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The Gezi Park protests illustrate the fall of the military as a political actor in Turkey

A series of protests took place in Turkey this summer following a dispute over the redevelopment of the Taksim Gezi Park in Istanbul. Burak Kadercan writes that one largely overlooked aspect to the protests was the absence of Turkey’s military, which has traditionally played a strong role in Turkish politics. Tracing the rise and fall of the military as a […]

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Democratic debate among speakers of different European languages is not only possible, but also helps to protect linguistic diversity

One of the key problems in strengthening democracy across the EU is the diverse range of languages spoken by European citizens. Matteo Bonotti writes on theoretical approaches to language policy and outlines their relevance for the European debate. He argues that although some theorists have viewed a common language as being necessary in a democracy, it is not necessary for […]

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The independence of Catalonia: jumping on a bandwagon

One of the key debates in the context of Catalan independence is whether the territory should be allowed to hold an independence referendum. José Javier Olivas argues that any decision about the territory’s independence should also involve citizens in the rest of Spain, not simply those in Catalonia. He writes that the Spanish constitution prohibits secession by any Spanish region […]

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Ireland’s decision to retain the Seanad is not the end of the country’s political reform process

On 4 October the Irish electorate voted against the abolition of Ireland’s upper house of parliament, the Seanad, in a referendum. John Fitzgibbon assesses the outcome of the referendum, noting that the campaign was largely framed around the idea of ensuring the political class received its fair share of cutbacks in the context of austerity policies. The fact that voters […]

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The Scottish Question: The notion that constitutional politics can be separated from ‘ordinary’ politics is unconvincing

With the Scottish independence referendum less than one year away, James Mitchell offers three broad types of issues in the debate: those that are core, such as the economy, defence and welfare; those that are insulated, for example the lively debate on public service reform that continues outside of the Scottish referendum context; and issues that are being insinuated into […]

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    The Catalan independence movement has been more ‘emotionally’ driven than its Scottish equivalent

The Catalan independence movement has been more ‘emotionally’ driven than its Scottish equivalent

Scotland is due to hold an independence referendum in September 2014, while independence supporters in Catalonia recently held a mass demonstration in favour of the territory’s independence from Spain. Luis Moreno compares the two independence movements, noting that while the Scottish referendum campaign has been dominated by practical issues such as the economic impact of independence, the Catalonian debate has […]

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The European Union should step into the debate over Catalan independence

On 11 September, a human chain was formed by people in Catalonia to demonstrate support for the territory’s independence from Spain. Joan Costa i Font writes that Catalan independence is not simply an internal Spanish issue, but has the potential to spill-over into the European arena. He argues that with the Spanish government reluctant to allow either an independence referendum […]

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Spain’s global presence has increased in recent decades, but the country will require a new strategy for this to be sustainable.

Since Spain’s transition to democracy in the 1970s, the country has attempted to enhance its role in international affairs. Using data from the Elcano Global Presence Index, Iliana Olivié and Manuel Gracia assess how Spain’s international profile ranks relative to other countries. They note that Spain has increased its global presence ‘score’ substantially in recent decades, however much of this […]

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The quality of democracy in Spain took a great leap backwards in 2012

One of the most worrying aspects of the Eurozone crisis is that it may weaken the quality of democracy in struggling economies. Luis Bouza García outlines the results of a report on the quality of Spanish democracy, based on an expert survey of social scientists. He notes that the figures for 2012 represent the lowest quality of democracy score since […]

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The Church of England: An anachronistic religious monopoly ripe for reform

The Church of England’s unique constitutional status gives it a monopoly role as the sole official state institution charged with relations between the UK state and with God. Norman Bonney argues that these arrangements are increasingly inappropriate for the current era, noting that long term trends and more recent experiences make the case for disestablishment. In a country which is […]

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In order to avoid a demographic “death trap” Western Europe must implement new and fair policies for both present and future generations.

The principle of ‘intergenerational justice’ implies that young people should be treated fairly in comparison with older citizens. As Craig J. Willy notes, however, large debt burdens, unsustainable economic practices, and the electoral effects of ageing populations present a challenge in ensuring fairness for young Europeans. He argues that while some policies, such as compulsory voting, or providing ‘extra’ votes […]

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Spain performs poorly on two measures of intergenerational justice, but is close to the OECD average overall.

Do governments prioritise the interests of older generations over those of younger citizens? Pieter Vanhuysse outlines results of a study on ‘intergenerational justice’, with a particular focus on how Spain ranks relative to other OECD members. His results show that while Spain performs poorly on two measures – the impact of Spain’s ecological footprint on future generations, and child poverty […]

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Book Review: Philosophy and Resistance in the Crisis: Greece and the Future of Europe

This book is about the global crisis and the right to resistance, about neoliberal biopolitics and direct democracy, about the responsibility of intellectuals and the poetry of the multitude. Using Greece as an example, Costas Douzinas argues that the persistent sequence of protests, uprisings and revolutions has radically changed the political landscape. This new politics is the latest example of […]

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Growing discontent within the European Union provides an opportunity for David Cameron for reform

Recent surveys suggest that Euroscepticism in Britain is most highly associated with those identifying as English. Adam Evans argues, however, that it is important to take a broader view of public attitudes to the EU. Declining levels of confidence in the institutions and policies of the Union and the repositioning of formerly enthusiastic integrationists like the Dutch and Germans appear to offer Cameron a […]

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