Democracy

Naming, Framing and Shaming

The US bombing of a hospital run by Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) this month in Kunduz Afghanistan, which killed 22 people including staff and patients, has variously been described as an ‘unfortunate accident’, ‘collateral damage’, and a ‘war crime’. The labelling of this event can be seen as a function ...

Read More »

Catalonia’s quest for independence: Plain dead or alive and kicking?

The outcome of the recent regional election in Catalonia (which was held on September 27th) has been read very differently by the pro-independence and the pro-union camps. The former have emphasized that pro-independence parties won, for the first time in Catalan history, a clear majority of seats in the Catalan ...

Read More »

Why Dictators help us Watch them cheat

Before they emptied the ballot box to be counted, a group of poll workers semi-discretely placed a man in a puffy coat next to the table. As the (presumably legally cast) ballots were dropped on the table, the man in the puffy coat threw a stack of additional ballots in ...

Read More »

Demystifying a Hero

Donald Trump’s flair for rhetoric provides the occasion for thinking about democracy, citizenship, military service, and patriotism. Speaking before a group of Iowa evangelicals in his quest for the presidency, Trump said of John McCain, an unquestioned American icon best known for his imprisonment (five years in Hoa Lo Prison) during the Vietnam War: “He’s not a war hero. He’s a war hero because he was captured. I like people who weren’t captured.”

Read More »

What do we mean when we talk about Twitter political opinion?

Social media in general, and Twitter in particular, brim with opinionated messages about diverse topics, from films and brands to services, products and politicians. Political tweets have been subject to a fair amount of research; it has been argued, for instance, that they can be used to forecast electoral results or that they can eventually render opinion polls pointless.

Read More »