Italy’s Five Star Movement – is this what The End of History looks like?

In 1992, Francis Fukayama predicted in The End of History that the end of the Cold War would impend not only an era of triumphant liberal-democratic capitalism, but one where political evolution had reached its final form. Western democracy, he argued, was the best form of state organisation practically achievable by humans. The folly of such naïve Western triumphalism, already being challenged by China’s authoritarian wave of economic growth when Fukayama wrote his book, was laid bare by Mohamed Atta …

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A Northern Ireland that cannot govern itself will always be brittle and unstable

Okay, Nuala McKeever’s piece for the Belfast Telegraph put me in mind of the paper we pulled together and published ten years this May on, as it happens, the future of unionism: This is not about making unionism more yielding. A ‘long peace’ will not be an easy peace and unionists will often need to be tough in their projection of power. But ‘no’ should never be their final answer. Defensiveness is far too predictable a strategy. A genuinely disruptive …

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Sinn Fein defamation of Declan Gormley, and what comes next

So the news from the Belfast High Court is that a jury has found Sinn Fein guilty of defaming of Declan Gormley, one of four non executive directors of Northern Ireland Water sacked by Sinn Fein’s former DRD minster and Westminster MP, Conor Murphy. The trial took an extraordinary 10 days in court. Ten days in which Mr Gormley, the plaintiff spent an equally extraordinary five days in the witness stand being questioned by Sinn Fein’s counsel. The party’s defence …

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Penal Laws: “full of coherence and consistency, well digested and well composed in all its parts”

And nice piece on that greatest of Irish parliamentarian, Edmund Burke: For all his rise to political fame, and nearly to power, in the greatest imperial corridors of his time, he never forgot that his native land was essentially enslaved by the very government for which he labored with such skill and flair. On the January day he was born Éamon de Búrca, in the old tongue, in 1729, on Arran Quay on the River Liffey in Dublin, the English …

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“For much of the time, the Stormont Assembly looks more like a talking-shop.”

With the announcement on Girdwood [and any other business? – Ed] as a stark example of the semi-detached polit-bureau back in action, Ed Curran looks ahead The mark of the Stormont Executive has been its ability to take longer than could be imagined to arrive at decisions on many important issues. No agreed legislation means little, or nothing, to debate in the Assembly chamber. MLAs have been hard-pressed to stretch out debates in plenary sessions in recent months. For much of the …

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#EUREF: Souveraineté ou survie du déluge?

FitzJamesHorse was in Dublin yesterday. His description of the way the yes camp (by his lights, ‘the establishment’) for Referendum on the Fiscal Compact as a Hobson’s Choice”: The legacy for European democracies is that their politcians have actually managed to restrict REAL CHOICE. In Ireland for example, no mainstream political party has been articulating the “No” case…it has fallen to Sinn Féin …..still somewhere between the margins and the mainstream……to rail against the notion of Austerity and loss of …

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Democracy and the Church of Ireland…

In the wake of last week’s controversial proceedings at Synod, Archbishop Harper explains how and why things are done in the Anglican Church of Ireland: I think it is important, therefore, to understand the extent to which the Church of Ireland recognises and embraces the status and role of the laity in the life of the church. That is why, in the House of Representatives, two-thirds of the membership is allocated to the lay people of the church. It is …

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“Truth and trust are intertwined. You can’t have one without the other.”

And Alex Kane makes a fairly pristine argument that there’s nothing stopping Martin McGuinness from going to Smithwick and telling the truth… First of all, he sets the scene: …the truth is that the UUP and DUP – the first time being December 1999 – still participates in an Executive that includes McGuinness, even though he is routinely referred to as a ‘godfather of terrorism’ and as the former officer-in-command of the IRA’s so-called army council. I doubt if there …

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“…we need and want a referendum because we cannot continue jeopardising our national interest”

Ronan Fanning has an interesting piece in today’s Sunday Independent which argues that Ireland needs to make up its mind on what it’s defining purpose will be in Europe by the time it hosts the Presidency for the first half of 2013. That job is not as easy as it was back in 1961, when Sean Lemass defined it maximally in an EEC that was yet to experience the growing pains of the following decades. Like Marx before the Marxist …

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British monarchy under threat of being opened up to [Roman] Catholics

It looks like we could be in for yet another installment of false rage now the DUP has endorsed a shared (sic) future platform. The Telegraph is reporting that the political and constitutional reform committee have said that: “The scenario does beg the question of whether it remains appropriate for the monarch to be required to be in communion with the Church of England. “The most obvious difficulty in having a Catholic monarch — beyond the purely statutory obstacles — is the crown’s role as supreme governor of the …

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Libya begins a long walk to an uncertain destination

It is easy to forget that despite its sprawling landmass, the population of Libya is not much different from that of the island of Ireland, or Scotland. Ninety percent of the people live in less than 10% of the area of the country and the majority of those live in just two cities. Much of the rest is desert, including much of the landscape between the two main cities, Benghazi and Tripoli. So protecting the people of Benghazi by air offensive …

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Norwegian PM’s response: “more democracy, more openness”

The Norwegian Prime Minister, Jens Stoltenberg, has said that his country will “not be intimidated or threatened” by the attack by Anders Breivik on the Labour Party youth camp on Utoeya, which left at least 76 dead.  From the BBC report Mr Stoltenberg said it was an attack on Norway’s “fundamental values” – democracy and openness – and that the response would be “more democracy, more openness”. He said he expected people to participate more broadly in politics. He added it …

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Van Rompuy: “Our agenda will be the financial stability of the euro area as a whole…”

European Council President Herman Van Rompuy has called an emergency summit of divided euro zone leaders on Thursday to address the existential European debt crisis.  From the Irish Times report “Our agenda will be the financial stability of the euro area as a whole and the future financing of the Greek programme,” said Mr Van Rompuy in a brief statement last night. “I have asked for the preparatory work to be brought forward inter alia by the finance ministries.” And they …

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Egypt, human rights and being caught on the wrong side of history

The people of Egypt continue to show extraordinary courage in taking to the streets en masse – and in the face of apparently orchestrated violence – to demand the human rights which have been denied them for so long. Countries like the US (and the UK) have been well aware of these human rights violations by the Mubarak administration for many years. Indeed, the US State Department compiles its own annual human rights report for Egypt. Pick any particular year you like. …

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Gordon Brown’s gaffe ‘detoxifies’ Tory immigration policies…

Interesting times. Danny Finkelstein said on Newsnight last night that Brown’s clumsiness comes already discounted with the price, and therefore this won’t have much of an effect. I beg to differ Danny. It will have an effect almost precisely because in comparison with the larger affairs of state, it is relatively trivial. It will matter, because it shifts more of those crucial folk with light preferences in politics (ie, the ones who still ‘don’t know’ when they lift the pencil …

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To blog or not to blog…?

There is a short piece in today’s Sunday Life which quotes a Belfast City councillor accusing Slugger of “fanning the flames of sectarian hatred”. The thread that caught the councillor’s eye concerned the continuing attacks on Orange Halls across Northern Ireland. Update: It seems I rather hastely ran to ‘print’ without checking whether or not the article was published. It was not. My apologies to all for the confusing arising In that thread, an individual commenter left remarks which could …

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