Thursday, 28 April 2016

Protests and Plenums: Bosnia's Civic Awakening and Youth Participation

Image: Wikimedia Commons ( 

My paper on Bosnia's civil movements in 2012-14, the unique form of direct democracy that ensued - the plenums - and the role of the young in all that is available here. It was written for the book Good Governance and Youth, ed. Dr Melanie Sully, published by the Institute for Go-Governance in Vienna.

Thursday, 7 April 2016

The 4 shames of the Dutch referendum on Ukraine

The Netherlands on Wednesday voted in a consultative (but nevertheless significant and potentially disruptive) referendum on whether the European Union should ratify the Association Agreement with Ukraine. Turnout was 32%, and 64% of those who cast a ballot voted against the Ukraine deal. I have just four points on that:

1) It's not a shame that a 20% radicalised anti-European minority (of those having the right to vote) voted the way it did. It's their right. It's a shame a 80% majority was silent and sleepwalked through this important referendum, letting a weird coalition of populists, radicals and animal rights activists to beat them.

2) It's a shame that the same Association Agreement, for which the 130 of Euromaidan gave their lives in 2013-14, was crossed out with such a maddening levity by the Dutch, founders of the EU and among the greatest proponents of its values.

3) It's a shame that few people in the Netherlands on Wednesday remembered the Malaysian flight MH17 airplane crash over Ukraine on 17 July 2014 which sent hundreds of their kin to their deaths. The Russian BUK missile had been aimed back then, symbolically, at the same EU choice of Ukraine which the Dutch rejected lightheartedly yesterday.

4) And it's a shame that a trade-loving nation as the Netherlands, with a huge tradition of encouraging and exploiting free commerce with the rest of the world for centuries on end, voted against what is essentially a trade and cooperation deal with another European nation.

It's a shame.