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The Europe roundup: Take Back Parliament (and get a fair voting system)

BY Antonella Napolitano | Monday, May 10 2010

  • UK | Take Back Parliament (and get a fair voting system)
    While Tory and LibDem leaders are in talks to form a government coalition, citizens raise their voice against the voting system that led to a hung parliament. Different groups and organizations have just launched Take Back Parliament, seeking a fair voting system so that all parties have representation in Parliament according to the number of votes they receive. The campaign is using Twitter (with the hashtag #takeitback) and Facebook to organize events and peaceful demonstration all over the country and invites to spread the word using a purple index finger as a symbol: "The purple index finger in our logo is a symbol of the movement. The simple act of holding up a purple index finger (using ink, marker etc) is an immediate action that people do to show that although they voted, this Parliament doesn't represent them and that they demand a new system".

    Writer and journalist Anthony Painter signed the petition:

    This keeps the issue of PR and political reform very much at the centre of political discussion as political coalition/ pact talks are ongoing.
    The Parliamentary arithmetic isn’t there to deliver PR or a referendum on PR. The Conservatives, Labour, and the Liberal Democrats all currently favour three very different voting systems.[...]So keep the issue on the agenda- that is why today was so important. Then the task is: (i) To convince the Labour party to back full PR rather than just AV; and (ii) To build support within the Conservative party.

  • EU | The Experimental Democracy Console
    "Democratic experiments have the capacity to publicly demonstrate, evaluate and even pre-figure new ways of enacting democracy. Risks and possible openings will go together; there will be no technical fix. Questions of who should and should not be involved,divisions of labour, boundary issues, agendas, formats, forms of conduct and outcomes will be the subject of continued contestation."
    The Experimental Democracy Console gathers and classifies experiments from different fields and puts them in relation, using a "vintage interface" to sort and show them, using three main criteria. The objective is to become a useful resource to track, analyze and also create new initiatives.
    The Experimental Democracy Console has been developed as a part of a research project by Nick Mahony and the Centre for Citizenship, Identities and Governance at the Open University (hat tip to @trianta and @idoiallano)
  • Italy | Social network and political parties: the importance of building an identity
    laDemocrazia, the Italian website devoted to Twitter-based political analysis has published a study on how political parties used social network during the recent election. Apparently, radical parties recently born were more active than the established ones. Most surprisingly, political movements fall at the bottom of the list: "Movimento 5 stelle" (Italian for 5 Stars Movement), related to comedian-turned-activist Beppe Grillo, used his leader's Twitter account insted of creating its own: a strange choice, given the absence of a national coordination and the local-based campaign they conducted.

    Data suggest a centralization of the political communication, a tradition in the Italian context, but also a factor that made possible a different kind of campaign conducted by candidates who really wished to engage in a conversation with the citizens, concludes Agnese Vardanega, sociologist and analyst.

  • Croatia | Meet Croatia's Data Transparency Revolutionary Marko Rakar
    While in Vienna, our own Micah Sifry met Marko Rakar, founder of Pollitika.com and Croatia's leading political blogger, recently detained on suspicion of posting a secret list of 501,666 veterans from the 1991-1995 Balkan war. Read more about Rakar on TechPresident.
  • EU | Celebrating Europe in tough times
    “Is this the right time to celebrate Europe, with riots in Greece and on the cusp of a new era in British politics?”. A good point by Rory from Berlin on Europe day. Read his post and more from My Europe Week, an initiative launched by Bloggingportal.eu to share view on Europe and citizens' expectations.

Transparency and Public Shaming: Pakistan Tackles Tax Evasion

In Pakistan, where only one in 200 citizens files their income tax return, authorities published a directory of taxpayers' details for the first time. Officials explained the decision as an attempt to shame defaulters into paying up.

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wednesday >

Facebook Seeks Approval as Financial Service in Ireland. Is the Developing World Next?

On April 13 the Financial Times reported that Facebook is only weeks away from being approved as a financial service in Ireland. Is this foray into e-money motivated by Facebook's desire to conquer the developing world before other corporate Internet giants do? Maybe.

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The Rise and Fall of Iran's “Blogestan”

The robust community of Iranian bloggers—sometimes nicknamed “Blogestan”—has shrunk since its heyday between 2002 – 2010. “Whither Blogestan,” a recent report from the University of Pennsylvania's Iran Media Program sought to find out how and why. The researchers performed a web crawling analysis of Blogestan, survey 165 Persian blog users, and conducted 20 interviews with influential bloggers in the Persian community. They found multiple causes of the decline in blogging, including increased social media use and interference from authorities.

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tuesday >

Weekly Readings: What the Govt Wants to Know

A roundup of interesting reads and stories from around the web. GO

Russia to Treat Bloggers Like Mass Media Because "the F*cking Journalists Won't Stop Writing"

The worldwide debate over who is and who isn't a journalist has raged since digital media made it much easier for citizen journalists and other “amateurs” to compete with the big guys. In the United States, journalists are entitled to certain protections under the law, such as the right to confidential sources. As such, many argue that blogging should qualify as journalism because independent writers deserve the same legal protections as corporate employees. In Russia, however, earning a place equal to mass media means additional regulations and obligations, which some say will lead to the repression of free speech.

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Politics for People: Demanding Transparent and Ethical Lobbying in the EU

Today the Alliance for Lobbying Transparency and Ethics Regulation (ALTER-EU) launched a campaign called Politics for People that asks candidates for the European Parliament to pledge to stand up to secretive industry lobbyists and to advocate for transparency. The Politics for People website connects voters with information about their MEP candidates and encourages them to reach out on Facebook, Twitter or by email to ask them to sign the pledge.

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monday >

Security Agencies Given Full Access to Telecom Data Even Though "All Lebanese Can Not Be Suspects"

In late March, Lebanese government ministers granted security agencies unrestricted access to telecommunications data in spite of some ministers objections that it violates privacy rights. Global Voices reports that the policy violates Lebanon's existing surveillance and privacy law, Law 140, but has gotten little coverage from the country's mainstream media.

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