Democracy doesn’t have to be Western-style, nor the development template

by Rashmee

Posted on September 19, 2020


Veteran foreign policywallah Kishore Mahbubani once wrote a piece for The New York Times titled ‘How Strongmen Co-opted Democracy’. He should know. Mr Mahbubani was, from 2004 to 2017, dean of the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy (National University of Singapore). His country knows all about strongmen. That’s not to be snarky, just … Continue reading “Democracy doesn’t have to be Western-style, nor the development template”

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Is democracy really dying a slow, agonising death?

by Rashmee

Posted on November 25, 2019


It’s fashionable these days for commentators to lament the lingering death of democracy. It’s being strangled long and slow, so the narrative goes. How? By neutering democratic checks and balances – a judicious distance between governing party and the state. By packing the courts or preventing them from exercising judicial independence. By preventing the opposition … Continue reading “Is democracy really dying a slow, agonising death?”

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At the rate European disunion is going, Britain won’t need to exit

by Rashmee

Posted on February 8, 2019


  Remember, before the Brexit referendum there was Viktor Orban. In 2014, two years before Britain voted narrowly to leave the European Union, the Hungarian leader was pledging to turn his country into an “illiberal” democracy. In effect, Mr Orban was exiting the EU in spirit, by fiat and without a referendum. Now, there is … Continue reading “At the rate European disunion is going, Britain won’t need to exit”

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Turkey’s state of permanent crisis serves Erdogan

by Rashmee

Posted on January 20, 2019 / The Arab Weekly


Nearly three years after the failed coup that triggered a massive crackdown in Turkey, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s government is still hunting down those it deems dangerous to the country. Just days ago, there were 192 arrests across Turkey, adding to the numbers imprisoned, sacked or suspended from their jobs. An estimated 77,000 people … Continue reading “Turkey’s state of permanent crisis serves Erdogan”

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A tale of two protests

by Rashmee

Posted on December 20, 2018 / The Arab Weekly


What happened in Brussels and Budapest on December 18 was about immigration and its real or imagined consequences. The portents of events in Budapest should dismay everyone, including Hungary’s strongman Viktor Orban. In Brussels, 5,000 right-wing protesters took to the streets in protest of the government’s decision to sign the platitudinous, non-binding and wholly unenforceable … Continue reading “A tale of two protests”

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We’re seeing Plato’s prediction unfold as a 3-act play: democracy, oligarchy, tyranny

by Rashmee

Posted on November 2, 2018


  It’s become a familiar dirge: democracy is in decline and strongmen are on the rise. The second part of that statement is true but what of the first? I don’t think democracy is in decline – yet. If people, in Brazil, vote for something or someone, that’s democracy, a democratic exercise in choice. They … Continue reading “We’re seeing Plato’s prediction unfold as a 3-act play: democracy, oligarchy, tyranny”

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Ever noticed how democracy is described as if it equals justice and virtue?

by Rashmee

Posted on September 22, 2018


  The other day a prominent columnist for an American newspaper bewailed “our current democratic travails” and urged that we “be stubborn about the sacredness of truth.” By travails, he meant the usual: ** “illiberal democracy” in Poland and Hungary. ** America’s Louis IV or the I-am-the-state presidency of Donald Trump. ** Bigots winning elections … Continue reading “Ever noticed how democracy is described as if it equals justice and virtue?”

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A world of non-traditional coups and justice dispensed with one eye on politics

by Rashmee

Posted on September 4, 2018


In Pakistan, so some have said, the powerful army decided not to have a conventional coup but to win by backing a political candidate. That way, Pakistan continues to stay in the category of democracies but the military still calls the shots. To civilian coups, we can add other innovations: ** illiberal democracies such as … Continue reading “A world of non-traditional coups and justice dispensed with one eye on politics”

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Does Hungary’s Viktor Orban think he’s a Christian Saladin?

by Rashmee

Posted on August 2, 2018


  What gives Hungary the right – or responsibility – to lead the West? Nothing very much really. Okay, it’s GDP is growing a bit faster than the rest of Europe but it started from a low base. Even so, Prime Minister Viktor Orban seems greatly burdened by a sense of profound self-belief. Does he … Continue reading “Does Hungary’s Viktor Orban think he’s a Christian Saladin?”

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Rashmee has lived and worked in several countries in the past decade, including Afghanistan, India, Haiti, Tunisia, the UAE, US and UK