Democracy Lab Weekly Brief, October 17, 2016

Democracy Lab Weekly Brief, October 17, 2016

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Ian Bateson reports on the hard lessons Mikheil Saakashvili has learned since becoming governor of Ukraine’s Odessa region.

Tom Ginsburg lays out the advantages of constitutional monarchy as exemplified by Thailand’s recently deceased king — and points out why he’ll be so hard to measure up to.

Larry Diamond explains how an alternative voting system under consideration in Maine could reinvigorate American democracy — if it passes on November 8.

Olesya Zakharova answers a puzzling question — if Vladimir Putin wants to suppress Russian civil society, why does he give it so much money?

Munyaradzi Dodo reports from Zimbabwe on how the country’s regime has made its own flag illegal.

And now for this week’s recommended reads:

For the New York Times, Robert Shiller makes the case that the rise of ethnic nationalism around the world is fueled by weak economic growth coupled with inequality.

In the Washington Post, Anne Applebaum points out that a counter-wave to illiberal populism seems to be on the rise in Europe. Also in the Post, Nathaniel Persily and Jon Cohen highlight survey results that seem to indicate that Americans are losing faith in democracy.

In the Boston Globe, Jeffrey Sachs — who supports free trade — blasts the Obama administration for continuing to push for the TPP and TTIP trade deals.

In the Guardian, Pravit Rojanaphruk objects to the increasingly harsh suppression of anti-monarchist sentiment in Thailand as the country mourns the death of King Bhumibol.

For Bloomberg, Arabile Gumede reports that several South African universities have called in the police for help in dealing with student protests that have raged for weeks. The BBC has more background on the protesters’ demands.

Also in Bloomberg, Raymond Colitt, Samy Adghirni, and Bruce Douglas warn that many Brazilians have given up on democracy in the face of economic crisis and political turmoil.

In Politico Europe, Valerie Hopkins reports on the election of a Serb as mayor of Srebrenica, the site of the notorious 1995 massacre of Bosnian Muslims by Serb forces.

The BBC covers the sudden closure of Nepszabadsag, a left-leaning Hungarian newspaper. Suspecting political pressure, thousands protested for press freedom in Budapest yesterday, as reported by Pablo Gorondi for the Washington Post.

In his blog, “Marginal Revolution,” Tyler Cowen hails India’s biometric smartcard program — initiated to simplify welfare payments to millions of poor people — as “under-discussed and underappreciated.”

In the photo, riot police line up as students from the University of Witwatersrand wait for detained students to be released outside a court in Johannesburg on Oct. 12.

Photo credit: GIANLUIGI GUERCIA/AFP/Getty Images