Sardines on Protest

Adam Bychawski

This January, the historic breakaway that the British tab loids have covered at a fever pitch for years has finally come to pass. That's right—Megxit.

The country's imminent withdrawal from the European Union has been altogether upstaged by the announcement that Harry and Meghan are stepping back from their royal duties.

Many have criticised the prejudiced press coverage that Meghan has endured, which reported led to the decision. On Open Democracy UK, Adam Ramsay argues that royal family and the media need each other. Harry and Meghan may escape the racism of British tabloids, but they will simply find new kinds of media to maintain their power.

Beyond British navel-gazing, in both Italy and Colombia it seemed until recently as if the right and far-right's grip on power was unassailable. Over the two last months, however, two protest movements have emerged almost out of nowhere to challenge both Italy's Matteo Salvini and Colombian president Ivan Duque.

In December, hundreds of thousands took to the streets in cities across Colombia to protest against Duque's plans to lower the minimum wage and cut taxes for multinational companies.

In November, what started as a Facebook event opposing a rally by Salvini in Bologna drew a crowd of 10,000 people. In the following weeks protests—nicknamed the Sardine movement—were emulated across the country, culminating with a 100,000-strong demonstration in the capital.

In both cases, the protests—the largest spontaneous mobilisations seen for decades in either country—have been led by a young, urban and precarious middle-class.

On Can Europe Make it? historian Paul Ginsborg puts the Bologna protests into context and Alice Figes assesses how effective the movement could be in opposing Salvini. While democraciaAbierta explores the diverse coalition that has rallied against Duaue in a climate of growing authoritarianism across the region.

Finally, Open Democracy has also been covering grassroots protests, this time in the Russian republic of Kalmykia. With limited freedom of assembly, activists have turned to online tools, drawing Thousands to virtual demonstrations. As Badma Biurehiev wiites, by doing se they have started to build their own, global alternative to Kalmykia.

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Vol. 52, No. 42, April 19 - 25, 2020