Why the U.K. Can’t ‘Level Up’

Weak Cities Are the Real Story Behind the British Crisis

What makes a country great?

Great cities.

That is a lesson the United Kingdom once knew well. Britain reached its imperial heights in the late 19th century in part because its municipalities were growing into some of the world’s most productive cities.

None better symbolized British greatness than Birmingham, a manufacturing powerhouse in the West Midlands. In 1890, Harper’s Magazine called it the “best-governed city in the world,” and with good reason. Birmingham provided novel services for its people, including free libraries and museums, free education for all children, modern sanitation and affordable …

More In: Democracy Local

How Cities Can Help Other Cities in Wartime

In the ’90s, Barcelona Adopted Sarajevo as Its Own. The Partnership Endures, Offering Lessons for Today

In 1995, Barcelona, Spain, announced the creation of a new, 11th district of the city.

This District 11 wasn’t carved out of Barcelona’s 10 existing districts. In fact, it wasn’t within …

Bono for Mayor | Zocalo Public Square • Arizona State University • Smithsonian

Bono for Mayor

It Could Be a ‘Beautiful Day’ for Local Democracy in Dublin and Around the World

“Better pass boldly into that other world, in the full glory of some passion, than fade and wither dismally with age.” —James Joyce, “The Dead,” Dubliners

Dear …

In Midnight Interview, Dracula Sees Bright Future for Democracy

‘Democracy and Vampires Have a Lot in Common,’ Says 600-Year-Old Romanian Count

I emailed Dracula’s people because I was heading to Romania, for a global democracy forum that I help lead.

While I’m in Bucharest, I asked, could I take the train up …

Could This New Democratic Tool Make Californians Vote Smarter?

The Digital Deliberative Poll May Encourage the Public to Learn More About Their Ballots

Californians vote on many ballot measures, but we almost never participate in significant public debates and discussions about the measures’ contents and impacts.

This isn’t simply a result of apathy or …

America’s Judges Are Bungling the 2024 Election | Zocalo Public Square • Arizona State University • Smithsonian

America’s Judges Are Bungling the 2024 Election

Does Our Democracy Need a Separate Court System?

Last year, while organizing a global democracy forum in Mexico, a member of that country’s national electoral court requested I add a speaker to our program: an American …