Taiwan is one of the world's youngest democracies. The first fully democratic presidential election was held as recently as 1996. But it's now being heralded as a place where digital technology is giving citizens a sense of direct engagement with political systems and law creation.They have a Minister of Digital Affairs, Audrey Tang, who has brought his computer software programming expertise learned in Silicon Valley to bear on the way in which ideas, petitions and suggested law reforms can be promoted by way of a website which boasts millions of users.
The BBC's former Taiwan Correspondent Cindy Sui revisits the Island to try and measure the success of the website called 'Join' at a time when Taiwan faces very direct international pressures. But she also explores more established systems of local democracy, including the system of community chiefs or Lin Zhangs and the 24 hour hotline with its promise of a speedy response to any inquiry or report about issues closer to home.
Western democracies have faced harsh criticism in recent years about sections of their populations feeling that their voices aren't being heard. Does Taiwan have lessons for its more established Democratic colleagues, and if it does, are they in the field of high tech or grass roots representation?
Producer: Tom Alban
Why Coups Fail
Recently, in both Europe and the United States, there have been serious attempts to overthrow elected governments by force.
History is full of examples of coups d'etat succeeding, going all the way back to Ancient Rome. But these latest coup attempts failed. And they left a strange impression: of events that were part-horrific, part-absurd.
In this programme, the novelist and classicist Natalie Haynes takes three examples of power grabs from Ancient Rome - one by the military, one by senators, and one conducted by stealth - and uses them to try to make sense of recent events in France, Germany and America.
With the help of leading scholars of the dark art of the coup, she probes why these assaults on power flopped, and what all this tells us about where power now lies. And she asks where the subtler threats to democracy are lurking, against which we now need to be on guard.
Contributors include: Ruth Ben-Ghiat, Alexander Clarkson, Rory Cormac. Producer: Phil Tinline
Learning From the Great Tide
On the night of 31st January 1953, the combination of a high spring tide and a storm over the North Sea caused a devastating surge of water to sweep across the East Coast and up the Thames Estuary.
It was one of Britain's worst natural disasters in the 20th century - 307 people lost their lives in England and over 1,800 in the Netherlands - and yet it has largely been forgotten in the UK.
It also inspired one of the great works of English social history, The Great Tide by Hilda Grieve, which tells the story of the flood in Essex, and the extraordinary response of its local communities and emergency services.
To commemorate the 70th anniversary of the flood, BBC Climate Editor Justin Rowlatt asks what lessons were learned. We’re better protected now as a result of the disaster but, as our coastal defences begin to age and sea levels continue to rise due to climate change, are we prepared for the next tide?
Features archive from "Essex Floods" from Essex Sound and Video Archive.
Producer: Patrick Bernard
A Whistledown production for BBC Radio 4
Buried - Episode 1
A trucker leaves a tape about an appalling crime. Three words echo - Dig it Up. It leads one couple to the story of an illegal million-tonne dump in the UK.
In this BBC Radio 4 podcast series, investigative journalists Dan Ashby and Lucy Taylor deep-dive into one of the worst environment crimes in UK history. They uncover missing documents, fears of toxicity and allegations of organised crime, and realise they've stumbled into something much bigger. As they pick at the threads of one crime, they begin to see others. Could Britain be the home of a new mafia, getting rich on our waste?
In a thrilling ten-part investigation, the husband-and-wife duo dive into a criminal underworld, all the time following clues left in a deathbed tape. They’re driven by one question - what did the man in the tape know?
Presenters and Producers: Dan Ashby and Lucy Taylor
Assistant Producer: Tess Davidson
Original Music and Sound Design: Phil Channell
Sound Design and Series Mixing: Jarek Zaba
Executive Producers: Phil Abrams and Anita Elash
Commissioning Editor: Dan Clarke
A Smoke Trail production for BBC Radio 4
The Boat Smugglers
The recent rise in migrant boat crossings between France the UK is being fuelled in part by the more sophisticated methods gangs are using to source the boats.
Last year when they investigated the smuggling gangs for BBC Radio 4, reporter Sue Mitchell and former British soldier and aid worker, Rob Lawrie, were alongside border force officials as they seized all manner of dinghies used in the crossings. Today that haul looks very different: the makeshift supply has been replaced by a sophisticated business which sees boats manufactured in Turkey and transported across Europe to the beaches of France.
This streamlined supply chain is big business and it’s enabled the gangs to rapidly expand the trade: bigger boats made specifically for these crossings are mass manufactured in Turkey and shipped straight into the hands of smugglers. It’s a complicated dodging of laws as they’re transported across Europe, with authorities slow to react. And it promises to thwart whatever deals are secured between Britain and France to intercept the Channel crossings themselves.