Laws are chipping away at democracy around the world : The Conversation

Democracy seemed ascendant after the rivalry between communist and democratic states subsided in the wake of the Soviet Union’s collapse in 1991. As elected governments replaced many toppled totalitarian and authoritarian regimes, number of democracies rose.

Yet with rare exceptions, authoritarian leadership and other undemocratic governments have been the norm throughout human history. So perhaps it shouldn’t be surprising that democracy seems to be losing ground after its post-1991 surge. The rise of Recep Tayyip Erdoğanin Turkey, Viktor Orbán in Hungary, Jair Bolsonaro in Brazil, and Donald Trump in the U.S. are among the most visible examples.

As a human rights attorney completing my Ph.D. in international relations, I’m researching why democracy appears to be declining around the globe. In addition to the growing number of far-right, authoritarian-leaning leaders who certainly bear responsibility, lawmakers in historically strong democracies are proposing and passing legislation that adds new layers of red tape, restricts access to foreign financial support, and makes it harder and riskier to engage in peaceful protests.

From India to Poland to Israel, legislators are limiting the freedom of independent nonprofit and nongovernmental organizations. Many of these groups are responsible for holding governments to account, standing up for minority rights and providing services to the indigent, among other critical roles.

New restrictions

My research focuses on the spread of undemocratic civil society laws in historically democratic states. These laws include bills that impose new restrictions on forming, operating and funding civil society


Source: Laws are chipping away at democracy around the world : The Conversation

George Eustice: The Brexit solution now? Not Norway Plus, but the EFTA pillar of the EEA. | Conservative Home

The actions of Parliament last week were a blow to the credibility of our democracy. We have signalled to the world that we are too scared to leave the EU without its permission, and we are about to send our Prime Minister to Brussels on her hands and knees to beg for an extension.

However, for those like me who voted to leave without a deal if necessary, it is no good sobbing over the fact that we lost a line-out and that those who want to thwart the referendum result are running away with the ball. We need to regroup and get back in the game.

We have been arguing about Brexit solidly for over three years now and our system cannot take another two years of this, especially if there is a long extension to article 50. What is needed now is a way to secure early closure on this debate and to expedite our departure from the EU.

There is a simpler and swifter way to get out of the EU. We should rely on our existing legal rights and obligations as a signatory to the EEA. The UK is a party to that agreement in its own right, and the Government took a conscious decision last year not to give twelve months notice to leave the EEA, as is required under article 127 of that agreement.

The first step would be to agree a stand-still arrangement with the EU, along the lines of the “Malthouse 2” compromise for a transitional period of nine months, during which we would give an undertaking to dynamically align all of our regulations, so that there would be no need for the EU to put in place border checks.

We would then immediately apply to join the EFTA pillar of the EEA agreement. Full EFTA membership would take six to nine months to complete, but joining the necessary surveillance and court agreements to make the EEA operable could be agreed within three months. The standstill agreement on regulatory alignment would become a bridge to somewhere (i.e: EFTA) rather than an open-ended continuation of this exhausting debate.


Source: George Eustice: The Brexit solution now? Not Norway Plus, but the EFTA pillar of the EEA. | Conservative Home

Why freedom of movement is causing divisions – across Europe | Ines Wagner | Opinion | The Guardian

Freedom of movement for EU workers has been front and centre in the Brexit debate. Fear of foreign workers undercutting the wages and working conditions of locals helped to fuel the leave campaign. Now EU nationals – Poles and others – who have called Britain home for years, sometimes decades, face an uncertain future in the UK.

But while attitudes to migrant workers in Brexit Britain are often seen as a case apart, free movement of people evokes hostility in other EU countries too. The belief that foreigners take away jobs from local workers is – and has long been – a textbook example of false information. Research has proved again and again that the belief is ill-founded. Yet to some, it feels true no matter how many studies show that it is not.


Source: Why freedom of movement is causing divisions – across Europe | Ines Wagner | Opinion | The Guardian

Democracy in Europe ‘has declined more than any other region’ | Euronews

Democracy has declined more in Europe than any other region in the world, according to the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU).

Releasing its statistics for the Democracy Index 2018, the EIU noted a “democratic malaise” felt particularly in western Europe, where the state of democracy has declined for a third consecutive year.

However, even with a slight increase reported in 2018, eastern Europe has deteriorated the most since the EIU started its Democracy Index in 2006.

Despite the reported “democratic malaise,” countries in Europe still dominated the top of the table globally with Norway in first place, and Iceland and Sweden in second and third places respectively.

Russia was ranked the least democratic country in Europe, reaching 144th place on the global chart, below countries such as Afghanistan and Zimbabwe.

Western Europe features heavily with countries that the report considers to be “full democracies,” whereas Europe’s east fails to achieve even one of these, dominating instead the “flawed democracy” category.


Source: Democracy in Europe ‘has declined more than any other region’ | Euronews

Brexit is not an end to Britain’s liaison with Europe. It’s just a new beginning | Dan Snow | Opinion | The Guardian

They are sick of the whole thing. They just want it to be over. No more uncertainty. Brexiteers want resolution. They will be disappointed. Willing something does not make it so. Aethelred wanted Viking raids to stop. The kingdoms of Wales, Scotland and Ireland wished the Norman and Plantagenet monarchs of England would cease their predatory lunges into their territory. Neville Chamberlain hoped that Hitler would be content with Czechoslovakia. Oliver Letwin wished there was an island we could send all migrants to. The hopes of politicians and rulers are whispers in a gale.

There is no end state in our relations with Europe. There is only millennia of collaboration, conquest, disputes, exchange, competition and alliance.

We live on a small archipelago just off the north-west coast of Europe. We are not a tribe cocooned by towering, razor-sharp mountain ridges in the New Guinea highlands. We are connected. At times, continental armies have marched across the fields of Wiltshire, Wexford and West Lothian. At others, the British have watered their horses in the Seine, Rhine and Danube. The seas around us have facilitated exchange, not prevented it. People, ideas and stuff have crossed the water, mocking the decrees of princes and parliaments.


Source: Brexit is not an end to Britain’s liaison with Europe. It’s just a new beginning | Dan Snow | Opinion | The Guardian

Our survey. Support for No Deal hardens as it becomes more likely. | Conservative Home


Source: Our survey. Support for No Deal hardens as it becomes more likely. | Conservative Home

Catalonia Poll: Over 80% of Catalans Are in Favor of a Mutually Agreed Self-determination Referendum

Spain are part of the EU, who are renowned for their refusal to accept any results from voting that do not agree with own views.

Even if it was 100% in favour of Catalonia independence the result would not be honoured, not how democracy is supposed to work.

More like a dictatorship than democractic process..

Josep Goded

Last week, Spanish PM Sánchez affirmed that most Catalans don’t support the independence of Catalonia and urged the Catalan government to present him a proposal supported by at least 75% of Catalans. The last poll carried out by the Ara newspaper shows that 80% of Catalans are in favor of a mutually agreed self-determination referendum, a proposal that Sánchez should accept in order to keep his words and fulfill his often hollow promises. 

Ara Newspaper Poll

80.4% of Catalans are in favor of an agreed self-determination referendum according to a survey published by the Ara newspaper this Sunday. By parties, the trend is the same, 71% of those who voted the “Socialist” Party (PSC) on Dec. 21 agree with a mutually agreed referendum.  In fact, the only ones who are most opposed are the PP and C’s voters, although 24% of C’s voters also show their support for a referendum.

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No deal planning. Hancock goes early, orders it – and sets an example. | Conservative Home

“Obviously, I can’t comment on what will be discussed in Cabinet tomorrow, but we all want to make the necessary preparations.” That’s more or less what a Minister would usually say, if cornered by a media enquiry, about today’s discussion on No Deal plans.

But these are not normal times.  Some Ministers, like Penny Mordaunt today, lean towards a managed No Deal – if that’s possible – when Theresa May’s deal fails to clear the Commons in January, assuming that to be the case.  Others, like Greg Clark or David Gauke, want an indicative vote and a second referendum.  Amber Rudd who, seemed recently to be all for Norway Plus, may have joined them.

Matt Hancock’s breaking ranks over No Deal preparations must be seen in that light.  He ordered the NHS to go to full No Deal planning last week, thus taking matters into his own hands at a time of paralysis at the top.  (Downing Street would have been consumed by the leadership ballot challenge.)

“We’ve instituted full No Deal planning within the NHS and the department already, and I would like to see the whole of Government going to that position – because its the responsible thing to do,” he told Newsnight.  He said that he doesn’t want No Deal to happen, but that it might happen, so government must be prepared (a point we made yesterday).

The Health Secretary’s allies say that he didn’t want to make a fuss about the decision – which is why it didn’t become public last week – and has only spoken on the record because news of it leaked very recently.  The Prime Minister has now decided to step No Deal preparations, they add, so he wasn’t speaking out of turn by being interviewed yesterday.


Source: No deal planning. Hancock goes early, orders it – and sets an example. | Conservative Home

This abortion law isn’t what Ireland voted for | Emer O’Toole | Opinion | The Guardian

In 1983, as the Irish electorate voted in favour of a constitutional ban on abortion, campaigners warned in bold print: “This Amendment Could Kill Women.”

It did.

Following the tragedy of Savita Halappanavar’s death in 2012, Irish politicians were forced to legislate on a 20-year-old supreme court decision, one that consecutive governments had conspicuously kicked into the long grass. In 1992, a judge had ruled that a suicidal teenage rape victim had the right to an abortion. When the government finally produced the Protection of Life During Pregnancy Act 2013, it was so clearly unfit for purpose that the Abortion Rights Campaign doubted it would enable a suicidal teenage rape victim to access a termination at all.


Source: This abortion law isn’t what Ireland voted for | Emer O’Toole | Opinion | The Guardian

Thong protest in Belfast raises concerns over rape trials | UK news | The Guardian

It was a mere scrap of fabric, deep blue and edged with lace. But when the legislator Ruth Coppinger drew it from her sleeve and held it up in the Irish parliament this week, the item of women’s underwear caused consternation among her colleagues.

Elsewhere, women took to the streets carrying lingerie. In Cork, dozens of thongs were laid on the steps of the courthouse. In Belfast on Thursday, protesters tied knickers to placards and chanted: “My little black dress does not mean yes.”

Thousands of women posted pictures of their underwear on Twitter under the hashtags #IBelieveHer and #ThisIsNotConsent.

The trigger for protests across Ireland, and the eruption of fury on social media, was the words of a lawyer defending a man accused of rape in a trial in Cork.

Suggesting the complainant – 17-year-old woman – was “open to meeting someone”, Elizabeth O’Connell said: “You have to look at the way she was dressed. She was wearing a thong with a lace front.”

The defendant was acquitted in a unanimous verdict following deliberations by the jury lasting 90 minutes.

According to Fiona Ryan, a city councillor in Cork, anger over the defence counsel’s comments on 6 November took a few days to build.

“It didn’t blow up at first, it was almost a delayed reaction. But it festered,” she said. Ryan suggested staging a protest in Cork on Wednesday, eight days after the end of the trial, and was astonished when up to 500 people turned up to take part, many carrying items of underwear.


Source: Thong protest in Belfast raises concerns over rape trials | UK news | The Guardian