Fidest – Agenzia giornalistica/press agency

Quotidiano di informazione – Anno 32 n° 338

Posts Tagged ‘democracy’

Consequences of Covid-19 on global order: multilateralism and democracy at risk

Posted by fidest press agency su giovedì, 29 ottobre 2020

Parliament’s Foreign Affairs Committee urges the EU to take responsibility in defending rules-based world order, stressing the need to change how decisions are made in EU foreign policy. On Monday, the Foreign Affairs Committee approved, by 49 votes in favour, 6 against and 12 abstentions a report on the consequences of the COVID-19 outbreak on EU foreign policy. According to Committee members, the COVID-19 pandemic is a “game changer” in international affairs. The EU has to strengthen its internal resilience, develop new partnerships, and foster its multilateralist vision on a global scale. The rapporteur Hilde Vautmans (Renew) said: “The European Union has yet to establish its place in the new world order, and this is a weakness for both the EU and for multilateralism. A unified and prominent European presence on the world stage could help restore the global rules-based order after the damage done in recent years. However, Europeans absolutely must defend their interests internationally.” A number of governments and political leaders across the globe are using the crisis as an opportunity to furnish themselves with excessive powers, pursue their own political agendas by limiting human rights, and undermine democratic standards, MEPs say.MEPs are particularly concerned about disinformation campaigns and external attempts to compromise the unity of the EU, notably from Russia, and the politicisation of humanitarian assistance. They also highlight that the current US administration seems to be withdrawing from the multilateral system.In order to protect the rules-based global order, the EU should move towards a stronger foreign policy, MEPs say. Effective measures include a stronger mandate for the EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell to speak on behalf of the EU, for example by establishing a European seat in multilateral bodies. Also, the unanimity rule should be replaced by a qualified majority vote in foreign policy decisions.Referring to China’s attempts to position itself as the dominant global player “with an alternative governance model”, MEPs call on the High Representative to review EU-China relations, making sure that the new strategy defends European values and interests. They also urge the Chinese government to fully cooperate with an independent international investigation into the origins of COVID-19.Finally, MEPs stress the urgent need for a global sanctions regime in order to combat human rights violations.

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“The world demands more democracy not less”

Posted by fidest press agency su giovedì, 7 maggio 2020

These are the words of the President of the European Parliament David Sassoli uttered days ago and which I take up again with a reflection because I am convinced that we have erected a simulacrum around certain words emptying them, in practice, of their real meaning. In this case, it is clear, not by those who pronounced them but by those who should make daily use of them in their political and institutional actions. This makes me say that there are two distinct, and sometimes incommunicable, languages ​​if we think about what Europe is and what we would like it to be. Let’s not forget that the idea of ​​a united Europe had for the constituent fathers a first important goal: to provide for a safe conduct to avoid the onset of other world wars that would have their trigger in Europe in the future. But we have not dealt with individual states and their aftertaste. Germany, for example, which caused two world wars and lost them, now seems to be making up for it with its financial and industrial power and wanting to claim to be democratic in the logic of primus inter pares but in practice by staggering its meaning to remain “primus” without “pares”. Today we are experiencing this behavioral disconnect even more as we are experiencing a season of radical changes in society that has become complex and fragmented with the consequent crisis of traditional mass parties and their ability to represent well-defined sectors of society itself. At this point we should say that the word “democracy” remains but at what price? We debased and humiliated it, making us lose the vision of a form of government capable of ensuring stability, decision-making efficiency, clear functioning of the political responsibility of the rulers and of the same role of stimulation and pragmatism of the oppositions. At this point, I ask myself, should we continue to talk about democracy without ridiculing it? (Riccardo Alfonso)

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Democracy and rule of law in Poland: serious concerns about judicial independence, free and fair elections

Posted by fidest press agency su lunedì, 27 aprile 2020

Commission and Council need to act decisively to tackle continuous attacks on the judiciary and avoid elections that do not meet international standards.The Civil Liberties Committee held a debate with Polish Justice Minister Zbigniew Ziobro, Commissioner for Justice Didier Reynders, the Croatian Presidency of the Council and Polish Ombusdman Adam Bodnar.
Almost all MEPs who took the floor expressed very serious concerns about the “increasing grip of the executive on the judiciary” in Poland, despite the Polish Minister’s assurances that the reforms were not out of sync with existing provisions in other EU member states. Particular concerns were raised about the recent Constitutional Tribunal decision that declared the Supreme Court resolution to be “void”. The resolution was seeking to implement the latest ECJ ruling for interim measures ordering disciplinary proceedings to be suspended. MEPs and some guest speakers alike stated that this decision disregards the primacy of EU law and the authority of the European Court of Justice. Many MEPs also condemned the adoption of recent judicial reforms that Supreme Court President Malgorzata Gersdorf denounced as a “muzzle law” on 23 January.A large section of the debate focused on the risk posed by holding elections at a time when civil rights are being restricted due to the pandemic and the corresponding media environment, although some arguments were presented about democracy being respected by putting in place postal voting provisions for all citizens. MEPs and some guest speakers highlighted that relevant legal reforms are not in line with Poland’s constitution and the standards set by the international community as regards the organisation of free and fair elections. Similar concerns were voiced in relation to potential legal reforms on hate speech and LGBTI rights, especially as civil society is currently unable to react.A majority of MEPs who took the floor criticised the Council for failing to act decisively in the ongoing Article 7(1) procedure and asked the Commission to act immediately to tackle these threats. Some speakers also drew links between EU funding and adherence to the EU principles enshrined in the Treaty.

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The pandemic is no excuse to weaken democracy and the rule of law, MEPs say

Posted by fidest press agency su venerdì, 24 aprile 2020

The Civil Liberties Committee hosted four discussions on Thursday on democracy, the rule of law and fundamental rights. Speakers from across the political spectrum warned that important values such as democracy, the rule of law and fundamental rights must not be jeopardised by pandemic-related emergency measures, and that decisive action by the European Commission and the Council is needed to safeguard them.In the morning, MEPs exchanged views with Polish Justice Minister Zbigniew Ziobro, Commissioner for Justice Didier Reynders, the Croatian Presidency of the Council and Polish Ombusdman Adam Bodnar. The afternoon debates included an update by the Democracy, Rule of law and Fundamental rights Monitoring Group on recent developments, and two exchanges of views with Commissioner Reynders: one on the emergency measures taken in all member states with a focus on Hungary, and another on the state of play of the EC annual Rule of Law Report.Almost all MEPs who took the floor expressed very serious concerns about the “increasing grip of the executive on the judiciary” in Poland, despite the Polish Minister’s assurances that the reforms were not out of sync with existing provisions in other EU member states. Particular concerns were raised in relation to the implementation of the , ordering the suspension of ongoing disciplinary proceedings against judges. Many MEPs also condemned the adoption on 23 January of reforms that Supreme Court President Malgorzata Gersdorf denounced as a “muzzle law”.Much of the debate focused on the risk posed by holding elections while civil rights are being restricted due to the pandemic and the corresponding media environment, although some arguments were presented about democracy being respected by putting in place postal voting provisions for all citizens. MEPs and some guest speakers highlighted that relevant legal reforms are not in line with Poland’s constitution and the standards set by the international community as regards the organisation of free and fair elections. Similar concerns were voiced in relation to potential legal reforms on hate speech and LGBTI rights, especially as civil society is currently unable to react.Most MEPs are particularly concerned about recent developments in Hungary in relation to the government’s increased powers, with many also worried about other issues, including media freedom, the rights of civil society, discrimination against vulnerable groups and corruption in the country. A majority among them, echoed by Commissioner Reynders, highlighted the need for measures taken in Hungary and all other EU member states in response to the pandemic to be proportional, of limited duration, and necessary.Many committee members also expressed their worry over measures taken by governments across the EU in a diverse range of fields, from access to public documents to social media oversight by national authorities, and from media freedom to sex education, reproductive rights and the rights of the LGBTI+ community. A few speakers, including Committee Chair Lopez Aguilar and Commissioner Reynders, highlighted that respect for data protection and privacy must remain a priority in developing apps to monitor and contain the spread of the pandemic.A majority of MEPs who took the floor criticised the Commission and the Council for failing to act decisively on most fronts, including in completing ongoing Article 7(1) procedures, initiating cases on the infringement of EU law, and issuing rule of law guidelines for COVID-19 emergency measures. Some speakers, including Commissioner Reynders, also drew links between EU funding and adherence to the EU principles enshrined in the Treaty.

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EP stands up for democracy in Hungary during COVID-19

Posted by fidest press agency su venerdì, 27 marzo 2020

The Civil Liberties Committee highlights that any extraordinary measure adopted by the Hungarian government in response to the pandemic must respect the EU’s founding values.Following developments in Hungary, where the government is trying to expand its executive authority in order to rule by decree while the country remains in a “state of danger”, Juan Fernando López Aguilar (S&D, ES), made the following statement, in his capacity as Chair of the Civil Liberties Committee.“On behalf of the Civil Liberties Committee, I would like to express our concern about the Hungarian National Assembly’s intention to vote on extending the ‘state of danger’ in Hungary and the related changes to the Criminal Code. We are aware that member states have a responsibility to take protective measures in these difficult times, but these measures should always ensure that fundamental rights, rule of law and democratic principles are protected.In this context, we would call on the Commission to assess if the proposed bill complies with the values enshrined in Article 2 of the Treaty on European Union and to remind member states of their responsibility to respect and protect these common values”.

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3rd EU Action Plan on Human Rights and Democracy

Posted by fidest press agency su domenica, 19 gennaio 2020

Bruxelles. Subcommittee on Security and Defence Wednesday, 22 January 2020, 09.00-18.30 in meeting room Altiero Spinelli 3G-3 (Brussels)
Debates 9.00 – 11.30 Exchange of views on the military challenges in Sahel
14.30 – 18.30
• Exchange of views on the security and defence challenges of 5G
• Exchange of views on the security situation in Iraq and EUAM Iraq
Thursday, 23 January 2020, 09.00-12:00 in meeting room Altiero Spinelli 3E-2 (Brussels)Debate
Exchange of views on the 3rd EU Action Plan on Human Rights and Democracy with Lotte Knudsen, Managing Director Global – Human Rights, Global and Multilateral Issues, EEAS (tbc), Chiara Adamo, Head of Unit, Directorate General for International Development and Cooperation, European Commission, and Gaelle Dusepulchre on behalf of Human Rights and Democracy Network (HRDN)
Thursday, 23 January 2020, 09.00-18.30 in meeting room Altiero Spinelli 3G-3 (Brussels) Debates. Consideration of draft report: Recommendation to the High Representative and to the Council under Rule 118 in preparation of the 2020 Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons Treaty (NPT) review process, nuclear arms control and nuclear disarmament options. Rapporteur: Sven MIKSER (S&D, ET). Exchange of views with Narcisa VLADULESCU, Chair of CONOP, Division for Disarmament, Non-Proliferation and Arms Export Control, EEAS NATO’s 70th anniversary: future challenges for the Alliance.

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When democracy blocks violence

Posted by fidest press agency su giovedì, 26 settembre 2019

If we go to the time when the human being decided to live in community, I think that the problem of how to reconcile cohabitation with corporate and governance interests was immediately raised. In the millennia that have passed since then, it has become clear that the system has been disrupted by the tendency of some members of the community towards their own kind. In other words, wanting to play “dirty” to derive personal benefits from both an economic and a thirst for power. The popular reaction was not long in coming and the outbreak was ignited, generating conflicts of every kind and for a variety of reasons: ethnic, religious, social and cultural. If we bring this seed of discord back to the reality of our day we can say that there are many failures obtained but also the success of stable equilibria.
To which we should ask ourselves, dutifully, the reasons for the malfunctioning and because the virtuous expectations have not taken root worldwide. On the other hand, as one may think that once a model of democratic management of public affairs has been implemented, it may, at a certain point, not hold up to popular expectations, even becoming a contradiction in terms with bloody demonstrations. It is that the negative aspect, in my opinion, depends on the use we have made of the same democracy by introducing conflicting elements of global significance. We think of capitalism that has degenerated into greed, selfishness, easy enrichment to the detriment of the weakest. Let’s think about what real socialism has left us and even before that Marxism-Leninism. We think of the globalization of markets that is degraded into a permanent social conflict. We think of the damage we have caused to the environment with expansive economies that do not respect the habitat or anything else.
From many sides the well-thinking think that they call for correction and virtuous behavior to restore democracy to its primitive identity, generated by the Athenian revolution, and that our fathers, in their wisdom, have recognized the value and scope of the message. Because the democratic precept is not cultivated by quoting it but by practicing it and in this sense it can become the only force capable of countering violence and bringing homo novus to suffocate passions in the name of reason. (Riccardo Alfonso)

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European elections to refresh democracy

Posted by fidest press agency su domenica, 7 aprile 2019

As water starts to simmer, the European election campaign has finally started to get moving. With its lists revealed, its first meetings, its more or less corny slogans – “A Europe that protects”, the “Europe of nations”, etc. The European Parliament has now been elected by direct universal suffrage for forty years. The novelty is not so much the way in which the vote is prepared in each country (with a return to national lists in France) but rather the European context in which it is occurring, that of democracies put to the test.
Representative democracy is having its legitimacy questioned in various locations. Westminster, the “mother of parliaments”, is finding this out the hard way following the referendum on Brexit. In France, the yellow vest movement calls for new direct democracy avenues. More broadly and insidiously, abstention, from which the European elections are not the only ones to suffer, indicates the mistrust felt towards those run for office.
Democracy is also struggling in its role of finding compromise. Brexit in the UK is a sad example of this. In various other countries, the legislative elections in recent years have resulted in coalitions which have been kept going at length and with difficulty (Germany), with a very slim parliamentary majority (the Netherlands), full of internal contradictions (Italy) or otherwise unreconcilable, as with many minority governments in charge in Europe at the moment (Belgium, Denmark, Ireland, Portugal, etc.). The upcoming European elections will not be spared this tendency for fragmentation and are set to mark the end of a long cycle of domination by Christian-democrats and Social-democrats in the European Parliament.
Yet liberal democracy is also called into question. It was deemed an obvious prerequisite for any State acceding to the European Union. There were commonly accepted principles, such as the independence of the justice system, freedom of the press and academic freedom. Shortcomings in compliance with the rule of law, for which Poland and Hungary are currently being criticised and which are emerging elsewhere in the EU, show that the fundamentals are being affected.Democracy is deteriorating above all outside of Europe. The regimes in power in Russia and China, Turkey and Egypt, to name but a few, are taking the opposite direction. They challenge Europeans on their own values, and even on the serenity of their own elections. For the first time, the European election campaign has begun with concerns of interference in its operation through disinformation.Against this backdrop which weighs heavily on proceedings, the challenge for political parties and for the media across Europe is to organise a lively campaign, which prefers open debate to invectives, which is based on established facts and not on fake news, and which respects adversaries without making them out to be enemies. In short, a campaign which does not boil over uncontrollably but which will provide more than just a tepid response. The coming eight weeks are a short timeframe. Yet the stakes of course go beyond these elections alone. Citizen consultation and participation, the representativeness of those elected, their ability to transcend party interests, the European attachment to liberal democracy and its upholding worldwide will be questions for after the 26 May, during the next parliamentary term.At its level, the Jacques Delors Institute will play a role, through its publications and events as well as in the media, with a view to providing some answers, during the campaign and thereafter.

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Mechanism to protect democracy in the EU needed more than ever, says the EP

Posted by fidest press agency su domenica, 18 novembre 2018

MEPs want respect of EU values to be assessed every year in all member states
Current dialogue framework not enough to prevent or remedy threats to the rule of law
Call on the Council to “properly assume” its role in the ongoing Article 7 procedures
The EU needs a comprehensive, permanent and objective mechanism to protect democracy, the rule of law and fundamental rights, said EP on Wednesday.In a non-legislative resolution, MEPs regret that the European Commission has so far not presented a legislative proposal to set up such a mechanism, which the Chamber requested in October 2016.They note that, since then, the Parliament took the unprecedented step of calling on the Council to trigger Article 7 of the EU Treaty against Hungary and determine the existence of a clear risk of a serious breach by Hungary of the EU’s founding values, while the Commission took the initiative regarding Poland and also requested that Article 7 proceedings be opened.Plenary calls on the Council to “properly assume” its institutional role in these ongoing procedures, to inform Parliament immediately and fully at all stages, and to invite Parliament to present its reasoned proposal on Hungary to the Council.They also point to rising concerns regarding democracy and rule of law in Malta, Slovakia and Romania and to the high number of infringement procedures against several member states in the field of justice, fundamental rights and citizenship.The text, which was passed by show of hands, wraps up the debate held in plenary on 23 October with the Commission´s First Vice-President Frans Timmermans and the Austrian Presidency of the Council.The Parliament warns that the challenges to the rule of law and democracy across the EU pose a risk to freedom, security and justice and to the legitimacy of the EU’s external action, particularly in relation to its accession and neighbourhood policies.MEPs underline that the rule of law framework set up by the Commission in 2014, which has only been used with Poland, has proven insufficient to prevent or remedy the threats.The mechanism proposed by the EP would be based on an annual, evidence-based assessment of all member states’ compliance with the values enshrined in Article 2 of the EU Treaty, including country-specific recommendations – as is done for economic policies – followed by an inter-parliamentary debate.This new instrument, says the resolution, could be linked to the draft legislation proposed by the Commission to protect the EU’s budget in case of deficiencies as regards the rule of law.

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“Global Forum on Modern Direct Democracy”

Posted by fidest press agency su sabato, 7 luglio 2018

Roma dal 26 al 29 settembre si svolgerà in Campidoglio l’edizione 2018 del “Global Forum on Modern Direct Democracy”, l’evento internazionale che mira a sviluppare e promuovere la partecipazione attiva dei cittadini alle politiche nazionali e locali, in particolare attraverso la promozione degli strumenti di democrazia diretta.Attesi oltre 350 delegati provenienti da sei continenti, tra cui i sindaci di diverse capitali europee e mondiali ma anche accademici ed esperti che parteciperanno ai lavori. Tra gli obiettivi quello di definire le caratteristiche che rendono una città globale e democratica da incorporare in una Magna Charta per le “città della democrazia” del mondo. Tra le varie autorità, presenzieranno all’evento anche il Ministro per i Rapporti con il Parlamento e la Democrazia diretta, Riccardo Fraccaro e la Sindaca di Roma Virginia Raggi.“Roma è orgogliosa di essere la città ospitante di un appuntamento così prestigioso che ci consentirà di avviare un confronto con le migliori esperienze internazionali di democrazia diretta. È questa la direzione verso cui l’Amministrazione si sta muovendo a partire dal nuovo statuto di Roma Capitale che introduce nuovi strumenti per garantire la partecipazione dei cittadini alla gestione della cosa pubblica” commenta la Sindaca Virginia Raggi.Quattro giornate di workshop e sessioni plenarie che saranno l’occasione per condividere esperienze e best practices tra tutti i soggetti interessati alla democrazia diretta moderna e alla cittadinanza attiva. Legislatori, inclusi quelli coinvolti nelle questioni di rilievo costituzionale, giornalisti, studiosi, rappresentanti di organizzazioni non governative nazionali e internazionali e cittadini avranno la possibilità di confrontarsi in modo approfondito su molteplici temi e di proporre strategie innovative e al passo con le sfide politico-sociali degli ultimi anni.L’evento è organizzato dall’Associazione Global Forum on Modern Direct Democracy con il patrocinio di Roma Capitale e del Ministro per i Rapporti con il Parlamento e la Democrazia diretta. Il programma è in costante aggiornamento e consultabile al sito

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Why Macau is less demanding of democracy than Hong Kong

Posted by fidest press agency su mercoledì, 20 settembre 2017

macauHONG KONG and Macau have much in common. Just 60km apart across the Pearl River delta (and soon to be linked by a bridge), they were both European colonies before being returned to China. Britain handed over Hong Kong in 1997; Portugal handed over Macau two years later. Both are administered under the “one country, two systems” principle, which allows them to retain their systems of government for 50 years. Yet whereas many Hong Kongers agitate loudly and relentlessly for more democracy, the people of Macau appear less concerned. Why is this?Wealth may be part of the answer. Macau is the only part of China where gambling in casinos is legal. In one generation the city has become the world’s largest gambling centre, with the casino industry bringing an abundance of well-paid jobs. GDP per person in 2016 was 554,619 patacas ($73,187), among the highest in the world and 68% higher than in Hong Kong. Wages are supplemented by the government, which gives each resident 9,000 patacas every year. Chinese officials regard Macau as a political model for what Hong Kong should be: compliant with the Communist Party’s wishes and unequivocally patriotic. Loyalty is drilled into people by the media and in schools. A security law, known as Article 23, wielded in the name of punishing treason and secessionism, keeps citizens wary. In Hong Kong, opposition to “patriotic” education and to Article 23 forced the local government to shelve both.
In August Macau’s government asked China’s army for help with clearing up the destruction left by Typhoon Hato, the strongest storm in 50 years. This entailed the first deployment of troops on the streets since the handover in 1999. Were they to be mobilised in Hong Kong, even in a humanitarian role, some people would worry. In Macau, the soldiers’ presence was cheered. The Communist Party’s sway over the territory’s politics predates the end of Portuguese rule. In the 1960s the Cultural Revolution spilled over from the mainland, triggering pro-Communist riots in Macau. Similar unrest in Hong Kong was curbed by the British, but in Macau the party’s influence spread through civil society. By the time of the handover negotiations in the 1980s, China had already turned down two Portuguese efforts to give it back. Unlike Hong Kong, to which China promised the eventual introduction of “universal suffrage” in elections for the territory’s leadership, Macau received no such pledge. While many in Macau appear content, there are still grumbles. Residents complain about the cost of buying a home, a shortage of social housing and the state of public transport and hospitals. Casinos create jobs with long, unsociable hours, and clog the city with tourist buses. Critics have been particularly vocal about the government’s response to Hato, in which ten people died and 200 were injured. Opposition parties hope that citizens will remember their anger at the ballot box on September 17th, when 150,000 locals will elect 14 members of the 33-seat Legislative Assembly. The rest of the legislators are picked by labour unions and other government-approved interest groups, or appointed by the territory’s chief executive, Fernando Chui. In 2013 the opposition won less than a quarter of the vote, and less than two-thirds of that went to candidates calling for greater democracy. At an equivalent election in 2016 in Hong Kong, pro-democracy candidates won more than half of the directly elected seats. Hong Kongers even picked six legislators who wanted to renegotiate the relationship with China. Do not expect such radical thoughts in Macau. (font: The Economist) (photo: macau)

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Greater democracy through mathematics

Posted by fidest press agency su martedì, 27 giugno 2017

munichMunich (TUM). For democratic elections to be fair, voting districts must have similar sizes. When populations shift, districts need to be redistributed – a complex and, in many countries, controversial task when political parties attempt to influence redistricting. Mathematicians at the Technical University of Munich (TUM) have now developed a method that allows the efficient calculation of optimally sized voting districts.When constituents cast their vote for a candidate, they assume it carries the same weight as that of the others. Voting districts should thus be sized equally according to population. When populations change, boundaries need to be redrawn.For example, 34 political districts were redrawn for the upcoming parliamentary election in Germany – a complex task. In other countries, this process often results in major controversy. Political parties often engage in gerrymandering, to create districts with a disproportionately large number of own constituents. In the United States, for example, state governments frequently exert questionable influence when redrawing the boundaries of congressional districts.“An effective and neutral method for political district zoning, which sounds like an administrative problem, is actually of great significance from the perspective of democratic theory,” emphasizes Stefan Wurster, Professor of Policy Analysis at the Bavarian School of Public Policy at TUM. “The acceptance of democratic elections is in danger whenever parties or individuals gain an advantage out of the gate. The problem becomes particularly relevant when the allocation of parliamentary seats is determined by the number of direct mandates won. This is the case in majority election systems like in USA, Great Britain and France.”
Prof. Peter Gritzmann, head of the Chair of Applied Geometry and Discrete Mathematics at TUM, in collaboration with his staff member Fabian Klemm and his colleague Andreas Brieden, professor of statistics at the University of the German Federal Armed Forces, has developed a methodology that allows the optimal distribution of electoral district boundaries to be calculated in an efficient and, of course, politically neutral manner.
The mathematicians tested their methodology using electoral districts of the German parliament. According to the German Federal Electoral Act, the number of constituents in a district should not deviate more than 15 percent from the average. In cases where the deviation exceeds 25 percent, electoral district borders must be redrawn. In this case, the relevant election commission must adhere to various provisions: For example, districts must be contiguous and not cross state, county or municipal boundaries. The electoral districts are subdivided into precincts with one polling station each.
“There are more ways to consolidate communities to electoral districts than there are atoms in the known universe,” says Peter Gritzmann. “But, using our model, we can still find efficient solutions in which all districts have roughly equal numbers of constituents – and that in a ‘minimally invasive’ manner that requires no voter to switch precincts.”
Deviations of 0.3 to 8.7 percent from the average size of electoral districts cannot be avoided based solely on the different number of voters in individual states. But the new methodology achieves this optimum. “Our process comes close to the theoretical limit in every state, and we end up far below the 15 percent deviation allowed by law,” says Gritzmann.The researchers used a mathematical model developed in the working group to calculate the electoral districts: “Geometric clustering” groups the communities to clusters, the optimized electoral districts. The target definition for calculations can be arbitrarily modified, making the methodology applicable to many countries with different election laws.The methodology is also applicable to other types of problems: for example, in voluntary lease and utilization exchanges in agriculture, to determine adequate tariff groups for insurers or to model hybrid materials. “However, drawing electoral district boundaries is a very special application, because here mathematics can help strengthen democracies,” sums up Gritzmann.
Technical University of Munich (TUM) is one of Europe’s leading research universities, with more than 500 professors, around 10,000 academic and non-academic staff, and 40,000 students. Its focus areas are the engineering sciences, natural sciences, life sciences and medicine, combined with economic and social sciences.

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Why Israel needs a Palestinian state

Posted by fidest press agency su lunedì, 22 maggio 2017

israelTHE victory of Israel over the Arab armies that encircled it in 1967 was so swift and absolute that, many Jews thought, the divine hand must have tipped the scales. Before the six-day war Israel had feared another Holocaust; thereafter it became an empire of sorts. Awestruck, the Jews took the holy sites of Jerusalem and the places of their biblical stories. But the land came with many Palestinians whom Israel could neither expel nor absorb. Was Providence smiling on Israel, or testing it?For the past 50 years, Israel has tried to have it both ways: taking the land by planting Jewish settlements on it; and keeping the Palestinians unenfranchised under military occupation, denied either their own state or political equality within Israel (see our special report in this issue). Palestinians have damaged their cause through decades of indiscriminate violence. Yet their dispossession is a reproach to Israel, which is by far the stronger party and claims to be a model democracy.
Israel’s “temporary” occupation has endured for half a century. The peace process that created “interim” Palestinian autonomy, due to last just five years before a final deal, has dragged on for more than 20. A Palestinian state is long overdue. Rather than resist it, Israel should be the foremost champion of the future Palestine that will be its neighbour. This is not because the intractable conflict is the worst in the Middle East or, as many once thought, the central cause of regional instability: the carnage of the civil wars in Syria, Iraq and elsewhere disproves such notions. The reason Israel must let the Palestinian people go is to preserve its own democracy.
Unexpectedly, there may be a new opportunity to make peace: Donald Trump wants to secure “the ultimate deal” and is due to visit the Holy Land on May 22nd, during his first foreign trip. The Israeli prime minister, Binyamin Netanyahu, appears as nervous as the Palestinian president, Mahmoud Abbas, seems upbeat. Mr Trump has, rightly, urged Israel to curb settlement-building. Israel wants him to keep his promise to move the American embassy to Jerusalem. He should hold off until he is ready to go really big: recognise Palestine at the same time and open a second embassy in Jerusalem to talk to it.The outlines of peace are well known. Palestinians would accept the Jewish state born from the war of 1947-48 (made up of about three-quarters of the British mandate of Palestine). In return, Israel would allow the creation of a Palestinian state in the remaining lands it occupied in 1967 (about one-quarter). Parcels could be swapped to take in the main settlements, and Jerusalem would have to be shared. Palestinian refugees would return mostly to their new state, not Israel.The fact that such a deal is familiar does not make it likely. Mr Netanyahu and Mr Abbas will probably string out the process—and try to ensure the other gets blamed for failure. Distracted by scandals, Mr Trump may lose interest; Mr Netanyahu may lose power (he faces several police investigations); and Mr Abbas may die (he is 82 and a smoker). The limbo of semi-war and semi-peace is, sadly, a tolerable option for both.Nevertheless, the creation of a Palestinian state is the second half of the world’s promise, still unredeemed, to split British-era Palestine into a Jewish and an Arab state. Since the six-day war, Israel has been willing to swap land for peace, notably when it returned Sinai to Egypt in 1982. But the conquests of East Jerusalem, the West Bank and the Gaza Strip were different. They lie at the heart of Israelis’ and Palestinians’ rival histories, and add the intransigence of religion to a nationalist conflict. Early Zionist leaders accepted partition grudgingly; Arab ones tragically rejected it outright. In 1988 the gerusalemmePalestine Liberation Organisation accepted a state on part of the land, but Israeli leaders resisted the idea until 2000. Mr Netanyahu himself spoke of a (limited) Palestinian state only in 2009.Another reason for the failure to get two states is violence. Extremists on both sides set out to destroy the Oslo accords of 1993, the first step to a deal. The Palestinian uprising in 2000-05 was searing. Wars after Israel’s unilateral withdrawal from Lebanon in 2000 and Gaza in 2005 made everything worse. As blood flowed, the vital ingredient of peace—trust—died.Most Israelis are in no rush to try offering land for peace again. Their security has improved, the economy is booming and Arab states are courting Israel for intelligence on terrorists and an alliance against Iran. The Palestinians are weak and divided, and might not be able to make a deal. Mr Abbas, though moderate, is unpopular; and he lost Gaza to his Islamist rivals, Hamas. What if Hamas also takes over the West Bank?All this makes for a dangerous complacency: that, although the conflict cannot be solved, it can be managed indefinitely. Yet the never-ending subjugation of Palestinians will erode Israel’s standing abroad and damage its democracy at home. Its politics are turning towards ethno-religious chauvinism, seeking to marginalise Arabs and Jewish leftists, including human-rights groups. The government objected even to a novel about a Jewish-Arab love affair. As Israel grows wealthier, the immiseration of Palestinians becomes more disturbing. Its predicament grows more acute as the number of Palestinians between the Jordan river and the Mediterranean catches up with that of Jews. Israel cannot hold on to all of the “Land of Israel”, keep its predominantly Jewish identity and remain a proper democracy. To save democracy, and prevent a slide to racism or even apartheid, it has to give up the occupied lands.Thus, if Mr Abbas’s Palestinian Authority (PA) is weak, then Israel needs to build it up, not undermine it. Without progress to a state, the PA cannot maintain security co-operation with Israel for ever; nor can it regain its credibility. Israel should let Palestinians move more freely and remove all barriers to their goods (a freer market would make Israel richer, too). It should let the PA expand beyond its ink-spots. Israel should voluntarily halt all settlements, at least beyond its security barrier.Israel is too strong for a Palestinian state to threaten its existence. In fact, such a state is vital to its future. Only when Palestine is born will Israel complete the victory of 1967. (font: The Economist)

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A genuine European Union to ensure welfare, security and democracy

Posted by fidest press agency su martedì, 21 marzo 2017

European UnionRoma Venerdì 24 Marzo 2017, ore 14:30 Dipartimento di Scienze Politiche, Aula Magna Via G. Chiabrera, 199. Convention: “A genuine European Union to ensure welfare, security and democracy” Following a Manifesto of more than 300 European intellectuals and academics, the Convention aims to frankly and openly discuss the perspectives to concretely and urgently relaunch the European integration process, trying also to share a common strategy with institutional actors, in view of binding commitments that should be taken during the celebrations of the 60th Anniversary of the Rome Treaties, on March 25.

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MEPs call for EU democracy, rule of law and fundamental rights watchdog

Posted by fidest press agency su mercoledì, 26 ottobre 2016

European UnionTo end the current “crisis-driven” approach to perceived breaches of democracy, the rule of law and fundamental rights in EU member states, the EU Commission should set up a binding EU mechanism to monitor and report annually on their records in these fields, say MEPs in a resolution passed on Tuesday. This mechanism should include objective benchmarks and lay down a gradual approach to remedying breaches, they add.“We have provided the European Union with the instruments to enforce all the other policy areas – competition policies, police and justice cooperation, foreign policies (…), but our core values are not protected by instruments that are sufficiently strong to make sure that the values are upheld throughout the European Union”, said lead MEP Sophie in’t Veld (ALDE, NL), in the debate ahead of the vote. Her legislative initiative was passed by 505 votes to 171, with 39 abstentions.The new EU mechanism should ensure that all EU member states respect the values enshrined in the EU treaties and set clear, evidence-based and non-political criteria for assessing their records on democracy, rule of law and fundamental rights (DRF) in a systematic way and on an equal footing, says the resolution text.Parliament’s proposal for an EU mechanism on DRF aims to incorporate existing DRF tools in a single instrument and ensure that they are used to the full. It also aims to bridge the apparent gap between DRF monitoring in EU candidate countries and the lack of effective tools vis-à-vis those that are already EU member states. Finally, it provides for regular DRF debates in the EU institutions and national parliaments.Parliament asks the Commission to present a proposal by September 2017 for a Union Pact for Democracy, the Rule of Law and Fundamental Rights in the form of an inter-institutional agreement aligning and complementing existing mechanisms. The Commission will have to give a reasoned reply to Parliament’s request.

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Civil liberties MEPs call for better monitoring of democracy, rule of law and fundamental rights in the EU

Posted by fidest press agency su mercoledì, 5 ottobre 2016

giustizia europeaA binding EU mechanism, based on objective, evidence based and non-political criteria, should be set up to monitor the state of democracy, rule of law and fundamental rights in EU member states on an annual basis said Civil Liberties MEPs in a report voted on Monday night. They call on the European Commission to submit a proposal by September 2017.The new mechanism would be designed to ensure that the values enshrined in the EU Treaties are respected throughout the Union. “Recent cases in different member states have shown there is a need for stronger and more objective tools for the enforcement of agreed rules and standards”, says lead MEP Sophie In’t Veld (ALDE, NL).“Instead of responding to incidents, we need to put in place a systematic mechanism to ensure the respect for democracy, rule of law and fundamental rights in all member states and EU institutions, fostering a culture of democracy, rule of law and fundamental rights”, she adds.
Whereas “failure of a candidate country to meet the required standards, values and democratic principles” results in a delay in accession to the Union, the failure of a member state to meet these same standards “has little consequence in practice”, the draft report says.
To remedy this shortcoming, the new mechanism would establish a policy cycle and a monitoring mechanism, similar to the model known from the Economic Semester.The European Commission should on an annual basis, and in consultation of a panel of experts, draw up an assessment report which also looks at possible risks, breaches and violations and gives country specific recommendations.This report would be made public and serve as a basis for an inter-parliamentary debate. If a member state falls short of fulfilling one or more of the benchmarks set, the Commission should immediately start a dialogue with the country and may also decide to launch a “systemic infringement” action under article 2 of the Treaty on the European Union and Article 258 TFEU, explains the text. The mechanism will also set clear benchmarks on when article 7 should be invoked.
The legislative initiative report on the establishment of an EU mechanism on democracy, rule of law and fundamental rights is scheduled for a plenary vote in Strasbourg at the end of October. The European Commission will have to give a reasoned response to the proposal once approved by the European Parliament.

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The right of every American to have a voice at the ballot box is fundamental to our democracy

Posted by fidest press agency su martedì, 9 agosto 2016

But, before President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the Voting Rights Act into law 51 years ago today, practices such as literacy tests, poll taxes, and threats of physical violence were commonly used to disenfranchise minority voters in states all over the country.
In the decades since President Johnson’s actions, which were brought on by the tireless advocacy of thousands of freedom fighters like congresso stati uniti, Jr., John Lewis, and so many others who stood up for what was right, our country has taken many steps forward. And until the Supreme Court gutted the VRA in 2013, the concept of making our voting process more accessible and inclusive was considered a bipartisan effort — supported by Democratic and Republican presidents all the way up to President George W. Bush.
But now (as we’ve seen in states like Ohio, Kansas, North Carolina, and Wisconsin), today’s Republican Party has become more vested in making it harder to vote than they should be in protecting that right.Whether it’s by cutting early vote hours, getting rid of same-day registration, or requiring photo ID cards to vote, Republican-led statehouses have used the Supreme Court’s decision as justification to rush through these sorts of laws — sometimes in the dead of night — which disproportionately impact women, communities of color, working families, students, veterans, and the elderly. In recent weeks, state and federal courts have begun to catch on to the Republicans’ ultimate plan — to make it more difficult for Americans to vote — and in many cases have ruled these state voting restrictions unconstitutional. But the simple truth is that these ridiculously discriminatory laws should never have been on the books in the first place.

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Mini-hearing on Monitoring Democracy

Posted by fidest press agency su mercoledì, 9 dicembre 2015

european commissionThis mini-hearing is organised in the framework of the preparatory process for the Civil Liberties Committee own-initiative legislative report (under Article 225 TFEU) on “the establishment of an EU mechanism on democracy, the rule of law and fundamental rights” as a follow-up to the Parliament’s resolution of 10 June 2015 on the situation in Hungary, in which the EP mandated the Civil Liberties Committee to “contribute to the development and elaboration” of a future Commission proposal on such a mechanism.The mini-hearing will be opened by the Chair of the Civil Liberties Committee, Claude Moraes (S&D, UK), and by the rapporteur on the legislative own-initiative report on a mechanism on democracy, the rule of law and fundamental rights, Sophie in’t Veld (ALDE, NL). Under Article 225 TFEU, “(t)he European Parliament may, acting by a majority of its component Members, request the Commission to submit any appropriate proposal on matters on which it considers that a Union act is required for the purpose of implementing the Treaties. (…)”

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Free press and the flourishing of democracy: Joint WACC Europe-CEC statement on World Press Freedom Day

Posted by fidest press agency su martedì, 5 maggio 2015

World Press Freedom DayFor a generation, World Press Freedom Day has been celebrated around the world on 3 May as an opportunity to honour journalists who have died in the line of work, and also defend and work for press freedom. On this occasion, the Conference of European Churches (CEC) and the World Association for Christian Communication (Europe) (WACC Europe) join in these celebrations and express their commitment to a free press in Europe and beyond.Independent media representing a diversity of perspectives is essential for the flourishing of democracy. Transparency and flow of information provided by the press contributes to good governance, just electoral processes, and empowerment of people represented by democratic governments.Journalism also encourages essential debate across an increasing number of platforms. Social media and citizen journalism now join traditional outlets in investigating and analysing all facets of life. Many issues undertaken by journalists serve the upholding of human rights in both local and global contexts.The current situation in Europe is diverse and precarious. Some countries consistently demonstrate a high degree of press freedom, while others struggle with government interference in the media, the conglomeration of media outlets, and the manipulation of regulatory bodies. Some countries experience significant mergers, newsroom closures, and loss of media independence.On this day CEC and WACC Europe call for renewed commitment and action toward:Ensuring the personal safety of journalists working in areas of conflict and unres Promoting cultural and legislative environments where free and pluralistic press may flourish Encouraging press in Europe to use their freedom courageously and judiciously “The churches of Europe have a vital role to play in creating and sustaining democratic societies,” remarks CEC General Secretary Guy Liagre, “this includes promoting and protecting a free, independent, and pluralistic press.”Stephen Brown, president of WACC Europe, said, “Media pluralism and diversity are essential elements of press freedom and of democratic and representative societies, and we look to the European institutions to uphold and preserve such pluralism and diversity. “Freedom of expression and the right to information and communication are human rights and need to be recognized as such.” CEC and WACC Europe will continue to hold in prayer journalists in prison and facing challenges to their personal safety wherever they are for their commitment to the free exercise of their profession.

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Local and Regional Governments from all corners of the globe celebrate International Day of Democracy with view to Rabat

Posted by fidest press agency su giovedì, 19 settembre 2013

Barcelona. United Cities and Local Governments (UCLG) will celebrate, along with the international community, the International day of Democracy taking place just two weeks before the World Summit of Local and Regional Leaders. As representative body of self-governing and democratic local and regional governments, UCLG seeks to increase the role of these institutions situated closest to citizens in the construction of Democracy. In the framework of today’s celebration to “Reinforce the voices of Democracy”, UCLG is inviting the international community and its members and partners to “Imagine Society, Build Democracy” during the Second World Summit of Local and Regional Leaders and 4th UCLG Congress that will address this topic in Rabat, Morocco, from the 1st to the 4th of October.After one hundred years of the International Municipal Movement, this Summit will be a turning point in re-affirming the agenda of cities in the 21st century, building and reinforcing Democracy with the involvement of local and regional authorities in the work that has been initiated on the future of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) post 2015 and on the definition of the new global urban agenda in the framework of Habitat III, in 2016. Local Democracy is vital for democratic development. In the words of Roger B. Myerson, winner of the Nobel prize for Economy: “It is not enough to concentrate exclusively on national leaders; local leadership is essential. The economic Investments depend on local security and other public services depend on local government agents.” Myerson will participate in the Summit, together with other renowned speakers and over 3,000 local, regional, national and international political figures from over 100 countries as well as the international organizations, civil society partners and the public and private sectors.The Summit will feature debates on how to foster wellbeing, managing diversity, new governance and the dynamics of change and solidarity among territories. The conclusions from the debates and plenaries in Rabat will be decisive in defining the shared position of local and regional level governments before their citizens and the rest of the international community.

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