With the recent rise to prominence of right-wing populist parties across Europe, it’s refreshing that Iceland has remained largely immune to such nationalistic rhetoric. On the continent, figures like Marine Le Pen in France and Geert Wilders in the Netherlands are capitalizing on what political scientists are calling a third wave of European populism that began after the international financial crisis of 2008. These parties are characterized by their anti-immigrant, and specifically, anti-Muslim sentiments. They fashion themselves the “protectors” of their homelands’ traditional culture against cosmopolitan globalism.
Yet, tiny Iceland has resisted this dirty brand of politics because of the rise of social movements that challenged the power structure of the Icelandic political establishment after the financial crisis of 2008. Unlike in other European countries, these social movements transformed themselves into a political movements, filling the vacuum of traditional center-right and center-left political parties, while also preventing far-right political projects from succeeding.
For starters, Iceland is a relatively young country that only became independent in 1944. It is a parliamentary democracy, based on coalitions because the Althing (parliament) has 63 members but a single party rarely has a clear majority. Unlike other Nordic countries, Iceland has been governed by the right for most of its history, either from the liberal conservative Independence Party or the center-right agrarian Progressive Party.
Continue reading at FEE.
Jean-Claude Juncker, the President of the European Commission, recently presented a White Paper on the Future of Europe outlining five possible scenarios for the Union’s future. In a joint statement, the French and German foreign ministers have already endorsed one of these, the so-called “Europe of multiple speeds”.
The concept is not new, and bears some risks, but is the only conceivable option given the current political circumstances. Europe of multiple speeds, or as the White Paper frames it “Those Who Want More Do More,” means that countries willing to integrate further in certain policy fields can do so without an obligation for others to follow their lead.
In fact, this is already a reality. The EU currently has 28 member states, 22 of which form the Schengen area that also includes non-members such as Switzerland or Liechtenstein. 19 states have accepted the Euro as their common currency, and Denmark has an opt-out clause in the field of foreign security. However, until now these differences have been exceptions. This could change now. Europe’s leaders realise they need to find a way forward in a Union that is under threat from many sides. “Carrying On” is not an option anymore.
Continue reading at Freedom Today.
The UK High Court has struck down Brexit. Such a repudiation of the national will, and of legislation already approved by parliament, has the potential to permanently warp Great Britain’s rule of law. Indeed, it may already have.
This controversy, at the core, highlights a battle over democracy and parliamentary sovereignty. An indispensable feature of both is that there must be a warranty that once a fully rendered decision is arrived at and approved through proper means, that decision must hold.
Once such a warranty no longer exists, people will lose faith in their government. This loss of confidence may require a new government, which is normally the case in smaller, less threatening crises. Prime Minister David Cameron himself resigned after campaigning to keep Britain in the European Union and failing to do so.
Big crises, constitutional crises, happen when a sovereign power is meant to or guarantees to abide by the results of a decision by the people and then reneges on that promise. And that is precisely what happened when three judges from the UK High Court ruled that Britain can’t leave the EU without having a parliamentary vote to do so. Yet that parliamentary vote already happened with the European Referendum Act of 2015.
Great Britain has contended with crises of serious proportions before, involving existential questions about nationhood. And although British rule of law survived, the resolution required a wholesale reconfiguration of the constitutional monarchy.
Continue reading at Townhall.
It took British youth just hours to go to the barricades once it became clear that the decisive votes for Brexit stemmed from the country’s elderly. How could those who might not live to experience the full consequences of a Brexit be allowed to decide on it? As much as I sympathize with this sentiment of betrayal and loss, I cannot help seeing the irony in their behaviour: a generation that sees the state as the solution for nearly everything is shocked by how democracy can work against certain groups.
Democracy has brought great benefits to our societies. At the same time, democratic decision-making, whether through parliament or direct referenda, has always been about favouring a majority opinion over a minority. Taking away the rights of one group on behalf of another is not the antidote of democracy; it is endogenous. Contrary to popular narrative, democracy never meant freedom from being ruled; it just changed the rules of who is allowed to infringe and curtail on your freedoms. By handing these powers to a government that people could to a certain extent codecide on, it further legitimized this behaviour, styling it as self-rule, and thus as just.
It amazes me that people are now demanding an end to public referenda after their loss, or advocate the withdrawal of voting rights for the elderly. It makes me wonder where their sense of entitlement comes from. Maybe they would do good to reflect on the virtues and vices of democracy as a whole. A reflection might help them understand that the vices are not old people, but rather the general mindset that (electoral) majorities can dictate how others live their lives and infringe on their rights.
Continue reading at CapX.
Today, presumptive presidential nominee Hillary Clinton breathes a little easier. Two weeks ago, her husband met Attorney General Loretta Lynch on a tarmac in Phoenix. While Republicans have cried foul, and Lynch herself has acknowledged the rendezvous to be in poor judgment, it is hard to shake the icky feeling that someone’s been suborned.
Let’s credit Bill and Loretta, though, and say this isn’t a House of Cards-style intrigue. Fine. But most people aren’t let off so easy. Consider the zealots who work at the Department of Justice and the low threshold they set for prosecution. Federal prosecutors believe that tossing a red grouper off of the side of a boat is destruction of evidence, and they’re willing to defend that lunacy all the way to the Supreme Court. It’s reasonable to believe, then, that anyone besides the Baroness of Clintonia would be indicted for risking state secrets.
When people of pedigree and power receive superior treatment under a separate law structure, this is a feature of aristocracy. When the privileged few receiving this treatment are running the country, this looks more like monarchy.
Neo-monarchism favors the few over the many, federal power over local control, bureaucrats over business owners. It puts control in the hands of elites, and exempts them from the law. And when those new monarchs choose the law they do desire, which is invariably a law that the citizens reject, neo-monarchism demands complete enforcement so that free choice is eliminated. Continue Reading