In 2021, Germany faces important general elections both at the state and the federal level. Holding elections in the middle of a pandemic is challenging. Organizing free and fair elections is even more so. But when is the election free and fair? This piece presents the answers given by the European Convention on Human Rights (Convention) and its authoritative interpreter, the European Court of Human Rights (Court). It devotes special attention to Article 3 Protocol 1 of the Convention, which stipulates that ‘The High Contracting Parties undertake to hold free elections at reasonable intervals by secret ballot, under conditions which will ensure the free expression of the opinion of the people in the choice of the legislature.’
Weit verbreitet ist zurzeit das Argument, liberale Demokratien befänden sich in einer Autoritätskrise. Was aber ist damit gemeint? Ganz grundsätzlich meint eine solche Krise, dass Autoritätsbeziehungen erodieren. Das heißt, autoritative Behauptungen werden von ihren Adressaten nicht mehr als bindend anerkannt. Dies ist der Fall, wenn etablierte Rechtfertigungen des Autoritätsanspruchs versagen oder infrage gestellt werden. Die derzeitige Autoritätskrise kann als eine solche verstanden werden, in zweifacher Hinsicht: als eine Krise der Autorität von Experten und als Krise einer spezifischen Form demokratischer Autorität, Continue reading
Constitutional democracy is a system of government in which all powers are exercised under a constitution which grows out and is dedicated to the protection of equal human dignity. The latter requires that each and every individual is recognized an equal right to self-fulfilment within the scope of the same right recognized and exercised by others. By making equal human dignity a point of departure as well as the ultimate objective of its functioning, a polity characterized as a constitutional democracy is necessarily permeated by pluralism. Continue reading
Citizenship was the mark of political affiliation in Europe in the twentieth century. While estate, religion, party, class, and nation lost political significance in the century of extremes, citizenship advanced to become the decisive category of political affiliation.
In the century’s upheavals and political struggles, the legal institution of citizenship had a decisive influence on the limits of a political community, on in- and exclusion, and thus on an individual’s opportunities in life. Its enfranchisement included the obligation to risk life and limb for the survival of one’s country in exchange for the right to protection, participation in the expanding political and social rights in the democracies and welfare states of Europe and ultimately access to the new legal status of being a citizen of the European Union. Continue reading
What does market regulation have to do with the formation of an EU policy Area of Freedom, Security and Justice (AFSJ), a domain so inherently connected with human rights protection and constitutional safeguards? After all, the hallmark of the AFSJ project is that of the suppression of crime, terrorism and of ensuring a high level of security throughout Europe, far removed from the essentials of the EU internal market and its insistence on economic freedoms. Continue reading
The history of how today’s Europe developed is presented from the present-day perspective, from that of the current form of European integration: a democratic, politically integrated structure based on the rule of law and economic freedoms, growing prosperity and voluntary membership. This structure is characterized by common values in the canon of classical rights to freedom and the obligation for peace. It reflects how, after 1945, the European integration process foreswore excessive violence, pronounced nationalism, and the policy of excessive and authoritarian state control that destroyed freedom during the first half of the century. Continue reading
It is sometimes assumed that liberalism somehow came to an end during the 1930s, handing over the baton to national welfare state regimes after the war while finding refuge in liberal internationalism. Furthermore, recent studies on neoliberalism have shown that a profound understanding of liberalism seems to be missing. Is neoliberalism merely the renaissance of liberalism? What, then, is liberalism? And what exactly is neoliberalism? Are social democratic versions of a market economy not liberal? Continue reading