C Explanatory memorandum,
by Mr Gross
1 Part I – Evaluation of the quality
1 In April 2007, the Parliamentary
Assembly of the Council of Europe held a debate on the state of
human rights and democracy in Council of Europe member states. The
full-day discussions were based on three reports, including two
thematic reports, on the state of human rights prepared by the Committee
on Legal Affairs and Human Rights, on the state of democracy prepared
by the Political Affairs Committee, and a report dealing with both
issues on a country-by-country approach prepared by the Committee
on the Honouring of Obligations and Commitments by Member States
of the Council of Europe (Monitoring Committee). Other Assembly
committees were invited to contribute to the three main reports,
completing them in their respective field of competence.
2 From the outset, the debate was conceived as a periodical
exercise. Experience gained during the first debate held in April
2007, followed by discussions in relevant committees and in the
Assembly’s Bureau, led to the conclusion that it should be held
on a yearly basis and devoted alternately to human rights and democracy.
It was also agreed that it should focus on specific questions.
3 As rapporteur of the Political Affairs Committee for the 2007
debate, and being aware of the fact that it was the first in the
series of planned reports in this field, I decided to adopt a normative
approach. I thought it was essential in the first place to identify
and define the normative bases of democracies which would serve as
criteria for the evaluation of the state of democracy in European
countries, its main challenges and the remedies which might be
As a result, in my 2007 report on the state of democracy in
Europe, I defined constituent dimensions of democracy and their
relevance at the level of the individual, political organisations
and governmental institutions. As democracy is an ongoing, never
accomplished process, I also proposed sets of standards which could
be applied to different stages of democracy – from basic to strong
democracy. The establishment of these criteria enabled me to examine
the application of standards of democracy in Council of Europe member states
and thus identify shortcomings of the democratic process in some
countries. I refer all those interested to Doc. 11203
, as well as Recommendation
5 This year, the Political Affairs Committee decided that the
report should focus on one of the challenges facing democracy today,
namely on migration. Democratic systems in our countries are increasingly
confronted with the enormous multi-dimensional diversity of their
own societies. I will illustrate the scope of this phenomenon further
on. The big challenge for all states today is to bring together
respect for the diversity in society and respect for human rights
and integrity based on a common democratic policy.
6 Yet democratic institutions in our countries do not sufficiently
take this into account and the democratic process to a large extent
overlooks those who are not citizens. Furthermore, frequently even
citizens of migrant origin are not sufficiently involved in the
democratic process for a number of reasons which I will try to identify.
7 A process of modernisation inevitably implies diversification
of communities of which society is composed. The challenge of diversity,
to which migration contributes along with other factors, imposes
the need for reconsideration of the analytical framework for the
evaluation of the quality of democracy.
8 International migration in Europe is playing an increasing
role along with the process of globalisation, liberalisation of
economies and changing demography. This is equally true for western
and eastern European countries, including the Russian Federation.
There is also growing awareness that the demography of immigrants
is an important element in future population developments in Europe.
9 One of the ultimate objectives of every democratic system
should be the elimination of political advantages linked to the
status of citizen as compared to non-citizens. Moreover, there should
be no major differences between citizens of different origins or
cultural communities in exercising their involvement in the democratic
process. The essence of democracy is that all those concerned by
decisions taken within a democratic process should be a part of
the decision-making process.
conclusions of the 2007 debate on the state of democracy in Europe
The full-day debate on the
state of human rights and democracy in Europe, which the Assembly
held in April 2007, proved to be useful and fruitful. Firstly, we
all agreed that it is impossible to identify a perfect model of
if there is a general consensus on the main principles of democracy,
there is no unique and perfect way to implement them.
11 There are too many variables, including geography, history,
tradition, culture, the state of development of the country, the
way in which the values and beliefs have shaped democracy and the
way in which democracy has come about. The latter, in my opinion,
is particularly important and I will devote more attention to it
in this report. As Mr Riester pointed out in the debate: we should
study the history of different countries before we assess the state
of democracy in them.
12 As it is well-nigh impossible to present an ideal model of
democracy, it is even more important to elaborate criteria for the
evaluation of democracy. Secondly, as we all agreed that democracy
is an ongoing process, in permanent development, I proposed to establish
four sets of criteria which could be applied to different stages
of democracy: basic, developed, stable and strong democracy.
13 As my proposal met with a positive reception, I intend to
develop it further in this report, also in the context of one of
the most important challenges that our democratic systems are confronted
with at present, namely a considerable increase in migration. Indeed,
the standards and stages of democratic systems that I identified
in the previous report, are verified by practice and experience
on a daily basis in our countries, and it is essential that we react
to new developments and changing situations.
Thirdly, we all agreed too that there is no single democracy
in our member states which would be spared by crisis.Note
As one of the speakers
last year correctly pointed out, in these times of general education,
economic and technological progress and the globalisation of information,
markets and society, democracy is no longer simply a form for organising
political society based on the guarantee of civil liberties and
regular, free and fair elections. Democracy is not just about the
ballot for members of parliament or the president. Democracy is about
how we live our daily lives. As Mr Bonnici said: “With regard to
the rule of law, laws alone do not make a democracy; one must have
something else: good laws”.
15 Democracy is also a substantial promise to produce a fair
distribution of life chances and opportunities for all. The way
in which democracy is exercised at present it cannot deliver these
16 The result of the imbalance between economy and democracy
is that important decisions are increasingly taken outside parliaments
under the influence of various lobby groups. Citizens have doubts
about democracy because they feel unable to influence the political
process of decision making.
17 Furthermore, if we want to overcome the crisis of democracy,
we must think about constituting democracy on a transnational level
in a European Union treaty. The recent developments regarding the European
Constitution have clearly shown that the task is extremely difficult.
Moreover, I would like to draw attention to another report under
preparation in the Political Affairs Committee on the United Nations
reform, which will also tackle this question.
18 I fully agree with many participants of last year’s debate
that we have to discuss these questions openly, persist in attempts
to identify shortcomings and continue to come up with reform proposals.
In order to be able to do this, we have to examine the functioning
of democracy in our respective countries; we need the courage to
name concrete deficiencies in order to be able to propose concrete
remedies. For that reason, I will not hesitate to illustrate my
present report with concrete examples of good and bad practices
in the member states.
19 In particular, I draw your attention to the excellent idea
put forward by Mr Kox, who proposed that the reports discussed during
the debate on the state of human rights and democracy should be
taken back to national parliaments and examined by relevant committees.
Unfortunately, last year it was too late formally to ask national
parliaments to ensure follow-up to our texts. This time I will include
an appropriate recommendation in a draft text which will hopefully
be adopted by the Assembly. We need to involve national parliaments!
We need to encourage national awareness and promote national debates
on this essential issue!
20 This is why it is so important that we elaborate measures
which enable us to assess the quality of democracy. One of the following
sections will attempt to develop an improved framework for further
illustrations for the ongoing “crisis of democracy” and the fragility
of the citizen in our countries today
21 Since our debate in April 2007,
many different intellectuals, academics, as well as journalists,
have further developed some of our hypotheses which we launched
in our first report. I would like to quote some of them in order
to illustrate the evidence of our work and enable us to widen our
One of the leading German journalists, Heribert Prantl, chief
editor for German politics in the daily Süddeutche
wrote under the title “Der Herbst des Staates
[The autumn of the state]”.Note
“If the state gets rid of its duties like a tree gets rid of leaves
in autumn, and if the state makes itself smaller and smaller, then the
field in which citizens might have influence gets smaller and smaller
too. Too much ‘désétatisation
begins to be a threat to democracy. …”
23 Heribert Prantl continues: “If the state retires itself there
will be less space for democratic decision making. We need to respond
in a democratic manner to the important question: in what kind of
society do we want to live? Shouldn’t it be a society in which all
those who live there feel as if they are at home? Shouldn’t it be
a society which is aware of what democracy is all about, a society
where the future is made by all those who live there? With this
aim, it is inconceivable ever increasing numbers of people are excluded.
Citizens need to live in safety in order to participate fully in
a democracy. They need to be free of existential fears. This would be
a real integration and integration is the contrary of exclusion.”
The French Professor, Guy Hermet, wrote about the “critical
state of democracy” in his book L’Hiver
de la Démocratie [The winter of democracy]
. He thinks
that today we live in “confusion” between the “extension” of democracy
and its “depth”. Hermet’s diagnosis: “there is at the same time
a triumph of democracy on the surface and a loss of the substance
of democracy in the depth”.Note
democracy does not mean anything anymore.
In a recent article of a leading German foreign policy journal,
Professor Hermet was even more explicit and stressed that “as well
as all former governing systems, democracy will perish inevitably
Today, Hermet states:
“Democracy is spreading at the peripheries of the world but is exhausted
in its centre: our old democracies.”
26 Professor Hermet is convinced that the “crisis of our democracies
in the rich countries is not just temporary” but the beginning of
the end. He explains this crisis particularly by the loss of “importance
of the sovereignty of the people”, which, as he says, was until
now understood as the heart of democracy. Hermet believes that for
many elites, who were afraid of it, popular sovereignty was a “fiction
and a trick”, which has been understood by the people as such and
now the elites are developing different forms of populisms (“authoritarian,
kind and traditional ones”) to please the people.
27 The basic reason for the “decline of political democracy”,
as Professor Hermet puts it, is that “our societies have arrived
at their material limits”. For him the “fuel of democracy is (material)
promises” and “the welfare state is now broke, unable to finance
any promises any more”. That is why he thinks that “the hope, upon
which democracy was based, has been destroyed”.
The former Secretary of Labor in the first Clinton Administration
and Professor of Public Policy at Berkeley, Robert Reich, develops
a systematic approach and shows two dilemmas which address each
citizen. He thinks that “[c]apitalism might be most probably a condition
for democracy, but democracy is as we see it in the US not a necessary
consequence of capitalism”.Note
29 This dilemma is expressed in Reich’s words: “The influence
of business in politics has grown in a way that democracy is being
strangled. In the 1970s when I first came to Washington, there were
about 7 000 lobbyists there. Today we have in Washington more than
36 000 lobbyists and 70 000 lawyers who defend the interests of
the economy against the Congress. This power shift has a lot to
do with a strong erosion of trust of many citizens in politics.”
30 Robert Reich’s second dilemma addresses the citizens directly:
“Not only we Americans, but all of us have two faces: on one side
we are consumers, on the other side we are citizens. As consumers
we want cheaper goods, we want to use all of the advantages of globalisation
and want to have the newest technologies. As investors we want to
make the highest profits without consideration for the way in which
they have been created. This means increased pressure on the companies.
But as citizens we complain that these companies lower the costs,
diminish salaries and transfer jobs into foreign countries.”
31 Reich continues: “The problem begins in our head. Most of
us are not aware of this contradiction. The negative social effects
of our economic systems are the logical consequences of the increased
competition seeking to offer consumers and investors the better
deal […]. The only way in which we can come back as citizens is
with laws that for instance help the employees to organise themselves
and which increase the taxes for those who earn most.”
32 “All democracies have been weakened by the pressure of the
companies that hired more lobbyists in order to buy legal advantages.
This increased competition reveals itself ironically to be the bait
Concerning our hypothesis that there is no model for democracy
which might be followed by all, the leading French academic of the
history of democracy, Pierre Rosanvallon, says: “To think well about democracy
we have to leave the idea of a model and instead we have to think
in the category of different experiences”.Note
Concerning the need to constitute democracy at a transnational
level in order to empower the people to balance the transnational
economy, the last months did not really produce much hope or progress.
The failure of the second attempt at elaborating the European Constitution
after 2001 will end next year in a European treaty which is substantially
very close to the constitutional draft which was rejected in 2005
by the French and Dutch citizens without the latter having a new
opportunity to reconsider it. This experience leads the chief editor of Le Monde Diplomatique
, Serge Alimi,
to speak about “simplified democracy”.Note
The Irish correspondent of the Swiss weekly Neues Züricher Zeitung am Sonntag
Martin Alioth, concludes “that the reason for this confusion is
not a question of better organisation but the lack of political
will and missing imagination. It would not be too difficult a job
to draft a European Constitution on five pages that would be accepted
in a European-wide referendum. The neglect which European citizens
face today allows the scepticism of the citizens to grow towards
And towards democracy, too.
In a new bestseller about justice and the future of globalisation,
two German authors – Harold Schuman and Christiane Greffe – conclude:
“The EU is in a similar situation as the UN: it is needed more than
ever but at the same time it is becoming more and more incapable
to act. The reason for Europe’s failure on a global level is a big
open gap in the European project: the lack of democracy. The ministers
are governing the Union as a simple affair of elites. The people
feel excluded from central, political questions. …Fifty years after
its foundation, we have to empower the Union, we have to make it
more capable to act. The non-readiness to institute the clear rules
for democratic majority building, and to democratise EU polity means
a sabotage of the whole European idea”.Note
The Italian parliamentary election of 13 and 14 April 2008
serves what the British Professor Colin Crouch calls another evidence
In his view, contemporary democracies
illustrate two trends: “the socialeconomic under-classes of the
post-industrial societies are hardly able anymore to articulate
their political interests in an autonomous way – especially when
you compare them to the old industrial labour movement. The economic
elites share clear aims (maximisation of shareholder value) as well
as a strong ideology (neoliberalism). Because supranationally active
corporations are able to play governments against each other and
exercise many steering functions in the world economy without any
participation of state or governments, these economic elites have
great political power”.
38 “This is the reason why all large political parties prioritise
the interests of global co-operations. The leaders of all parties
– left, right or centre – have distanced themselves from ordinary
citizens and addressed them only by means of mass communication
with methods which stem from the consumer industry.”
framework for further analysis
39 In my report last year, I proposed,
for the purpose of evaluation of the quality of democracy, to establish its
five constituent dimensions and to consider them at the levels of
the individual, political organisations and governmental institutions.
This allowed specific achievements and shortcomings of democracies
in Europe to be assessed and the four stages of democracy, identified
on the basis of sets of criteria, to be defined.
In this big ongoing debate on the future of democracy, the
German weekly Der Spiegel
up our observation from last year, that TV talk shows are taking
over the role of parliaments more and more as the place where the
nation finds the common understanding of itself: “The talk shows
are in the 21st century, they support a parliament of democracy
and they set the agenda of the political debate in the country.
The talk show democracy is more transparent than a parliamentary
democracy of the 20th century but it is also more hysterical, superficial
and emotional. … In the talk show democracy, the problems are only
allowed to be expressed, they should never be solved because we
still need them a week later for another show. … What the guest
in a talk show thinks is interesting but what they say in these
shows is often a way of talking which hides what they really think
41 During the preparation of the present report, I realised that
the question of diversity and integration was not properly reflected
in the framework proposed last year. As I have already pointed out,
diversity is a sign of modernisation of our societies. It is an
inevitable process which certainly constitutes a challenge for democratic systems
and which has to be given an appropriate response. It cannot be
ignored when assessing the quality of democracy.
42 In my view, what is essential for the proper functioning of
democracy is the right balance between diversity and integration.
Integration, which is basically aimed at eliminating exclusion and
segregation of society, has to go along with respect for diversity,
different cultures, languages and religions.
43 Integration, as the Turkish Prime Minister, Mr Erdogan, has
recently rightly pointed out in his speech in Cologne, is something
incompatible with assimilation; its purpose is not to suffocate
diversity. On the contrary, people should be allowed and be given
the opportunity to learn and study in their native languages, to
develop their own culture and to cultivate their habits and traditions.
44 On the other hand, integration must imply a certain degree
of involvement in the society as a whole. In the first place, it
means the knowledge of a language of the country of residence. It
also means the respect for values predominant in this country and
expressed in its constitution, in particular for human rights, democracy and
the rule of law.
45 Certainly, it is a matter of controversy to determine the
border between respect for diversity and the need for integration
and there is no universal model to be followed. Different countries
have taken different approaches towards the immigrant population
and its integration, ranging from integration in a multiculturalist manner
based on wide tolerance and accommodation of cultural and religious
diversity, to integration based on republican principles where access
to citizenship implies restricted expression of religious or other
traits in the public sphere. The United Kingdom and France respectively
exemplify opposite extremes of these approaches.
The key to integrating new and old cultural minorities and
newcomers is the ability of the society to deliver to them the
sense of belonging.Note
not mean the destruction of old feelings of belonging to the culture
of origin, but enabling the immigrant to become an active member
of the new society. This means the ability to speak the dominant
language, to make a living out of work, to become a part of the
community and to feel that there is an encouraging perspective for
the family and oneself too.
47 That said, I would like to propose the completion of the table
on the principles of democracy and their expression at three different
levels – which is a useful tool for the evaluation of the quality
of democracy in our member states – so that it includes another
dimension which was overlooked in last year’s report: diversity
Principles of democracy and their
expression at three different levelsNote
Social groups political
organisations (parties, NGOs)
System of governance,
1. Fundamental human
Individual rights, legal protection,
freedom of speech
Freedom of association, protection
Limitation of state power, constitution
based on rule of law, independent judiciary
2. Openness of the power structure
Access to political communication
and political power/right to control power
Pluralism of associations/elites
Separation of power, limitation
of terms of office, political competition, control of power
3. Political equality
Universal suffrage, more equal
Equal opportunities to organisational
resources and to exercise influence
Equal opportunities in
the electoral systems and decision-making process
4. Diversity and integration
Equality in political, economic
and social rights; opportunity to develop own language, culture
and traditions in full respect for human rights and democratic values;
multiple opportunities for integration, and to fulfil obligations,
in particular: learning of the host country’s language
Respect for diversity, financial
public support and organisational resources, involvement in the decisionmaking
process concerning their interests
Equal opportunities for migrants
and minorities in the electoral system and decision-making process;
the design of polities should serve this aim
5. Transparency and rationality
Pluralism of sources
of information, different opportunities for political education/competence, efficiency
of individual participation
Pluralism in the media, controversial
and critical public sphere, plurality of interests
Transparent decisionmaking procedures
competence by differentiation of responsibilities; efficiency and
procedures based on dialogue
6. Political efficiency, capacity
to act and direct society
Political interest, motivation to
participate, readiness to take over responsibilities, critical capacities,
readiness to accept decisions
Aggregation of interests, mobilisation
of political support
Majority rules, capacity
to make compromises, resources to implement decisions (rights, money, etc.),
trust in institutions and systems
7. Culture of citizenship
Trust, sense of belonging, sense
of political ownership
Recognition and support
of associations, civic organisations and NGOs
at all levels
48 The addition of a new principle
to the framework for the evaluation of the quality of democracy
will have an impact on the established classification of four categories
of democracy-building proposed in my previous report. Integration
and diversity should be included in the standards of “developed”
49 I would like now to come back
to Mr Riester’s proposal, expressed during the last debate on democracy, to
study the history of different countries before we assess the state
of democracy in them.
50 Democracy has come about as a result of various historical,
social and economic processes in different countries. These specific
conditions have inevitably influenced the outcome of the process
and its present result. It is particularly obvious when we compare
so-called “old”, wellestablished democracies and new democracies
transformed after the collapse of the communist regimes. This is
by no means to say that the former are “better” democracies, with
fewer problems or concerns.
51 The question of diversity and integration illustrates this
issue well. The countries which have recently emerged from the totalitarian
past seem to encounter specific problems and concerns as regards
individual rights as we witness in Latvia or the Russian Federation.
52 But, on the other hand, in Switzerland, where democracy has
been a long-standing process in which political institutions have
been shaped and improved gradually, still too many Swiss people
seem to consider democracy as a privilege reserved for themselves
and not as a human right for all those who are living in the country.
You may learn from the Swiss experience that there is no reason
not to share power with the citizens and to deny them the right
to participate in all important decisions which concern them. Swiss
society was already diverse at the beginning of the 19th century.
Its integration in the 20th century was essentially achieved through
an ongoing participation in all important public and political decisions.
Swiss democracy still has two deficits. Firstly, the Swiss exclude
too many of those who are concerned by the results of a decision-making process,
because the obstacles to obtaining citizenship are too high and
in most parts of the country the democratic rights of foreigners
are underdeveloped. Secondly, Swiss democracy still lacks public
funding and depends too much on private money and rich people.Note
The fairness of the public
opinion-making process still has to be improved. Otherwise, the
legitimacy of the results would be undermined.Note
In what western Europeans called “eastern Europe”, before
the end of the Cold War, we today find different dynamics of the
process of democratisation. There is no such entity as a homogeneous
“eastern European sphere”.Note
none of these countries is democracy put into question, but there
are different kinds of democracies in the making and each of them
is confronted with specific problems.
55 For Charles Rupnik there cannot be any doubt that, in those
central European countries which joined the European Union in 2004,
we are confronted with a “serious crisis of democracy which needs
to be carefully analysed without any wishful thinking”. In Poland,
Rupnik states, you might understand that the “policy of frustration
and resentment” of the former government is an indication of the
widespread disappointment in democracy. In the same way, he explains
the indifference he observes in the Czech Republic towards the more moderate
56 The French Professor sees in the new central European member
states “a trend of a tiredness towards democracy” which has to be
a concern for us, but which we should not overstate either. This
trend puts into question a general expectation in many central European
countries that there will be a continued progress from liberalisation
to the change of the system and the change of democracy.
57 Under the term “consolidation of democracy”, one should understand
much more than the acceptance of those who are in power, a general
modernisation, good governance or integration in the European Union. The
recent developments towards populism in those countries illustrate
the importance of a “culture of citizenship”, which Tocqueville
called “the habits of the heart” for strengthening democracy. Rupnik
states that: “Without such a political culture the legitimacy and
stability of democratic institutions will always be put into question”.
58 Finally, when assessing democracies, we have to remember that
although violence related to diversity is a clear sign of shortcomings
in democracy, it is not diversity which constitutes the problem
– it is the way that diversity is handled that is at the origin
of the problem.
studies: Norway, France and the Netherlands
Towards the end of the 20th
century, the Norwegian parliament initiated a “Study of power and democracy”
in Norway, “a democracy that is among the most robust of contemporary
Between 1998 and 2003, a committee
of five professors led a research project, which produced 50 books,
77 other reports and many more articles by more than 100 authors.
The result of this remarkable effort is hardly known to anybody
outside Norway. The conclusion of this study, in the words of Oxford-based
Norwegian professor of sociology, Stein Ringen: “the democratic
chain of command in which governance is under the control of voters
has burst, and the fabric of rule by popular consent is disintegrating
before our eyes.”
60 “If we measure quality of democracy not only in its constitutional
procedures but also in the underlying social structures, the question
is whether this is a population of increasing or decreasing equity
in autonomy and dignity. Are ordinary people experiencing empowerment?
Are previously excluded groups emancipated? In some respects the
answer to these questions is in the affirmative. The situation of
the old minorities (the Sami population, Jews, Gypsies, Travellers/tinkers
and Finns) is radically transformed. In the case of the Sami, this
is institutionalised in group rights being written into the Constitution,
a Sami parliament elected by a Sami population and with some legislative
authority, and their important recognition as an aboriginal people.
The political situation of women is transformed, women having attained
practical citizenship on a par with men.
61 The trend in social relations is not universally democratic
– there is the notable exception of an emerging immigrant underclass.
But by and large, this is a society in which rights and powers of
self-determination are being dispersed in the population and not
62 Ringen continues: “Both political and economic power is increasingly
exercised above and outside the nation state, that is, beyond the
reach of national democratic institutions; while within the nation
state, the chain of command from below is weakening, outside the
nation state a new chain of command is emerging from above that
limits and directs national legislation but over which citizens
and their representatives have virtually no say or control.
63 The conclusion that democracy is in decline in spite of social
cohesion is remarkable. The message of the study is that the decline
in a quality of a representative democracy is found, with some international pressure
aside, in the constitutional procedures and institutions themselves:
in the demise of local government, in election and party systems,
in the lack of accountability of the welfare state, in the courts
and judicial review. This is fortuitous for the practical business
of protecting and improving democracy. It means that the best way to
repair democracy is to repair democracy. We do not need to wait
with democracy until we have repaired the society and capitalism.
We can take on democracy directly.”
I understand the centrality of the project of participatory
democracy in the French election of spring 2007 as an illustration
of the accuracy of the Norwegian conclusion. This is indicated by
many books which have been published since then in France about
the need for a more participatory democracy. One example is Loïc Blondiaux, Le nouvel esprit de la démocratie
de la démocratie participative, Paris, 2008): “The contemporary
democracies are looking for a new spirit, new basis. The classical
forms of political representation will survive but their legitimacy
decreases and their efficiency declines. The power of representative
institutions is reduced everywhere, their authority is shaken and
their capacity to impose solutions from above strongly eroded. …
This weakening of the traditional structures of representative democracy
does not at all announce the death of democracy itself.” Participatory
democracy offers itself as a political alternative but it is never
a monopoly of a candidate or a party; however, it is very timely.
It means that until today it is still only a programme which has
to be carefully elaborated and developed.Note
65 I would like to mention here an excellent report prepared
by the Ministry of the Interior and Kingdom Relations of the Netherlands
entitled “The state of our democracy 2006” which is a result of
a public debate on the functioning of the Dutch democracy. The report,
which examines in detail and assesses different aspects of the democratic
system including legislation, its implementation, practice, role
of different political actors and interactions between them, is
aimed at identifying measures to guarantee, reinforce and – where
necessary – renew democracy.
66 The report is also considered as a baseline measurement. On
the basis of similar enquiries, changes to the democratic quality
of the Dutch political system will become perceptible. It also points
out those concerns which require vigilance or further investigation.
The report was composed according to the guidelines of the
International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance (IDEA).Note
methodology of “democracy assessment” provides for 56 angles of approach
which are dealt with in respect to their content. The answers to
every sub-question are formulated, as far as possible, on four different
levels: existing legislation, actual implementation, positive and
negative indicators (statistics) and, where possible, opinions.
68 Among the conclusions of the report, different statements
leave us with food for further thought. The report states: “The
responsiveness of government leaves much to be desired. Thus 83%
of people feel that the government pays little attention to the
problem of citizens, 90% feel that the government scarcely involves citizens
in the policy-making and 79% feel that the government is not sufficiently
accountable for its performance”.
69 I strongly recommend getting acquainted with this extremely
interesting initiative which should indeed be followed by other
member states. I intend to call on our governments to pursue this
II – specific challenges to contemporary democratic systems in Europe:
diversity and migration
of the population in Council of Europe member states
70 Modern societies are characterised
by considerable ethnic diversity. This is also true for Council
of Europe member states. Indeed, among its 47 members, there is
hardly a single country any longer which could be described
as composed of an ethnically homogeneous population.
71 The presence of so-called traditional minorities has been
a long-standing feature in many European countries. Being mainly
a result of changing borders, this problem has been handled at the
national and the European level along with the process of democratisation
and integration. The Council of Europe has largely contributed to
setting models for good practice in this field and its Framework
Convention for the Protection of National Minorities has had an
important impact on the improvement of the situation of minorities
in member states.
72 72 In general, in so far as these traditional minorities enjoy
the rights of citizens in their country of residence and their concerns
relate rather to specific rights of minorities, they will not be
dealt with in this report. However, I will look closer at the specific
situation of certain groups of people who have become minorities
as a result of changes in borders over recent decades and have no
citizenship of the country of their residence. This is particularly
the case of large groups of people scattered over the territories
of different states emerging after the collapse of the Soviet Union.
73 Over recent decades, practically all European countries have
been increasingly confronted with the phenomenon of so-called new
minorities – long-term migrants settling in a host country in search
of better economic opportunities. This phenomenon, which in some
Council of Europe member states has reached a considerable size,
is an inevitable consequence of globalisation and will certainly
74 Furthermore, as I have already mentioned above, considerably
growing movements of population between European countries are the
result of the enlargement of the European Union and the process
of economic globalisation.
75 In many countries this has resulted in the establishment of
large communities of foreign residents deprived of the rights linked
to citizenship and living in the margins of the democratic process.
Access to citizenship here is a major, although not the only, concern
and I will look closer at this question in my report. I will also
examine to what extent the long-term residents with foreign passports
are given an opportunity to be involved in the democratic process
in their country of residence.
76 Furthermore, in some countries a new category of citizen of
migrant origin has emerged. Although these people, descendants of
migrants or foreigners who have acquired citizenship of their country
of residence, formally enjoy all rights, in practice they are often
not included in the democratic process. I will illustrate cases of
marginalisation which are a consequence of shortcomings in the functioning
of democratic institutions. I will leave the task to Mr Greenway,
Rapporteur of the Committee on Migration, Refugees and Population,
to identify possible measures which might improve this situation.
77 In my report, I will not deal with illegal migrants. This
important and urgent question is being tackled in a number of reports
prepared by the Committee on Migration, Refugees and Population.
78 Nor will I examine the situation in conflict areas. These
issues are also the subjects of specific reports.
79 I do not intend to present
here exhaustive information on numbers of foreigners or citizens
of foreign origin in Council of Europe member states. I would like,
however, to illustrate the scope of the problem with several examples.
This will, hopefully, make the reader realise how urgent the issue
At the outset, I should point out that the provision of statistical
data is still highly unsatisfactory despite the fact that it has
improved considerably over the last few years. The main concerns
are the incompatibility of sources as well as conceptual and definition
problems. Differences in national laws on data protection, as well as
information processing in Council of Europe member states, also
result in considerable variations in the statistics available. Last
but not least, methods of collection, particularly in eastern Europe,
are still inadequate and there is a lack of well-developed statistical
systems. Instead of further developing this question, I refer those
interested to the work of the European Commission against Racism
and Intolerance (ECRI) and, in particular, to the document entitled
“Ethnic statistics and data protection in the Council of Europe
81 Despite all these problems, it remains beyond any doubt that
migrants and people of migrant origin constitute an important proportion
of Council of Europe societies and that the phenomenon is on the
The total recorded stock of foreign national population living
in Council of Europe member states in 2004 stood at around 64.1
means that foreign citizens constituted approximately 8.8% of the population
in Europe. The distribution of this foreign stock was not equal
between different countries: the greater part was resident in western
83 In the countries of western Europe, the foreign population
accounted for 42 million people (over 10%). This figure has increased
by over 30% since 1995.
84 In 2004, in central and eastern Europe, including the Russian
Federation, there were some 22 million foreigners recorded as residents,
representing about 9% of a total population of over 242 million.
However, I wish to stress again that information on stocks of foreign
population in these countries, and in particular in the Russian
Federation, is incomplete, derives from a variety of sources and
its collection is unsatisfactory. One can assume with a high degree
of probability that real numbers are much higher.
85 The proportion of foreigners in the total population varies
considerably from country to country. In 2004, Luxembourg had by
far the largest percentage: 38.6% of the total population, followed
by Switzerland (22%), Austria (9%), with Germany and Belgium slightly
behind and then Ireland and Spain. In another group of countries
– Denmark, France, the Netherlands, Norway and the United Kingdom
– it was around 4% to 5%.
86 One should acknowledge the specific nature of the situation
in the Baltic states, to which I will refer later in more detail.
The majority of the foreign population in Estonia and Latvia is
of ethnic Russian origin. These Russians had settled as internal
migrants during the Soviet era and changed their status to “international migrants”
only after the collapse of the Soviet Union.
87 Latvia, proportionally, has a large share of noncitizens.
The resident population in Latvia is composed of two major ethnic
groups of whom the Latvians represent 58.9% and Russians 28.6 %.
In 2005, out of a total population of 2.29 million inhabitants,
1.9 (or 79.6%) were Latvian citizens and 432 896 (or 18.8%) were noncitizens
without any citizenship at all.
Another indicator which seems of importance for the purpose
of this report is the size of the foreign-born population in European
countries. This category, obviously much more numerous than the
previous one, includes both residents with foreign passports as
well as former foreign nationals who have been naturalised.Note
Obviously, this category
is not homogeneous and both groups face different problems as regards
participation in the democratic process. I refer to them because
I think they are quite revealing and they illustrate the diversity
of our societies very well.
In 2006, in western Europe, people born abroad constituted
between 7% and 15% of the total population.Note
absolute terms this means that in the European Union/European Economic
Area (EU/EEA) and Switzerland (which means in 31 out of 47 Council
of Europe member states) out of 474 million people, some 42 million
were born outside their country of residence. Germany had by far
the largest foreign-born population (10.1 million), followed by
France (6.4 million), the UK (5.8 million), Spain (4.8 million),
Italy (2.5 million), Switzerland (1.7 million) and the Netherlands
(1.6 million ).
90 In relation to population size, two of Europe’s smallest countries
have the largest stock of immigrants: Luxembourg 37.4% and Liechtenstein
33.9%. They are followed by Switzerland (22.9%), Latvia (19.5%), Estonia
(15.4%), Austria (15.1%), Ireland (14.1%), Cyprus (13.9%), Sweden
(12.4%), and Germany (12.3%).
91 Furthermore, the evolution in figures is a matter of particular
importance. Thus, one should observe that, in 1996, immigrants accounted
for three quarters of the population growth of the EU.
As regards the Russian Federation, in terms of numbers of
immigrants, it is second only to the United States in the world.
In 2000, the number of international migrants was 13 millionNote
(over 10% of population). According to the Russian census of
2002, 11 million had immigrated to Russia since the previous census
in 1989. Of these, 99.5% were from former Soviet Union countries,
mostly repatriating ethnic Russians.
93 Labour migration to Russia, mostly from countries from the
Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS), is a very important phenomenon,
which is severely underrepresented in official statistics. The law
on entry and exit passed in 1996 had a substantial negative effect
on both internal and external migration registration due to a quite
artificial division into permanent and temporary migration categories.
As a consequence, temporary migrants (many of whom have stayed or
intend to stay for a long period) were left out of the reach of
official statistics. Further amendments in 2000 and 2003 increased
the cost of obtaining either a permanent or temporary residence
permit, to the extent that many foreigners have decided to remain
94 For these reasons, it is difficult to compare the data for
Russia with those for the EU countries, and to give exact figures
on the scope of diversity. But even these imperfect figures illustrate
well the scope of the problem with which the democratic institutions
in the Russian Federation are confronted.
95 There are important differences in the national composition
of foreign populations both between western and central and eastern
Europe, as well as between individual countries. The distinction
between migrants who are EU citizens and other Europeans and non-Europeans
is fully justified for the purpose of this report, as their situation
– as regards political rights and integration – is very different.
I will look closer at this question in due course in my report.
96 In western Europe, the composition of the foreign population
is a reflection of successive arrivals of labour migration and,
more recently, family reunion, as well as of flights of refugees
from within and outside Europe. Thus, the dominant foreign groups
in each of these countries originate from the countries from which the
labour force was recruited in the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s, as well
as from former colonies, and are often completed by nationals from
the former Yugoslavia and war-torn areas of Asia and Africa.
97 In order to give an overall idea of the proportion of European
and non-European migrants, I draw your attention to the following
data: within the EU as a whole, 12.45 million were European.
Africans amounted to 3.66 million and Asians to 2.51 million.
98 However, if we look at the numbers of lawful residents and
naturalised citizens, the number of migrants from outside Europe
in European countries amounts to nearly 25 million and is made up
as follows: North Africans: approximately 5 million, mostly in France,
the Netherlands and Sweden; Africans: approximately 5 million, mostly
in the UK, France, the Netherlands and Germany; Latin Americans:
approximately 2.2 million, with the largest groups in Spain and
Italy; South Asians: approximately 4 million, mostly in the UK;
Pakistanis: approximately 1 million, mostly in the UK; Kurds: approximately
1.5 million, mostly in Germany; Chinese: approximately 1 million,
mostly in France, the UK and the Netherlands; Filipinos: approximately
500 000, mostly in the UK, France and Germany; and Japanese: approximately
100 000, mostly in the UK.
99 Of almost 50 million foreigners resident in EU states, about
5.51 million (11.2%) were citizens of other member states.
100 Most recently, as I mentioned before, there have been massive
movements within the EU. Following the enlargement of the EU in
2004 and 2007, the migration within Europe has increased considerably.
Most immigrants come from eastern states to the western European
states. For example, since 2004, an estimated number of 750 000
Poles have migrated to the UK and to Ireland.
101 What does seem to be emerging is a transnational European
economic space characterised by a highly mobile labour force. There
is now a widespread circulation of people in informal and short-term
movements but there are also some remarkable parallels with the
situation of the “guest worker phase” in the decades after the Second
World War. The recent enlargements of the EU have implied a redistribution
of population as the economies of the Union have become more integrated
with a substantial westward movement from the new members (where
policies have allowed).
102 Also, European emigration towards southern Europe is a fairly
new phenomenon. Citizens from the European Union, particularly from
the UK and Germany, make up a growing proportion of immigrants in
Spain. The population of UK citizens living in Spain amounts to
about 1 million, about 800 000 being permanent residents. Since
2000, Spain has absorbed around 4 million immigrants, adding 10%
to its population.
103 In addition to these statistical data there are growing concerns
about the prospective changes in demography, ageing societies, labour
demand and supply.
104 There is no doubt that the diversification of our societies
will continue along with their modernisation. If we turn a blind
eye to this process, if we do not try to include these large groups
of people in our democratic systems, we put in danger the very principle
of democracy in our countries.
of democracy as defined in the 2007 report on the state of democracy
which may be affected by the high diversity of societies in European
105 In my last report, I proposed
a number of criteria by which one can assess the quality of democracy
and determine its stage. A number of requirements are a precondition
for any democratic system. I called this stage “basic democracy”.
Among requirements for basic democracy there are individual freedoms
(freedom of media, association and political rights); free and fair
elections; real representation; and effective parliamentary democracy.
106 In this report, I would like to examine to what extent migrants,
who, as I showed before, make up a large proportion of our societies,
may enjoy the rights which result from these requirements. The findings
also have an impact on the assessment of the quality of democracy
in our countries as they imply representation and participation
in a political decision-making process.
107 Before I come to detailed considerations, I should recall
that in general, as regards the European Union area, the situation
of migrants originating from the countries which are members of
the EU is much better than the situation of citizens originating
from non-member countries.
108 Another general observation concerns the considerable progress
achieved over recent years towards involving migrants, both EU nationals
and non-EU nationals, in the democratic process. This is partly
as a result of a growing awareness within societies. In the 1950s
and 1960s “guest workers” were considered as temporary migrants
and subject to legal restrictions such as a lack of basic freedom
of movement, assembly or association (for example in France or Belgium).
During the 1970s, when restrictions on numbers were imposed, many
European governments passed laws extending a range of citizens’
rights, including basic freedoms, education, health care and social
security to migrants already in the country. In some countries,
they were completed by political rights. Unfortunately, a number
of countries, in particular new countries of destination, have not
followed this path.
109 A democratic country, confronted with the situation in which
a large number of its population is excluded from the democratic
process, has in principle two possible ways to remedy it: it can
either include migrants into the group of citizens by means of naturalisation
or it can grant political rights to non-citizens. One solution does not
exclude the other; they can be complementary. The measures adopted
by different Council of Europe member states vary considerably.
I will now examine them.
Access to citizenship
110 As regards access to citizenship,
it is clear from statistical data that this solution cannot be treated
as the main remedy to the exclusion of migrants and it can only
be complementary to other measures. The percentage of foreign population
acquiring citizenship in their country of residence is comparable
in different Council of Europe member states and has been rather
stable over recent years (with the exception of Germany and Latvia,
see below). It amounted to between 2% and 3.5 % yearly.
111 Major concerns regarding acquisition of citizenship may be
illustrated by the situation in Germany. The public debates in this
country have been widely followed as Germany has had huge numbers
of migrants and very low rates of naturalisation. In 1989, nearly
5 million people, mainly from Turkey, had lived in Germany for 20
to 30 years without citizenship rights for themselves and their
children who were born in this country. In 1999, a new legislation
liberating procedures to acquire citizenship was introduced allowing
for third generation and, in some cases, second generation immigrants
to benefit from jus soli.
The situation in Latvia has also raised some concern. As a
result of the historical background of the country, at the time
of the proclamation of independence in 1991, some 730 000 residents
did not have citizenship links with pre-war Latvia and therefore
did not qualify for automatic citizenship on the basis of jus sanguinis
. The naturalisation
process started only in 1995 after the adoption (in 1994) of the
Citizenship Law – and this delay harmed the smoothness of the naturalisation
process. As a result of the naturalisation process spanning ten
years, the overall number of non-citizens has decreased by a third,
from 29% of the population to 18.8%. The process accelerated after
the accession of Latvia to the EU. In 2004, for the first time,
the citizens of Russian origin outnumbered the non-citizens of Russian
considering that more than 432 000 residents still remain non-citizens,
the problem is certainly not resolved yet.
Another major concern is in regard to the Russian Federation.
According to estimates, between 600 000 and 1.4 million people live
on the territory of the Russian Federation without any legal status.Note
Apart from illegal migration,
the problem concerns deprivation of legal status of a large number
of former Soviet citizens who previously resided in the Russian
Federation and have been considered illegal migrants since the entry into
force, in 2002, of the Federal Law on Russian Citizenship and on
the Legal Status of Foreign Citizens in the Russian Federation.
Thus, many citizens of the former Soviet Union who did not obtain
Russian citizenship live in the country under a temporary registration
or even without registration.
114 Requirements for naturalisation differ from one country to
another. Numerous combinations of jus
soli and jus sanguinis result
in more or less restrictive laws. There is no doubt that there is
need for harmonisation throughout Europe, preferably according to
more generous models.
115 Facilitating access to naturalisation is, however, only a
part of the problem. And it is not always merely the restrictive
law in countries of residence which prevents foreign citizens from
applying for naturalisation. Sometimes, even those who are eligible
are not interested in obtaining it because of restrictive laws in
their countries of origin. Some states consider renunciation of
citizenship as grounds for losing more than political rights. For
example, until 1995, Turks who renounced their Turkish citizenship
could not own or inherit land in Turkey. On the other hand, some
states prohibit the renunciation of citizenship by emigrants attempting
to naturalise in another state until they pay for the education
they received and complete the requisite military service (for example
116 As long as dual citizenship is impossible, naturalisation
is an insufficient measure because it may result in a problem of
loyalty for the second and third generation towards their parents
117 The remedy for this could be dual citizenship. However, this
solution also has certain disadvantages: it may happen that people
are liable for military service in both countries or, in the case
of certain countries, be subject to double taxation. The main problem,
however, is that many countries do not allow for dual citizenship.
The Council of Europe has evolved in its position on this
question. In 1963 it drew up a convention aimed at reducing multiple
citizenship (Convention on the Reduction of Cases of Multiple Nationality
and on Military Obligations in Cases of Multiple Nationality – ETS
No. 43). Only 11 countries had ratified this convention up until
1990. In 1977, two Council of Europe resolutionsNote
dual citizenship for children, at least until they came of age,
and for spouses of different nationalities. In 1997, the Council
of Europe drew up a European Convention on Nationality (ETS No.
166), which recognised the rights of the states to determine their
own procedure for acquiring citizenship and leaves to them the decision
on allowing dual citizenship or not.
119 At present, a number of Council of Europe member states, including
Germany, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Austria and Denmark, do not
allow for dual citizenship. On the other hand, a number of countries, including
Switzerland in 1990 and the Netherlands in 1991, have introduced
such a possibility into their national legislation. I hope that
the Assembly will agree on the need to call on governments of our
member states to introduce, if they have not yet done so, the notion
of dual citizenship in their national legislations.
120 It is clear that naturalisation
is not a sufficient response to the challenge of exclusion of migrants
from the democratic system and cannot remedy the situation in a
considerable way. While encouraging governments to facilitate access
to naturalisation, the Assembly should call on them to grant some
political rights without citizenship.
121 Here I should refer to my earlier observation about the different
treatment received by EU citizens and nonEU citizens in the 27 EU
member states. European citizenship, introduced by the Treaty of
Maastricht (1992) and confirmed by the Amsterdam Treaty (1997),
granted all citizens of EU member states the right to vote and eligibility
to stand in the elections at local level and to the European Parliament,
irrespective of their country of residence within the EU. This principle,
based on reciprocity, required that all member states introduce
relevant laws in their national legislation. This has been done
and the relevant provisions also apply to new member states.
122 However, these voting rights are granted only to citizens
of EU member states. Foreigners from third countries, whatever the
length of their legal residence within the EU, are not beneficiaries
of this provision.
123 As regards the voting rights of EU citizens in European countries
outside the EU, their situation is no different from the situation
of all other foreign residents.
124 For the time being, there is no debate on the possible granting
to EU citizens of voting rights at the national level in their country
125 Concerning voting rights of non-EU citizens in the EU or other
Council of Europe member states, the situation varies depending
on the country of residence. Every country (including member states
of the EU) is free to allow for the political participation of foreigners
at different levels (with the exception of election to the European
126 So far, 11 European countries have granted voting rights to
foreign residents irrespective of their citizenship, on the condition
of a required period of residence. In Ireland, since 1963, all foreigners
who reside in the country for at least six months can vote and stand
for local elections. In Sweden (since 1975) and Denmark (since 1991),
the minimal required period of residence amounts to three years.
The Netherlands, in 1985, granted voting rights at local level to
all foreign residents who have stayed in the country for five years. In
Finland, the required period is four years. In Estonia, Lithuania
and Slovenia (since 2002), as well as in Slovakia (since 2003) and
in Belgium (since 2004), the required period is five years.
127 The United Kingdom, Spain, Portugal and the Czech Republic
provide for reciprocity. In addition, the UK grants resident citizens
from Commonwealth countries political rights, including the right
to vote in national elections.
128 In Switzerland, where the cantons are sovereign to grant citizenship
and voting rights, it is especially the French-speaking cantons
of the Jura, Neûchatel, Geneva and Vaud that are more progressive
and grant voting rights in local and cantonal affairs to foreigners
after five years of residence. In the canton of the Jura these foreigners
may even participate in the election of the two Jura senators, that
means the election of representatives of the canton in the second
chamber of the national parliament.
129 In contrast, proposals on local voting rights were stymied
in Belgium, France and Germany. Other countries, members of the
Council of Europe which are not listed above, do not grant any voting
rights to foreign residents.
130 In some areas in Council of Europe member states, foreign
residents who are deprived of voting rights constitute the majority
of the population.
131 In 1992, the Council of Europe opened for signature the Convention
on the Participation of Foreigners in Public Life at Local Level
(ETS No. 144). Its purpose is to improve the integration and participation
of foreign nationals lawfully residing in Council of Europe member
states by, inter alia, granting
them voting rights at the local level. Regrettably, so far, the
convention has been signed by only 13 states and ratified by 8 states.
It came into force in 1997.
The Assembly has on several occasions expressed its concern
as regards the political participation of foreigners, in particular
in Recommendation 1500
on the participation of immigrants and foreign residents
in political life in the Council of Europe member statesNote
and in Recommendation 1650 (2004)
on the links between Europeans living abroad and their
country of origin.Note
Moreover, the Congress on Local and Regional Authorities of
the Council of Europe has also taken position on this question,
supporting the idea of granting voting rights to foreign residents
lawfully residing in Council of Europe member states for a certain
period of time, irrespective of their country of origin.Note
134 I fully share the position of the above-mentioned bodies of
the Council of Europe and propose that we reiterate our call to
member states. Voting rights for all people are, no doubt, essential
for the proper functioning of democracy.
Another important question to which I would like to draw attention
without dwelling on it, as it will be the subject of a separate
report under preparation in the Political Affairs Committee, is
the question of thresholds in electoral systems. As it is closely
linked to representation and it is important in the case of migrants,
I would like to reiterate my position that lower thresholds are
more beneficial for the representativeness of parliaments.Note
Other political rights
Voting rights are essential
but they are not the only possible way to ensure political participation
of migrants. During the 1970s and 1980s, there was an expansion
of organisations, in some cases fostered by the state, which represented
migrants’ interests, assisted integration and which offered various
social activities. Many European states were quicker to extend civil
and social rights than political rights to resident aliens. The report
of the Committee on Migration, Refugees and Population will examine
in more detail different forms of integration of migrants into the
decision-making process by means of consultative bodies or systematic consultations
with NGOs. These are precious initiatives. They cannot, however,
replace genuine representation.Note
137 I would like to point out that several Council of Europe member
states continue to impose certain restrictions on individual freedoms
of foreign residents. These concern particularly the freedom of
association (in the Czech Republic), and/or the right to join a
political party (Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Slovakia and Slovenia).
Even if this may be in conformity with the European Convention on
Human Rights (Article 16), it is difficult to justify and it is
certainly contrary to the spirit of democracy. I propose to firmly
call on all states to review their national legislation with a view
to granting lawful foreign residents all basic freedoms and political rights
which are enjoyed by citizens. I am also of the opinion that Article
16 has no more justification in modern societies and should be abolished.
138 As numerous examples quoted above attest, states may increase
their democratic inclusiveness while not changing their principles
on citizenship, by extending voting and political rights and individual
freedoms to nonnationals. Regrettably, a number of Council of Europe
member states which are restrictive on access to naturalisation
also have restrictive policies on political rights for non-nationals.
Case study: Canada
139 In Canada, the question of
integration, given high numbers of migrants and people of migrant
origin, is particularly important. Each year, a number of immigrants
corresponding to 1% of the population are admitted to the territory.
In some areas, for example in Quebec, up to 10% of residents are
born abroad. This is also true for almost half of the population
of the capital of Ontario, the economic centre of Canada.
140 Launched in 1988, the Canadian model of “multiculturalism”
is in complete opposition to “assimilation”. It was enshrined by
the federal law, which imposed the principle of racial and cultural
equality and which encourages diverse cultural groups to maintain
and develop their identity and traditions, in parallel to promoting their
involvement in Canadian society. The Law on Official Languages (1985),
while recognising English and French as official languages, provides
linguistic minorities with protection and means for the development
of their languages.
141 This model, also called “society of diversity and inclusion”,
is based on a “moral contract” between the host society and a particular
cultural community aimed at full integration while preserving its
own culture. The implementing policies include facilities for settling
and learning the language of the country and assistance in searching
for a job and other social services. On the other hand, the cultural
communities are provided by local authorities with financial and
organisational resources to preserve and develop their culture.
142 The results of this approach seem to be particularly encouraging
and should be examined in Europe. Simultaneous integration and recognition
of different cultures, a patchwork of nationalities developing their cultures
while at the same time contributing to the development of the common
society leads to greater participation and involvement of citizens
and, ultimately, to the better functioning of democracy.
143 I think that the Canadian experience is most useful to inspire
those European countries who still find it difficult to admit that
in the last decades they have become immigrant countries to find
the right balance between the fact that their societies have become
more and more diverse and the need to ensure integration in society
by careful political, social and economic policies.
regarding the representativeness of democratic systems
144 A formal right to participate
in elections at different levels is obviously a precondition for
effective participation in the democratic system but, as experience
shows, it does not result automatically in high participation. Even
in those countries where migrants can vote (for example in local
elections in Sweden), the levels of their participation as candidates
and voters raise justified concern.
145 Although varying substantially in level, immigrant participation
is generally lower than participation of natives. For example, in
2006, during the vote in three Swiss cantons which have granted
voting rights to foreigners, the participation rate of foreign
residents was respectively 23%, 26.5% and 41% as compared to 32%,
41% and 59% of the Swiss population.
146 What is even more worrying is that in Europe, political participation
of groups not belonging to the majority group in the country has
declined over the last few decades. Shrinking voting figures also
concern citizens but the drop in turnout among natives has been
much lower in comparison to migrants. For example, in Sweden, the
decline of the entire population voting in local elections was from
90% to 84% between 1976 and 1994. Over the same period of time,
voting among immigrants decreased from 60% to 40%.
147 Low levels of involvement in the political process inevitably
result in low representation at different levels of power. Migrants
are beyond any question underrepresented at all levels of power.
To illustrate this problem suffice it to say that there were only
four mayors of foreign origin in France between 1995 and 2001. The situation
has improved since then, but it still remains a matter of concern.
In Luxembourg, in the local elections in 2005, foreign residents
who constituted 39% of the population represented 10% of voters,
5.9% of candidates and 1.2% of elected representatives.
148 Those who are entitled to vote at the national level (that
is, naturalised foreigners or citizens of migrant origin) are under-represented
in parliaments. For example, in Norway during the last three elections
(in 1997, 2001 and 2005), only four citizens of migrant origin were
elected. In the Netherlands, this figure amounts to ten since 1998.
In Germany, following the national elections in 2005, five deputies
of Turkish origin represent some 600 000 voters of Turkish origin.
Moreover, there are two other deputies of foreign origin in the
Bundestag. In the United Kingdom, during the period 1997-2008, there
were 19 citizens of migrant origin in the House of Commons. In France,
in 1997-2002 only one person of foreign origin was a member of the
National Assembly. Following the most recent elections in 2007,
there are five deputies in the National Assembly.
149 The problem starts with under-representation in political
parties. Even in those countries where migrants can enjoy political
rights, they are, generally speaking, less active in political participation
than nationals. In the next chapter I will try to explain this phenomenon.
Here I draw attention to different aspects of the problem.
It is commonly acknowledged that migrants are rarely selected
and nominated within the political parties as candidates in the
election process. This serious problem has been addressed in the
Assembly’s resolution on the Code of Good Practice for Political
I am confident that the European
Commission for Democracy through Law (Venice Commission), which
is now elaborating the code, will carefully consider the possible
measures which could be proposed in order to remedy this situation.
151 The experience of some parties is certainly worth sharing.
I will mention here “Black sections” in the British Labour Party
and the emergence at local level of activists of Indo-Pakistani
Immigrant participation is sometimes questioned as to whether
its consequence may be disintegrative rather than integrative and
whether immigrant organisations may contribute to the formation
of separate “parallel societies”. This particularly concerns Muslim
communities and the problem should not be ignored. In this respect,
I draw your attention to the report prepared by the Political Affairs
Committee on European Muslim communities confronted with extremism
153 Finally, when speaking about political participation of migrants,
it cannot be considered in isolation from serious problems which
touch our contemporary societies: racism and intolerance. In order
to overcome these problems, we have to engage our societies in a
process of education, promotion of democratic values and tolerance.
to better representativeness and participation
154 There has been relatively little
research into the reasons for the low level of participation of
migrants in political life. However, it is commonly acknowledged
that, in general, people with a higher socio-economic status are
much more likely to be active than disadvantaged people. In so far
as migrants and people of migrant origin, on average, are predominantly
in the low-income, lowstatus section of societies, they can be expected, statistically,
to be less active than the native population.
155 Migrants are often at a disadvantage as regards determinants
of political integration: language proficiency, education, employment,
trade union or other association membership.
156 Language skills are crucial for integration as a whole and
I insist on my earlier observation regarding the need for knowledge
of the local language. This should not prevent migrants from cultivating
their own languages and they should be provided with adequate means
(schools and associations) to this effect. The task of providing
migrants with opportunities to learn the local language should be
left to local authorities which are better placed to handle it.
157 Participation in associations, ethnic organisations and trade
unions creates social involvement which spills over into political
activity and higher political participation. Moreover, ethnic associational
life is not only in the interest of migrants, but it is also an
investment in the quality of democracy.
158 There is a positive correlation between the acquisition of
citizenship and the level of political participation.
159 Social exclusion obviously has a negative effect on political
participation. People need acceptance, confidence and support in
order to be politically active.
160 More generally, serious problems with integration concern
migrant communities which are characterised by a combination and
accumulation of the following elements, which differentiate them
from local surroundings: different culture, different religion,
different languages, lower social position and unemployment.
161 Some observers, who point to low numbers of politicians and
civil servants from immigrant backgrounds, call for affirmative
action measures to increase the representation of foreigners in
political parties and positions of responsibility. Creating a department
or ministry for immigration issues would help to put immigrant issues higher
on the political agenda. Political parties should be encouraged
to list ethnic minority candidates.
162 The report presented by Mr Greenway on behalf of the Committee
on Migration, Refugees and Population will seek to identify in a
more systematic way those measures which would contribute to the improvement
of political participation of migrants.
The more diverse our societies
become, the more national conservative parties try to exploit fears
and by doing so they contribute to increasing xenophobic attitudes.
This might help us to explain the paradox that, although we live
in very secure times as compared to the last two centuries, more
and more people feel unsafe.Note
164 A way to overcome this feeling of insecurity by many, especially
non-privileged people, is both economic (safe jobs, decent standards
of living and social security) and social (establish a feeling of
belonging to the society, opportunity to improve one’s own position
within society). Finding a way to guarantee such a security in a
globalised economy is a major challenge for contemporary democracies
in Europe today.
165 The idea of sharing power is a basic element of democracy,
but it is only natural that people do not feel inclined to share
their wealth if they feel they possess too little. Poverty and a
feeling of shortcomings may turn into aggression in extreme cases
as we have witnessed in some of our member states.
166 I believe that the main conclusion of this report is that
we should take diversity as a basic element into account when assessing
our democracies. Integration is an essential precondition and criterion
for evaluation of the quality of democracy.
167 I stress again that the diversity of our societies should
be considered in a much broader sense than just an outcome of migration.
One can say that every single individual may feel in a way a foreigner
in a country in which she or he resides. This is not a matter of
citizenship but of economic, social or political situation.
168 Thus, conflicts which are the result of freedom and diversity
are inevitable in every society. What makes the difference between
a democratic and undemocratic system is how these conflicts are
dealt with. If they are handled effectively, within the constitutional
framework of a fine-tuned democracy, it proves that democracy in the
country is functioning properly. If, on the contrary, they result
in violence, this is a clear indication that democracy has failed
because a democracy is not only a process but also a promise.
169 Another conclusion of this report concerns integration. The
main challenge of political integration is social integration. Indeed,
most problems resulting from migration have a social and economic
170 Integration as opposed to assimilation is beneficial for the
society as a whole. However, respect for multicultural diversity
should be reciprocal and based on acceptance of certain universal
values. It should also imply readiness to become a fully-fledged
member of a society speaking the language of the country and respecting
171 Political participation is only one of many dimensions of
an individual’s active participation in society; however, it has
considerable importance because of its association with political
identity and expression of norms, values and so forth. Political
exclusion of immigrants negatively affects social cohesion and social justice;
this exclusion compromises the democratic quality of representation
and participation in receiving societies.
172 Against this background, the challenges of immigration-related
diversity, social and economic exclusion, as well as of perceptions
of xenophobia and insecurity require policies that promote an economic
development which allows everyone to live dignified lives, a participatory
democracy which does not exclude those who were not born in the
country and a culture of pluralism and mutual respect. This is the
way that diverse societies can be integrated.
173 Integration of foreigners and people of migrant origin and
their inclusion in the democratic process is a shared responsibility
that requires national and European efforts and solidarity.
Reporting committee: Political Affairs Committee.
Reference to committee: Reference No. 3413 of 21 January 2008.
Draft resolution and draft recommendation adopted by the committee
on 15 May 2008.
Members of the committee: Mr Göran Lindblad (Chairperson),
Mr David Wilshire (Vice-Chairperson), Mr
Björn von Sydow (Vice-Chairperson),
Mrs Kristina Ojuland (Vice-Chairperson) (alternate: Mr Andres Herkel), Mrs Fátima Aburto Baselga, Mr Miloš Aligrudić, Mr Claudio Azzolini,
Mr Alexander Babakov, Mr Denis Badré, Mr Ryszard Bender (alternate:
Mr Karol Karski), Mr Fabio
Berardi, Mr Radu Mircea Berceanu, Mr Andris Bērzinš,
Mr Alexandër Biberaj, Mrs
Gudfinna Bjarnadottir, Mr Giorgi Bokeria, Mr Pedrag Boškovic, Mr
Luc Van den Brande, Mr Mevlüt Çavuoğlu, Mr Lorenzo Cesa, Ms
Elvira Cortajarena, Ms Anna Čurdová, Mr Rick Daems, Mr Dumitru
Diacov, Mr Michel DreyfusSchmidt, Ms Josette Durrieu, Mr Frank Fahey, Mr Joan Albert Farré Santuré,
Mr Pietro Fassino, Mr Per-Kristian Foss,
Ms Doris Frommelt, Mr Jean-Charles Gardetto,
Mr Charles Goerens, Mr Andreas Gross,
Mr Davit Harutiunyan, Mr Joachim Hörster,
Mrs Sinikka Hurskainen, Mr
Tadeusz Iwiński, Mr Bakir
Izetbegović, Mr Michael Aastrup Jensen (alternate:
Mr Mogens Jensen), Mrs Birgen Kele,
Mr Victor Kolesnikov, Mr Konstantion Kosachev, Ms Darja LavtižarBebler, Mr
René van der Linden, Mr Dariusz Lipiński,
Mr Younal Loutfi, Mr Mikhail Margelov,
Mr Dick Marty (alternate: Mrs Doris Fiala),
Mr Frano Matušić, Mr Mircea Mereută,
Mr Dragoljub Mićunović (alternate: Mr Željko Ivanji),
Mr JeanClaude Mignon, Ms Nadezhda Mikhailova, Mr Aydin Mirzazada,
Mr Joāo Bosco Mota Amaral, Mrs Miroslava Němcová,
Mr Zsolt Németh, Mr Fritz Neugebauer, Mr Hryhoriy Omelchenko, Mr Theodoros
Pangalos (alternate: Mr Nikolaos Dendias),
Mr Aristotelis Pavlidis,
Mr Ivan Popescu, Mr Christos Pourgourides, Mr John Prescott, Mr Gabino Puche, Mr Jeffrey Pullicino Orlando,
Mr Andrea Rigoni, Lord Russell-Johnston,
Mr Oliver Sambevski, Mr Ingo Schmitt,
Mr Samad Seyidov, Mr Leonid Slutsky, Mr Rainder Steenblock, Mr Zoltán Szabó, Mr Mehmet Tekelioğlu, Mr Han Ten Broeke,
Lord Tomlinson, Mr Mihai
Tudose, Mr José Vera Jardim, Ms Birutė Vesaitė, Mr Wolgang Wodarg,
Ms Gisela Wurm, Mr Boris Zala.
Ex officio: Mr Mátyás
Eörsi, Mr Tiny Kox.
NB: The names of the members who took part in the meeting
are printed in bold.
See 24th Sitting, 25 June 2008 (adoption of the draft resolution
and draft recommendation, as amended); and Resolution 1617 and Recommendation