24. Jan. 2011
Tunisia, Albania, Turky, Catalonia, Spain,
Azerbaijan, Moldova, Belarus, Hungary:
Democracy: sharing power even with those
who have lost elections
The third request is from Socialist Group for a debate on “the situation in Tunisia”.
At its meeting this morning the Bureau was in favor of this request.
Is the Bureau’s recommendation accepted?
I call Mr Mendes Bota.
Mr MENDES BOTA (Portugal) – I would like to object to this request because the debate should be referred to the Standing Committee in March and the report of rural women in Europe should be kept in the agenda. I would like to submit my proposal to a vote. This Assembly’s debates should be balanced. We should not have an excess of urgent debate or of visits by presidents and ministers. We should respect and consider the work of the committees. We should also respect the work of all the members who have put so much effort into the report. Thank you very much.
THE PRESIDENT – There is an objection to the Bureau’s recommendation. The Assembly itself must now decide on the question of urgency.
On the request for urgent procedure only the following may be heard: one speaker for the request, one speaker against, the chairperson of the committee concerned and a member speaking on behalf of the Bureau.
Who will speak in favor of the request?
I call Mr Gross.
Mr GROSS (Switzerland) – This proposal for an urgent debate and a current affairs debate should be seen as a package. It is a compromise between the leaders of the groups, and the Bureau supported it. We do not question the work of the committees, but the democrats in Tunisia are disappointed that we have not helped them. Europe has turned its back on them. There is still a danger that a military coup could undermine the democrats’ revolution. That is why it would be a big mistake to postpone the issue to the Standing Committee. We should stick with the Bureau’s proposal and hold the debate this week.
THE PRESIDENT – Thank you, Mr Gross.
The vote is open.
The request for urgent procedure is agreed to, with 144 votes for, and 20 votes against. The references are agreed to.
9. Proposal for a current affairs debate
THE PRESIDENT – The Assembly needs to consider the proposal by the Socialist Group that a current affairs debate on the functioning of democracy in Hungary should be held.
Is the proposal for a current affairs debate agreed to?
I call Mr Lipinski.
Mr LIPINSKI (Poland) spoke against the proposed debate on the functioning of democracy in Hungary. He said that the Assembly had already agreed to three important and urgent debates. There were serious human rights violations in other countries. Hungary was already in good health and there was, therefore, no justification for the debate.
THE PRESIDENT – Thank you Mr Lipinski.
Mr Lipinski has made an objection to the Bureau’s proposal for a current affairs debate on the functioning of democracy in Hungary.
Does Mr Gross wish to explain the position of the Bureau?
Mr GROSS (Switzerland) – We have already discussed the situation of the Christians in Antalya. The Socialists were ready to accept the proposition of the Conservatives of the EPP because the Conservatives’ leader said that he was ready to discuss current affairs in Hungary without a report. We should stick to the standards of the Assembly when discussing one of our members. A debate is not a verdict; it is a reflection. Hungary would also be able to defend itself. That is why it would be fair to stick to the proposition.
THE PRESIDENT – Thank you, Mr Gross.
The Assembly will now vote on the Bureau’s proposal that a current affairs debate be held. Vote “yes” to support the holding of such a debate. I remind the Assembly that the decision requires a simple majority.
The vote is open.
The Bureau’s proposal is adopted with 101 votes for, 55 against and 12 abstentions.
In the Debate on the Progress report, presentend by Anne Brasseur
THE PRESIDENT – Thank you, Mr Vareikis. The next speaker is Mr Gross, who will speak on behalf of the Socialist Group.
Mr GROSS (Switzerland) – On behalf of the social democrats, I thank Anne Brasseur for her presentation and her kind comments about Mateo, which we can underline and sign up to every word. As one Catalan goes, another Catalan also goes – Mr Lluís Maria de Puig i Olive, our former President. He worked in the Assembly for four years fewer, but today is also his last day, and we thank him as well as Mateo. We know that we have two Catalonian friends. As Mr Vareikis said, we will not forget them, but also they will never forget us.
There is a common theme regarding the two main countries that are quoted in the report, Azerbaijan and Moldova, and the four main countries with which we will deal this week – Belarus, Tunisia, Hungary and Albania. There is a crisis of democracy in those countries because they do not live up to what Mateo said – that democracy is an everyday challenge in which you have to share your power. Power-sharing is one of the hardest aspects of democracy. If you do not have fair elections, the sharing process is not fair. If you have fair elections but afterwards do not live up to the constitution, which requires, in voting for the president, that you give your hand to those who have less than you, then you also do not live up to the idea of sharing power. That is why 61 seats are needed in the Moldovan Parliament. When you have two thirds of the seats in the parliament and behave as though you have 100%, you do not share power.
When you do not let the opposition speak up, as in Azerbaijan or Belarus, you do not have a real system for legitimately sharing your power. Then, as in Tunisia, you forget that democracy is about giving power to the citizens and you have a bloody revolution. In Albania, the people who have the majority think that winning the election means possessing the state like a private company. That is not democracy. Democracy is about sharing power even with those who have lost elections. Elections only show you where to share, not what to share or that you have to share. That is the best illustration of what Mateo said. We never stopped looking for the fair sharing of power, which is the common issue in all these countries. That shows that democracy is in crisis in Europe as well. We therefore have to look in the mirror when we speak about democracy and take it as seriously as human rights, of which it is an essential part.
(Vollständiges Protokoll findet sich auf www.coe.int)