Issue 262


Support for liberalism grows in Croatia and Slovenia

Recent elections in Slovenia and Croatia have seen liberal gains in both in countries. In Croatia, LI partner HNS saw significant gains, becoming a king maker within the new governing coalition. Party leader Radimir Cacic and immediate past leader Vesna Pusic (President of the Liberal Network of South-eastern Europe) areexpected to take key posts in the new cabinet. According to LI President Hans van Baalen MEP: “This election victory sent a very important message that the Croatian citizens are not only aiming at membership of their country in the European Union, but they want to have the values that same Union is being based upon to be implemented in their home country.” Elections were also held in EU member Slovenia, at which point a new liberal-leaning  party Positive Slovenia — founded before the elections by Ljubljana's mayor Zoran Jankovic — came out as a surprise winner of the vote. The LI President wrote to Mr Jankovic and stated: “The challenges that are ahead for you in Slovenia, and for all of us in Europe and the global community of nations are enormous and anything but easy. It is only through understanding and mutual support that we can provide best answers to the benefit of those who pay our salaries - the citizens.”

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“Russian Elections Showed Many Shortcomings…” says LI VP Abir Al-Sahlani

Returning from an OSCE election observer mission in Russia, LI Vice-President on the Bureau, Abir Al-Sahlani, expressed a great concern about the way in which the recent Parliamentary elections were conducted in the country. She commented saying “democracy is not only about the election day itself but also about the process before, during and after the elections. The situation is worrisome and it will require closer attention, especially with the upcoming presidential elections in March 2012.” Yabloko (LI full-member) leader, Sergei Mitrokhin, also dismissed the election results as illegitimate due to the mass violations committed during the electoral process. Based on these results Yabloko obtained only around 3 % of the popular vote thus falling 4% short of making it to the State Duma or the Russian Parliament. Mitrokhin was detained by the Russian riot police at an opposition rally in Moscow but was later released after showing his certificate of candidate to the State Duma (until the official announcement of the election results candidates can be detained only with a Prosecutor's order).

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Aung San Suu Kiy awarded the Chatham House Freedom Prize for 2011

This week, LI Prize for Freedom Laureate Daw Aung San Suu Kyi added to her many honours (including the Nobel Peace Prize) the Chatham House Freedom Prize for 2011. As she cannot yet safely leave Burma, former US Secretary of State and Chair of the National Democratic Institute (LI Cooperating Organisation) Madeleine Albright accepted the award on her behalf, following a moving recorded message from the Laureate. “We [Burma] have come to a path where we may be able to progress towards a long cherished goal of democracy and freedom. We have to make the right decision… we have to be able to debate to decide what we should do. It is why the value of Chatham house is so important to us today”, said Suu Kyi. Madeline Albright described her earlier meetings with Suu Kyi: 'With her simplicity and modesty hiding a great tenacity she is a role model for all democrats opposing dictatorial régimes.' Chatham House Council Member and LI Treasuer Robert Woodthorpe Browne attended the event at which former LibDem leader and joint President of Chatham House, Lord Paddy Ashdown, led the tributes to the Burmese Opposition Leader, pledging full support for the fight for democracy in the oppressed country. Earlier this year, LI VP Bi-Khim Hsiao also met Ms. Suu Kyi.  

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Democracy isn’t just a moral value, but also a form of soft power for Taiwan”, says VP Hsiao

LI VP Bi-Khim Hsiao (DPP, LI Full Member) delivered a speech at Columbia University as a prominent alumna, having graduated with an M.A. in political science.  Hsiao argued that Taiwan is standing at a significant fork in the road and needs to consolidate its democratic achievements. “The DPP is devoted to bridge Taiwan with Pacific-Asia region through democracy… [which] is not just a moral value, but also a strategic asset for Taiwan as a form of soft power that is critical to its survival”, said Hsiao. She also said DPP Chair Tsai's leadership marked a generational change as one of her goals was to engender political awareness in younger generation and encourage them to take a leading role in the renewal of the party. Updating on the current campaign in the presidential election, she said that the DPP's “Three Little Pigs” campaign has attracted many young citizens to donate money from their piggy banks to Tsai and DPP is leading KMT by 4.5 per cent in the public survey. 

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IFLRY General Assembly meets in Istanbul, discusses freedom of expression

From the 1-4 December, more than hundred delegates attended the General Assembly of the International Federation of Liberal Youth (IFLRY) in Istanbul. The event was hosted by IFLRY member 3H Movement, and supported by LI Full Members D66 & VVD from the Netherlands and the Friedrich Naumann Foundation. The GA was preceded by a seminar and conference on freedom of expression. The GA adopted several resolutions and a new Manifesto that outlines the core principles of the organization. Speaking at the event, LI Secretary General (and former IFLRY President) Emil Kirjas addressed the GA, highlighting that: “There is no great difference between LI and IFLRY, in fact there is great synergy. On Sunday, elections for the 2012-2013 leadership took place. IFLRY also awarded its first Freedom Award the currently imprisoned Egyptian blogger Maikel Nabil Sanad for his firm commitment to freedom. In the fringes of the meeting, James Patava (Head of LI's Political Unit) presented a well attended workshop on tips for IFLRY's better advocacy within LI and other international forums.


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“Clinton’s address at UN...methodical, reasoned and very compelling" says LI DP Minoves

At the United Nations in Geneva, Hillary Clinton has spoken extensively about the need for protection of LBTS rights around the world: “Gay people are born into every society in the world: being gay is not a Western invention but a human reality.” She implored countries that criminalize LGBT people to respect human rights and discard discriminatory laws. LI Deputy President Dr. Juli Minoves praised Secretary Clinton's unambiguous statement: “As liberals, we have put at the forefront of our agenda to defend human rights wherever they are attacked. In many nations, gay people are imprisoned or killed just for who they are. Cultural specificity has been used in the past to justify slavery or the oppression of women. Now many use it to discriminate against LGBT people. Hillary Clinton's address is methodical, reasoned and very compelling and fully coincides with our strong decisions on this issue at the last LI congress”. LI continues to be active on this issue at the UN and has overwhelmingly approved resolutions at Congresses fighting against intolerance and persecution of LGBT individuals, making it one of the priorities of the new LI human rights committee.

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ALN Parties Learn New Campaigning Skills in Dakar, Senegal

Nine liberal parties from across West Africa met in Dakar, Senegal to share expertise in campaign skills on 3-4 December. The workshop was hosted by the Africa Liberal Network (ALN) (LI Cooperating Organisation) and facilitated by Cllr Dave McCobb, Deputy Head of Strategic Seat Campaigns at the UK Liberal Democrats (LI full member). Commenting, the ALN Coordinator, Nick Branson, said “ALN was delighted to hold a workshop at which liberal parties could identify best practice in campaign techniques in this region. The participants immediately struck-up an excellent working relationship, and they were eager to hear new ideas from the UK context. We were particularly pleased to see the Union des Forces Républicaines (UFR) of Guinea (LI observer member) involved in the network's activities for the first time.” The Westminster Foundation for Democracy (WFD) funded the workshop, which was held at the offices of the Friedrich Naumann Foundation (LI Cooperating Organisation). The President of ADF-RDA Burkina-Faso (LI full member), Gilbert Noël Ouédraogo, was among the participants.

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Andrus Ansip wins Prize for Liberal Economic Policy

This week the Estonian Prime Minister Andrus Ansip (Reform Party, LI Full Member) was awarded the Prize for Liberal Economic Policy by the Freidrich August von Hayek Foundation for implementing liberal economic policies. In his acceptance speech, Ansip thanks the Estonian people for their support. “They have played the most important part in the success story”, said Ansip. He also credited two of his predecessors, current European Commission Deputy President Siim Kallas and current Defence Minister Mart Laar for supporting liberal policies. Ansip said the success of Estonia demonstrated that liberal economic policies work not only in times when economic were better, but also in the past few years when debt crisis struck Europe. When mentioning his co-honouree Latvian Prime Minister Valdis Dombrovskis, he asserted that “[T]his prize shows the common future perspectives in our region, our similar view of the possibilities surmounting the crisis, and a consensus of pursing solidarity together”.  

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Belgian Liberals Hopeful for the new government - Online Only

After 541 days of political deadlock, Belgium political leaders finally reached a consensus forming a federal government. Both LI member parties MR and Open VLD join the six-party coalition with other major parties. Open VLD leader Alexander De Croo stressed his appreciations to the liberals for the successful negotiation, “[L]et us work together in the coming months and years. If we want to get our country out of crisis, we must work together. Young and old, workers and employers… Fleming and Walloon, liberals and socialists…” he said. Upon calling for cooperation from all parties, De Croo also thanked his French colleague Charles Michel from MR saying that the “historical agreement on the constitutional reform has come true is partially because of the MR President”. Michel also commented on the agreement asserting that “we have shown great political courage”. Elio Di Rupo from the Socialist Party took the oath of office this week and he is the first openly gay leader of an EU country.

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Macedonia Wins ICJ Case against Greece - Online Only

The International Court of Justice ruled Monday that Greece was wrong to block Macedonia's bid to join NATO in 2008. The ruling said “Greece, by objecting to the admission of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia to NATO, has breached its obligation”. It was a significant diplomatic victory for Macedonia as its people have fought for the term Macedonia to resemble their Slavic identity and this dispute has been rumbling on since Macedonia became independent from Yugoslavia in 1991. Andrej Zernovski, LDP Macedonia leader stated: 'Whenever it is decided by the power of the argument, instead by the argument of the power, from the Badintair Commission [on independance in 1991], up until today, Macedonia has been a winner. The decision in The Hague presents a positive step of returning the confidence of the Macedonian citizens in the global institutions. The Macedonian application for EU and NATO membership is based on our shared values with these organisations: democracy, rule of law, market economy and efficient state of welfare.' In the World Today resolution at LI's 57th Congress in Manila, a resolution was adopted 'expressing support to the Macedonian ethnic, linguistic and cultural identity. The 'name issue' should not block the eventual EU membership of Macedonia.'

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