BHHRG

About BHHRG

The British Helsinki Human Rights Group monitors human rights and democracy in the 57 OSCE member states from the United States to Central Asia.
* Monitoring the conduct of elections in OSCE member states.
* Examining issues relating to press freedom and freedom of speech
* Reporting on conditions in prisons and psychiatric institutions

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Triumph of the elites in the Czech Republic..?
HITS: 2129 | 14-04-2005, 04:46 | Comments: (0) | Categories: Czech Republic , Political science

Since the so-called ‘velvet revolution’ in 1989, politics in the Czech Republic has been governed – some would say overshadowed – by two competing and, ultimately, incompatible interests. On one side are formal political parties, while on the other stand proponents of a system of anti-politics which advocates something called ‘civil society’ where policy emanates, almost mysteriously, from citizens’ groups and non-governmental organizations (NGOs). While masquerading as a form of benevolent populism, critics view these ideas as akin to the classic Gramscian notion of ‘hegemony’ whereby society is governed by powerful elites - the opposite, in fact, of people power.

A network of such elites including journalists, academics and businessmen has grown ever more powerful in the Czech Republic over the past ten years, their centre of gravity being the internationally revered Czech president, Václav Havel. Havel has long been  the leading exponent of ‘civic society’, regularly criticizing politicians for their venality and corruption. The Czech president is the most visible example of the Communist-era dissident turned politician.

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Swedish General Election 2002
HITS: 2686 | 30-10-2002, 04:20 | Comments: (0) | Categories: Sweden , Politics, Elections

Sweden is one of Europe's oldest democracies, but are its elections as correct and fair as the country's reputation would suggest...
This Group’s election observers are often asked by ordinary voters in the post-Communist societies where much of the BHHRG’s activities take place whether there aren’t enough problems back home in the West to keep them occupied. Unlike some other human rights groups, the BHHRG’s observers have never operated on the presumption that they come from states of perfection to observe others. As readers will remember, this Group suggested that serious flaws are apparent in the existing British electoral system and that they are likely to be worsened by proposals to make voter turnout rather than ballot security the key criterion in future regulation of elections in the U.K.
A Swedish correspondent, who shares an interest in much of the Group’s monitoring of human rights and democracy in the Balkans especially, suggested that the BHHRG should monitor aspects of the forthcoming Swedish general election. Along with several other academics, journalists, lawyers and political activists, he suggested that the run-up to the polls on 15th September, 2002, would be a suitable time to study what was happening in the Swedish general election campaign but also some of the controversial issues omitted by common consent of the parties already sitting in the Riksdag.

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Changes made before the second referendum
HITS: 1934 | 5-06-2002, 06:54 | Comments: (0) | Categories: Ireland , Politics, Analyzing

The Irish and European political classes clearly received a considerable shock when the Irish voted No to Nice in June 2001.  Dublin decided almost immediately to prepare the ground for a new referendum.  Indeed, the determination of the political class as a whole to force Nice through is evidenced by the fact that both of the main political parties, Fianna Fail and Fine Gael, campaigned for a yes vote.  Like political classes across Europe, the desire for unaccountable power in Ireland is great enough to unite all sides in pressing for ever close European integration.
The preparations for the second referendum were minutely laid.  The first change was radically to overhaul the role of the Referendum Commission which is responsible for running referendums in Ireland.  That Commission had been created in 1998, following an appeal to the country’s Supreme Court in 1995 by the Green Party Member of the European Parliament, Patricia McKenna.

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