Latest News (Site updated Thursday, April 20, 2017 | 12:00)
Monitoring visit by the Congress to the Principality of Andorra
[20/04/2017 12:00:00] A delegation from the Congress will carry out its first monitoring visit to the Principality of Andorra from 25 to 26 April 2017. Co-rapporteurs on local democracy,
Ms Gaye Doganoglu (Turkey, EPP-CCE), and Mr Zdenek Broz (Czech Republic, ECR), will examine the situation on local democracy in the light of the provisions of the European Charter of Local Self-Government, ratified by the country in 2011. High level meetings are scheduled, in particular with Mr Antoni Martí Petit, Head of Principality of Andorra government, and Mr Jordi Cinca Mateos, Minister of Finance.
The delegation will also meet with the President of the Court of Auditors, Sr. Francesc d’Assís Pons Tomàs, the Vice-President of the General Council (Parliament), Ms Mònica Bonell Tuset, the President of the Constitutional Court, Mr Isidre Molas Batllori, as well as the Ombudsman (El Raonador del Ciutada), Mr Josep Rodriguez Gutièrrez.
Press release Programme
Congress concludes mission to assess local elections in Finland
[10/04/2017 17:00:00] At a press conference held on 10 April in Helsinki, findings of the Congress' electoral visit in Finland were presented by Mrs Lelia Hunziker (Switzerland, SOC), Head of the Congress delegation to observe the local elections organised on 9 April 2017 in the country. The Congress deployed 10 teams to visit some 150 polling stations in Helsinki, Tampere, Vaasa, Joensuu, Oulu, Kuopio, Jyvaeskylae and Rovaniemi.'The voting day was organised in a highly professional manner and procedures were fully in line with European standards for free, fair and transparent elections', stated Lelia Hunziker. The delegation welcomed the Finnish well-established system of voters' registration, recently also based on a sound computer population register. “We appreciated that the very first voter is given the opportunity to check the ballot box and the materials and we think that this is good practice for other Council of Europe countries” she added. The Congress also praised that only individuals who are permanently residing in a specific municipality have the right to vote at local level.
Photo: A Congress sub-delegation met the Finnish Minister of Local Government and Public Reforms, Ms Anu Vehviläinen. Full text of the news Speech by Lelia Hunziker, Head of the Congress delegation Article published on the YLE Finnish Public Broadcaster website (Finnish version) Photo Gallery - Flickr
Local democracy in Malta
[30/03/2017 10:30:00] On 29 March 2017, the Congress’s Chamber of Local Authorities adopted a recommendation on local democracy in Malta following a monitoring visit from 22 to 24 November 2016. This is the third monitoring report since Malta ratified the European Charter of Local Self-Government in 1993. The report was prepared by the co-rapporteurs Stewart Dickson (United Kingdom, ILDG) and Risto Rautava (Finland, EPP-CCE).
The co-rapporteurs expressed satisfaction with certain amendments made to Malta’s legislation, improving local democracy, since the last official monitoring visit in 2010. Local governance in Malta faces numerous challenges, however, in terms of non-compliance with the provisions of the European Charter of Local Self-Government, said Stewart Dickson, presenting the report to the Chamber of local Authorities. The Congress is particularly concerned about the lack of explicit or direct recognition of the principle of local self-government in domestic legislation and in the Maltese Constitution. The report also mentions the excessive involvement of central government in local affairs. The overall situation with regard to local democracy in Malta is exacerbated by the lack of meaningful consultation between central government and local authorities, explained Stewart Dickson.
Press release Report CG32(2017)02 Presentation by Stewart Dickson Presentation by Dr Stefan Buontempo Video of the debate Interview with Stewart Dickson File: 32nd Session of the Congress
The Chair of the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe addresses the members of the Congress
[30/03/2017 10:00:00] “Both your programmes and ours are aimed at promoting the Council of Europe’s values, bolstering inter-institutional co-operation and enhancning relations with our neighbouring countries” said Ioannis Kasoulides, Chair of the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe and Cypriot Minister for Foreign Affairs, when addressing the members of the Congress on 29 March 2017. Cyprus was currently planning to reform its local government arrangements and he referred to the recommendation on local democracy in Cyprus, adopted by the Congress in October 2016. He also drew attention to the numerous areas in which both the Cypriot authorities and the Congress were working, in particular to prevent radicalisation, integrate refugees and migrants, and take action against Anti-Gypsyism. “The Congress” priority, which is to improve the quality of local and regional democracy, in particular by raising awareness of human rights at local and regional level and by promoting ethical conduct and transparency, is particularly important and necessary”, he said. He also mentioned the crisis in Turkey following the failed coup d’Etat in July 2016 and said that it was the Cypriot Chairmanship’s aim “to assist the Turkish authorities to overcome the difficulties the country is facing, while ensuring compliance with our common standards with regard to human rights, democracy and the rule of law”. A debate on the detention of elected mayors and their replacement by persons designated by the government is on the agenda of the 32nd Session, following a fact-finding visit to Turkey in 2016.
Speech Video File: 32nd Session of the Congress
Council of Europe’s Congress adopts report on the situation of mayors in Turkey
[29/03/2017 18:30:00] On 29 March 2017, the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities of the Council of Europe adopted a recommendation and resolution on the situation of mayors and councillors in Turkey, and, in particular, on the detention of elected mayors and their replacement by mayors appointed by the central authorities. The co-rapporteurs Anders Knape (Sweden, EPP/CCE) and Leen Verbeek (Netherlands, SOC) presented the report prepared following two fact-finding missions to the country in 2016.
In the adopted texts, the Congress asks the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe to invite the Turkish authorities to rescind the legislative measures on “mayors appointed by the central authorities” and restore the capacity of municipal councils to choose a replacement mayor. It also points out that the arrest of a local elected representative must be a decision duly substantiated in domestic law, taken in conformity with the standards of the Council of Europe and, in particular, with the European Convention on Human Rights. The Congress also calls for Turkish legislation to be revised, in order to align its definition of terrorism with European standards, notably the case law of the European Court of Human Rights.
In addition, the Congress calls for a revision of the ministerial instructions of 11 November 2016 with a view to decriminalising the appointment of co-mayors. In this connection, it has agreed to put the review of the situation of Nurhayat Altun, member of the Turkish delegation of the Congress, on the agenda of its Bureau meetings until the end of legal proceedings. “Co-mayor” of Tunceli, Ms Altun was arrested on 17 November 2016 and is being held in Kocaeli F-type prison.
Press Release Report CG32(2017)13 Video of the debate Interview with Mr.Leendert Verbeek and Mr.Anders Knape File: 32nd Session of the Congress
The World Forum for Democracy returns with a sixth edition! – Call for submissions
[23/02/2017 09:00:00] The 2017 World Forum for Democracy (WFD) will be held in Strasbourg on 8-10 November. This year, the role of political parties and the media in the context of rising populism will be at the centre of discussion, with themes such as “From democracy of parties to democracy of citizens?” and “Media - friend or foe of democracy?”. Debates will focus, among others, on how to counter populism and foster pluralism in online media rather than extremism and polarisation. Public and private organisations, as well as local and regional authorities worldwide are invited to express their interest in presenting their ideas by filling in the Submission of initiative in the Call for submissions document below and sending it to firstname.lastname@example.org by 30 April 2017.
Call for submissions Concept paper World forum for Democracy - website