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Messages - xasop

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This is also pretty interesting, you can see how different countries differ in how many members they've elected in each group. France and Germany in particular have markedly different levels of support for the different groups. Germany has much greater support for EPP and Greens/EFA, while France has more Renew and ID MEPs. As expected, half of Poland's MEPs are ECR (PiS), but I'm surprised by how many GUE/NGL MEPs Ireland has. Here in the Netherlands, we seem to have a good balance of centrist, centre-left and centre-right parties, with not many extremists on either side.

It's also pretty obvious that Brexit has changed the balance of power a bit — aside from the Non-Inscrits members (all but one of whom were from the Brexit Party), the UK had a lot of Renew (Lib Dems and Alliance Party) and Greens/EFA (Green Party, SNP and Plaid Cymru) MEPs. Somewhat ironically for their propaganda campaign, this means that the Brexiteers have increased von der Leyen's relative power in the EU by leaving, since the UK had no EPP MEPs whatsoever.

As someone who likes both Renew and Greens/EFA, it's sad to see them go, particularly the Plaid Cymru members who have spent the past 20 years campaigning for the recognition of the Welsh language in the EU.

That sounds interesting. Are you familiar with the Citizen’s Assembly in Ireland?
I wasn't, but that seems interesting as well. Thanks for bringing it to my attention.

With it becoming increasingly obvious that elected officials are not necessarily more qualified at crafting legislation than many non-elected people, it seems like systems that broadly engage the population in consensus building is a bright possibility for the future of democracy.
I agree, with qualification. Many bills legislatures need to deal with are routine, not very interesting to most people, and would never cross the mind of the average citizen. So, while I do think direct involvement in democracy is important, it cannot replace representative democracy as the primary form of government, only supplement it.

Also, there is the inaugural plenary of the Conference on the Future of Europe tomorrow morning at 08:55 CEST

This turns out to be far more interesting than I expected. They are launching a website for the participation all EU citizens, available in all 24 official languages of the EU. This conference will involve direct participation from citizens all over the EU, with particular emphasis on young people, minorities and those who have not previously been involved in EU democracy. The idea is for citizens, not MEPs, to put forward ideas and suggestions, which will then be debated in the EP and concrete proposals formulated.

I think this is a brilliant idea, and another example of the great influence for good that the EU is on democracy in Europe. People from all over the EU will be able to find others with similar ideas across the rest of the EU and discuss and debate them, and at the end of it, see tangible results from the process.

I've been exploring the European Parliament website some more. The MEP search lets you slice the 705 MEPs any which way you want — by country, by constituency (for countries with more than one), by political group or by membership in committees or delegations. Once you've found the MEPs you're interested in, you can see a list of all the speeches they've made in Parliament with a transcript and a video link. Very helpful when trying to decide whom to re-elect.

Also, there is the inaugural plenary of the Conference on the Future of Europe tomorrow morning at 08:55 CEST (June 19, 2021, 06:55:00 AM your time, if your offset is correctly configured in the forum settings). I'll try to watch that, since it'll be my first chance to watch a plenary live.

The primary problem with the EU is that its structure heavily mimics the outdated and completely worthless UK parliamentary system (as do many other European nations).
What you're observing is not "mimicry" of the UK, but just how Western democracies work in general. As I pointed out in my OP, the EU is in some ways more similar to the US than to the UK, but that doesn't mean it's "mimicking" the US either.

The irony that the UK can't handle being part of a government that's nearly an exact replica of their own government because it's incompetent is completely lost on them.
As are many other ironies of Brexit, apparently.

Philosophy, Religion & Society / The workings of European democracy
« on: June 17, 2021, 08:14:14 PM »
I've never looked very deeply into the workings of the EU, as someone who is ineligible to vote in European elections. The system of numerous institutions spread across three different cities always seemed a bit daunting. However, I am almost certainly going to be eligible to vote in 2024, so I decided it is time to educate myself so I can decide who to vote for in a few years.

For those of you who are not European, and our British residents who still do not understand what they opted out of, I will provide a brief summary here. The EU is composed of seven institutions; of these, this discussion will be limited to the four that comprise the legislature and executive, as these are the ones voters can most directly influence. The other three — the judiciary, the central bank and the auditing body — are a topic for another time.

Despite much propaganda thrown around regarding the supposedly undemocratic nature of the EU, it strongly resembles most Western democracies in its structure. Where appropriate, comparisons will be drawn between EU institutions and the institutions of other democracies.
  • The European Parliament (EP) is comparable to the lower houses of many bicameral parliaments around the world, such as the House of Commons in the UK, or the House of Representatives in the USA. It is elected directly by eligible voters in each member state, although the exact criteria for voting eligibility vary by state, with an election held every 5 years. As the only institution directly elected by the people, this will be discussed in more detail below.
  • The European Council (EUCO) and the Council of the European Union (Council) are, taken together, somewhat analogous to the upper houses of many parliaments, such as the Senate in the Netherlands or (somewhat more loosely) the USA. (A comparison with the House of Lords in the UK would be too strained, given how undemocratic the British system is.) The purposes of these institutions are to represent member states, rather than representing the people directly. The EUCO is comprised of the heads of government of each member state, and the Council rotates its membership according to the topic under consideration — for example, when the Council is convened on environmental issues, it will be composed of the Ministers for the Environment of each member state.
  • The European Commission (EC) is the executive of the EU. It consists of 27 members, one from each member state, who are appointed through a process involving both the EUCO and the EP. One difference between the EC and the executives of most other democracies is that the EC need not be elected from within the ranks of the EP, but since the EC cannot be formed without the approval of the EP and it relies on the EP's continued support to do its work, it is no less democratic. The current President of the European Commission, analogous to the prime minister in most democracies, is Ursula von der Leyen.
I will now go into some further detail on the EP, as this is the most directly relevant institution to voters. Rather than the familiar party-based approach, the EP is organised into groups, which are groups of members (MEPs) with similar ideologies. This arrangement, as opposed to organising MEPs by the state they represent, facilitates cooperation between the representatives of different member states with similar political views. Generally, each group will be composed of the elected representatives of ideologically related European political parties, although there are exceptions where different members of a party have joined with different groups. European parties, in turn, are formed from cooperation between national parties of member states with similar ideologies.

This idea may be easier to grasp with an example. The largest group in the current EP is the European People's Party Group (EPP Group), made up of the eponymous European People's Party (EPP), along with some representatives from the European Christian Political Movement (ECPM). In turn, the EPP is made up of various national parties, including:
  • Christlich Demokratische Union Deutschlands (CDU) in Germany,
  • Partido Popular (PP) in Spain,
  • Platforma Obywatelska (PO) in Poland,
  • Νέα Δημοκρατία (ND) in Greece,
  • Fine Gael (FG) in Ireland, and
  • Christen-Democratisch Appèl (CDA) in the Netherlands, among many others.
So, if a German voter were to cast a vote for the CDU in an EP election, that would translate into a vote for the EPP, and their representative would ultimately sit as part of the EPP Group. Groups in the EP will generally have a leader who speaks for them in plenary sessions, as in this session from last year, where each group presents its response to President von der Leyen's proposed funding to recover from the pandemic.

This system results in some odd incongruences. For instance, I would not support either of the major parties (Fianna Fáil or Fine Gael) in Irish national elections (assuming that I were eligible to vote), but so far I like the Renew Europe (Renew) group, in which Fianna Fáil participates. Conversely, I like some of Partij voor de Dieren's positions in the Netherlands, but they have chosen to align themselves with the group The Left in the European Parliament (GUE/NGL), which is too left-wing for my taste, so I would not vote for them in a European election.

In order to facilitate clear communication between people of differing backgrounds, and to minimise the misunderstandings that come with language barriers, MEPs are permitted to speak in any of the EU's 24 official languages. A team of expert interpreters translates all statements into 23 of these in real time (Irish is presently excluded due to the difficulty in finding qualified interpreters), so that all MEPs can understand each other, and all European citizens can understand each session. EP sessions are available to watch, live or recorded, online in any of the 23 EU languages other than Irish.

This is all fairly new to me and I am still getting a handle on how it all fits together, but this is as good a summary as I can give of what I have encountered so far. As for the reason I began looking into this, my own views seem to fit somewhere in between the groups Renew and Greens/European Free Alliance (Greens/EFA), and the EP sessions I have watched so far seem to confirm this. I'm going to keep watching EP sessions and try to get to know the system a bit better so I can make an informed choice in a few years.

Philosophy, Religion & Society / Re: Irish reunification
« on: June 15, 2021, 09:59:05 PM »
The Tánaiste has an interesting proposal.

“Our vision should be different. It should be one that has the best chance of carrying the greatest number of people with us, North and South.

“It should appeal in particular to that middle ground I spoke about earlier, to gain the support of people who identify as both British and Irish.

“So, unification must not be the annexation of Northern Ireland.

“It means something more, a new state designed together, a new constitution and one that reflects the diversity of a bi-national or multi-national state in which almost a million people are British.

“Like the New South Africa, a rainbow nation, not just orange and green.”

I have some reservations — the comparison to South Africa seems ill thought out, and the orange in "orange and green" represents the British in Ireland, so that is already a symbol of this kind of unity — but I can get behind the point he's trying to make. Hopefully it's not just hot air like Boris's speeches.

Philosophy, Religion & Society / Re: Irish reunification
« on: June 14, 2021, 11:17:17 AM »
British trade and the G7 I am interested in. Northern Ireland ... don't care. You changed the subject. You made the thread interesting again.

You're the one who is veering off topic, which I would like you to stop doing. I was talking about Boris's comments on Northern Ireland specifically. You can read the thread title if that confuses you.

Philosophy, Religion & Society / Re: Irish reunification
« on: June 14, 2021, 11:13:40 AM »
Stop picking the wrong side.

What happened to not being interested in this thread? I'm not going to let you waste any more of my time until you answer my previous question, otherwise you're just going to vanish again next time the discussion gets too uncomfortable for you.

Philosophy, Religion & Society / Re: Irish reunification
« on: June 13, 2021, 03:42:55 PM »
Boris Johnson continues to be all flash, no photo.

But pushed further by reporters about the French president's alleged remarks, Mr Johnson said he and the rest of the government "make the point continuously that we are all part of one great indivisible United Kingdom".

Considering his government is the one who has divided the United Kingdom, this lip service from Boris is frankly more offensive than anything Macron said.

Philosophy, Religion & Society / Re: Coronavirus Vaccine and You
« on: June 11, 2021, 01:50:28 PM »
I received my invitation to book an appointment for vaccination today. Finally, this will all be over.

Update: I have made an appointment to be vaccinated. I'll have my second jab at the end of July.

Philosophy, Religion & Society / Re: Trans athletes
« on: June 08, 2021, 04:09:39 PM »
Also, we're really over looking team sports here: low risk of injury (outside of American football) and based on team strength rather than individuals. I played on a mixed gender soccer team for a season and it was fine. I mean, our team was shit but that's because we had two guys who show-boated the entire time and never actually played as part of a team. Me and another guy even collided and went down but I didn't break any oh so fragile feminine bones under him or anything.
That may be the case most of the time, but given how biased public perception of gender-based violence is against men, I really wouldn't want to be the man who bumps into a woman and risks an accusation of assault. An accusation of being unreasonably physical from another man is far less damaging than an accusation from a woman. Until we fix that, I wouldn't be surprised if men don't want to be in mixed-gender teams with women they don't know well.

Philosophy, Religion & Society / Re: Trans athletes
« on: June 08, 2021, 02:18:18 PM »
Rather than argue about whether gender identity is valid, it may be more constructive to take it for granted and instead consider the goal of having separate sporting events for men and women. My understanding of the goal is that it gives women a fair chance to win events without competition from (on average) physically stronger men. That is, gender is not important per se, but rather the fact that half the population is not on a level playing field with the other half. If women were equal to men in physical strength, but brown-haired people were weaker than blonde-haired people, we would instead have sporting events segregated by hair colour.

If we accept, then, that gender is no more than an incidental part of the reason why we have women's sporting events, we can begin to consider what is significant. I can see a few options:
  • Abolish all gender segregation in sport and allow the best athletes, of any sex and gender, to win.
  • Establish some standard by which trans people can be medically certified as having transitioned to the point that they are of typical stature for their target sex, and hence permitted to participate in sport for that gender.
  • Base segregation in sport on sex at birth, and not gender, while acknowledging that these are now mixed-gender sporting events to accommodate trans people.
  • Abolish gender segregation in sport, but establish a tiered system where athletes compete against people of similar physical stature to them, regardless of sex or gender.
The first option would undoubtedly mean that men win most events, which would upset feminists and risk injury to women in contact sports, so it is not ideal. The second is extremely difficult to get right due to the fact that differences between the sexes are only broad averages, so whatever standard is chosen, it will do nothing to settle the controversy.

I therefore posit that the third and fourth options are the only workable ones. That is, we need a reform of gender-segregated sport. The question is whether to base the admission criteria on physical sex, or on some other means of classifying physical strength.

Technology & Information / Re: NFT my posts
« on: June 02, 2021, 08:29:23 AM »
I bid $1.
And it begins. I'd like a Lambo so dig deep guys.

I bid $1.01 CAD

I bid €1.02, on the condition that Thork accepts my payment in euros and doesn't require me to convert to any other currency.

Philosophy, Religion & Society / Re: Irish reunification
« on: May 31, 2021, 06:31:34 PM »
Honestly, we don't give a fuck about Northern Ireland. They chose to stay. We've been paying for them ever since. They contribute nothing.

Yes, you keep very loudly proclaiming how hard you don't give a fuck.

No, Brexit is just the cancellation of a trade deal. A bad trade deal. That is not grounds for sedition.

Please stop calling the EU a "trade deal". That is not even remotely close to what it is, and I suspect you know that. You are only making yourself look ridiculous.

Tell me, what is the difference between parts of Ireland disagreeing on whether to remain part of the UK, and parts of the UK disagreeing on whether to remain part of the EU?

Philosophy, Religion & Society / Re: Irish reunification
« on: May 31, 2021, 06:18:16 PM »
That's not like voting to leave the union. That was voting on a trade deal with the EU.

No, it was voting on EU membership. Do you actually understand what Brexit is yet?

If people want to leave, they can leave.

I assume you mean to say they can leave after they start a war of independence and you commit a few crimes against humanity to spite them for it.

But they can't vote over and over on it until the result changes. Have a vote, respect the vote. But having political differences of opinion is not grounds for leaving every single time it happens. That way madness lies.

Losing EU membership was one of the primary arguments against Scottish independence in the last referendum. It is not a "political difference of opinion", it is a radical change to the context of the question that was posed.

Philosophy, Religion & Society / Re: Irish reunification
« on: May 31, 2021, 05:23:07 PM »
So we never chopped Ireland in half. We left the half that wanted to leave leave, and let the half that wanted to stay stay.

That's weird. I could have sworn you said something just a bit earlier to the effect of

We don't just shatter the nation to bits every time parts of it vote another way. Democracy means we agree to the majority vote and we live with it.

Philosophy, Religion & Society / Re: Irish reunification
« on: May 31, 2021, 04:49:26 PM »
How about Queensland leaves Australia?
Good riddance.

You know, if we want to see other people's nations chopped to bits.
You mean like the time you chopped Ireland in half?

Give back the land you stole. Let them govern themselves.
I didn't steal anything, I would be quite happy for them to govern themselves, and Australia isn't the topic of this thread.

Philosophy, Religion & Society / Re: Irish reunification
« on: May 31, 2021, 04:29:10 PM »
Westminster hasn't given permission. You are advocating sedition.

Did I, at any point, say "the Northern Irish should set up a referendum without following the legal process in the UK for one"?

Philosophy, Religion & Society / Re: Irish reunification
« on: May 31, 2021, 03:57:33 PM »
We'll wait until the Republic of Ireland is capable of wrestling territories from us before we hand over Northern Ireland, thanks very much.

Do you know what you're saying? Because I don't think you know what you're saying.

In the mean time, your support of sedition is not welcome.

I wasn't aware referenda qualified as sedition.

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