Thursday, August 25, 2022

A new constitution to play with...

I guess that I should be flattered to have received the call. After all, it's not every day that you get invited to join a working group set up to look into aspects of a major organisation's statutes and rules of procedure, and an international one at that.

And thus, part of my morning was spent with colleagues from Denmark, Germany, the Netherlands, North Macedonia and Spain, as well as the ALDE Party's Deputy Secretary General and its new HR Manager, looking at how to address the issues within our remit. I wasn't in Dublin when the debates took place which caused our group to come into being, so it was interesting to establish the "backstory" and thus the context underpinning what we have been asked to do.

It is perhaps a sign that I am mellowing but I found myself resisting an urge to stray into the politics of the decisions we are asked to reconcile with the Statutes and Internal Regulations. After all, we are an advisory group, tasked with drawing up proposals to go before the Party Council and Congress, not a decision making body. I see our goal as one of reflecting the wishes of Council and the Congress in such a way as to give them what they want, as far as is possible within the framework of Belgian law and of good organisation.

Now I accept that what I've said so far is opaque to the point of total obscurity - "What is the bureaucrat on about?", I hear you mutter - but I'm not actually sure how much of what I'm being asked to consider is in the public domain and, even if it is, I'm not wildly enthusiastic about the notion of discussing it too widely - yet.

Regardless, it was nice to be doing something which demonstrates that I still have a role and have something to offer.

So, here are some general perspectives which will guide my contributions over the coming weeks;
  • constitutions should protect all parties as far as is possible
  • change should not stem from personalities, but from situations, even if the personality has created the situation
  • complexity should be kept to a minimum
  • the laws of the legal jurisdiction should be at the core of constitutional change
I've spent far more time than is necessarily healthy reading constitutions over the years - partly because nobody else ever seems to - but a grasp of the rules of any game tend to help you to play it more effectively. And you develop a philosophical position over the years which either becomes more rigid or more questioning - I've personally gone for the latter.

As I understand it, we are to report back to Council in Bratislava at the beginning of December, so time is short, especially if, as I hope, we don't "spring" our proposals on an unsuspecting room full of delegates. And now, I must draft something for my colleagues...

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