The future of the United Kingdom is uncertain, as the challenges of a post-Brexit reality need to be faced and editorials compete in their predictions of the course the United Kingdom will take under its new prime minister.
As such, it was an encouraging sign for many, especially within the Club de Madrid, when PM Theresa May seemed to adopt the concept of Shared Society, long championed by the Club de Madrid, in a speech drawing up her plans for the future of the islands. Club de Madrid’s President, Vaira Vīķe-Freiberga, penned an essay in the Huffington Post in response, which doubled down on the values that Shared Societies embodies: “when everyone is involved and encouraged, they become an asset to society and a contributor to the common good, rather than being a drain or a liability”. It also emphasized that in order to be effective, governments all across the ideological spectrum need to support it, not imposing it but rather enabling it. The Prime Minister’s speech has sparked a welcome debate about the concept in the UK media. For example Frances Ryan in the Guardian gave her own views of the policy changes that would be required to create a Shared Society here.
Please to find Vaira Vike-Freiberga’s article in the following link.
Although the United Kingdom is sailing in uncharted waters, we at the Club of Madrid feel confident that there could be no better guiding principles for a nation seeking to reinvent itself than those of our Shared Societies Project and we are open to opportunities to share the insights that the Members have gained over the years.
In recent years, European countries have grown increasingly diverse and welcomed immigrants from all parts of the world. It goes without saying that successful integration of the recently arrived immigrants is essential to creating an equitable Shared Society and preventing ethnic, racial and demographic tensions.
One way of measuring integration is by assessing the level of political representation of immigrants. Having high level politicians that represent your needs in the legislative or executive branches is a vital part of successful integration. The Pathways Project, a collaborative effort of several European universities, seeks to do just that, by focusing its effort on diversity assessment among several European parliaments. The findings reveal that the Spanish parliament has a long way to go, while 10% of Spanish citizens are immigrants or first generation citizens, they make up only 1% of MPs. In this regard Southern Europe in general is more backwards than Northern Europe, as Italy and Greece have similar statistics. Northern Europe, led by the UK and the Netherlands, has the highest proportion of immigrant MPs at 11 and 13%, respectively. One could offer a historical argument to explain the discrepancies among the countries, by pointing out that the UK and the Netherlands are historically maritime powers that have welcomed immigrants for many decades from their former colonies.
Encouragingly for Spain though, individual attitudes on immigration are much more positive; however, the authors of the report posit that the tide might change if Spanish citizens experience negative consequences of the immigration wave that came at the dawn of 2000s. Countries of Southern Europe should carefully examine the inclusive policies of the UK and Netherlands in order to either replicate the policies adjusting for their individual countries or create new policies with inclusivity in mind. Increasing the percentage of immigrants and first generations MPs is an effective way of promoting several of the goals of Shared Society, such as Commitment II, creating opportunities for minorities and Commitment VIII, fostering a shared vision of society at the local and national level by increasing visibility and communication between different identity groups.
 Criado, Miguel Angel. “El Congreso Español Es El Que Tiene Menos Miembros De Origen Inmigrante.” Elpais.com. El Pais, 15 Feb. 2016. Web. <http://elpais.com/elpais/2016/02/15/ciencia/1455521726_813402.html>.
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| Tags: europe, Greece, Immigration, Italy, Netherlands, Parliaments, representation, shared societies, Spain, SSP, UK