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Stalin’s Constitution and the “All-People’s Discussion”
Perhaps the most prominent aspect of the new Constitution’s discourse on rights was its retreat from neo-corporatism. Gone is the explicit deprivation of rights to entire categories of the population. Article 135 grants the right to vote and be elected to “all citizens of the USSR aged 18 or older, regardless of racial or national membership, faith, educational level, residence, social origin, property status, and past activities.” Articles 132 and 133 proclaim the “sacred duty of every citizen” to perform military service - without reference to who may or may not bear arms. Freedom of conscience, expression, assembly, and association (described both as “freedoms” and “rights”) are now “guaranteed by law to citizens [rather than to “toilers,” as in 1918] of the USSR.” And yet traces of the neo-corporative idiom - and more broadly, of the state’s use of rights as a political tool – remain. Whereas the various freedoms are granted to “citizens,” their exercise must “correspond to the interests of toilers and the strengthening of the socialist system.” Moreover, the all-important material guaranties by the state for the realisation of civil rights are extended to “toilers” rather than to “citizens.” True, “toilers” now meant the troika of officially recognized social groups (working class, peasantry, and intelligentsia), leaving only recalcitrant individuals on the sidelines; but the subtle distinction between “citizens” and “toilers” was not lost – least of all on the toilers themselves, as we will see in a moment.
THE EU CHARTER AND ITS APPLICATION AND INTERPRETATION
The EU’s New Human Rights Dimension
A CONCRETE EXAMPLE: EQUALITY AS A RIGHT AND A PRINCIPLE
The Development of Equality as a Primary Principle Guaranteeing Fundamental Human Rights
Equality and non-discrimination have a special place among human rights and they have a special position in the Charter as well. Their special position is established by its dual character. First, it is a principle determining the content and exercise of all other fundamental rights and as such, it is unequivocally acknowledged as a constitutive element of international human rights law. Secondly, it is a right of a specific kind, being a precondition of human dignity. This second meaning, the right to equal treatment, in contrast with the principle of equal treatment, is the subject of broad conceptual discussions.
A peaceful Europe
The beginnings of cooperation
The European Union is set up with the aim of ending the frequent and bloody wars between neighbours, which culminated in the Second World War. As of 1950, the European Coal and Steel Community begins to unite European countries economically and politically in order to secure lasting peace. The six founding countries are Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, Luxembourg and the Netherlands. The 1950s are dominated by a cold war between east and west. Protests in Hungary against the Communist regime are put down by Soviet tanks in 1956. In 1957, the Treaty of Rome creates the European Economic Community (EEC), or ‘Common Market’.
The historical roots of the European Union lie in the Second World War. Europeans are determined to prevent such killing and destruction from ever happening again. Soon after the war, Europe is split into East and West as the 40-year-long Cold War begins. West European nations create the Council of Europe in 1949. It is the first step towards cooperation between them, but six countries want to go further.
Political parties and the European Union
Political parties are usually viewed as national organisations which have local and regional branches. However, they may also have an international and/or transnational dimension. Given its immense size, the EU provides opportunities for like-minded parties to cooperate in pursuit of their aims. It also has a considerable impact upon party politics in the member states, providing a whole new set of issues with which politicians have to deal.