Rightful engagement

Legislative power, somehow, has moved to centre stage at this beginning of the year. Several references to new pieces of legislation, in various states of development, have appeared in the media. They range from the revisions of earlier proposed drafts – such as those concerning domestic violence and animal protection – to new proposals or suggestions on issues with a more direct impact upon economic structure and performance – such as those dealing with the organisation of trade unions or market competition.
The first two subjects – domestic violence and animal protection – do not require much arguing at this point. No modern society with a scrap of ambition to be seen as open-minded can condone violence and aggression as ways to regulate people’s relations, just because they happen between relatives within the confines of a private dwelling. Similarly, acts of mistreatment, when not of plain savagery, against animals should have no place in our societies. The basics seem so obvious that an agreement on the specifics should not be too difficult to reach. If anything, what is difficult to understand is the convoluted, twisted process that has dragged on for so long.
Now, the fact that three legislators came forward with a proposal for the regulation of trade unions and the exercise of workers rights must be underscored. The absence of such regulation clearly violates the letter and spirit of the Basic Law and persists as a dark spot in the legal system. Moreover, the submitted proposal would extend those rights to non-residents, which is a reason for further celebration. That is an essential step in the direction of removing or mitigating some of the most archaic features of the current labour market policies. Time alone will tell how exactly, if the law is finally approved, those rights will be defined and under which conditions they can be effectively exercised. And the fact that similar proposals were rejected in the past should not be ignored. But that a new group of legislators re-opened the process is certainly a motive for (moderate) optimism.
The legislation concerning monopolies has yet to see the light. But the administration declared earlier that it was working on it and promised to put forward a proposal. That some legislators keep insisting on the subject and demanding a speedier development of such regulation must be emphasised and acknowledged. Whenever it comes, it will not come too early.
Regardless of what one thinks about each specific piece of legislation or their proponents’ opinions on this or that matter, stronger legislators’ activism is a positive development. The interesting thing about this seemingly disparate bunch of legislative proposals is that each would represent, in its distinct way, a step in the direction of modernity. After so much (at times overdone) economic gloom, the year starts with a whiff of unexpected optimism. So be it!