The danger of majority tyranny

Posted: March 4, 2010 in bigotry, equality, national minorities

An article here from the OpenDemocracy website –The danger of majority tyranny– that revisits the highly regrettable vote in Switzerland to ban the construction of minarets on mosques.

The question posed by this referendum has to be: What are the limits of popular sovereignty?

One commentator responds: “Popular sovereignty is limited by legal frameworks. The power of popular opinion must not extend beyond the principles of the human rights system, a key human achievement, widely adopted by most countries”.

Whilst in agreement with the need for a human rights framework, essentials such as legal equality, it must be noted that Swiss democracy does a far better job of protecting its own national minorities and language groups than the UK or France.

The Cornish Democrat added the following remarks to the debate:

Can we not see the same phenomena in most European nation states working againt national minorities, their lesser used languages and cultures?


If Welsh and Breton were banned from use in state schools its not because the Welsh and Breton people chose it thus.


If the ‘regional’ languages of France are still subject to underfunding and much hostility from the jacobin French state its not because the users of these languages have voted for this.


Rather it is the uncareing and ill educated national majority groups who will simply not vote on issues of importance to national minorities.

Minorities, both new and old, need legal frameworks that 1) recognise their existence and 2) ensure their fair treatment within the larger state.

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