Join Us for a Foreign and Comparative Law Webinar: “Illegal Migration in the Central and Western Mediterranean from the Perspective of International and Domestic Law”

Source: US Global Legal Monitor

On February 10, 2022, at 2pm EST, Foreign Law Specialist George Sadek will present our next Foreign and Comparative Law webinar, “Illegal Migration in the Central and Western Mediterranean from the Perspective of International and Domestic Law.”

Please register here.

Flyer announcing upcoming foreign law webinar on “Illegal Migration in the Central and Western Mediterranean from the Perspective of International and Domestic Law,” created by Kelly Goles.

Illegal migration in the central and western Mediterranean is not just an important legal topic but also “the humanitarian issue of our generation,” as described by many migration organizations. Thousands of migrants, including women and children, have died drowning in the waters of the Mediterranean trying to reach European shores, particularly in Spain and Italy.

The webinar will discuss the main instrument of international law regulating the issue of illegal migration, which is the United Nations Protocol against the Smuggling of Migrants by Land, Sea and Air. First, it will highlight the scope of application of the UN protocol. Additionally, it will talk about how the protocol regulates the criminal liability of smuggled migrants and cooperation among member states to curb the problem.

Furthermore, the webinar will cover the problem of illegal migration from four Arab North African countries on the central and western shores of the Mediterranean Sea: Libya, Egypt, Tunisia, and Morocco. While Libya is considered the main hub in the African continent for illegal migration to Europe, Egypt, Morocco, and Tunisia are classified as transit countries and countries of origin. The webinar will address legal measures adopted by each of those four countries to combat this ongoing problem. Finally, the webinar will discuss the detention conditions in the centers for illegal migration in Libya.

Presenter George Sadek conducts research on the laws of Arabic-speaking countries and Islamic law. Prior to joining the Law Library of Congress, he worked as a Middle East specialist in academic institutions and government agencies, such as the School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS) at Johns Hopkins University and U.S. Army Special Operations Command (USASOC). In 1999, he earned an LL.B. from Cairo University Law School in comparative international law. During his years at Cairo University, he studied three types of legal systems: Islamic Shari’a (law), common law, and civil law. In 2004, George earned a J.D. (equivalency) from George Mason University and an LL.M. (Masters in Comparative Law) from American University Washington College of Law.

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On this Day: The Danish Queen Margarethe II – 50 Years as Head of State

Source: US Global Legal Monitor

Queen Margarethe II waves to the crowd. Photo by Flickr user Mifl68, April 16, 2015. Used under license CC BY-NC-ND 2.0..

Today, January 14, 2022, the Danish Queen Margarethe II (Margrethe Alexandrine Þorhildur Ingrid) celebrates 50 years on the Danish throne. However, she was not born the heir apparent to the throne, but became Crown Princess of Denmark at the age of 13 when the Danish Parliament adopted an act of succession (Tronfølgelov) that allowed daughters to inherit the throne.

The Succession Act of 1953 was, as laws often are, a law written out of necessity. Margarethe was at that time the oldest of three royal siblings, all girls, born to King Frederik IX and Queen Ingrid. Queen Ingrid was 43 years old and the royal couple had given up hope of a male heir. However, perhaps the Danish Parliament held on to some hope that the stork would still bless the royal couple with a crown prince, as the law was made male-preference primogeniture, meaning that while daughters now had a place in line to the throne, even an older daughter’s place was still behind any younger brother.

Not until 2009 did an amendment make the succession act gender-neutral, meaning that the first-born of a Head of State would become the first in line to the throne regardless of his or her gender. At that time, Queen Margarethe’s eldest son, Crown Prince Frederik, already had two children: Prince Christian (born in 2005) and Princess Isabella (born in 2007). Their positions in line to the throne were not affected by the succession law as Christian was older than Isabella, but her younger brother Prince Vincent (born in 2011) would have succeeded her in line to the throne had it not been for the legislative change in 2009. Born minutes before his twin-sister Princess Josephine, Vincent holds the third position among the four siblings.

Adoption of the 1953 Succession Act

When adopted in 1953, changing the succession order required a constitutional amendment. The Danish Constitution of 1953 entered into force on the same day as the separate Succession Act. As required by the Constitution, the Danish people were consulted on the future of the country in a national referendum held in 1953.

In 2009, the new succession act did not require a constitutional amendment as the Constitution already allowed for female succession to the throne. (§ 2 Danish Constitution.)

Royal Duties and Requirements

As a queen-to-be, Margarethe assumed many duties when she turned 18, such as assuming a seat at the State Council (Statsråd) on April 16, 1958. The State Council, which includes the Head of State, crown prince or crown princess, and all the government ministers, “negotiates all laws and important government measures.” (§17 stk. 2 Danish constitution.)

Her position as crown princess also meant that her engagement to Comte Henri de Laborde de Monpezat (later Prince Henrik) in 1966 had to be approved by the king and the Danish Parliament.  (§ 5 Succession Act.) The wedding took place in 1967 at the Holmen Church. The newlyweds took up residency at Marselisborg Palace, before Margarethe’s father’s sudden death on January 14, 1972.

Upon the king’s death, Margarethe became queen by a royal public proclamation, without a coronation. Ahead of the proclamation, she had to choose a royal motto, and chose: “God’s help, the love of The People, Denmark’s strength.” Queen Margarethe also chose to be titled Queen Margarethe the second, recognizing the role of Queen Margaret (the first) (Margaret Valdemarsdatter) who presided over Denmark, Norway, and Sweden in the Kalmar Union between 1397 and 1412.

The Role of the Head of State (Queen or King)

In 1849, Denmark became a constitutional monarchy, when King Frederik VII signed a constitution that defined and limited his powers. The constitution was later amended in 1866 and 1915. Today, the role of the Head of State is to “represent Denmark abroad and to be a figurehead at home,” which includes participating during the formation of government by formally appointing the government, receiving state visitors, conferring “Royal Warrants” and heading and awarding the Royal Orders of Chivalry. In addition, as Head of State it is the Queen’s duty to sign all Danish laws. (§14 Danish Constitution.)

Other duties include giving speeches to the public. The annual New Year’s speech is broadcast live by Danish media and typically viewed by millions of Danes, but the corona speech that she held in March 2020 broke all records, with more than 3.4 million viewers. The Queen’s speeches are available on the royal palace website.

Names Fit for a Queen 

Although the Danish Name Act (Navneloven) does not specify special provisions for royalty, there are some rules that apply solely to royals, including that only royals may have a number designation following their name, thus, no little Johnny III. Margarethe is only the second Queen Margarethe, but her son will be Frederik X and her grandson will one day be Christian XI. In fact, being named Frederik or Christian, is a royal tradition. Ever since Christian II, who reigned from 1513 to 1523, the kings of Denmark have been named either Frederik or Christian. If the tradition is to be continued, Christian will have to name his firstborn son Frederik or his firstborn daughter Margaret.

Unlike most Danes, Queen Margarethe has four given names: Margrethe Alexandrine Þorhildur Ingrid. Þorhildur, an Icelandic name, was chosen in recognition of Iceland, which was part of the Danish kingdom when Margarethe was born in 1940. Formally, the queen does not have a last name but is part of the House of Glücksborg. She is also known to her closest family as Daisy, after the Danish flower and has been called the “World’s coolest queen.”

A Royal Ending and Royal Resting Place

Starting in the 1400s, all Danish regents have been buried in the Roskilde Cathedral, and plans have been made for Queen Margarethe to rest there as well. Her late husband, Prince Henrik, however, refused to be buried with her on the account of his dissatisfaction over his royal title and royal duties, arguing that because he was not an equal to the queen in life, he should not be an equal to her in death. Prince Henrik was instead cremated and some of his ashes were spread over Danish waters while some were buried in an urn in a private garden in the Fredensborg Palace.

Still Going Strong

The queen is currently the second longest-serving regent in Denmark, second only to King Christian IV, who served for 60 years. Some of the programmed celebrations in her honor have been postponed due to the surge of COVID-19 in Denmark, but the queen continues to be very popular among the Danes, celebrated for her artistic talents, and she has publicly communicated that she has no plans on stepping down early. For those interested in reading more about Queen Margarethe, the Royal House of Denmark has published a special site commemorating the queen’s 50-year reign.

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New Report on the “Lifecycle of Parliamentary Documents” Published

Source: US Global Legal Monitor

A recent Law Library of Congress report describes the parliamentary document process in 10 jurisdictions around the world. The report, titled the Lifecycle of Parliamentary Documents, summarizes the findings of research conducted by foreign law specialists in the Law Library’s Global Legal Research Directorate based on legal sources from the jurisdictions surveyed.

The report is composed of individual jurisdictional surveys that describe the procedures used for processing, producing, publishing, collecting, preserving, and distributing to users parliamentary documents in Australia, Canada, the European Parliament, France, Germany, Israel, Japan, Portugal, Sweden, and the UK.

Congressional record has face lifted. Washington, D.C., Jan. 4. The first copy of the Congressional record for the 76th session came off the presses today with a new face. Rep. Joseph W. Byrns, Jr., examines a copy of the Congressman’s ‘bible’ which will henceforth carry the United States Seal on the front page, 1/4/39. (Harris & Ewing, photographer, Jan. 4, 1939.) //

Parliamentary documents in the jurisdictions surveyed include documents and records that are produced in parliament, such as bills and related information, explanatory memoranda and bill digests, petitions, tabled papers, written and audio reports of parliamentary proceedings, and parliamentary research publications. The report identifies various systems of processing and preserving such documents, including, where relevant, special procedures for documenting, correcting, and approving records of plenum meetings as well as committee hearings.

Certain types of parliamentary documents are published in the official gazettes of some of the jurisdictions surveyed. In several countries, such as France, Germany, Israel, Portugal, and the UK, documents are preserved in dedicated historical parliamentary archives. The report addresses the role of national or parliamentary archives and of national or parliamentary libraries, as applicable, in preserving and digitizing parliamentary documents.

We invite you to review the information provided in our report. You can also browse additional reports from the Law Library on other topics. To receive alerts when new reports are published, you can subscribe to email updates and the RSS feed for Law Library Reports (click the “subscribe” button on the Law Library’s website).

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FALQs: The Icelandic Reduced Workweek Trial

Source: US Global Legal Monitor

This blog post is part of our Frequently Asked Legal Questions series.   

[Office work], Harris & Ewing (1936). Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division, // .

During the first year of the COVID-19 pandemic the world saw a surge in remote work, potentially changing the way many of us work forever. But even before the pandemic, people seeking a better work-life balance were looking at reinventing the work structure, including pursuing the potential of reduced work schedules without any reduction in pay.

Progress toward a regular eight-hour workday in the United States can be said to have begun in 1866 and made strides in the 1930s. Although commonly understood as the global norm today, the 40-hour workweek has its exceptions. For example, in Norway a 37.5-hour workweek is the norm in all collective agreements. Similarly, Denmark has established a 37-hour workweek as its norm. Moreover, the United Arab Emirates announced just last month that the work week would be reduced  to 36 hours for “public sector employees at the ministerial level,” or four and a half days, dismissing everyone at noon on Friday ahead of religious observances at the end to the week, leaving employees to enjoy a two-and-a-half day weekend.

Which brings us to the topic of this post, the findings of two reduced workweek pilots in Iceland, the results of which were published in English (Going Public: Iceland’s Journey to a Shorter Working Week) this past summer. The result was overwhelmingly positive, with both employees and employers reporting increased productivity and well-being.

1. How is the workweek regulated in Iceland?

The Icelandic labor market has three pillars: laws and regulations set by the government, collective wage agreements, and individual work contracts.

Iceland adopted its 40-hour workweek legislation in 1971, 50 years ago, but according to statistical reports, it was not until 2002 that the actual numbers of hours worked on average was at or below 40 hours.

Similar to its neighboring Nordic countries, Iceland does not have a minimum wage or a nationally set workweek. The Icelandic Act on the 40-hour work week provides that a normal workweek may not exceed 40 hours, but the terms for any specific industry are set by collective agreements, including wages and work and rest time rules, and the hours for a specific employee are set in the individual work contract. There is no minimum wage but working conditions are regulated in the Act on Working Terms and Pension Rights Insurance.

2. Has there been a push for a shorter workweek previously?

Members of the Icelandic Parliament proposed a move to a 35-hour workweek in 2015, but it was voted down. The non-government organization Alda, which was one of the organizations behind the workweek pilot study, has advocated for a shorter workweek since 2011.

3. Why was the pilot study on a reduction in working hours initiated?

When the reduced working hour pilot was proposed it was reported that people living in Iceland spent 90 minutes less a day on leisure activities compared to people living in Denmark and Spain. The trials were conducted as a response to trade unions and civil society efforts to introduce a shorter workweek.

Specifically, the Icelandic National Government trial was announced with the purpose of  determining “whether it [was] possible to shorten working hours [to 36 hours] without wage cuts and achieve mutual benefits for staff and institutions.”

4. How was the study conducted?

Two pilots were conducted by the Reykjavik City Council (2014-2019) and the Icelandic national government (2017-2021). In total more than 2,500 workers (1% of the working population) and more than 60 different workplaces and governmental agencies participated in the pilot, reducing working hours by between one and four hours per week. (Report at 6, 58-60.)

The participating workplaces had to develop qualitative targets to maintain or increase productivity and surveys for tracking employee satisfaction. “Quantitative studies were also routinely conducted by the Reykjavík City Council and the Icelandic government, both as a part of their usual operations and specifically for the trials. These focused mainly on quality of life, stress, satisfaction with work, sick days, and workload among participating workers and the other ‘control’ workplaces, as well as data on their respective ‘performance’ and service provision.” (Report at 31.)

Different industries and work places adopted different solutions to reducing the length of their workdays. For example, staff at public schools adopted rotating schedules where teachers left the school incrementally in relation to the student population and lunches were staggered for the students to reduce the number of staff needed in supervisory roles. In one police station, officers worked staggered week schedules, working shorter hours one week (8 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday through Thursday and 8 a.m. to 12 p.m. on Fridays) and longer hours the next (8 a.m. to 4 p.m. all five days), reducing the total hours worked by eight hours over a two-week period. (Report at 72f.)

Other measures adopted to shorten the length of the workday included fewer and/or more focused meetings as well as shorter coffee breaks.

5. What was the purpose of the pilot studies?

The purpose of the studies was to increase work-life balance but also to increase productivity.

6. What was the result of the pilot studies?

The outcome of the two pilot studies was considered a success, both among employees and employers, who reported increased productivity and decreased stress and improved work-life balance among employees. (Report at 33.)

Moreover, none of the participant workplaces saw reduced service satisfaction. For example, the Reykjavik City Council and the Directorate of Internal Revenue found no decrease in service satisfaction among patrons compared to before the pilot, despite the reduction in service hours on Fridays. The employees themselves reported providing better service as they were happier with their work-life balance. (Report at 70.)

However, the results were not without challenges, specifically managers were not able to reduce their hours as much as they had hoped, and certain shift workers said it was difficult to manage the handover communication within the allotted reduced hours. (Report at 75.)

7. Did the pilot studies have other impacts too?

Yes, even though workers were happier and more productive, in certain industries, such as public health care, the pilot resulted in the recruitment of additional workers. (Report at 55.)

Other findings of the government survey following the pilot involved a generational divide between older workers who, as a personal preference, considered it important to work long hours versus younger workers who preferred shorter hours. Other benefits associated with a shorter workweek included reduction in traffic congestion, and increased social capital as workers who worked fewer hours volunteered more. It also reduced family life tensions and improved family life, especially for shift workers and single parents.

8. Did Iceland reduced the workweek following the pilot?

Despite the success of the study, the Icelandic law on workweek hours has not been amended and the maximum hours of work is still 40 hours per week. However, the pilot has had an effect on the labor market, with collective agreements now including shorter workweek hours. For example, the Federation of State and Municipal Employees (BSRB) has implemented a shorter workweek for its members, being 36 hours for public employees and 32 hours for shift workers, without cutting pay.

In total, collective agreements from several unions were changed, affecting “170,200 union members from Iceland’s 197,000 strong working population.” (Report at 53.) These members now have either a right to shorter work hours or the right to negotiate shorter working hours. Responding to the changed rules, a member of Parliament representing the Green Party declared in April of 2021, that the next step was to reduce the workweek to 30 hours per week. (Report at 55.)


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New Report on “Regulation of Cryptocurrency Around the World” Published

Source: US Global Legal Monitor

Cryptocurrencies, once obscure and primarily associated with financing illegal activities, have become mainstream. Cryptocurrencies are a type of virtual currency that uses cryptographic algorithms to validate and secure transactions. The transactions are digitally recorded on a distributed ledger, such as a blockchain. As more and more people invest in and trade cryptocurrencies, governments around the world are taking note. Whereas El Salvador adopted Bitcoin as legal tender in September 2021, other governments, such as China, are prohibiting private cryptocurrencies altogether. India recently decided against awarding legal tender status to Bitcoin and is reportedly working on a Cabinet note on regulating an official central bank digital currency (CBDC), while banning private cryptocurrencies.

The Global Legal Research Directorate (GLRD) of the Law Library of Congress recently updated a more comprehensive 2018 Law Library of Congress report on the regulation of cryptocurrencies around the world. The update adds the United States to the surveyed jurisdictions. We are excited to share with you this research, Regulation of Cryptocurrency Around the World: November 2021 Update. The report consists of a jurisdictional table with citations and two maps that visually represent findings from the table. It focuses on two topics. First, the legal status of cryptocurrencies, meaning whether a country either explicitly or implicitly bans cryptocurrencies. Prohibiting banks and other financial institutions from dealing in cryptocurrencies or offering services to individuals/businesses dealing in cryptocurrencies or banning cryptocurrency exchanges are examples of implicit bans. Second, the table shows the regulatory framework surrounding cryptocurrencies, in particular the application of tax laws and anti-money laundering and counter-financing of terrorism laws (AML/CFT laws) to cryptocurrencies.

BITCOIN Cryptocurrency $BTC. Photo by Flick user Jonathan Cutrer. April 21, 2021. Used under license CC BY-NC-ND 2.0.

We invite you to review the information provided in our report. You can also browse additional reports from the Law Library on other topics. To receive alerts when new reports are published, you can subscribe to email updates and the RSS feed for Law Library Reports (click the “subscribe” button on the Law Library’s website). The Law Library has also published various articles related to cryptocurrencies in the Global Legal Monitor.

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Ethelred the Unready

Source: US Global Legal Monitor

European history is full of rulers whose names have included nicknames that designate some outstanding characteristic. For example, Richard I of England was known as Lionheart for his bravery in battle. Then there is Joan, Queen of Castile, also known as Joanna the Mad. She acquired this nickname after the death of her husband Philip of Burgundy, also known as Philip the Handsome. Purportedly, she was driven mad by jealously of her husband, who was very attractive to other women. After his death, she traveled Europe with his body in its coffin. But of all of these, my favorite has long been the Anglo-Saxon king, Ethelred the Unready.

I first encountered Ethelred as a teenager in the historical fiction work Avalon. I have to confess I did not finish this book but, from what I remember, Ethelred was the weak son of a scheming mother who murdered his older stepbrother so that he could inherit the throne. The Unready in his name was not explained but one assumed he was a tool in his mother’s bid for power.

I recently reencountered Ethelred this fall when I went on a reading splurge, gobbling up books on the Dark Ages, the Anglo-Saxons, and the Norman Conquest. Ethelred was a much more interesting character than he had seemed when I first met him. He also shared a questionable distinction with King John in having been forced to come to a written agreement with his nobles over his governance of the kingdom. Indeed, although Magna Carta established important principles for English governance and law, it was not the first time the English nobility had the upper hand with a king and forced the king to come to terms with their demands.

Ethelred the Unready had one of the longest reigns in Anglo-Saxon history (978-1016), but he was not a very capable king. He inherited the throne at a young age in 978 when his half-brother Edward was killed at Corfe Castle. As well as being young and dependent on his advisors, Ethelred was also faced with several problems which were not of his own making. One was the unrest in the country over his father’s (King Edgar’s) program of monastic reform in which lands had been seized for monasteries from various nobles. Ethelred was also faced with a resurgence in Viking raids during this time period as well. And he was a ruler at the time of great anxiety throughout western Europe as he reigned during the millennium (1000 A.D.).

One of Ethelred’s biggest problems was the latest round of Viking raids which had largely died out during the first three quarters of the 10th century. Beginning in 980, small Viking bands raided the English countryside until by 991 an invading force believed to be 93 ships strong landed in Kent and defeated an English army at the Battle of Maldon. According to the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, this loss forced Ethelred to pay the Vikings to leave. Ethelred should not be condemned for this action alone – other English and French rulers had resorted to paying off the Vikings since they had first appeared in the 9th century, including King Alfred. But Ethelred continued to pay off the Vikings, raising taxes on his subjects to meet the increasingly large sums required. He was also not a warrior and generally did not lead his own troops into battle with the Vikings. In the modern world, we are used to professional armies led by career soldiers, but in the Middle Ages, strong kings were expected to lead their armies in person.

Then, in 994, Ethelred negotiated a treaty with the Vikings who were still in England, paying them to defend England against other raiders rather than attack English subjects. The agreement, however, did not last, and by 997, this mercenary force was again attacking those they were supposed to defend. Other Vikings joined them, defeating the English attempts at resistance, and in 1001, Ethelred had to negotiate another peace agreement which required an even larger tribute payment to the invaders. The next 12 years saw more of the same with all attempts to raise an English army being stymied by the in-fighting at Ethelred’s court, while the country had to pay a regular national tax, the heregeld. In 1013, King Sweyn of Denmark landed in northern England where he seems to have been welcomed by the local population, and his son, Cnut, was married to a nobleman’s daughter. King Sweyn advanced through England and by Christmas of 1013 Ethelred and his family had fled to Normandy.

King Sweyn had a very short reign and died in early 1014. Rather than welcoming his son Cnut as king, the English noblemen turned to Ethelred. As with King John in 1215, the nobles presented Ethelred with a list of grievances which they wished him to address before inviting him back. Among other conditions, he had to agree to forgive his subjects for rebelling against him. An agreement was eventually reached and by spring 1014, Ethelred had returned to England. However, he was not able to keep the terms of the agreement, particularly as he continued to need money to pay a mercenary army to drive Cnut out of the kingdom. Tensions at his court continued to erupt until Ethelred died on April 23, 1016. In the meantime, Cnut had returned with another army, and when Ethelred’s son Edmund died on November 30, 1016, Cnut became king of England.

As for Ethelred’s nickname, it was coined sometime after he died and it refers to the king as being badly counseled or ill-advised and was derived from the Anglo-Saxon word, unræd. Given that one of his most prominent nobles was known as Eadric the Grabber, who regularly switched sides for money and murdered his opponents, one cannot disagree with this epithet.

Genealogy of Ethelred the Unready / Photograph by Anna Price

Secondary Sources:

Jones, Dan. Powers & Thrones: A New History of the Middle Ages. New York, Viking 2021.

Morris, Marc. The Anglo-Saxons: A History of the Beginnings of England 400-1066. New York, Pegasus Books, 2021.

Morris, March. The Norman Conquest: the Battle of Hastings and the Fall of Anglo-Saxon England. New York, Pegasus Books, 2013.

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FALQs: The Role of Members of the Swedish Parliament without Party Affiliations

Source: US Global Legal Monitor

This blog post is part of our Frequently Asked Legal Questions series.

On November 29, 2021, the Swedish Parliament (Riksdag) elected its first female prime minister, Magdalena Andersson, for a second time. The first time was on November 23, 2021, on what was dubbed “Super Wednesday” (superonsdagen) in the Swedish press, when the newly elected PM stepped down before the regerinsskifteskonselj (official transfer of government) at the Royal Palace with the Swedish King Carl XVI Gustaf (head of state). She stepped down becaause her coalition party left the government when their budget was voted down and replaced by the opposition budget by the Swedish Parliament.

Voteringsknappar i en ledamotsbänk; grön knapp för “ja”, röd “nej” och gul “avstår”. [voting buttons in a member bench; green for ”yes”, red for ”no” and yellow for “abstains.”] (2014) Photo by: Melker Dahlstrand/Sveriges riksdag, Used under the Swedish Parliament Press Pictures fair use rules.

The Swedish Constitution provides that prime ministers are elected as long as a majority of members do not vote against them. (6 ch. 3 § Regeringsformen (RF) [Instrument of Government] [Swedish Constitution](SFS 1975:152).) In the case of Magdalena Andersson, the result of the second vote, with 173 out of 349 total members voting against her, 101 in favor, and 75 abstaining, highlighted Sweden‘s divided chamber where the “left block” holds 175 seats against the “right block” opposition of 174. The process also highlighted the role of the only member of Parliament who is currently unaffiliated with a party (previously a member of the Left party), who struck a deal to vote in favor of the prime minister and the unusual power they may hold in a Parliament that otherwise shows little room for individual deals.

Referred to as politiska vildar (literally political savages), members of Parliament who no longer hold a political affiliation can be seen as wildcards in the Swedish Parliament, where party loyalty is strong and members vote with their party leadership more than 93% of the time. For example, during the parliamentary term of 2010-2014, members only voted against party lines nine times, and several times were by accident. Members of Parliament are not legally required to vote with their party.

The role of the politically unaffiliated member is about to change next year when politically unaffiliated members will no longer be able to retain seats on parliamentary committees that they obtained while part of a political party.

1. How are members of Parliament elected?

To be elected to Parliament a person must be a member of a political party. (3 ch. 1 § RF; 2 ch. 9 § Vallag (2005:837).) Parties make a list during the election process, listing the order in which candidates will be elected to Parliament depending on the number of seats that the party receives. (6 ch. 3 § Vallag.)

However, coupled with the party lists, in 1995 Sweden introduced the possibility to indicate support (personkryss) for a person listed further down on the party ballot, or even write-in a candidate using a party ballot without candidate’s names pre-printed. A recent example of this is when, in 2018, former national skier Thomas Wassberg got written-in and elected for the Swedish Democrats against his will. (He never assumed office.) Prior to the 1998 election, voters could only strike a candidate they did not like from the party’s candidate list. However, it was largely ineffective to affect the outcome.

Thus, in Sweden, a person cannot be elected to Parliament without either being part of a party or being a write-in candidate on a party ballot. Write-in candidates can refuse to serve if they have not chosen to stand for election.

Candidates to the Swedish Parliament must be 18 years old and Swedish citizens to be eligible for election. (3 ch. 4 § RF.)

2. Can a member of Parliament leave his or her party?

There is no law that prevents members of Parliament from leaving their party. Once elected they have an individual mandate to serve in Parliament. (3 ch. 1 § RF.)

As mentioned above, the party whip can be strong in Sweden, resulting in conflict and it is perhaps not surprising that members feel an urge to leave their party. One of the more known politicians to do so is former Left Party leader Gudrun Schyman, who in 2004 left her party while still a member of Parliament in order to pursue more feministic policies and then became a founding member of the feminist party, Feministiskt Initiativ. Members can also be excluded from their parties, as Amineh Kakabaveh (formerly Left Party) was in 2019.

3. What happens when a member leaves his or her party?

Because members serve as individuals, in effect, a party that loses a member of Parliament also loses mandates in the Parliament and relative power in the Parliament. Historically this has had little effect on politics, or the overall composition of the Parliament, but following the 2018 election when Parliament was split 175 to 174, the current unaffiliated member makes that number 174 to 174, which is why her vote matters more than it normally would.

4. Can a party force a member to leave Parliament?

No. Even though members are typically elected because of their relative placement on the member list of the ballot, the party cannot force a member to leave Parliament. Leaving a party affiliation or not showing up for work is not grounds for removing a member from Parliament. The rationale being that a member who does not fulfill his or her duties to their constituency is likely to lose his or her seat in Parliament in the next election.

In fact, a member of Parliament must receive leave from the speaker to leave Parliament (4 ch. 11 § RF.) As of January 1, 2022, Parliament will have some possibilities to reclaim pay for members of Parliament who are repeatedly absent during chamber votes. In addition, members of Parliament who are convicted of certain crimes must leave Parliament.

Specifically, chapter 4 section 11 of the Instrument of Government states that:

A member of the Riksdag or a deputy may not leave office without the Riksdag’s consent.

When there is reason to do so, the Election Review Board shall independently examine whether a member or a deputy is competent in accordance with ch. 4 § 2 para [meaning if the person has a right to vote in the national election to Parliament]. Anyone who is declared unauthorized is thus separated from his or her assignment.

A member or a deputy may otherwise be dismissed from the assignment only if he or she has proven to be manifestly unsuitable for the assignment through a crime. Decisions are made by the courts.

However, for a crime to be considered serious enough it must carry a sentence of two years imprisonment. (comp. 20 ch. 4 § Brottsbalken (SFS 1962:7700) (BrB).)

In addition, members of Parliament may seek and receive leave from Parliament, and nothing prevents party leadership to coax members who are unpopular with party leadership to apply for such leave. (5 ch. 3 § Riksdagsordningen (SFS 2014:801) (RO).) When members leave Parliament on their own, or because of a crime, a deputy member will fill in until a permanent replacement is selected. (5 ch. 6 § RO.)

5. How many members have left their parties while in Parliament?

Thirty-three members of Parliament have left their political parties while retaining their seats in Parliament. The party with the most vildar in history is the Swedish Democrats. In 2018 alone, a record eight members left the Swedish Democrats to become unaffiliated. Only the Christian Democrats and the Social Democrats have not had at least one member leave the party.

6. Have there been proposals to forbid political unaffiliated members of Parliament?

Yes, including this year: Politiska vildar Motion 2020/21:1079 by Maria Stockhaus (M). However, the proposal was voted down on the grounds that each member of Parliament carries his or her responsibility towards the voters that elected them.

Another previous individual proposal includes recognizing the personal votes of a candidate only when that candidate has reached a certain – high – threshold of personal votes. Not surprisingly, the party (SD) that has had the greatest problem in retaining its members has also been the most vocal about changing the rules.

Additional Law Library of Congress Resources related to the Swedish Parliament



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The Danish Debt Ceiling Legislation

Source: US Global Legal Monitor

This month marks 28 year since the Danish Parliament first adopted its debt ceiling legislation, Act on Authorization to Take Out State Loans (Lov om bemyndigelse til optagelse af statslån (LOV nr 1079 af 22/12/1993).

James Gillray. A new way to pay the national-debt / design’d by Helagabalis ; executed by Sejanus. (1786). Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division, to //

On December 17, 1993, Parliament voted to empower the government to take out state loans, without first asking for permission from Parliament, provided the new loans did not cause the total state debt to exceed a set monetary debt ceiling that applied to all loans. The amount was set at 950 billion Danish kronor (DKK) (then about US$140 billion). Earlier the same year, Parliament had passed legislation specifically allowing the government to take on DKK 50 billion in additional foreign debt, adding to the already DKK 700 billion of debt. Parliament had also passed a piece of legislation allowing for the accrual of new domestic debt. These pieces of legislation had to be passed by Parliament each time the government wanted to take out new loans.

The purpose of the debt ceiling legislation was to do allow the government to take out and accrue debt without asking Parliament each time and was prepared together with the Danish National Bank. The national bank had assumed the responsibility for the administrative duties surrounding the debt two years prior, in 1991, through an agreement with the Ministry of Finance. The final proposal was presented to Parliament on December 1, 1993.

The proposal was then reviewed by the Finance Committee, which issued a report (betaenkning) recommending the approval of the bill. One member of the committee opposed the legislation, as he had done with the previous legislation on foreign debt. Kim Behnke, representing Fremskrittspartiet (Progress Party), argued that Parliament should have more, not less, power over the debt the state accrued. Once passed, the total Danish state debt amounted to about 70 percent of the debt ceiling.

The final adoption of the bill, which took place on December 17, 1993, was a straight-forward process:

The record of the plenary process, as officially published in the Folketingstidende, provides:

Item 27 – third reading of bill number L111:
Proposal of law on authorization to take out of state loans.
By Finance Minister (Lykketoft).
(Presented 12/1-1993. First reading 12/7-93.
Committee Report 12/8-1993. Second reading 12/15-93.
No amendments to the proposal have been presented.
The law proposal was submitted for debate.
No one requested the word.

The law proposal is adopted with 114 votes (S, KF, V, SF, CD, RV and KRF) against 7 (FP).

The law was signed by Queen Margrethe II on December 22, 1993.

Since its first adoption in 1993, the legislation has been amended several times, most recently in 2010, following the recession of 2008, when the debt ceiling was doubled and raised to DKK 2 000 billion (then about US$372 billion). At that time, the current debt again amounted to about 70% of the debt ceiling – before the raise of the debt ceiling. The Act thus currently allows for accumulation of up to 2,000 billion in debt.

As a result of the adoption of legislation in 2012, the state budget must be balanced. However, this was not always the case. In fact, Denmark did not balance its budget for many years, in particular during the 1970s .

At the conclusion of 2020, Denmark’s total central debt amounted to DKK 536 billion or 23 percent of GDP, as calculated by the Danish National Bank. The combined Danish state and municipal debt amounts to about DKK 900 billion (about US$137 billion). The debt reportedly increased in 2020 as a result of the government’s COVID-19 response.

As part of its obligations as a European Union member (note that Denmark opted out of the Euro), Denmark has undertaken (through the Maastricht Treaty) to keep its debt under 60% of GDP. Using EU figures, which also includes municipal debts, the Danish debt was estimated to be 45% of GDP, among the lowest in the EU, in 2020. After the monetary debt ceiling was raised in 2010 it was about 43% of GDP.

Denmark reportedly remains the only country in the European Union to keep a law on the books that specifies a given monetary value for the cap of its total debts, and not just a percentage of GDP. In fact, Denmark and the United States are the only countries in the world to set a specific monetary limit on the debt.

Denmark’s current debt ceiling policy can be found on the National Bank website. The Danish state debt is projected to increase, to about US$180 billion, however, with the debt ceiling currently set at the equivalent of US$304 billion, the debt ceiling is unlikely to be reached. The debt to GDP ratio is expected to remain at around 40%.


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From Summorum Pontificum to Traditionis Custodes: Changes in Liturgical Matters at the Catholic Church

Source: US Global Legal Monitor

The following post is by Dante Figueroa, a senior legal information analyst at the Law Library of Congress. He has recently written for In Custodia Legis on the Italian Parliamentary LibrarySpanish Legal Documents (15th to 19th Century)Recent Legislation Enacted by Italy to Tackle COVID-19; and Italy: A New Silk Road Between Italy and China – the Belt and Road Initiative.

Missale Romanum. Photo by Dante Figueroa.

History shows that developments do not happen hastily at the Vatican, particularly when it comes to liturgical matters. In fact, ten years ago I wrote about the “Instruction” issued by the Vatican’s Pontifical Commission Ecclesia Dei (Church of God) in 2011 on the implementation of Pope Benedict XVI’s 2007 Apostolic Letter Summorum Pontificum. This concerned the use of the Roman Liturgy (also called “the Roman Rite,” “Tridentine Mass,” or “Traditional Latin Mass/TLM”), which is contained in the 1962 Roman Missal (Missale Romanum) of the Roman Catholic Church approved by Pope St. John XXIII, and later revised by Pope St. Paul VI in 1969. The latest edition of the Roman Missal was published in 2000.

The Missale Romanum also contains the New Order of Mass (Novus Ordo Missae). Interestingly, when the Novus Ordo was approved, prominent thinkers and personages of the United Kingdom, including Agatha Christie, sent a letter to Pope Paul VI pleading for the “survival of the traditional rite of the Mass [which] belongs to universal culture.” The Pope consequently authorized the TLM on a limited basis in England and Wales.

The Novus Ordo is considered the forma ordinaria (the normal form) of the Mass, and the 1962 Roman Missal the forma extraordinaria (the extraordinary form). Prior to Summorum Pontificum (SP, 2007) and its Instruction (2011), the TLM could still be used, but only with permission from the respective bishop. The SP and its Instruction contained measures to expand the use of the TLM, as discussed in my previous blog post.

On July 16, 2021, Pope Francis issued his Apostolic Letter, “Traditionis Custodes (Guardians of the Tradition, TC), on “the Use of the Roman Liturgy Prior to the Reform of 1970.” In the TC, the Roman Pontiff states his motivation “to promote the concord and unity of the Church, with paternal solicitude towards those who in any region adhere to liturgical forms antecedent to the reform.”

Per the TC, the respective bishop must:

  • decide whether to authorize the use of the 1962 Roman Missal (TLM) in his diocese (art. 2);
  • ensure that Catholic groups that until now celebrate according to the TLM “do not deny the validity and the legitimacy of the liturgical reform, dictated by Vatican Council II and the Magisterium of the Supreme Pontiffs” (art. 3 § 1);
  • designate locations where the TLM may be celebrated, with the exclusion of parochial churches or the erection of new personal parishes (art. 3 § 2);
  • establish the days on which the celebration of the TLM is permitted (art. 3 § 3);
  • appoint a suitable priest who, as his delegate, is entrusted with the celebrations of the TLM and with the pastoral care of the TLM faithful (art. 3 § 4);
  • verify that the parishes canonically erected for the TLM faithful are effective for their spiritual growth, and to determine whether or not to retain them (art. 3 § 5); and
  • take care not to authorize the establishment of new groups (art. 3 § 6).

In addition, the TC states that:

  • the readings of the Sacred Scripture at the TLM must be proclaimed in the vernacular language, using authorized translations approved for liturgical use by the respective Episcopal Conferences (art. 3 § 3);
  • priests ordained after the publication of the TC who wish to celebrate the TLM should submit a formal request to their bishop, who is to consult with the Apostolic See before granting authorization (art. 4);
  • priests who already celebrate the TLM should request from their bishop the authorization to continue to enjoy this faculty (art. 5); and
  • enforcement of TC measures falls, on behalf of the Holy See, onto the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments and the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life (art. 7).

The new measures included in the TC have met a mixed response in different Catholic circles. At the core of the debate, on the one hand, is the real or perceived lack of acceptance by certain groups of the reforms approved by the Second Vatican Council to the millenary Catholic liturgy. On the other hand, proponents of Pope Benedict XVI’s reforms, lifting the restrictions imposed on the TLM (now reinstated by Pope Francis), argue against real or perceived abuses of the liturgy unleashed after the Second Vatican Council. Even Pope Francis has expressed his sadness about “abuses in the celebration of the liturgy on all sides.”

Since the Council of Trent, a gathering of Catholic bishops in northern Italy between 1545 and 1563, “the ordinary celebration of the Mass followed a precise format that was set forth in printed books – and was always celebrated in Latin. This Mass held firm in Catholic life for 400 years. That was until the Second Vatican Council of 1962 to 1965. Also known as Vatican II, the council was convened to address the position of the Catholic Church in the modern world,” leading to changes to the Mass and subsequent debate.

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An Interview with Yunzhou Wang, Foreign Law Intern

Source: US Global Legal Monitor

Today’s interview is with Yunzhou Wang, a foreign law intern working virtually in the Global Legal Research Directorate of the Law Library of Congress under my supervision.

Yunzhou Wang, a foreign law intern at the Law Library of Congress. Photo courtesy of Yunzhou Wang.

Describe your background.

I was born in Huainan, a small city in China. I spent my first 18 years in that city. After I graduated from high school, I went to East China University of Political Science and Law (ECUPL) and chose law as my major.

What is your academic/professional history?

I received the bachelor of laws degree from ECUPL in Shanghai. During my undergraduate study, I discovered my passion for international law and comparative law. In my last year at ECUPL, I wrote a paper with Professor Guan Jianqiang, and the paper was published in the Chinese Review of International Law.

After graduating, I chose to pursue a master of laws degree (LL.M.) at Georgetown University. I am a general studies LL.M. student. I am the vice president of the Georgetown China Law Society.

How would you describe your job to other people?

I am an intern in the Global Legal Research Directorate and assist Laney with requests from the U.S. Congress, executive agencies, federal courts, and public clients on foreign law issues in several jurisdictions. Under Laney’s supervision, I conduct legal research on the legal issues in Mainland China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Singapore, etc. I also draft articles on recent legal developments in these jurisdictions for the Global Legal Monitor.

Why did you want to work at the Law Library of Congress?

The Library of Congress is the biggest library in the world, and the Global Legal Research Directorate has the responsibility of answering questions for Congress, the government, and the public. Working at the Law Library of Congress is an exciting opportunity to improve my legal research and writing skills. It also helps keep my eyes on new legal developments in China and facilitates my understanding of Chinese law.

What is the most interesting fact you have learned about the Law Library of Congress?

The Library of Congress has the largest collection of books, drawings, photographs, and films in the world. I hope I will have a chance to visit the Law Library of Congress in person!

What’s something most of your co-workers do not know about you?

I am good at playing the traditional Chinese musical instrument, Erhu, and I love to cook Chinese food.