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Paragraph 218 makes abortion practically illegal – Scrap it!

Kate Cahoon from the Bündnis für sexuelle Selbstbestimmung on the chances of law reform, international solidarity and why abortion is still illegal in Germany


Hi Kate. Thanks for giving us your time. Could you start by introducing yourself, and saying a little about the Bündnis für Sexuelle Selbstbestimmung, where you are active?

I’ve been living in Germany for 12 years. At some point, I realised that abortion is technically still a crime in this country. I couldn’t believe it and have been involved in the pro-choice coalition Bündnis für sexuelle Selbstbestimmung ever since. We’re a broad coalition of activists and representatives from political parties, NGOs, health providers, unions and other civil society groups.

In addition to the protests against the anti-choice “Marsch des Lebens” every September and regular campaigns for abortion rights, we also helped to build a nationwide network of pro-choice groups and initiated protests around Safe Abortion Day (28 September) in Germany.

What is paragraph 219? Maybe you can start by explaining the background to this law. Why was it introduced and how has it been used?

Paragraph 219a of Germany’s criminal code prohibits doctors from advertising abortion services or providing information about abortions on their websites. The law was introduced by the Nazis in 1933 and lay dormant for decades, until anti-choicers started to use it to initiate lawsuits against practitioners, like the well-known case against doctor Kristina Hänel. She was fined for providing information on her website in 2017 but refused to accept the verdict, promising to take the matter to Germany’s constitutional court. Hänel’s response was accompanied by nationwide protests and media reports, helping to re-ignite the movement for abortion rights in Germany. 

Germany, and particularly Berlin, has a reputation for having liberal laws on sexual freedom, and yet abortion is still illegal here. Can you explain?

Religion has a much stronger influence on German politics and the wider society than many people realise. Parts of the country are still deeply conservative; Christian fundamentalists and right-wing actively oppose the existing regulations on abortion and push for even more restrictive laws. That’s despite the fact that the vast majority of people in Germany is evidently in favour of abortion.

Many people, especially young people, are shocked when they find out about the current legislation or encounter the deliberate hurdles placed in the path of those in need of abortion services, like mandatory counselling and the three day waiting period before an abortion can be performed.

What do the various political parties in Germany say about abortion rights?

The CDU/CSU have staunchly opposed any attempt to reform Germany’s abortion laws in the past decades. They are explicitly anti-choice and consider the current legislation to be an ideal “compromise” between the interests of those facing an unwanted pregnancy and “unborn life”. Leading AfD politicians like Beatrix von Storch are vocal on abortion and meet openly with the leaders of Germany’s anti-choice movement. Their party platform often combines racist and anti-choice messaging, demanding a “Wilkommenskultur für Ungeborene”, meaning unborn (white German) babies should be welcomed into the country instead of refugees. 

The Left party (die LINKE) is the only political party to have consistently demand the full legalisation of abortion from the outset. The Greens and the Social Democrats are broadly pro-choice and have become more explicit about the need to remove abortion from the criminal code in the lead up the recent election. Despite claiming to be liberal, the FDP is not in favour of fully legalising abortion and frequently refers to the Constitutional Court rulings of 1975 and 1993 which assert a right to life for every individual embryo. 

How strong is the Anti-Choice movement in Germany? Who goes to the “Marsch für das Leben” (March for Life)?

The anti-choice movement in Germany is well funded and closely connected to religious fundamentalist groups and organisations from other European countries and other parts of the world, in particular the US. Prominent members of the AfD have been known to march in the front row of the March for Life in Berlin and CDU parliamentarians often send official greetings to participants.

A few years ago, the march was attracting large numbers of participants, around 7,000-8,000 people who  mainly came in on buses from other parts of the country and neighbouring Poland. The organisers tried to attract young people by organsing a weekend of “pro-life” activities in the capital city. It’s a strange mix of church goers enjoying a family outing and right-wing fanatics with signs referring to the “Babycaust”.

Thankfully – and perhaps as a result of the loud and disruptive protests organised by our coalition and other radical left groups – the number of participants has decreased significantly in recent years. 

This year sees the 150th anniversary of paragraph 218. What is this paragraph, and what are its effects?

Abortions are regulated by paragraph 218 of the criminal code, in the chapter on “Crimes against Life” next to murder and manslaughter. These laws were introduced back in 1871, and while they didn’t apply in East Germany, where abortion on demand was legal from 1972 onwards, they were reinstated for the Federal German Republic in the early 1990s. 

Aside from criminalising abortion per se, the law stipulates that pregnant women are required to seek counselling services by state accredited authorities in order for them to be able to terminate a pregnancy. An abortion can be performed if certain conditions are met, however, the act remains unlawful. The wording of the law is clearly paternalistic and intended to discourage those with an unwanted pregnancy from seeking an abortion. It contributes to social stigma around abortion and creates considerable barriers to abortion access. 

Some counselling services run by church institutions will provide counselling without issuing the certificate needed, intentionally misleading clients. The number of doctors and public hospitals willing to perform abortions in this uncertain setting has plummeted in recent years, particularly in regional areas. Medical students do not routinely learn how to perform an abortion as part of their studies, which has led to young doctors organising workshops to practice on papayas. The costs of an abortion are also not covered by statutory health insurance, although individuals with a low income can wade through endless paperwork to get costs reimbursed by federal states. 

The new German government has promised to abolish paragraph 219. That’s great news, isn’t it?

In 2018 it also looked like paragraph 219a was about to be scrapped and it didn’t happen, because the FDP side-stepped and the SPD ultimately changed their minds, not wanting to risk their chances of becoming coalition partners with the CDU. Now the Greens, SPD and FDP have promised to do it, but it’s still yet to happen. 

Why do you think that the incoming government has promised to abolish paragraph 219 at this time?

Basically it’s long overdue; the SPD and Greens in particular would have lost credibility if they didn’t make it happen. I think the coalition partners are keen to appear progressive and were happy to find something they could agree upon so easily. The real issue that needs to be tackled is paragraph 218.

Some people have suggested that the upcoming reforms might weaken our case for legal abortion. I don’t agree. The fact that paragraph 218 and the need for abortion to be covered by statutory health insurance is mentioned in the coalition paper at all is a direct result of our protests in the last few years and our efforts to set the agenda in the lead up to the election. No government is ever going to hand our rights to us on a plate – we will have to keep fighting for it and we’re one huge step closer than we were before. 

Abortion rights aren’t just an issue in Germany. In recent years, abortion has been legalised in Ireland and Argentina. What can the movement here learn from these successes? 

Abortion rights are contested in many parts of the world, and in countries like Poland and Argentina hundreds of thousands of people have taken to the streets in recent years to demand safe and legal abortion. We don’t have these kinds of mass mobilizations in Germany at this point in history, perhaps because the situation here is perceived as being less urgent, but there’s still a lot we can learn from other struggles. 

In Berlin, we have particularly strong links with the movement in Poland across the border. Many Polish women live in Germany or come over here to get abortions. Although they are facing massive repression, they are also showing great resilience. 

The examples of Ireland and Argentina give us hope – if the fight for legal abortion can be won after such a long battle, we are bound to succeed in the end as well.

Finally, how can someone who wants to fight for Choice get more involved in Berlin?

Join die LINKE and make sure our party stays at the forefront of the struggle for legal abortion! But aside from that, follow the Bündnis für sexuelle Selbstbestimmung on social media and support our protests. International activists and groups are also encouraged to get in touch and potentially help plan activities for International Safe Abortion Day on September 28. 


News from Berlin and Germany, 17th December 2021

Weekly news roundup from Berlin and Germany



290 antisemitic street names

Almost 300 street and square names in Berlin have anti-Semitic references. This is the conclusion of a scientific study commissioned by Samuel Salzborn, Berlin’s anti-Semitism commissioner. According to this, the street names affected included already discussed street names such as Treitschkestraße in Berlin-Steglitz and Pacelliallee in Berlin-Dahlem, but also all Martin Luther streets, Otto-Dibelius-Straße in Charlottenburg or Pastor-Niemöller-Platz in Pankow. In other cases, such as Thomas Mann Strasse or Adenauerplatz, the expert pleaded for further research and digital contextualisation. All of those situations shows “different intensities” of anti-Semitism, as mentioned by Salzborn. The author therefore gave different intervention recommendations. Renaming would be the last measure. Source: rbb

Police focal point unit accused of racial profiling

The establishment of the focal point and presence unit (BPE) was celebrated by Interior Senator Andreas Geisel (SPD) as a central piece of police reform. It has been just under two years since then. That is how long the 125 officers of the BPE have been on duty in so-called crime-ridden areas. However, the BPE is accused of illegal racial profiling. The accused, who has been transferred, is said to be a service group leader. Niklas Schrader, the Left’s spokesperson on domestic policy, plans to put a parliamentary question on the practice of residence bans as soon as possible. Source: taz

AfD supporters demonstrate against compulsory vaccination – several counter-protests.

Several hundred AfD supporters, including its junior organization, demonstrated on Saturday afternoon against a possible compulsory vaccination in Germany. Around 600 participants marched to the government quarter, according to the police. The AfD youth were opposed by about 80 counter-demonstrators who gathered at Washingtonplatz. However, a direct clash was prevented by Einsatzhundertschaften. The protest was registered by Geradedenken e.V. under the slogan “No place for right-wing propaganda”. A small group of left-wing counter-demonstrators tried to attack the march from behind. However, this was prevented by the police. Around 90 other counter-demonstrators gathered at Simson-Weg under the slogan “No Nazi round-up”. Source: berliner zeitung



Chancellor Scholz’s responsibility for Black deaths in custody

Michael Paul Nwabuisi (Achidi John), died at the age of 19. Three days before his death, he slipped into a coma after being force-fed emetics at the UKE’s Institute of Forensic Medicine (IfR). It is an irony of contemporary history that exactly 20 years later to the day, the man who is politically responsible for Achidi John’s death was elected Chancellor: Olaf Scholz. Also, according to the Hamburg-based “Initiative in Memory of Achidi John”, between 2001 and 2006 a total of 530 people – almost exclusively young black men – were brought to the IfR by the police and threatened or maltreated with the infliction of the emetic. Source: jW

Right-wing arson suspect no longer investigated by police

Between September 2018 and July 2019, twelve arson attacks on left-wing centres and house projects in the Rhine-Main region caused uncertainty among users and residents. The suspect in the act of arson in the Hanau cultural project Metzgerstraße was then caught. However, he is no longer being investigated by the police. This has caused huge outrage in the circle of left projects. Even during the series of attacks, those affected repeatedly criticised the work of the authorities. And they researched about the attacks, learning that the suspect had already denounced left-wing and feminist projects nationwide from 2015 onwards. Source: nd

Autonomists blamed for arson attack on Mosque

A mosque in Leipzig was attacked, and 4 of its windows were smashed. According to initial information, the mosque was damaged in connection with a procession of about a hundred hooded people, whom police classify as a left-wing-motivated group. Along the nearby Eisenbahnstraße in the Volkmarsdorf district, the group also set fire to rubbish bins. The police took eleven people into custody. No further information was released. Also, on last Monday, about 200 people from the left-wing spectrum gathered for a demonstration against police violence in the eastern part of the city. There were reported several incidents of damage to property. Source: spiegel

Combat Drones Remain a Contentious Issue in the SPD

For parts of the SPD, a “done by coalition agreement” approach to the procurement of combat drones is out of the question. The SPD stands for disarmament and peace and should not participate in an “arms spiral”, said Alexander Roth. Former Juso chair Franziska Drohsel also called for a “clear peace policy signal” from the party conference. The use of armed drones is questionable under international law because of the weapons’ lack of targeting accuracy and often causes “considerable suffering” for the civilian population in the conflict area. As the new Secretary General, Kevin Kühnert must now represent this dispute. Source: nd


“There is space for change when millions take to the streets”

Ahead of Sunday’s elections in Chile, we talk to activist Pablo Abufom Silva about 50 years of neoliberalism, the mass protests of 2019 and the threat of fascism

Hello Pablo, thanks for agreeing to talk to us. Could we start by you introducing yourself. Who are you, and where are you politically active?

I am an activist and freelance translator from Santiago de Chile. I’m a member of Solidaridad, an anticapitalist, feminist and (left-)libertarian movement. I’ve been involved in radical politics for almost 20 years, as a student during college, and later in the movement for a new pensions system. I was heavily involved in the popular assemblies that were born during the October 2019 revolt.

It’s been nearly 50 years since the Pinochet coup introduced neoliberalism to Chile. How has the country changed since then?

The country was radically changed during the dictatorship (1973-1990). First of all, the political institutions and the economic relations were deeply transformed by handbook neoliberal policies such as privatization of public services, opening of new local markets for international corporations and a radical transformation of labor relations by the physical and political destruction of unions and other popular organizations. Also, in 1980, a new Constitution was drafted, one that established a restricted democracy and a barely existent role for the State in the economy.

Moreover, by detaining and torturing and disappearing thousands, the dictatorship destroyed an entire generation of social and political struggles, thus stopping the deep advances the Left had made for decades in Chile, both in terms of militant organization and a socialist program. The result of this was a profound setback in the political consciousness of the working people in Chile. It took several years before we could begin to see new waves of mass mobilizations that would awaken a fresh spirit of revolt and deep structural changes against the neoliberal regime.

Two years ago, there were massive protests in Chile. Why were people protesting and did they win?

The direct origin of the protests was a fare hike in public transport. But the deep roots of the revolt that ensued were the inequities and precarious conditions under which millions live in Chile. It rapidly became clear what the target of the protests were: 30 years of post-dictatorship neoliberalism, which had included not only a preservation of the neoliberal politics of the 80s, but also a political regime that left no space for true change. The president, Sebastián Piñera, responded with the declaration of a state of emergency and sending the military to dissolve the protests. It was worse. The fire rapidly spread from Santiago to the rest of the country. So Piñera also became a target of the mobilizations, and calls for his resignation became a daily mantra in the streets. Perhaps one of the most interesting demands was that of a Constituent Assembly, since the Constitution was seen as a hindrance to any structural change.

So far, I would say that we have won two things. First, a sense of our own strength as a people and that there is space for change when millions take to the streets and protest. Every wave of protests has its own lessons, and it will take us a few years to realize exactly what they are, but it is evident that we need more organization, that a people without strong social movements and mass political organizations will never go beyond massive protests, because it won’t have the necessary social, political and community networks to sustain that struggle and take it to the level of politically durable changes. Second, a Constitutional Convention that opened a new avenue for political struggle beyond the regular state institutions.

And then last year, 80% of Chileans voted for a new constitutions. To many people, constitutions sound a bit boring. Was this vote boring?

It wasn’t boring at all! People were truly excited about a new Constitution, and being able to elect their own representatives to draft it. There is a widespread feeling that changing the Constitution is the beginning of further change, and that is very interesting. Previous waves of protests had focused on issues such as public education, pensions, health care or socio-environmental conflicts. But now there seems to be a view that takes all of that and puts it in the context of the political constitution of a country, that is, of the way a society is organized. So this seems like a relevant leap in political consciousness, from disperse sectorial demands to a global political transformation.

What is the relationship between the protests, the referendum and the presidential candidature of Gabriel Boric?

I must say it’s somewhat of a surprise that Gabriel Boric became the presidential candidate after all that happened. He is part of the moderate wing of the Left coalition, and one could expect that after such a massive wave of protests and grassroots organizing, a more radical candidate would have emerged to represent that spirit. But that didn’t happen. So the question is, why? I believe that the sort of changes that Chile needs are so basic (decent public housing, healthcare, pensions and education, for starters) that even that kind of transformations demand a radical mobilization by the people.

Some commentators are denouncing (or praising) Boric for being a Communist. How radical is he?

Boric is and has always been a moderate, even within his own party. This has been both a good and a bad thing for him. He wasn’t able to attract the vote of many people in the Left or those who don’t trust moderate politicians, but at the same time he has a following in less politicized sectors of the working class, or among white collar workers and the liberal middle class. One could say he is a classic social democrat, in the sense that his program is that of gradual change towards a democratic and social state.

The right wing here, as elsewhere, plays the red-scare card all the time, and it has done so in every election since 1970. It has worked a couple of times. This time they are using it hard. The Communist Party is indeed part of Boric’s coalition, and is one of the main parties backing him. But the Chilean CP has always been a moderate CP, very disciplined with the respect of representative democracy and the need for pacific political change.

So it is pure and simple hypocrisy on the part of the right wing, which has been the only political sector in recent history that has resorted to state sponsored violence not only to supress dissent, but also to take over the economy for the interest of a minority.

Could you say something about Boric’s main opponent, José Antonio Kast. Just how dangerous is he?

José Antonio Kast is a member of the traditional right wing in Chile. His brother was a relevant figure during the dictatorship, he was a member of Congress for over a decade, and until recently was a member of the conservative, nationalist and pro-dictatorship party Unión Demócrata Independiente (UDI). He left the party and built a new one, interestingly called Partido Republicano, “Republican Party”, which has adopted all the tactics of other far-right leaders in the world such as Trump and Bolsonaro: pandering to the radical conservatives with a “law and order” program against migrants, the feminist movement and other socialist agendas, flooding social media with fake news and waging a dirty war against their opponents.

He represents a real threat to human rights and democracy. It’s not that we have a super advanced democracy, but it would definitely be a big step backwards. His program includes the privatization of the main copper company in Chile, which is a crucial basis for the national budget; giving the presidency the power to detain people in their own houses or other non-disclosed locations without notifying a court for up to 5 days; and building a trench and a wall in the northern border in order to stop irregular migration (which of course is targeted as the source of many evils, including crime and drugs, just like any other nationalist party would do).

He has also mentioned creating a specialized unit to prosecute “radical leftists” and combating “cultural Marxism and gender ideology”. Sadly, this is right now a “classic” far-right platform. It’s currently leading the traditional right-wing parties toward that neofascist abyss.

Is Chile experiencing a “surge of fascism”, as some commentators are saying?

It’s not exactly a surge of fascism in its classical sense. It’s a bizarre mix of a revival of “pinochetismo”, that is a conservative, Christian, authoritarian, nationalistic and hardline capitalist vision, and the new forms of radical right-wing movements (NeoCons, Alt-Right, Third Position, including neo-Nazis and purely nationalist groups whose only ideological basis is a defense of Chilean traditions). These forces were relatively dormant during the long transition to democracy in the 1990s and 2000s, but the current social and political crises woke them up, especially after the October revolt. Their reappearance in the public scene is an expression of a counter-revolt that took José Antonio Kast as its leader.

But there is something deeper, more worrisome. If the underlying environmental, economic and political crisis is not confronted and solved in a progressive, transformative direction, there will be more ground for radical right-wing groups, as they promise a radically conservative solution to the crisis, one which identifies an ethnic or national enemy (migrant or indigenous groups), a simple explanation to the crisis (they are taking our jobs) and a nationalistic-authoritarian solution (jobs and safety only for Chileans). So in the long run, the neofascist surge is a symptom of a deeper crisis, and the Left has to confront that or else be an idle witness to a new authoritarian regime in Chile.

Chile is not the only area in Latin America where there is a clear fight between Left and Right. Next year, Lula will be challenging Bolsonaro in the Brazilian elections. How could this be affected by the results of the Chilean elections?

Political developments in Chile should be relevant for other countries in Latin America and elsewhere. We’re facing the most crucial presidential election in decades, but also there’s a Constitutional Convention with a progressive and relatively anti-neoliberal majority that is currently drafting the new Constitution, one that will have to be implemented by the next administration. Kast has been an outspoken opponent of the new Constitution, and Boric has been explicitly supportive of it.

So it’s clear that there are two different constitutional scenarios after the election. If Kast wins, the Constitutional Convention will become a permanent target of his attacks, endangering one of the most democratic moments in Chilean history. This is what’s at stake.

Do you have a prediction for what will happen in the elections? And what would be the wider social implications of this result?

It’s going to be a close election. Many people who voted for the referendum last year didn’t go to the polls in November. If Boric can attract those voters, he will win. But this is not easy. Voter turnout has been declining since the 1990s and the referendum was different, but more an exception than the norm.

Right now, five days before the election, there’s almost total uncertainty. Kast won the first-round in November, with Boric running second. But the shock of Kast winning has caused a surge of social activism that we hadn’t seen since October 2019. Many people who didn’t vote for Boric have joined his campaign to defeat Kast next Sunday.

This is our precarious situation right now: the next president may be elected with a passionate vote against fascism and a half-hearted vote for the candidate. Will this become the basis for an antifascist unity to confront Kast’s leadership of a re-emerging far-right in the next four years as well as a radical left program that will guarantee that Boric won’t turn into an exhausted center-left to fulfill his promises? We can only hope so.


Justice Collective

Challenging policing, punishment and prisons

Justice Collective is a Berlin-based project that acts:

  • To reveal how governments punish, including in ways that target people experiencing poverty and inequality, people of racialized groups, and people making a life for themselves in new places;
  • To build and connect international and internationalist movements — because while local contexts may differ, people in different places confront similar causes of carcerality; and;
  • To end societies’ increasing reliance on policing, punishment, and prisons. To build communities that choose justice over jails; care over carcerality.

Justice Collective is a project coordinated by Mitali Nagrecha, and is the result of collective work with people and initiatives across Europe. Mitali is a lawyer and advocate originally from the US. You can learn more here.

Tools: Education, Organising, Action

Topics: Punishment & Inequality, Punishment & Racism, Punishment in Europe

Contact us at:

Will Queen Elizabeth II be Britain’s last monarch?

Given the unpopularity of the potential heirs to the throne, republicans can hope for the end of the British monarchy.


Growing up in Ireland, the royal family seemed like a weird and archaic tradition that only existed to interrupt the newest episode of the Simpsons at Christmas and when one of them died. The queen wasn’t on our money or in our anthem, she was “over there.”

It was not until my 20s while living in Edinburgh that I understood how this family of rejected German nobility had impacted my life. While escorting my parents from the airport to the centre of Edinburgh, looking at the gorgeous sandstone buildings, the Princes Street gardens and monument after monument after monument, my father stopped in the street and said, “so this is what a city looks like if you’re loyal to the crown.”

The bluntness of the statement, typical of a man from Offaly (formerly King’s County, Ireland), illuminated the little quirks of existence at the periphery of London. Why did the Welsh language survive while Irish and Scots Gaelic suffered? Why did the smaller city of Belfast get all the industry while Dublin did not? Why is Glasgow so run down compared to Edinburgh? The royal family and the media’s presentation may seem absurd but it is the face of the UK, of its church, its empire and its economy. To be loyal to it is a proxy of being loyal to the state and to stand against it is to be left behind.

At the time of writing this, myself and every other poor soul poisoned by growing up on a cruel and poorly moderated internet, laugh at the idea of the queen entering “a new phase” and not being seen again until February. It’s even possible she’ll miss out on doing one of her duties, the Christmas speech. As a podcaster and comedian, I must begrudgingly respect the idea of speaking for roughly 10 minutes and calling it work.

But more importantly it allows us the time to imagine a world after Liz has died. Many people I know personally and respect from Ireland and the UK are indulging in the idea that she already has and because of the queen’s role as a load-bearing structure of the state and how the media operates in the UK, it’s not that crazy to think so.

The waiting republicans

There have always been stark differences between the media landscape of Ireland and the UK. Two similar markets, even sometimes the same paper, could handle the same situation very differently. In Ireland, the eastward expansion of the EU and the arrival of Poles and Lithuanians to our shores was almost a point of pride. A brief reprieve from the long historical trend of our sons and daughters leaving for New York and Sydney. Now, finally, we could be the golden city on the hill, there were jobs available and sure if any aul wan complained you could mention the laundry list of family members who emigrated for a better life to put them in their place. I even remember teenagers adopting the word sklep (Polish for shop) as a term for eastern European import shops where you could buy weird sweets and good sausage.

All of this is to emphasize how strange we in Ireland found the UK’s response to this same situation. While the Irish version of the tabloid The Sun was still running front page stories of celeb gossip, women giving birth to quadruplets or a man trying to have sex with a microwave lasagne, in the UK The Sun was doing everything short of calling for the death of every Romanian in England.

I’m not going to tell you that the Irish and our media was a paragon of anti-xenophobic excellence (certainly there was a fetishisation of a supposed perfect blonde Polish housewife during these years) but the sheer anger and hatred in British media towards a non problem was truly baffling to us.

This is one aspect of the larger strategy of the British press to showcase stories about issues that are not real, blown out of proportion or are of interest to a small columnist class and not to the public. A good example is The Sun’s coverage of the Hillsborough disaster (which resulted in it still being boycotted in Liverpool today) or the completely manufactured fear that as soon as it was legal for Romanians to live and work in the UK with little to no barriers they would arrive en masse (which ultimately resulted in an embarrassing clip of a Labour MP awaiting a plane full of new EU-legal arrivals from Romania at midnight only to find out that 139 of the 140 passengers had legally moved to the UK a long time ago).

And of course, we have the fear mongering around trans people in the UK taking up column inch after column inch when all polling seems to suggest that the British by and large support trans rights, for trans people to be recognised by how they identify or at the very least that they don’t know or care

What accompanies these sensationalist stories designed to harp on the neuroses of Zone 2 dinner parties is a silence on a wide range of issues. Little ink is spilt over issues such as poverty, inequality and the slow privatisation of the NHS which is sadly the standard in a lot of developed capitalist countries. Unique to the UK is the silence on matters of Ireland, both the independent republic and Northern Ireland (one of the UK’s four ‘home nations’) with the island only ever being discussed on the rare occasion it affects something the British media was already talking about (such as Brexit).

And you could be forgiven for thinking that republicanism does not exist in the UK. For all of the UK’s talking heads and discussion panel shows, for every article about being mean to people with glasses or advocating for the eradication of travellers little is written about or for the 25% of Brits who are republicans. One out of four, or 13 million people (excluding those under 18) should not be an insignificant number. That’s over four times the number of votes the Liberal Democrats got in the 2019 election and British TV gives them enough airtime that they can almost seem like they aren’t a joke of a party bandying about slogans that mean nothing.

The British press even treated former labour leader Jeremy Corbyn as an oddity for being on record as a republican even though that is the position of 62% of Labour’s membership. No matter how much the papers and telly ignore, the British republicans are there and in much larger numbers than you might think.

The other republicans that any British royalist should be concerned with are those found in the commonwealth; since I began writing this article Barbados has rejected the British monarch and become a republic. However, the Brits’ most beloved members of their little club are the so-called ‘core commonwealth’ countries of Australia, Canada and New Zealand (they’re also the whitest commonwealth countries but I’m sure that’s purely a coincidence) these countries form the identity of what the UK means internationally, many a Brexiteer insisted this is where Britain belonged on a global stage.

In contrast to the UK’s 25%, polling for Australia, Canada and New Zealand to become republics has mostly stayed on a 50/50 split amongst their respective populations, with Australia leaning more towards it and polls in New Zealand reaching as high as 60% in 2016.

Support for a republic in all three of these countries rises significantly when people are asked to imagine a world after Elizabeth dies. The possibility that the UK could lose the commonwealth (or at least the members it cares about) shortly after the death of their queen is likely especially when you consider who else roams Buckingham Palace.

The waiting family

People don’t like Prince Charles. There really isn’t a better way to put it. The heir to the throne, the prince of Wales is so disliked as a potential king that polls that ask about the future of the royal family entertain the idea of skipping him altogether in favour of his son, William. An outcome I’d find very funny because 1. it would prove that the idea of a monarchy as a grand tradition is a fraudulent one that can be bent and broken when convenient and 2. I also don’t like Charles and this might make him cry and I’d like to see him cry.

With the exception of one other member of the royal family’s bloodline (who we’ll get to, don’t worry) Charles usually ranks the lowest in public approval and his wife Camilla is even more disliked. Skipping Charles for his far more popular son might prove the best way to keep the monarchy going. I suspect we’ll soon learn of an archaic council of heretofore unknown prelates that will decide who will assume the throne after Liz’s death, and they’ll be shocked, shocked to learn the startling and totally new information that Charles is a divorcee, and we simply can’t have that now can we?

William and Kate are popular, with their televised wedding capturing the imagination of the public (their horny, horny imagination) and resurrecting a nauseating international fandom. But despite their high approval and popularity, cracks are beginning to show as they age and step into the limelight, an inevitability amongst the royals.

While plenty of events, like lying about having COVID, will fill future Wikipedia sections entitled ‘scandals’ or ‘goof em ups,’ there are smaller events that I think portray something more horrible about the man. Prince William’s remarks on overpopulation in Africa lends legitimacy to eco-fascist ideas that frame Africa as a natural resource to be protected, with the implication that it will be used later by us here, and that it must be protected from the African people who will use it to do horrible things like grow food or live there.

These comments were a smaller story due to how frighteningly common this line of thinking is in the Africa-focused NGOs based in the global north. The underlying racism behind his remarks is apparent but if you need the comparison, Will isn’t exactly getting in front of a microphone to suggest that the European Bison is endangered because there’s too many Germans.

Speaking of racism, one of the other events that shows Will to have as much of a spine as one would expect from a limited royal bloodline, is his silence on scandals surrounding his brother Harry and sister-in-law Meghan. It seems obvious in retrospect that the archaic institution of the British royal family built on slavery and colonialism would not handle prince Harry marrying a woman self-described as ‘mixed race’ well, and ho boy did it not handle it well.

The British press hounded the couple, associated Meghan with rap and American gang crime, and claimed she was rude and controlling with little to no evidence. Of 721 international journalists surveyed, 50% identified that the British press had been racist when covering Harry and Meghan (that number was 83% amongst black journalists surveyed) and 56% agreed that Meghan had been held to a double standard when compared to William’s wife Kate.

British press and TV, whose position is default royalist, then spent as much ink and airtime as possible attempting to gaslight the public into thinking none of this was happening. When all else failed they became incensed and offended because to the press in the UK, it is worse to be called racist than to be racist.

The royal family itself was, by all accounts, not any better. Princess Michael of Kent, one of the many forgettable stray royals, wore a brooch depicting a racist caricature of a black person that celebrated African slavery (a normal thing that normal and totally relatable people have) when meeting Meghan for the first time. This culminated in Harry and Meghan leaving for California, shirking their royal duties and giving a tell-all interview with Oprah Winfrey which reveals further instances of inaction and racism from the family and royal staff. 

One of the most interesting aspects of the story of Harry and Meghan is one that has gone largely unsaid, they have proved that you can just leave. They left a stagnant royal family and took on a new position, an arguably more powerful position amongst a Californian celebrity class, the closest thing to an American royalty.

This temptation away from the royal family might be one of the ways this whole thing ends, with the Windsors transitioning seamlessly from British royalty to Californian new money. Sure they may have hurt their reputation with members of Britain’s upper crust but who cares when you’ve signed a Spotify deal and get to do almost all the same stuff you would have done before but now in the much sunnier global superpower.

Harry and Meghan are now living the exact same lives as the Obamas: even if you can’t make anything engaging or worthwhile, don’t worry you can still sell it to Netflix and collect royalties. A modern tithe.

Lastly, there’s the elephant in the room, the last member of the prominent royals, Liz’s favorite child, Prince Andrew. A champion for the 4% of Brits who also say they can’t sweat. Most famous for his friendship with American sex offender Jeffery Epstein even after he was convicted in 2008 for procuring child prostitution. Prince Andrew is also famous for many photographs of him dancing in clubs close to underage girls.

Prince Andrew is also also famous for being accused of sexual acts with underage girls. When asked to explain the details of these accusations or of his friendship with a notorious and convicted sex criminal in a BBC interview, he claimed that his accuser’s story was false because he is incapable of sweating. He went on to explain that he remembers the evening not because he was there but because he was specifically not there, he asserts he was at middle-class chain restaurant Pizza Express (if a member of the royal family ever showed up at a Pizza Express people would be talking about that for weeks).

He claims that photos of him with the then 17-year-old girl and Ghislaine Maxwell (Epstein’s partner and employee currently on trial for sex trafficking) were fake because he always wears a suit and tie, despite years of photographic evidence to the contrary. He explains that staying over at Epstein’s house for four days with a dinner party, post sexual assault conviction, was so that the Prince could end his friendship with Epstein face to face and that Epstein’s house was just a convenient place to stay in the famously hotel-less city of New York. Only 6% of the British public believed his story and he’s set to go on trial in New York in July of 2022.

When this is the family left after the Queen dies it’s no wonder that amongst the public, 17% believe she should be the last monarch. If Brits were given the vote to decide who they could elect as head of state, polls have found that even if members of the royal family were options, the top answer given is ‘no one.’

Given how popular republicanism is amongst the people of the UK and the core commonwealth and who remains in the royal family after Liz inevitably dies it’s no wonder people would think the announcement of her death might have been postponed, at least until some state services get their affairs in order. Maybe this is also overly optimistic thinking, reminiscent of the early days of the pandemic when many thought some of history’s villains would succumb to the disease.

But if I’m being honest, I think any British republican has cause to believe that the future is bright. I mean, how bad could the elected officials of the UK be?