Jane Bradley: Liberland - the new micronation

The Principality of Sealand: a still functioning micronation. Picture: Creative Commons
The Principality of Sealand: a still functioning micronation. Picture: Creative Commons
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SUFFERING from election fatigue? Tired of listening to the same politicians parrotting the same things in only marginally different ways? Fed up of witnessing cringey cross-party group hugs on national TV?

There is a solution. Move to Liberland. The world’s newest micronation – a seven-square-kilometre patch of land on the western bank of the Danube river, between Croatia and Serbia – is looking for citizens to start a new life.

To qualify, however, there are a number of criteria, including that any successful applicant does not have Communist, Nazi or “other extremist past”. Whether voting for Ukip counts in that is not made clear.

It doesn’t have a parliament; it doesn’t have TV debates. It doesn’t even have a currency – yet – although some kind of system based on a Bitcoin-type thing is rumoured to be in the pipeline and it announced yesterday that it had managed to acquire an international dialling code, +422 if you’re interested.

The chap who founded it earlier this week, Czech politician Vít Jedlicka, hadn’t actually managed to get the citizen application forms online at the time of writing, but I’m sure he will soon. He’s your new president, after all.

No-one wanted Liberland – aka Gornja Siga. The poor, forgotten thing had lain unclaimed since the border disputes at the end of the Balkan conflict. Unwanted, unloved. Probably unmown. But now, it has become a micronation – a state which is not recognised by world governments or by the United Nations, but which most definitely exists in the mind of its creator.

There are apparently hundreds of micronations worldwide. Hell, the Lonely Planet has even written a book about them, which I think gives them as much, if not more, credibility as UN recognition.

Some have been set up in people’s front rooms – comedian Danny Wallace gave that a good go; while another, Sealand, still apparently functions on an oil rig near the port of Felixstowe, Essex and has done so since the 1960s.

Liberland, however, actually has a bit of land. And a fair bit of impetus from its would-be citizens. And why not? There is no doubt that it has some admirable social and political aims. Its motto, ‘To live and let live’, the nation’s official website insists, means that its proud citizens will have “personal and economic freedom”. Indeed, the constitution “significantly limits” the power of politicians so they can not “interfere too much” in the freedoms of the Liberland nation.

So far so good. Now enter the Liberlanders.

Just a few days after its foundation, online forums are already a-buzzing with (seemingly quite serious) questions about life in the new nation. “Are [sic] there any work in Liberland?” asked one Hungarian man. “Will I be able to get dual citizenship?” queried another. Some would-be citizens have already started creating a national anthem. Another has set up Libergreen – an energy company to be formed in the nation, which he plans to fund through crowdsourcing.

And the general consensus seems to be, as the name would suggest, a fairly relaxed set of values. Some have started querying what the new nation’s ideology will be on gay marriage; drugs; euthanasia and abortion. “Liberal”, comes the general answer, giving Liberland more than a faint link to another micronation in the heart of Copenhagen: the fairly functioning hippy commune of Cristiania.

See what happens when you let the people be in charge? Workers of the world, unite!

Then the Lord of the Flies mentality begins.

“Personally I’m fully in favour of a citizen’s right to bear arms,” says one, rather alarmingly, out of the blue.

“In Liberland there are no gun shops,” replies a fellow Liberlander, adding: “If you want a gun, you must have a gun licence and buy a gun in your homeland.” A third chipped in suggesting that he would set up a business as a gunsmith, if, he adds as a caveat, Liberland has become a “real, blooming country” within four to five years.

On a separate post, someone started raising the prospect of forming a militia. Just in case Serbia takes offence at its new neighbour.

A militia? The blinking place doesn’t even have a post office yet. Help. Think I might just stay here. Come back, TV debates, all is forgiven.

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