Tag Archives: Green Party

CONTINUING UNCERTAINTY IN EUROPE

Italy's Prime Minister Matteo Renzi resigned from office December 7, 2016 (AFP Photo/Andreas Solaro)
Italy’s Prime Minister Matteo Renzi resigned from office December 7, 2016                                     (AFP Photo/Andreas Solaro)

Italy has become the latest country to witness a rejection of the Establishment.   Prime Minister Mateo Renzi’s referendum to simplify government and, at the same time, make it stronger, was turned down by the electorate.   Many interpret this as a vote against Renzi himself.

However, the more interesting vote was in Austria on the same day, Sunday.   A second presidential election was held as the first, earlier this year, was too close to call.   Although the post of president is largely ceremonial, there was a great deal of interest in the vote.   The choice was between a left-of center Green Party candidate and a neo-Nazi.   The latter lost, but got over 46% of the vote.   This will now send shockwaves across the European continent – other countries are also likely to see a resurgence of Nazism (fascism); and it won’t be long before an extreme right-wing party wins at the polls.

Why is this happening, over seventy years after World War II and the defeat of the Nazis?

In an interview with Reuters after Donald Trump’s win, the right-wing Austrian Freedom Party’s candidate, Norbert Hofer made the following comment:

“Wherever the elites distance themselves from voters, those elites will be voted out of office.”  (November 16th)

What started with Brexit and continued in the US presidential election, continues now in Europe – a rejection of the Establishment, the elites that have governed since World War II.   This embraces a rejection of multiculturalism and political correctness.

Former British Prime Minister, Tony Blair, interviewed on PBS’ Newshour Monday (December 5h), could not understand the return of nationalism in western democracies, at times sounding totally bewildered.   He expressed particular incredulity and disbelief that Norbert Hofer, “a man with Nazi roots,” received over 46% of the vote.   Establishment politicians are clearly concerned about this.

Frankly, we should all be concerned.   The reaction against liberalism is understandable, but a return to the extremism of the 1930’s should also be of great concern.

Europe is important.   The EU is the world’s biggest single economy (see chart below, showing 2014 stats).   If (a BIG if) the 27 (28 minus the UK) countries of the EU unite militarily, the world will have a new super-power, at exactly the time the US seems to be pulling back, with its emphasis on “America First.”

cotd-eu-us-china-india-gdp-ppp

The Italian referendum has also, once again, highlighted Germany’s role as European leader, even dictating policy to other countries. Note the following from Germanforeignpolicy.com:

Newsletter 2016/12/06 – A Time Bomb

ROME/BERLIN (Own report) – Following Italian Prime Minster Matteo Renzi’s defeat in Sunday’s referendum, Berlin is urging Rome to quickly form a “capable government” and resume its adjustment to the German model of austerity.   “The economic problems have to be tackled at the roots,” said Jens Weidmann, head of Germany’s central bank, yesterday.   German financial experts are floating the idea of a cabinet of technocrats, modeled on the Mario Monti government.   Monti ruled for a year and a half beginning in November 2011, without having been democratically elected . . .   It cannot be ruled out that its bank crisis could soon spread to other Italian credit institutions and to German banks.”

It’s not just the government in Berlin that likes to dictate to others. The following shows that Germans themselves have taken a decidedly anti-British turn after the Brexit vote:

“Germans want Merkel to take tough line with UK over Brexit, Körber Foundation poll finds –  (The Guardian, Patrick Wintour, Diplomatic Editor) 

Tuesday 29 November 2016 

“According to the survey, 58% of the public think Berlin should not be open to compromise with Britain over its EU departure and instead think Merkel should take a firm negotiating position, the Körber Foundation poll found.

“There was particular backing for Germany to take a hardline approach with the UK among supporters of Merkel’s own CDU party.”(https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2016/nov/29/germans-want-merkel-to-take-tough-line-with-uk-over-brexit-poll-finds)

There is growing concern about Germany’s increasing power.

“German militarism is assuming ever more openly aggressive forms. Following the German parliament’s (Bundestag) decision on Friday to massively increase the military budget, a discussion has now been launched about providing the German army (Bundeswehr) with nuclear weapons.”  (World Socialist website, 11/30).

Germany is also likely to turn further to the right politically when a general election is held next year.   The following may seem like a minor concern, but it’s the kind of news that makes voters want somebody else in power:

“A Syrian refugee who claims social benefits in Germany with his four wives and 22 children has sparked debates on social media.”   (RT news)

Concerned about growing anti-Islamic feeling, Chancellor Angela Merkel announced yesterday a ban on the burqa in public places.

If Mrs. Merkel fails to deal with the growing Islamic immigration crisis, voters will turn to other parties.

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IT’S NEVER TOO LATE

Even historian Niall Ferguson has seen the light when it comes to the European Union.   Prior to the Brexit vote, he supported the “Remain” campaign, but has now apologized and said he is supportive of Brexit.  It takes a humble man to say he’s wrong, especially one as well-known as Mr. Ferguson, a Scot who now lives in the United States.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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UK TV ELECTION DEBATE

British election candidates

In case you haven’t noticed, the United Kingdom is in the middle of a general election campaign.   The election itself takes place on May 7th, which does not leave much time for campaigning.

On Thursday, the seven leaders of the seven major parties held a televised debate on national television.   The debate was two hours long.   I watched it on “BBC World News” where it was shown live. There was only one brief commercial break in the middle.

The parties clearly divide into right and left.   The three parties that are supportive of austerity are the ruling Conservatives led by David Cameron, the Liberal Democrats led by Nick Clegg, and UKIP (the United Kingdom Independence Party) whose leader is Nigel Farage.   The Liberals are more in the center, but when it comes to spending, they believe in a balanced budget.

The ruling coalition since the last election in 2010 imposed austerity measures on the country, but has found it difficult not to overspend.

The other four parties represented are all to the left of the political spectrum.   All leaders were in favor of more spending on this or that and seemed to have no concept that all government spending is dependent on the success of the private sector, which they are inclined to want to clobber with more and more punitive taxes.   A favorite in the debate was a “mansion tax” on homes worth over two million British pounds ($3 million).   They do not realize that wealthy people have the option of moving to other EU member countries and can take their money with them.   They would also enjoy a better climate!

The four leftist parties are the Labour Party, led by Ed Miliband. To his left are Nicola Sturgeon, leader of the Scottish Nationalist Party (SNP), Leanne Wood, leader of Plaid Cymru (the Party of Wales) and Natalie Bennett, leader of the Green Party.   All four kept demanding more money for their pet projects.   Apart from the suggestion of a tax on mansions, the three ladies also insisted on defense cuts, notably that Britain not modernize Trident, its nuclear weapons system.

No commentator pointed out that the ladies’ demands would cost the English taxpayer more money.   Already, the English bankroll the Scots and the Welsh – and, together with Germany, the EU.   As Mr. Farage pointed out, the subsidy to the EU amounts to ten billion pounds per day ($15 bn).

This is one reason why Nigel Farage wants Britain to pull out of the EU.   He constantly focused on this one issue when answering questions.   The EU does not allow Britain to govern itself.   On immigration, for example, a major issue in the UK, London cannot do anything because of treaty obligations with the rest of Europe, which allow for the free movement of people.   The Germans are insistent that this remains the case, even though it costs the UK tax-payer a great deal of money.   Immigrants from the rest of the EU can claim British welfare benefits upon arrival in the country and can use the free health service.   They can even claim family allowances (a weekly child benefit) for children they left behind.

When Mr. Farage pointed out that last year 7,000 people were diagnosed as HIV positive and that 60% of these are foreigners, he added that each one will cost the taxpayer 25,000 pounds a year ($37,500).   Nicola Sturgeon came right back accusing him of being “heartless,” saying that his comment was “shameful.”   For this she received loud applause.   Yet the liberal “Independent” newspaper reveals in a poll that half the British people support him on this issue.

Ms. Sturgeon seems adept at spending other peoples’ money.   She reminded me of Margaret Thatcher’s famous dictum:  “The trouble with socialism is that eventually you run out of other peoples’ money.”   If any of these three ladies has a major role in the next coalition government, the country could follow Greece toward financial ruin.

Polls after the debate said that Nicola Sturgeon did best.   If her party wins a lot of parliamentary seats in Scotland, they could enter a coalition with Labour and spend to their heart’s content – or, at least, until they run out of other people’s money!

It’s difficult to imagine a right of center coalition that includes the Conservatives, Liberal Democrats and UKIP.   It may happen.   But if David Cameron needs UKIP to get the 318 seats necessary to form a government, he will have to give Nigel Farage what he wants, which is a referendum on EU membership by the end of the year.

Everything is up for grabs – anything could happen at this point in time.   But the most likely outcome will be a return of the Conservative-Liberal Democrat coalition, which has ruled the country for the last five years.   Noticeable during the debate is that the two leaders of these parties did not seriously attack each other, allowing for a continued marriage of convenience after the election.

With this election, it can truly be said that Britain is at a crossroads.   Everything achieved over the last few years of austerity could easily be lost, throwing the economy into a downward spiral; relations with Europe are also at stake at a time when the continental nations that comprise the EU are drawing closer together, with Germany very much in the driving seat.