[Discussion] European Political Landscape

There are three elections occurring over the coming year that are of huge importance. They are:

Italian Constitutional Referendum - 04/12/16
French Presidential Election - 1st Round 23/04/17, 2nd Round 07/05/17
German Federal Election - 22/10/17

This thread is to discuss the political realities, results and fallout around these elections. The scope is broad but try to keep the post relevant to the elections referenced above.

Edit - Updated thread title

Prederick wrote:

The Rough Year Ahead for France

What’s next for France after the autumn revolt of the Yellow Vests? President Macron has already made significant concessions to the protesters, including an extra 100 euros a month for those earning the 1500-euro per month minimum wage and suspension of a surtax on many pensioners. Thus far he’s been rewarded with continued unrest (66,000 Yellow Vests marched on December 15, down by about half from the week before, while on December 22 the number decreased to about 30,000) and a significant jump in the polls for Marine Le Pen, the leader of the far-right Rassemblement National, whom he defeated to win the presidency in 2017. Le Pen’s party now leads Macron’s 24 percent to 18 percent ahead of the European Parliament elections in May 2019. Those elections now promise to be not only a referendum on Macron’s presidency but an indication of whether the French people support their president’s vision of a strong European Union as France’s best ally in maintaining its generous welfare state.

Disclaimer: This is all subject to Elemia fact check.

That was a good read but I'd take issue with the part I bolded. There a couple of problems with that premise. Le Pen has had around 24% for European Elections for quite a while now. That's a given. But France elects MEPs from all over the place. It's a rainbow of political opinions. Here is the list of France's outgoing delegation. It's not a two horse race. Thing is, that list is also shows the Group the parties belong to and the Group is where the real power lies.

EPP, S&D and (somewhat distant third) ALDE are the main centres of power in the European Parliament. All these far-right euroskeptic parties could from a sizeable rump but they cannot coalesce due to their core beliefs. They are nationalists after all. Either way, as long as the main groups have the majority, not forgetting the Greens, Le Pen's effect on the Parliament will remain insignificant. And Macron's reforms, watered down or not, will require a degree of influence over one of those grouping. Probably ALDE. Merkel's is EPP, the largest.

That all said, even if Le Pen won the highest single percentage of seats, she has even back pedalled on leaving the EU and the euro. So, it's not really a referendum on that either. People have their reasons for voting for FN but it appears that even Le Pen has accepted that those policies are not it and that France's economic future remain with the project for the time being.

Shadout wrote:

Yeah, most certainly agreed.
I think EU did hurt southern Europe to some degree, but it was not by demanding reforms in those countries - which was, and still is, needed. But rather expecting the same of the northern countries, when it wasn't particularly necessary, which could only result in less export opportunities for everyone in a time of economic crisis. If anything, it might have made sense for those countries to further increase spending to reduce the impact of the crisis.

We probably agree on that to some degree but how do you sell that politically? Say, my country is reducing it's deficit while at the same time your country is expanding theirs. I just see that as an impossible sell.

Still, I always remember that old Juncker quote "We all know what to do, we just don’t know how to get re-elected after we’ve done it". Maybe that was the booze talking

Axon wrote:

We probably agree on that to some degree but how do you sell that politically? Say, my country is reducing it's deficit while at the same time your country is expanding theirs. I just see that as an impossible sell.

Still, I always remember that old Juncker quote "We all know what to do, we just don’t know how to get re-elected after we’ve done it". Maybe that was the booze talking :)

Sure, I can see it from the political angle of "we will suffer with you". Just doesn't make it a good idea, especially since it means you make the austerity countries suffer double.

Maybe we need more drunk politicians :O

News of the Yellow Vests forming a party....

https://www.france24.com/en/20190124...

Most seem to think this will help Macron by fragmenting the far left/right vote.

Color me unconvinced when it comes to the Gilets jaunes. They will be taking votes from the far right, if anything (which is a good thing). The movement is full of racists, sexists and homophobes.
Not to mention idiots who don’t want to pay taxes but still want free healthcare and paid sick leave (so they can continue the protest - that’s called fraud).

Would be ironic if they helped Macron stay in power.

Eleima wrote:

Color me unconvinced when it comes to the Gilets jaunes. They will be taking votes from the far right, if anything (which is a good thing). The movement is full of racists, sexists and homophobes.
Not to mention idiots who don’t want to pay taxes but still want free healthcare and paid sick leave (so they can continue the protest - that’s called fraud).

Le partie du thé ?

Margrethe Vestager does not mince her words. What's the public's opinion of her, Shadout? For what's it worth, in Ireland she was generally supported over the Apple Tax case even if our government wasn't happy about it. Interesting to see if the Commission could eventually find an ally in a US President at some time. Seems to me that the notion trillion dollar companies require massive tax breaks have lost all public support but neither wants to move against them first.

Oh and the article mentions Borgen. Not only is it a great show with some arguing it's better than the West Wing, I'd recommend it because it's a very good guide on how European politics work. UK would be the odd man out with it's first past the post/two party system.

I was not aware of any opinion polls on her. Personally I think she is great.
But Google (coincidentally) came to the rescue; 67% of danish voters want her to stay as commissioner, 8% do not (the rest don't care) - and it is pretty much the same result on both sides of the political spectrum. That is fairly popular I guess.
Going after large companies who aren't playing fair tend to be popular around here. Regardless she will in all likelihood be out after the current term ends. Since nearly all the other parties dislike her party (even if they think she is doing great herself), no matter who wins our upcoming election, it seems extremely unlikely they would appoint her again.

She came from a small (4-10% of voters over the years ) but historically powerful centrist party (Danish Social Liberal Party), that could often determine who of the large parties were going to win each election, though they mostly sided with the Social Democrats in recent decades. Politically Macron seems fairly similar to them (at least in his words, if not his deeds). The party is also extremely pro-EU, much more so than any other party we have.
The base voters in that party loved her, and I bet they still do - they probably want her back instead of their current leader... But due to her role as leader of an annoying centrist party that tried (and succeeded) to force the big parties to the middle, everyone else tended to dislike both her and her party, especially in the last years before she managed to 'escape' to become EU commissioner.
Our former prime minister, when Vestagers party was part of her government, pretty much only picked Vestager to get rid of her in domestic politics. And Vestager accepted (well, other than because she wanted the job I guess), to get away before a major election loss (in which they lost 50% of their parliament seats). So a case of "we like her so much more when she is 1000 km away!"

Borgen is certainly inspired by either Vestager, or her predecessor, who are in many ways quite similar.
Didn't really like that show. Certainly liked West Wing a lot more. They really copy pasted a lot of real danish political situations (and then added all the usual 'prejudice' about politicians/politics of course), which to me made it a bit silly to watch ~3 year old news as TV series episodes. But when you don't have that background knowledge it is probably different, so if you are interested in politics (in a dramatized version anyway), yeah, it is worth checking it.

I have to say, I'm a little concerned. Macron is definitely not nearly what he said he'd be. His minister for equality between genders is a disgrace. She's been blocking every feminist and LGBTQIA groups on social media. But I'm digressing.
Anyhow, this happened:
French police attempt to search Mediapart offices over Benalla report (Committee to Protect Journalists)

The Paris prosecutor's office should cease its attempts to search the offices of investigative news outlet Mediapart, the Committee to Protect Journalists said. Mediapart reported that police and prosecutors attempted to search its office today as part of an investigation into the outlet's reporting on the French president's former top security officer Alexandre Benalla.

"It is vital for a free press that journalists be able to protect confidential sources," said CPJ Deputy Executive Director Robert Mahoney. "Public prosecutors have no business poking around in newsrooms. The authorities should drop plans to apply for a search warrant for Mediapart's offices from a judge and let the outlet continue its work of informing the French public about an important and evolving news story uncensored."

What is this, a fascist state? What the hell? news outlets have since reported that the order to search Mediapart's HQ came directly from the Elysée. This is very concerning. And, unsurprisingly, if I' not mistaken, this happened as Edwy Plenel, the head of Mediapart, was at court during the Baupin trial (Dominique Baupin has been accused by several women in his party of sexual harassment).

There's something rotten in France, I tell you.

As someone who liked most of what Macron said early on, ouch.
And it only increases the likelihood of Le Pen winning next I assume.

There might be a few times where going after media could be necessary, as dangerous as it might be, if it seems like they are actively trying to hurt the institutions of a country (wikileaks comes to mind). But certainly not on anything related to that Benalla case.