[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

Some nice news out of Slovakia:
Liberal lawyer Zuzana Caputova wins presidential election

It's not all populism, all the time. The murder of an investigative journalist who was uncovering connections between the government and organized crime certainly helps bring about political change.

Also, she's the first female president of Slovakia!

You take what you can get these days.

The New German Question - What Happens When Europe Comes Apart?

Many have been lamenting the dark path that Europe and the transatlantic relationship are currently on, but there hasn’t been much discussion of where that path leads. European weakness and division, a strategic “decoupling” from the United States, the fraying of the European Union, “after Europe,” “the end of Europe”—these are the grim scenarios, but there is a comforting vagueness to them. They suggest failed dreams, not nightmares. Yet the failure of the European project, if it occurs, could be a nightmare, and not only for Europe. It will, among other things, bring back what used to be known as “the German question.”

The German question produced the Europe of today, as well as the transatlantic relationship of the past seven-plus decades. Germany’s unification in 1871 created a new nation in the heart of Europe that was too large, too populous, too rich, and too powerful to be effectively balanced by the other European powers, including the United Kingdom. The breakdown of the European balance of power helped produce two world wars and brought more than ten million U.S. soldiers across the Atlantic to fight and die in those wars. Americans and Europeans established NATO after World War II at least as much to settle the German problem as to meet the Soviet challenge, a fact now forgotten by today’s realists—to “keep the Soviet Union out, the Americans in, and the Germans down,” as Lord Ismay, the alliance’s first secretary-general, put it. This was also the purpose of the series of integrative European institutions, beginning with the European Steel and Coal Community, that eventually became the European Union. As the diplomat George Kennan put it, some form of European unification was “the only conceivable solution for the problem of Germany’s relation to the rest of Europe,” and that unification could occur only under the umbrella of a U.S. security commitment.

And it worked. Today, it is impossible to imagine Germany returning to any version of its complicated past. The Germans have become arguably the most liberal and pacific people in the world, everyone’s choice to take on the now unclaimed mantle of “leader of the free world.” Many on both sides of the Atlantic want to see more assertiveness from Germany, not less, in the global economy, in diplomacy, and even militarily. As Radoslaw Sikorski, then Poland’s foreign minister, noted in 2011, “I fear German power less than I am beginning to fear German inactivity.” It was a remarkable thing for a Polish leader to say, and it rested on the widespread assumption that what the Germans have done in transforming themselves can never be undone.

Is that true? Is this the only conceivable Germany? With the order that made today’s Germany possible now under attack, including by the United States, the world is about to find out. History suggests it may not like the answer.

Axon wrote:

Hope you're feeling a little better today, Elemia.

On another note if a mod is reading, it would be nice if people could see who thanks/like posts. I was over on another thread and you mentioned potential new features and I thought of this. I do like the thanks option on other forums as words can be difficult to get right. Especially for this possibly dyslectic and ADD Computer Engineer.

Pred, nice post. Just wanted to give you a nod.

I actually prefer that likes keep it anonymous, personally. That said, do the mods get to see who likes posts?

SallyNasty wrote:

I actually prefer that likes keep it anonymous, personally.

Same.

Only exception I'd want is someone could see if I liked their response to me--those times when it's too much to make a whole comment, but you want the person to know you went to the trouble of reading what they said to you.

That said, do the mods get to see who likes posts?

Uh-oh!

cheeze_pavilion wrote:
SallyNasty wrote:

I actually prefer that likes keep it anonymous, personally.

Same.

Only exception I'd want is someone could see if I liked their response to me--those times when it's too much to make a whole comment, but you want the person to know you went to the trouble of reading what they said to you.

That said, do the mods get to see who likes posts?

Uh-oh!

Naw, we don’t see who likes what. I don’t think the website is geared to track that.

From a moderation POV clicking a “like” button wouldn’t move the needle one way or another.

Then I can continue to Like my own posts and no one will know! Muahahaha!

Quintin_Stone wrote:

Then I can continue to Like my own posts and no one will know! Muahahaha!

Dude, we knew. We always knew.

Quintin_Stone wrote:

Then I can continue to Like my own posts and no one will know! Muahahaha!

how did you manage to like it three times?

He logs in on his wife's account and his cat's account.

Meow!

Just to get us primed for elections in May here is a report on Bannon's attempts effect them. Or not as the case maybe. It's a few months old but still applies.

Oh and take a guess who is running for UKIP in the European Elections...

Axon wrote:

Oh and take a guess who is running for UKIP in the European Elections...

Racist white dudes?

Technically you're not wrong. It's worth finding out for yourself though

Carl Benjamin, aka Sargon of Akkad? You gotta be f*cking kidding me.

I guess next UKIP will just let 8chan run for office.

Called it.

Seriously though, this seems like the perfect UKIP candidate. Someone who is adept at consistently claiming lying, loudly and in public, and with no regard whatsoever for evidence.

Also, I’ve been in Norte Dame several times. That is heartbreaking to see.

Jonman wrote:

Called it.

Seriously though, this seems like the perfect UKIP candidate. Someone who is adept at consistently claiming lying, loudly and in public, and with no regard whatsoever for evidence.

And you know what, he'll hit the quota for a seat on the first count, I bet.

Axon wrote:
Jonman wrote:

Called it.

Seriously though, this seems like the perfect UKIP candidate. Someone who is adept at consistently claiming lying, loudly and in public, and with no regard whatsoever for evidence.

And you know what, he'll hit the quota for a seat on the first count, I bet.

Mind you, according to his fans, the man running on the ticket of a right wing party and that consistently espouses right wing ideology is somehow not a right winger.

He and his buddy Count Dankula probably have a more than decent chance to win MEP seats. Brazil already sent some right wing YouTubers to elected office, it was going to happen in other countries eventually.

By the by, European Elections are proportional representation. It’s mandated by the European Parliament. UKIP could put a horse in that area and get a seat.

Ironically, UKIP claim the EU is anti-democratic but their major electoral success was always European elections.

I was about to ask how MEP elections work. So really, he's not winning an election campaign, more like once enough people vote for UKIP, UKIP will then give him the seat, right?

Ukraine’s Election Is an All-Out Disinformation Battle

KYIV, Ukraine—“Everything,” Dmytro Zolotukhin tells me, “is going like they wanted.”

Slumped in a chair in a café here in the Ukrainian capital, Zolotukhin wasn’t talking about the campaign of Volodymyr Zelensky, a comedian who is favored to win the country’s presidential elections this weekend, or the incumbent, Petro Poroshenko. No, they are the Russians. Moscow has used Ukraine as a disinformation laboratory for years—and Zolotukhin is one of the men charged with fending them off.

The Kremlin stands accused of interfering in elections the world over, driving division in societies through an array of tactics, chief among them online disinformation. Using fabricated or misleading news stories and fake accounts, Russian operations have sought to sow doubt in the democratic process. Ahead of European Parliament elections next month and the American presidential contest in 2020, Putin’s online armies are auditioning their tactics in Ukraine.

Kyiv isn’t just the laboratory for Russia’s information warfare tactics, though; it’s also a proving ground for possible solutions, where officials such as Zolotukhin, Ukraine’s deputy minister of information policy, struggle to walk the line between defending democratic discourse and trampling freedom of speech. As the United States prepares for another contentious presidential race and social-media regulation looks inevitable, the Ukrainian government’s efforts highlight how difficult it is to fight disinformation in a polarized information environment.

But offices such as Zolotukhin’s are often under-resourced, and in a divisive electoral period in which campaigns are themselves combatants in the information war, separating fact from fiction, patriot from enemy, and friend from foe is not as simple as it once was.

I was thinking about this last night, while thinking about the morass of social media, again. How do you combat disinformation without trampling on free speech, especially when bad actors are willfully working to exploit things and create further division?

According to Fedorov, the Zelensky campaign found little support when it reached out to Facebook and Google for help; its account on YouTube (which is owned by Google) was suspended after inauthentic reports about its content triggered the platform’s automatic-shutdown algorithm, and Facebook had no dedicated Ukrainian employee for any of the campaigns to contact. So it crowdsourced the fight against fakes through a chat bot that reports and addresses disinformation about the campaign as it appears.

LOLOLOLOLOLOL CHRIST.

They are useless, internationally useless.

Like most other members of the government, Zolotukhin bristles when I ask him about the threat such actions might pose to freedom of speech in Ukraine. What use is democracy, he asks, if a commitment to freedom of speech is used to defend lies?

Zolotukhin’s question gets at the heart of the debate. When Facebook first faced criticism for its role in spreading disinformation, it pushed back at requests for content moderation, saying it did not want to be “the arbiter of truth.” Now, as social-media scandals around the globe have mounted and platforms relent to the advance of regulation, governments face a choice. They can pursue heavy-handed, overarching bans based on subjective definitions of truth. Or they can craft selective, careful, and transparent regulation that affects only the most harmful content, and leave citizens to navigate the pitfalls of the 21st-century media environment.

One of the questions of our time, I think.

'A whole generation has gone': Ukrainians seek a better life in Poland

When the small business run by Kristina Melnytska’s father began to struggle in 2014 he did what hundreds of thousands of other Ukrainians were doing and moved his family to Poland.

Melnytska, then 19, enrolled in a university in the eastern city of Lublin. She worked long nights in a kebab shop, where she was paid about £1 an hour. Five years later she is still here and one of an estimated 2 million Ukrainians working and living in Poland.

While Poland’s rightwing populist government has rejected resettlement quotas for refugees from Syria and other conflict zones, the country has quietly accepted what may amount to the largest migration into a European country in recent years. There are about 400,000 Ukrainians on proper contracts but many more who work in the parallel economy or are short-term, seasonal labourers.

Their presence helps replace the labour shortage created by the Poles who have left for Britain, Germany and other EU countries since Poland joined the bloc. The numbers also tell a story about Ukraine, where the economy tanked after the 2014 Maidan revolution and the war in the east.

On Sunday the country will vote in a presidential election in which the television comedian and political neophyte Volodymyr Zelenskiy is expected to score a crushing victory over the incumbent, Petro Poroshenko, in a sign of just how dissatisfied people are with widespread corruption and the lack of economic opportunities over the past few years.

“We have ended up with a whole generation that has gone,” said Irina Vereshchuk, a former mayor of Rava-Ruska, a town on the border with Poland. “Poland has taken our best minds, our best labourers.”

In towns and cities across Ukraine there are advertisements and recruitment drives to find people keen to move to Poland for higher salaries. According to data from the World Bank, Ukraine is now the biggest recipient of wage remittances of any country in Europe, with £11bn being sent back to the country by workers abroad last year, amounting to 11% of the country’s GDP.

Olena Babakova, a Ukrainian journalist who moved to Warsaw in 2008, said that while there were no Ukrainian-majority areas of Warsaw or other cities there was what she described as a “horizontal ghetto” of her fellow nationals. “The barmen in the bars I go to are Ukrainians, my hair and nails are done by Ukrainians and some of the bank clerks are Ukrainians.”

Poland for a long time had a programme allowing short-term workers to obtain visas, but things are even more simple, with the EU granting Ukrainian citizens visa-free entry since 2017.

Many Poles say the government is asking for trouble by allowing so many Ukrainians to settle in Poland.

“Ukrainians are quite close to us physically and culturally, but if you build a multinational country you get political problems,” said Krzysztof Bosak, a former MP and deputy leader of the National Movement, a nationalist political force. “Economic mass migration for a country is like cocaine for a workaholic. It makes you more effective in the short term but after, the problems start.”

Many Ukrainians do low-paid, low-skilled jobs the Polish locals do not want. Unlike Polish workers in other EU countries, however, the Ukrainians in Poland have few legal safeguards to fall back on.

In Lublin, Melnytska said she frequently suffered abuse at the hands of drunken customers while working in the kebab shop. “People shouted that I should go home and was ruining Poland. One time someone threw a kebab at me, and there was one guy who said he was going to wait outside and attack me on the way home.”

She called the police, who did nothing except laugh at her and tell her that in Poland there is freedom of speech, she said.

I guess it's kind of comforting to know that, in the absence of brown people, they'll return to the pointless, time-honored bigotries of yore. Because the lady at the kebab shop (no Middle-Eastern refugees, but we definitely want their food!) is definitely "ruining Poland" by working a sh*tty job that ordinary Poles aren't working. What a familiar refrain.

Oh, as an Irish man who has faced his fair share of bigotry in my time, I roll my eyes at certain individuals extolling the virtues of "white" culture.

Prederick wrote:

I was about to ask how MEP elections work. So really, he's not winning an election campaign, more like once enough people vote for UKIP, UKIP will then give him the seat, right?

The election has to reflect the electoral proportionally. Just like any European Directive*, it's entirely up to the Member State to in act the Directive as it sees fit in line with it's own laws. So the UK use the D'Hondt method to satisfy the Directive. Apart from Northern Ireland which uses Single Transferable Vote, which is what they use for Assembly elections as well.

/watches video

..........right. And so, once you win a seat, you can select whatever YouTube jackass you like to represent you, correct?

Axon wrote:

Oh, as an Irish man who has faced his fair share of bigotry in my time, I roll my eyes at certain individuals extolling the virtues of "white" culture.

Hearing similar sentiments from Irish-Americans is always amazing. I mean...

IMAGE(https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/6/66/TheUsualIrishWayofDoingThings.jpg)

Prederick wrote:

/watches video

..........right. And so, once you win a seat, you can select whatever YouTube jackass you like to represent you, correct?

You have to declare the candidates beforehand. And depending on the national electoral laws candidates might have to registered for certain ballots. The UK does so they have to state who is on the ballot. They can and do put several candidates if they think they can win more than 1 seat.

Other countries run a list system but you still have to declare who is on your list prior to the election and, as far as I'm aware, what order the list is in by preference.

Prederick wrote:
Axon wrote:

Oh, as an Irish man who has faced his fair share of bigotry in my time, I roll my eyes at certain individuals extolling the virtues of "white" culture.

Hearing similar sentiments from Irish-Americans is always amazing. I mean...

IMAGE(https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/6/66/TheUsualIrishWayofDoingThings.jpg)

You really don't have to go that far back. The Spectator has been at the vanguard of some fine work of their own. To be fair, there is a certain constituency in England that just believes they are better people by divine right so the Spectator is only feeding that audience by pointing out deficient everyone else is. It's the saving grace of Brexit to see that world view being warped as they try to convince you that they meant to shoot both their feet off all the time.

I'm currently watching live. All the major grouping's spitzenkandidaten*. One of these will be the Commission President (Next Juncker). I've liked the spitzenkandidaten as it connects people to the European Parliament which is only good in my mind.

The debate would be a FOX news nightmare Just went from how you would implement the Green New Deal (not, if but how) and now we are onto how you would apply gender quotas.

While the Commission President cannot initiate legislation, the Parliament can. So a President with strong ties to the Parliament makes him quite powerful. The Council still has to accept any legislation but it's hard to prevent legislation originating from a democratically elected body.

*Edit: Sorry, this is missing Manfred Weber of the EPP. Not sure why seeing as Timmermans is there.

In other news, Spain elections are interesting. Good result for the Socialists but the story of the night is the People Party and Vox. Turned out that swinging into far-right politics doesn't work in proportional election. All they succeeded in doing was giving more votes not only Vox but to the Socialists and CS (Centre Right party).

Bannon's magic doesn't quite work outside of first-past-the-post elections.

Nice site from the FT here breaking down all the elections across the EU. You can really drill down for detail. They should include links a decriptions for each party but a quick Google will answer those questions. Wikipedia will give you the brass tacks with a glance.

So, the real story is the the increase of the very pro-EU parties and the very anti-EU parties. The only grouping to see an increase is ADLE which is basically Macron. The main groups (EPP and S&D) are losing seats to that grouping and the new unaligned parties. ENF, ECR and EFDD are just not making the gains you'd swear they are making if you read certain media.

Pity about both Green groups not generating more seats but at least ADLE and S&D are stealing their clothes.

The real question are the unaligned which is a mixed bag. Some will align as it's the only way to make any real difference. If other just make their own grouping or don't align you can safely assume they'll make some fiery speeches for national consumption but they will do almost nothing to effect any real change.

I'm still smiling watching UKIP implode. Made my month.

Does UKIP matter anymore, though? Aren’t all the ex-UKIP just moving over to the Brexit Party?

My main insight into this comes from the fact that a high school classmate is married to Nathan Gill. Seen here in this article amongst many.

https://www.google.com/amp/s/www.bbc...

So I follow UK politics more than I normally would because I’m still shocked at knowing someone that’s involved in UKIP politics.

Random aside, this classmate tried to reach out to me via Facebook a few months ago and I told her I wasn’t up for reconnecting. That her husband was part of a party (probably Russia aligned) seeking to destroy the EU and thus I doubted we had much to talk about anymore.