[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

I’m really bummed, I have no idea who I’m going to vote for. I’ll have to go more into it when I’m back from vacation but Macron is total disaster and there are some definite fascist vibe coming from the government (some which I’ve previously mentioned in the past but there’s more). The gouvernement crackdown on gilets jaunes protestors has been appalling to watch. I may not agree with them but the rise of police brutality has been horrendous and wrong on so many levels. There’s a law in France, you have the right to march, to protest peacefully, which was has been happening lately. I ran into a gilets jaunes protest one Saturday on my way home and it was nothing like what some media would have you believe. On May first, which is observed in France, there was a protest and as the police cracked down and started tear gassing protestors as well as hitting them with their nightsticks, some panicked and tried to hide in the nearby hospital. The Defense minister, as well as the head admin of the hospital, made declarations saying that the protestors had broken in to destroy equipment and threaten patients and health care workers.
That is not the case. I have several colleagues who work there and were on call that day, they have come forward publicly to deny those claims.
Supporters of Macron have actually posted polls on social media saying “are you in favor of curtailing individual freedom to ensure the success of Macron’s policies?”
As of right now, the answer is a resounding “f*ck no.”

DSGamer wrote:

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

Indeed they are but the catalyst was Carl Benjamin. I just want to see him when the results roll in. I'm sincerely hoping it's a humiliating result and I'm proven utterly incorrect.

Credit has to go to the BBC and Channel 4 for hammering UKIP about this. About time people were called on their repugnant views.

Eleima wrote:

I’m really bummed, I have no idea who I’m going to vote for.S
upporters of Macron have actually posted polls on social media saying “are you in favor of curtailing individual freedom to ensure the success of Macron’s policies?”
As of right now, the answer is a resounding “f*ck no.”

What about EELV? I'll freely admit I'm a supporter of it's Irish sister party but I really Bas Eickhout's performace in the above debate.

The thing about EELV is that they're staunch antivaxxers. I can't have that.
(also not great feminists, despite their claims)

Oh, that's not good. They haven't dealt with the crazies like other Green parties have. Interesting. Was wondering why they weren't making the break through. That would explain it. At least En Marche is onboard with a Green New Deal in the EU, for all of Macrons faults.

You really have a dreadful list to select from, Elemia.

Rivasi is the worst. She's been a laughing stock in my French Twitter timeline, but the truth of the matter is that such fear-mongering is dangerous (hello, return of the measles, 2019 edition).
But yeah, it's pretty much a tough choice. I've still got a few days to figure it out, though.

You can always vote blank, right? Sends a message.

Not necessarily a good message though.
There has to be someone acceptable to vote on? Politics these days is rarely about finding great candidates or parties, just the least bad one.

In other European topics, danish prime minister decided to hold our national parliament election on June 5th, so the EU election is pretty much abandoned. Not a fan.
In a continuation of living in the darkest timeline, we are having our very first candidate/party, created only a few week ago, that is basically outright fascist. Campaigning on forcefully throwing out everyone who aren't ethnic/culturally danish... whatever the f*ck that means. Polls are giving the guy 2-3% of the votes, which is just sad. Our election threshold is 2%, so there is a chance he wont get into parliament, but it is crazy the potential is even there. And I am really worried that his base increases. Considering people had barely heard about him a few weeks ago.
Then there is another relatively new party, who are also extreme right-wing, albeit slightly less into the nazi territory (for now), sitting at 3-4%.
Only potentially good news in the mess, is that this splintering of the extreme right wing into multiple parties, seems to have shattered our 'grand old' nationalist party (DF), which right now is polling at 12%, a far cry from the 21% they got last election.

slazev wrote:

You can always vote blank, right? Sends a message.

Blank votes are basically taken out of the equation ultimately, so it always feels a bit useless.

Don't forget, the beauty of multi-seat elections is you can at the very least vote tactically. And not to just pick the least worst option. Transfers are key. I'm lucky that I've got a very strong Green Party candidate I can vote for but after that I have a plan of how my transfers work becuase it's a multi-seat constituency. It matters way more than people seem to think. Parties only promote voting just for their candidates and never down the ballot fully because it gives the voter such power.

At the very least, start at 1 and keep filling boxes until they are all numbered. I need to find a video that explains why it really does make a difference.

Isn't that an Irish thing?

Well, yes

Was just confused by the “don’t forget” part

Wasn't enrtirely sure what system everyone is currently using so I'm was just covering all bases Disregard where necessary

Axon wrote:

Wasn't enrtirely sure what system everyone is currently using so I'm was just covering all bases Disregard where necessary

Some of us wish we had your system.

Germany’s AfD turns on Greta Thunberg as it embraces climate denial

Germany’s rightwing populists are embracing climate change denial as the latest topic with which to boost their electoral support, teaming up with scientists who claim hysteria is driving the global warming debate and ridiculing the Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg as “mentally challenged” and a fraud.

The Alternative für Deutschland party (AfD) is expected to launch its biggest attack yet on mainstream climate science at a symposium in parliament on Tuesday supported by a prominent climate change denial body linked by researchers to prominent conservative groups in the US.

The AfD’s focus on climate change has increased since it entered the Bundestag in autumn 2017. It has added a sceptical voice to the rising number of parliamentary debates on the topic and concentrated its opposition specifically on the scandal over diesel car emissions and plans to phase out brown coal.

But the attention the party paid to the topic has been noticeably ramped up since the emergence last August of Greta, the teenage climate activist who has appeared at climate rallies across Europe, including in Germany.

A joint investigation by Greenpeace Unearthed and the counter-extremism organisation the Institute for Strategic Dialogue (ISD) has shown a surge in AfD digital communication on climate issues. While climate change barely got a mention on its social media channels when the AfD was first founded in 2013, it mentioned the topic on its channels about 300 times in 2017-18, and that has tripled over the past year to more than 900, with its main focus on Greta.

Estonia’s Natural Experiment in Fighting Right-Wing Populism

TALLINN, Estonia—At a coworking space in Estonia’s capital, members of the protest movement “Yes to Freedom, No to Lies” gathered in a meeting room on a recent evening to hash out a new strategy. For weeks the activists had been organizing protests against the inclusion of a far-right party in the country’s coalition government. In spite of their efforts, however, the new government had been sworn in at the end of April. “We lost,” said Siim Tuisk, a community organizer. “Now it’s about figuring out: How do we go on?”

Outside of the meeting room, English drifted across the coworking space’s plant-filled open-plan office as a group of angel investors and start-up founders, both local and foreign—Indian, Japanese, Russian—networked over coffee. Over the past decade, Estonia, a country of just 1.3 million people, had established itself as a hub of digital development and in the process had pioneered the concept of borderless e-residency. Out of earshot of the activists’ discussions, the scene was difficult to square with the nativist brand of populism that had swept across much of Europe and the United States in recent years and had now likewise intoxicated the small Baltic nation.

In a March national election, the Conservative People’s Party, known by the Estonian acronym EKRE, had won 19 seats in the country’s 101-seat parliament on a promise to protect an indigenous Estonian population under threat and weed out a political establishment that for years had ignored the people’s true wishes. During the campaign, the party’s leaders railed against migrants, same-sex partnerships, mainstream media, and a so-called deep state, all while trafficking freely in falsehoods and inflammatory rhetoric. One now-minister suggested that the country was run by “secret Jews”; another called for a “white Estonia.” Days after the vote, against all expectations and his own word, Prime Minister Juri Ratas included EKRE in his proposal for a new government.

The right-wing populists’ rise had taken Estonian liberals by surprise. “The ostrich had put its head in the sand so to speak,” said Maia-Liisa Anton, a former research attache to the European Union who now runs a small consulting firm. “We saw what was happening around the world, but we didn’t want to believe that it could happen here.” As coalition negotiations took place through March and into April, they were left scrambling to try to come up with methods to turn back the populist tide.

For their part, Anton, Tuisk, and a core group of about a dozen other activists organized daily protests outside of Stenbock House, the seat of Estonia’s government and the site of the negotiations. “I just felt that, okay, this was my red line,” Anton said. “I have to look into the eyes of my children in five years and say that I actually tried to do something.” At the peak of the protests, some 1,000 people marched through Tallinn and Tartu, Estonia’s second-largest city. For a nation with a population of just over a million people, and without a tradition of civic dissent since the end of Soviet occupation in 1991, the protest was sizable.

But these protestors weren’t the only ones who were trying to do something. A separate movement calling itself “Koigi Eesti,” or “Estonia for All,” was gaining momentum, quickly boasting nearly 30,000 followers on its Facebook page in addition to about 30 core members. In mid-April, the group rallied some 10,000 people to a concert at Tallinn’s Song Festival Grounds—ground zero of the Singing Revolution, the mass demonstrations that brought an end to Soviet occupation—with the motto: “We are not afraid. We stand together for freedoms.” The words spoke to a stark difference in how the movement had tried to position itself: not against EKRE, but for shared Estonian values.

“With loud protest, we all know what’s going to happen,” Hedi Mardisoo, one of the movement’s original driving members, said over coffee on a recent afternoon in Tallinn’s Telliskivi Creative City, a former industrial park that has been transformed into a complex of start-ups and eateries featuring murals and notices for upcoming events. That day, one advertised an anti-racism talk. “It’s very easy to grow divisions in society,” Mardisoo continued, noting she had taken cues from missteps in responses to the rise of right-wing populists in other countries, “and this is actually what we were from day one trying to avoid: to not give them fuel.”

Mardisoo, a former corporate communications professional who recently founded a start-up, said that the protestors and Koigi Eesti share the same aim: limiting the far-right’s political reach. But the latter movement, she believes, is able to address a wider audience by not taking a political stance and trying to talk to all voters. To that end, members last week set up a table in Tallinn’s Freedom Square, speaking to passersby about the upcoming European Parliament elections at the end of this month.

The AfD has turned down its migration rhetoric I've noticed. At the same time, the NPD (basically Nazi party), which I thought was dead after a court ruling 2-3 years ago in which it lost access to any public campaign financing, has filled my area with campaign posters that are openly racist, almost all of them against migrants or migration...

All the greatest hits are included, such as:
North Africans are hunting our white German women. Defend your homeland!
Stop the invastion. Migration kills.
Helpers of asylum seekers are supporters of terrorism.

Luckily, several of the communities in which these things have been put up have almost immediately filed criminal complaints on the basis of "incitement of the masses" (Volksverhetzung).

Turbulent times in Austria.

Austria's Sebastian Kurz calls for snap elections after corruption scandal.

Another party that ran on anti-immigration and "(Party's country here) first!".

What do we know about the video?

It was published by German media on Friday, but it is not known who recorded it.

Neither is it clear who set up the meeting, which allegedly took place at a villa on the Spanish island of Ibiza in July 2017.

The video shows Mr Strache and Johann Gudenus - also a Freedom Party politician - relaxing on sofas, drinking and talking to a woman who claims to be a wealthy Russian national looking to invest in Austria.

In the footage, the woman offers to buy a 50% stake in Austria's Kronen-Zeitung newspaper and switch its editorial position to support the Freedom Party.

In exchange, Mr Strache said he could award her public contracts, explaining that he wanted to "build a media landscape like [Victor] Orban", a reference to Hungary's prime minister, described by critics as an authoritarian leader.

The vice-chancellor also speculates that the Russian's takeover of Kronen-Zeitung could boost support for the party to as much as 34%.

"If you take over the Kronen Zeitung three weeks before the election and get us into first place, then we can talk about everything," Mr Strache said.

As part of the deal, he suggests the Russian woman "set up a company like Strabag", the Austrian construction firm.

"All the government orders that Strabag gets now, [you] would get," he continues.

Mr Strache also names several journalists who would have to be "pushed" from the newspaper, and five other "new people whom we will build up".

via the Beeb

Huh. Corrupt cronyism by elites and an attempt to control the media to push a particular narrative. I thought they were against that?

....aaaand the Austrian government has collapsed.

Austria's far-right Freedom Party ministers all resign amid scandal

All ministers from Austria's far-right Freedom Party (FPÖ) have resigned, throwing the government into chaos.

The Freedom Party's leader Heinz-Christian Strache, who was also vice-chancellor, was forced to resign at the weekend after a video sting.

Mr Strache was filmed proposing to offer government contracts to a supposed Russian oligarch's niece.

The FPÖ threatened a mass resignation earlier on Monday if Interior Minister Herbert Kickl was also forced out.

Chancellor Sebastian Kurz had called over the weekend for Mr Kickl to be sacked, saying that as general secretary of the party he should take responsibility for the scandal.

The scandal broke on Friday when footage from 2017 was published in German media, showing Mr Strache and another FPÖ official proposing to offer government contracts to a supposed Russian oligarch's niece.

European parliament elections: The Brexit effect

Remember that domino effect Brexit was predicted to trigger back in 2016?

Frexit (France leaving the EU), Italexit (Italy walking out the door), Nexit (the Netherlands following suit) and so on?

Fast-forward almost three years and here we are, on the eve of the European parliamentary elections - and although Eurosceptic parties are expected to make a strong showing at the polls, there's not a peep amongst them (UK parties remaining the exception) about leaving the EU.

Why have European voters gone off the idea?

In part, this is down to a growing awareness that the world out there is downright unpredictable: with President Trump in the White House; Russian President Putin at large around the European corner; looming trade wars; the environment in a mess; and the threat of mass migration to this continent from poorer parts of the globe.

The conclusion amongst many in Europe is that it's safer to stick together. According to opinion polls, the EU is now more popular than it has been since the early 1980s.

But there's another big reason that leaving is no longer so appealing: Brexit.

The social divisions that the 2016 referendum has driven through British society; the destructive tangle that UK politics finds itself in, in a parliament, traditionally revered across Europe as "the mother of parliaments", has shocked European voters and frankly put them off.

Alice Weidel, one of the leaders of Germany's Eurosceptic AfD party, said recently that she regretted her group's flirtation with "Dexit" (an EU exit for Deutschland, the German word for Germany). Her feeling was that it lost them potential voters.

So, ahead of this week's election for the European Parliament, Europe's right-wing nationalists - including Marine Le Pen of France, Italy's firebrand deputy prime minister Matteo Salvini, and the AfD - have been calling to "change the EU from the inside" rather than walk away from it altogether.

Prederick wrote:
What do we know about the video?

It was published by German media on Friday, but it is not known who recorded it.

Neither is it clear who set up the meeting, which allegedly took place at a villa on the Spanish island of Ibiza in July 2017.

The video shows Mr Strache and Johann Gudenus - also a Freedom Party politician - relaxing on sofas, drinking and talking to a woman who claims to be a wealthy Russian national looking to invest in Austria.

In the footage, the woman offers to buy a 50% stake in Austria's Kronen-Zeitung newspaper and switch its editorial position to support the Freedom Party.

In exchange, Mr Strache said he could award her public contracts, explaining that he wanted to "build a media landscape like [Victor] Orban", a reference to Hungary's prime minister, described by critics as an authoritarian leader.

The vice-chancellor also speculates that the Russian's takeover of Kronen-Zeitung could boost support for the party to as much as 34%.

"If you take over the Kronen Zeitung three weeks before the election and get us into first place, then we can talk about everything," Mr Strache said.

As part of the deal, he suggests the Russian woman "set up a company like Strabag", the Austrian construction firm.

"All the government orders that Strabag gets now, [you] would get," he continues.

Mr Strache also names several journalists who would have to be "pushed" from the newspaper, and five other "new people whom we will build up".

via the Beeb

Huh. Corrupt cronyism by elites and an attempt to control the media to push a particular narrative. I thought they were against that?

Relevant.

Jan Böhmerman (German comedian) just released this:

(Turn on subtitles)

There is also a 13 minute extended version.

German news site N-TV suggests that he is using his notoriety in regards to possibly being behind the Ibiza video (one of the first theories that has since been mostly discounted) to push the above song. I'm not so sure about that, but I do like the video.

Ok, results can be tracked here. We won't know the full picture until this time tomorrow but some will start floating in over the next few hours.

I still don’t know who I’m voting for and polls open in the morning. Better start reading that material I got in my mailbox.

Huge surge in Green Party in Ireland. They are set to get an MEP in every region. The parties of the status quo are loosing their majority with every election. 18-24s voted 42% for the Greens in Dublin and 0% for FF in the midlands.

It’s like the marriage and abortion referendum for me all over again. The millennials are going to save us Gen Xers. Again, welcome to the fight friends

Axon wrote:

Ok, results can be tracked here. We won't know the full picture until this time tomorrow but some will start floating in over the next few hours.

Some really interesting data on that site. Looking at the historical turnout, the only countries that seem to care are Belgium and Luxemberg at around 90% turnout. Most of the others are hovering around 50% turnout. I wonder if Denmark will be even lower this year as the national election is on June 5 and pretty much has dominated the news since it was called.

They have compulsory voting, so their voters might not really care more.

A Sunday election is probably not doing anything good for the turnout in Denmark, though that is likely very country dependent, based on which days they usually have their national elections.
Hard to say how the close national election will affect things. I would have expected it to lower the interest in, and turnout for, the EU election, and it certainly has reduced coverage in the news. But some people have succesfully managed to link the two elections closer together, through the climate change debate, so who knows, maybe that will boost turnout.