[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

Phew, danish election done. And it was not as bad as one could have feared. Pretty good actually (red/green/center majority), though creating a stable majority could be messy, but that is the expected standard these days.

Good news: Neo-Nazi seemingly didn't get any seats in parliament.
Bad news: Neo-Nazi was like 0.2% from getting any seats in parliament.

Also our version of UKIP, Front Nationale, Sweden Democrats etc. (as in Large right-wing nationalist party) followed the trend from the European Parliament election and lost nearly 60% of their voters <3
Of course they lost some to the aforementioned neo-nazi, which is scary. But if they can spread their far right-wing voters out in small enough pieces, it is kinda sweet.

I wasn't even aware you lot were going to the polls again. Was there some misgivings about have the elections so close together? Either way, seems to be a good night's work.

As is customary, lets see how the Anglosphere spins this as chaos in Denmark. My guess is three party coalition is proof Europe is coming apart at the seams.

Axon wrote:

I wasn't even aware you lot were going to the polls again. Was there some misgivings about have the elections so close together? Either way, seems to be a good night's work.

As is customary, lets see how the Anglosphere spins this as chaos in Denmark. My guess is three party coalition is proof Europe is coming apart at the seams.

Yeah, there was some misgivings. Many were expecting the election to be at the same day as the EP election - which I personally think would be bad, as it would take all focus way from the EP election. Latest allowed election day was mid-June, so couldn't really be pushed further.
The election happened to be on our 'constitution day'/national day, making it a holiday for many people. Hard to say what effect that had. Turnout was maybe slightly lower than expected, but not in any significant way (84.5%). I'm looking forward to see if young voters turned out more. The main theme in the election campaign has really been climate change (well, other than the aforementioned neo-nazi getting way too much attention).

While I am sure it will hard to get a working majority (Social Democrats want to make a single-party minority government, which is quite a dangerous thing to try - nobody to 'share the blame' with), concluding the result is chaotic would be weird - but you are probably right that will be the spin.
The 4 center-left parties who have majority now have worked together for the last ~30-110 years. It might fall apart, but there is little reason to expect it.

I read in a Belgian newspaper that the Danish social democrats gained victory by going populist on migration topics. As in: not definitely saying no to a special island for convicted immigrants.

If you're willing to share your inside view on this?

Yeah, they have done that for the last ~10 years. So not a development that is specific to this election. Part of the reason that the far right-wing party lost voters, was that SD took back some of them.
I have talked about in this thread before, but for politics-nerds Denmark/Sweden is an interesting experiment (maybe less so for people living here...) when it comes to the rise of the far-right. Two very similar countries, but in Denmark, first the right wing/liberals embraced the rising nationalist party, then Social Democrats did. In Sweden all other parties have so far rejected their far right party (though it seems like it might be changing?). Making it quite interesting to see how things develop differently (or maybe rather similarly).

Immigration is surely the one issue that makes a coalition among the left-majority a struggle. Probably not because of this particular story however.

The “special island” is for convicted immigrants/rejected asylum seekers, who are supposed to be go back to their country of origin - but who might not be anytime soon, either because they refuse to go, or their home country won’t take them back. Denmark is a small country with a bunch of islands, so placing a deportation center on an island, while it is certainly meant to be symbolism, is not really as spectacular as it might sound.
An identical center exists now and has for years, in a different place. Not too far from where I live actually. The proposed island might actually be less desolate than the current deportation center.
I focus on the above because I imagine “the island” would be the big part of the story in international media, but it should not be.

Rather the important topic is how to treat the people living at the deportation center. Some (the populists) want to treat the asylum seekers/immigrants relatively harshly, with as few rights as would be legal, to make them leave voluntarily. The others want to improve conditions to various degrees.

My guess would be that SD uses this topic to “give” their coalition partners something, in terms of treating the rejected asylum seekers better, but that might end up as wishful thinking...

As for my own opinion of SD going populist on immigration. It disgusts me, but if the alternative is giving a majority to a far right party that wants to go so much further, I will always take the lesser evil. But the great risk of course is that you legitimize the racists - and now maybe even the nazi, allowing them only to get bigger and bigger. As said, the danish/swedish case study might some day show what the best choice was.

Thanks. What struck me, though unsurprising I guess, is how the FVP and other right-wing parties just kept shifting further into the cray-cray in reaction to the SD's coopting their platform.

Which on a smaller scale is exactly what happened in Belgium as well since the neo-nazi's breakthrough in 1991. So I'm afraid that in the short term this strategy is sound, but that in the longer term it just normalizes racism.

edit: snipped a part, because I'm not ready for this very sensitive discussion.

dejanzie wrote:

Thanks. What struck me, though unsurprising I guess, is how the FVP and other right-wing parties just kept shifting further into the cray-cray in reaction to the SD's coopting their platform.

Which on a smaller scale is exactly what happened in Belgium as well since the neo-nazi's breakthrough in 1991. So I'm afraid that in the short term this strategy is sound, but that in the longer term it just normalizes racism.

Agreed, that is the risk, and certainly exactly what has happened so far.
But then, these far right parties, getting pushed further to the right, just went from ~22% to 11% or so, so maybe it really does work. First time in 25 years the right wing gets smaller. We probably need more elections to conclude anything.

dejanzie wrote:

Then again, I do think leftist parties have been problematic in their own way - a more condescending white savior kind of way. Had the left been more strict and active in integrating immigrants into society since the seventies

Definitely. It takes effort to integrate people. Immigrants most certainly do not have to assimilate culturally, I am pro-multiculturalism, and we should not allow the right-wing do define our culture. But integration into the workforce, into the social and political systems is needed, or you give the racists a real issue they can build on.
I saw statistics recently that showed children of immigrants having a much lower election turnout than their immigrant parents. That is a problem.
And the left is part of the political system that failed addressing it.

Here we go anyway...

Shadout wrote:
dejanzie wrote:

Then again, I do think leftist parties have been problematic in their own way - a more condescending white savior kind of way. Had the left been more strict and active in integrating immigrants into society since the seventies

Definitely. It takes effort to integrate people. Immigrants most certainly do not have to assimilate culturally, I am pro-multiculturalism, and we should not allow the right-wing do define our culture.

To be clear: I am also pro-multiculturalism, but we have left the definition of our culture to the right-wing. Polling in Belgium and the Netherlands have shown that, for instance, 40% of muslim immigrants believe that religious law is superior to layman's law. Only 4% of even fundamentalist Catholics believe the same, and that's an issue. NOT with Islam itself, as US Christians hold similar opinions, but still an example of integration gone awry.

And it might be my countries' complex relationship with language (French vs Dutch), but I do believe a first step to societal integration is learning to speak and write the language. Leftist parties should have been way more pro-active in this regard.

This path is fraught with danger and can easily slide into horrible racially tinted territory, so I understand the left's reluctance to tackle it. But in the long term this has caused more damage than good.

But integration into the workforce, into the social and political systems is needed, or you give the racists a real issue they can build on.
I saw statistics recently that showed children of immigrants having a much lower election turnout than their immigrant parents. That is a problem.
And the left is part of the political system that failed addressing it.

This reminded me of an interview with several political candidates of non-Belgian origin before the last election. Apparently they were met with surprise when they turned out for conservative-leaning parties. As if immigrants would not have a wide array of political views, and would all be deferring to the left-leaning parties as Champions of their Cause.

dejanzie wrote:

And it might be my countries' complex relationship with language (French vs Dutch), but I do believe a first step to societal integration is learning to speak and write the language. Leftist parties should have been way more pro-active in this regard.

Same here really. Language is part of having a chance to get into the workforce, and society in general.
I'm glad that our left-wing parties acknowledges that now. They have moved their positions on immigration quite a lot too, although not as much as the Social Democrats.

Language ought to be one the 'easier' problems to solve though. It can be hard to get older immigrants themselves to learn a new language, but their kids are hopefully reached through the education system - and even better, through pre-school too. If that fails, it is likely because of other problems.

Changing minds, so people don't place religious laws over layman's laws, or don't hold extreme religious views at all. That is a challenge. Probably not an issue you can address directly through policy. I think it has to come naturally after integration into jobs, politics and society has already happened.

Big ups to the NYT's recent "The Battle for Europe" series from their The Daily podcast.

A very good look at nationalist populism in Europe leading up to the European elections.

Bonus points for the Italian kids who, when his ancestors were compared to modern migrants (leaving home to seek a better life, etc.) went with "...but my ancestors didn't sell drugs!" which I found rather cute.

Axon wrote:

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, I forgot to update this:

Exclusive: Inside Steve Bannon’s bizarre, exaggerated populism bootcamp

Why it matters: Over the past year, Bannon has received an extraordinary amount of international and U.S. media coverage for his European exploits. Bannon joined a group called "The Movement" — which the New York Times reported last year had enlisted Italy's most powerful politician Matteo Salvini.

- Bannon also told the Times he would offer European populist parties the "fundamental building blocks for winning" in May's parliamentary elections, including, the Times reported, "expertise in polling, data analytics, messaging and get-out-the-vote efforts, along with the development of media surrogates and campaign war rooms with rapid response."

- In his most dramatic move, Bannon leased a medieval monastery about two hours from Rome and announced he would use it to train up fearsome hordes of right-wing politicians who will eradicate globalism from Europe.

Between the lines: Our reporting showed that only one of these claims turned out to be true — the existence of the monastery. (Though the Italian government now says it will evict Bannon from the monastery.)

- Bannon's relationship with Salvini is not what he sold it to be. "Axios on HBO" asked Salvini for an interview and he declined, so we drove six hours out of Rome to see if we could grab him at one of his rallies.

- After the rally, I stood in the rope line with people who were waiting to take a photo with Salvini. I asked Salvini, on camera, whether he'd spent much time with Bannon and whether Bannon had been helpful. Salvini replied that he'd only spoken to Bannon twice in his life and that while Bannon had "interesting ideas" he had not used him as an adviser.

- When I asked Bannon about this, he said he'd spoken to Salvini "maybe three or four times." He also admitted that because of European election laws he hadn't done anything like what he promised he would do for these European parties. (The Guardian first reported the legal problems with Bannon's European plans.)

Hey TBird, how big has this news been over there?

Suspect in German politician's murder 'has links to far right'

German authorities said on Sunday they had arrested a man in connection with the murder of a pro-migrant politician, as media reported the suspect could have links to the far right.

In a joint statement, police and prosecutors said they had taken a 45-year-old man into custody on Saturday over the shooting death in early June of prominent local politician Walter Lübcke, a member of chancellor Angela Merkel’s CDU party.

“The arrest came on the basis of DNA evidence and the suspect appeared this afternoon before an investigating judge in Kassel,” the western city where Lübcke was killed, the authorities said.

They declined to comment on a possible motive, saying they would offer further information in the coming days about the arrest and the investigation’s progress.

However the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung daily reported that the suspect “comes from the far-right scene”, without providing further details.

The Bild newspaper, citing unnamed investigators, said the suspect “could belong to the rightwing extremist scene”.

Lübcke was shot in the head at close range on the terrace of his home in Kassel, about 160km north-east of Frankfurt.