[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

bnpederson wrote:

I think the Russian bit there is just some (probably unconscious) othering bullsh*t.

What?

I promise you it’s not on my part. It’s a recognition that the ultra wealthy in some countries have more power to run roughshod over the little guy than other countries.

For example if you’re a citizen of Saudi Arabia the elite can straight up have you murdered and chopped up into small pieces and get away with it.

In Russia they can push you out a window or poison you.

In the US (at least for now) they’re somewhat restricted by the law in terms of how far they can go. And we don’t want the US to get as bad as those countries.

Oh, they're not just completely f*cking over everyone they can in an effort to gain or maintain power and concentrate wealth into a select few, they're traitors trying to give our country's hard earned resources to foreigners!

We saw the same thing with the Japanese back int he 80s and again these days with China here in the US. Personally, I think it distracts from the real problem which is the whole let's "give away economic interests" rather than helping improve the average person's lot in life.

I have no clue what you’re talking about, to be honest. All the ultra rich are bad for the planet and the little guy, of course. But if every country goes the way of Russia then we’re completely hosed. There are at least nominally some laws US oligarchs have to obey. There’s some chance of recourse or consequences.

Your false equivalency is equally dangerous.

Talking about “othering” as it pertains to the political influence of oligarchs from certain nations. I’ve seen it all now.

I was writing that before you posted DS. I assure you, I don't assume your constant yelling regarding Russia is unconscious.

I feel I made my point pretty clear. The sentence I quoted wasn't somehow better if the people wealth was funneled towards weren't Russian. It wasn't even better if they were giving to Austrian billionaires.

The ultra-wealthy in every country have absurd amounts of power and can run roughshod over the little guy. Daphne Anne Caruana Galizia was murdered because she exposed the wealthy elite. In America you can "commit suicide" while in a heavily protected jail cell if you might implicate the powerful.

The bogeyman of Russia, I think, is actively hurting the chances of getting everyone to see the ongoing class war. It drives up nationalistic red-scare bullsh*t and lets our own ruling class point at that other country and talk about how much we need to solve that problem instead of our own. We need to focus less on the Russian part and more on the oligarch part.

bnpederson wrote:

The ultra-wealthy in every country have absurd amounts of power and can run roughshod over the little guy. Daphne Anne Caruana Galizia was murdered because she exposed the wealthy elite. In America you can "commit suicide" while in a heavily protected jail cell if you might implicate the powerful.

The bogeyman of Russia, I think, is actively hurting the chances of getting everyone to see the ongoing class war. It drives up nationalistic red-scare bullsh*t and lets our own ruling class point at that other country and talk about how much we need to solve that problem instead of our own. We need to focus less on the Russian part and more on the oligarch part.

The ultra wealthy that Galizia was investigating were the same former Soviet oligarchs ( in her case allegedly from Azerbaijan ) who were corrupting Maltese politicians. Also all the former Soviet republics with the exception of the Baltic States and Ukraine are highly aligned with Russia. If I say they are Russian oligarchs and you go "No, no, they are actually from Kazakhstan", that just sounds like needless hairsplitting to me. It's the same guys with the same FSB ties running the same playbook.

Current Russian influence is much more than just wealthy people throwing around money. It is not merely class warfare. Mixing those up is not doing any favors for either issue imo.

People can focus on more then one issue at a time.

DSGamer wrote:

“Russia-baiting”?

The Russian people are probably fine. Russia itself is a corrupt kleptocracy. Like the US, but without meaningful institutions.

This is where the US is headed if we’re not careful. The distinction is meaningful because right now Russian oligarchs are waging an attack on the political institutions of other countries in a way that threatens to destabilize the world order and neuter the ability for the planet to cooperate on governance and possibly fighting climate change.

I think we should care about this distinction.

Could you elaborate on that distinction and the meaningful institutions part? I doubt Russia has done a fraction of the damage the US has done to world order (or institutions of other countries). Maybe they would if they could, but their whole nation has a lower GDP than NYC.

nako wrote:
DSGamer wrote:

“Russia-baiting”?

The Russian people are probably fine. Russia itself is a corrupt kleptocracy. Like the US, but without meaningful institutions.

This is where the US is headed if we’re not careful. The distinction is meaningful because right now Russian oligarchs are waging an attack on the political institutions of other countries in a way that threatens to destabilize the world order and neuter the ability for the planet to cooperate on governance and possibly fighting climate change.

I think we should care about this distinction.

Could you elaborate on that distinction and the meaningful institutions part? I doubt Russia has done a fraction of the damage the US has done to world order (or institutions of other countries). Maybe they would if they could, but their whole nation has a lower GDP than NYC.

Oh totally. I’m not arguing that the US, overall, has less of an impact on the world. Of course we do. And when we’re acting for bad we obviously have a warping effect that Russia could never dream of touching.

I just mean that there are at least *some* guardrails and institutions within the boundaries of the US that historically haven’t been completely corrupted by individual members of the US oligarchy (to use the same term).

That’s obviously gotten worse the past 30 years. Especially post Citizens United.

I would never tell a European that the influence of the US is benign. Especially since the Iraq War. I just think currently US citizens could still steer the state towards being a better worldwide actor. At least for now. I don’t believe there’s any such hope for Russia until Putin is out of power and an actual democracy is established.

bnpederson wrote:

As I said, it's a pet peeve. But having no respect for rule of law or courts sounds like every billionaire to me, and giving away a country's wealth to Amazon or even a local corporation isn't better than giving it away to a Russian megacorp.

Of course not, but in this case the undercover actress was posing as as a niece of Russian businessman Igor Makarov. This is relevant because...

bnpederson wrote:

I think the Russian bit there is just some (probably unconscious) othering bullsh*t. Oh, they're not just completely f*cking over everyone they can in an effort to gain or maintain power and concentrate wealth into a select few, they're traitors trying to give our country's hard earned resources to foreigners!

...Russia has been making an effort to bring former communist bloc and other countries back into its sphere of influence. They have been partially successful with this, as countries such as Poland and Hungary have been drifting away from western values (and the EU), and this has been associated with increases in authoritarianism, attacks on minorities and press freedom, and straight up provocation of the EU. The Baltic States have been actively worried about a military annexation the way the Crimean peninsula was snatched from Ukraine.

It seems to not be much of a coincidence to me that many of the far right parties seem to have well above average amounts of connections to Russia (see: Trump, ruling parties in Hungary and Poland, Italy's Lega Nord, and Germany's AfD. Those are just the ones I can think of off the top of my head.)

Foreign investors swooping in and buying up things can turn out good, bad or neutral. The ultra rich are heavily mixed up in politics in most countries. In Russia, it seems very difficult to be extremely successful without also being a Putin loyalist (see, for example, Mikhail Khodorkovsky, although it's not clear if his imprisonment was politically motivated - the EU court of human rights said the arrest and trial proceeded on the grounds of "reasonable suspicion" that the charges of tax fraud, etc... could be real. He was, however, an opponent of Putin).
The way the United States (and many other leading nations) have expanded their spheres of influence has frequently been far less than ideal, but an important question is "what comes after?" I'm pretty glad to be living in a Europe that was created in the pre-Trump American sphere of influence rather than the Soviet one (even though I love eastern Europe). There have been problematic times (see 2nd Iraq war), but overall one version is preferable to the other.

I'm not quite sure if we've derailed this thread yet...

Well, keep is abreast of the shooting today Tbird. Blessedly, it sounds like the synagogue's security measures prevented this from being a larger tragedy.

Luckily more people didn't die, but two is already two too many in addition to the lasting psychological damage to the almost-victims and many other people.

Full-on attempted slaughter of jewish people and probably anyone not pure german (one victim was a woman who happened to be in the area, the other died during an attack on a döner (turkish food that's really popular in Germany) eatery) by an admitted neo-nazi.

Guy had four guns and several explosives on him, recorded the events through a helmet cam and uploaded the video. Newest story I saw today is that at least one of the guns appears to be 3D printed.

Politically some are already laying part of the blame on the AfD and its rhetoric, primarily by the most extreme prominent politicians in the party.

Ok, I'll give credit to Marcon for at least standing up to Erdogan and his threats to dump Europe with millions of refugees. I had assumed Tusk's comments yesterday were hot air, but not so.

Not that I'd have a huge problem with it morally, we took in the last inflow and I'm not a practicing Muslim last time I checked. Sure we've had problems but it seems to be far more with the people who have a problem with others different to them. And, in reality, most refugees do want to return home and going to Europe may prevent them for ever doing that. It's the reason they are staying in Turkey and Lebanon, for now.

Anyway, part of me suspects that some around the capitals of Europe are cynically looking at this as an opportunity. In recent years there is very much a policy not to strongly advocate for a position but to simply allow the current political realities play out. The Financial Crisis is littered with that for the EU with many changes to policy by the end of the crisis compared to the start. In other words, let the voters sleep in the bed they've made, simply.

So, here's the question facing Europe, do we rely on the US to provide part of our security? We have our battlegroups and they have been used in foreign missions so the real question is the EU prepared to step in here? There is no question Erdogan would even look sideways at any EU backed force due to the potential economic damage.

Maybe it can use soft power alone to hold back Erdogan but who knows. As this gets worse expect a lot of soul searching around Europe and especially with those that use "EU Army" as some bogeyman. Well maybe not the latter but at least they should be asked to explain their position in detail. Trump may just last this term but we simply can't rely on the US anymore and need to work out how we provide security. We know this reality has sunk in in the corridors of power around Europe but I'm not sure where the rest of the Union is on this.

So the Polish Law and Justice party won again in Poland, on a platform of, in part, "the gays are coming!" But if you'd like a good rundown of how, you could do worse than this.

The party, known as PiS, its Polish acronym, came to power in 2015 after campaigning on its flagship Family 500+ program, a monthly allowance of 500 złoty (about $125) per child for each kid after the first, or for single children in low-income families. Since the program went into effect, the Gromułs have been collecting 1,000 złoty a month, or nearly half of Poland’s minimum wage. That income will soon double once their daughter is born and their first son is included—the program has now expanded to cover all children. The kids are getting a taste for the high life, they joke, and are clamoring to visit Italy too.

“Now we don’t have to think twice about every expenditure,” Andrzej told me. “There are some crazy people in PiS … but still, these last couple of years show they actually did something, and our situation is better.”

The populist parties of Eastern Europe are widely viewed from afar as a nasty gang of bigoted nationalists with a thinly veiled penchant for authoritarianism. But critics overlook a key part of their appeal: They have channeled serious money to voters in the name of shoring up the “family values” they say are under siege from secular Europe. These parties, such as PiS and Viktor Orbán’s Fidesz party, in Hungary, have found electoral success by combining a right-wing vision of society with state largesse. The Family 500+ program in particular, with its catchy title, neat round number, and wide reach, has become a model for other countries in the region, where declining birth rates and immigration of native-born citizens to more prosperous European countries have sparked demographic panic.

Here in Poland, the program has proved intoxicating for large swaths of the population, one that helped garner PiS a decisive parliamentary victory in elections yesterday, winning over not just conservative Catholics, but an array of more unlikely fans, including leftists who felt that PiS, by favoring a model typically eschewed by right-wing parties, offered a compelling critique of a rigged system that left workers vulnerable to the predations of international and local elites.

“They were listening to people like me; they were reading Thomas Piketty,” says Rafał Woś, a columnist for the socialist Catholic weekly Tygodnik Powszechny, referring to the French economist whose agenda-setting book, Capital in the Twenty-First Century, argues that wealth could continue to concentrate in the hands of the rich. The book was endorsed by the PiS leader Jaroslaw Kaczyński in 2015.

The program’s design—free money, no strings attached—is similar to a universal basic income, and marks a sharp departure from the paternalistic attitude of previous governments, which viewed poor families as “incapable of being in charge of their own money,” says Tomasz Inglot, a political scientist at Minnesota State University who studies welfare states in Central and Eastern Europe.

The universality of the program has even won it grudging plaudits from some feminists, most of whom hold otherwise dim views of the government, which tried to outlaw abortion in 2016 and routinely depicts feminism as a form of “gender ideology” that is poisoning Poland’s traditional values. Agnieszka Graff, a writer, feminist, and professor at the University of Warsaw, notes that Family 500+ recognizes the economic value of caregiving, an acknowledgment that, ironically, could give women more power within their households, even as it may discourage them from joining the formal labor market. At the same time, the program reinforces traditional values that still resonate widely among the country’s conservative voters.

“Parenthood is an area where conservatives really respond to a lot of people’s gut feelings,” Graff says. “I think the financial crisis taught the nationalist right something that the liberal center took much longer to learn, which is that people no longer believe in the free-market economy as the solution to all issues.”

Speaking of Hungary, however.....

Hungary's opposition has won the mayoral election in Budapest, ousting the ruling party incumbent.

Liberal challenger Gergely Karacsony defeated Istvan Tarlos, backed by Prime Minister Viktor Orban's right-wing Fidesz party.

The shock win represents the first major electoral blow to Mr Orban since he swept to power in 2010.

The opposition also made gains nationwide, winning in 10 out of 23 major cities voting.

In Budapest, opposition candidates won district mayoral posts as well, giving them a majority on the city council.

Centre-left and pro-European Mr Karacsony called his win "historic".

"We will take the city from the 20th Century to the 21st," he said. "Budapest will be green and free, we will bring it back to Europe."

Meanwhile, in Catalonia....

Protests erupted in Barcelona after Spain's Supreme Court sentenced nine Catalan separatist leaders to between nine and 13 years in prison.

The separatists were convicted of sedition over their role in an illegal independence referendum in 2017.

Another three were found guilty of disobedience and fined, but not jailed. All 12 defendants denied the charges.

Large crowds of pro-independence protesters clashed with police at Barcelona's international airport.

Footage showed people attempting to break through a police line blocking one area of the building, while in another, officers hit protesters with batons and attempted to disperse the crowds with gas.

Thousands of Catalan independence supporters also marched in the city centre, blocking some streets and access to metro stations.

After the ruling, a new arrest warrant was issued for former Catalan President Carles Puigdemont, who is living abroad. Mr Puigdemont told a press conference that Catalonians were victims of a "strategy of repression and revenge".

It seems pretty contradictory to have programs to both increase birth rate like the Polish Family 500 started out and to reduce climate change. The #1 cause of climate change is the number of people, a lower birth rate will directly help.

I also wonder how Poland is paying for it. It sounds like right now it is in budget and not debt-provided? Although Poland is still running at a deficit so I am not sure how that can be true.

The program has been criticized for being fiscally irresponsible, with large amounts of money going to middle-class and high-income families who don’t need it. It is affordable at the moment, but a downturn could jeopardize public finances unless the government, for example, raises taxes, which so far it has been reluctant to do.

Combining a left-wing economic agenda with a (bigoted) right-wing 'family values' agenda has permeated the extreme right playbook in France (Front National) and Flanders (Vlaams Belang) as well - with great success. And yes, these proposals would seriously impact public finances, all 'compensated' by fictional savings supposedly coming from kicking out or no longer supporting immigrants.

The numbers don't work out of course, because immigration is a net positive on the budget, but tell that to the racist voters.

Swiss election: Green parties 'make historic gains'

Green parties have made strong gains in Switzerland's parliamentary election, according to initial projections.

The anti-immigration Swiss People's Party (SVP) is set to win, despite losing at least 3% of its support.

But projections show a combined vote for the two green parties of around 20%, which would make them major players in Swiss politics.

Their gains reflect voters' concerns over climate change, seen as the dominant issue in this election.

Not all votes have been counted yet but the national broadcaster projected the Green Party's share surged 5.6 points to 12.7% of the vote, while the smaller, more centrist Green Liberal Party (GLP) garnered 7.6%.

The Green Party looked set to overtake one of the parties in the coalition government, the Christian Democrats (CVP), and could for the first time get a seat in the coalition that governs Switzerland.

"It is not a green wave, it is a tsunami, a hurricane," deputy party leader Celina Vara told Swiss radio.

The centre-left Socialists looked set to take second place with 16.5% of the votes, and the centre-right Liberals (FDP) were on track to come in third with 15.2%.

I'm telling you though, watch the far-right, nativist parties all begin to pivot on climate. Within the next decade, i'd put money on it.

The only parties that are not active on climate is the far-right parties. Everyone else on the spectrum is. Your concern here isn't well founded. The reason for the increase in the Green vote is not climate change per se but the fact that while the main parties have talked a good game, they have done nothing.

I'm not convinced that all these new votes are here to stay but I think an awful lot of people are beginning to realise climate change trumps every other issue. Well, that an the largest political parties in Universities across Europe were young Green ones for quite a while.

That and the Green movement across Europe has generally done a good job of moving on the crazies.

What I'm saying is I don't see a far-right party being able to Green wash itself all that gracefully.

Today a leader of one of our far-right parties said, with a straight face, that more CO2 only made the planet greener (and thus everything was supposedly okay).
So no, not seeing the pivot either.

Axon wrote:

What I'm saying is I don't see a far-right party being able to Green wash itself all that gracefully.

I take your point, but I think you underestimate the power of total, complete shamelessness.

Meanwhile, in Germany:

Right-wing populists are expected to make strong gains in the German state of Thuringia on Sunday, in further proof of Alternative für Deutschland’s growing strength. However, outrage sparked by Nazi slogans, death threats and the recent deadly attack on a synagogue may have dampened expectations of the party seizing control from the embattled left.

In what has been billed as a fight for the political heart of Germany, the anti-immigration, anti-establishment AfD, which made strong gains in the states of Saxony and Brandenburg last month, was expected to take around 23%, according to final polling, more than double its previous result of 10.6% in the east-central state.

It is vying for second place with the Christian Democrats (CDU) of Angela Merkel, which was on on 22.9% in final polls.

Die Linke, which under its popular leader, Bodo Ramelow, has led Thuringia in a coalition with the Social Democrats and the Greens since 2014, is widely expected to win with around 30%, but is likely to struggle to form a majority government.

The AfD framed its campaign from the start as a cultural clash with the established parties. It has accused those in power of failing to deliver on the promises made since the fall of the Berlin Wall 30 years ago to citizens of the former communist east, including 2 million Thuringians.

EDIT: Actually, the results are in.

BERLIN (AP) — Two parties on the far ends of Germany’s political spectrum received more than half of the votes in a regional election Sunday, dealing a further blow to the country’s centrist forces that govern at the national level.

According to projections released by public broadcaster ZDF, the ex-communist Left Party of popular governor Bodo Ramelow won 30.1% of the vote in the state of Thuringia, a slight improvement on 2014. Ramelow is considered a moderate within his party and the result is far higher than its national average.

The far-right Alternative for Germany, meanwhile, was forecast to get 23.5%, more than doubling its result five years ago. The party’s leader in Thuringia, Bjoern Hoecke , has come under scrutiny from Germany’s domestic intelligence agency for his extremist views.

Chancellor Angela Merkel’s conservative Christian Democratic Union, which lost large numbers of votes compared with 2014, came third with 22.1%. It has ruled out a coalition with either the Left Party or Alternative for Germany, leaving Ramelow with only two options: a minority government or an unwieldy coalition with three other parties, one of which has already ruled out taking part.

The once powerful Social Democrats, who have suffered several heavy election defeats recently and are increasingly questioning their support for Merkel’s government at the national level, came fourth with just over 8%.

In a separate election Sunday, the party’s candidate for mayor of Hannover — a city the Social Democrats have governed for over 70 years — failed to get enough votes to qualify for a runoff election there.

DOUBLE EDIT: The AfD leads with every age range below 60 in Thuringia.

Yes, Pred. And Thuringia is also one of the poorest areas of Germany with a degree of historical distrust of the mainstream parties for reasons that are not for me to explain.

If you want, you can certainly find pockets of support of some less than favourable characters. Again, it's really a feature and not a bug of the proportional systems. But the narrative that AfD are becoming a national movement, while true, requires you to avoid a very large green elephant in the room. Not going to lie, much of the US/UK media doesn't want to talk about it either.

IMAGE(https://pbs.twimg.com/media/EH-1vKWWkAAJKK0.png)

Three from today, before I hit the sack...

European snub to North Macedonia fuels frustration in Balkans

It was the diplomatic equivalent of the EU offering a handshake and then thumbing its nose instead.

North Macedonian Prime Minister Zoran Zaev was left grasping thin air as the prospect of EU accession talks was snatched away.

France's Emmanuel Macron played the part of antagonist-in-chief.

Mr Macron said "Non" when all the other EU leaders were in favour of giving the formal go-ahead to membership negotiations with North Macedonia.

Neighbouring Albania was given the brush-off too.

The EU's snub also sent a grim message across the Balkans - to would-be members Kosovo and Bosnia and even Serbia and Montenegro, which are both many years into membership negotiations.

Russia internet: Law introducing new controls comes into force

A law introducing new controls on the internet has come into force in Russia amid concerns it may be used by the government to silence its critics.

In theory, the "sovereign internet" law gives officials wide-ranging powers to restrict traffic on the Russian web.

The Kremlin has said the law will improve cyber security. A spokesman said users would not notice any change.

Critics fear the Kremlin will try to create an internet firewall similar to that in China.

Experts say it is unclear how the powers of the controversial law might be used, or how effectively they can be implemented given the technology challenges and high costs.

Greece: Migrant camps 'on edge of catastrophe', EU watchdog says

Thousands of people living in "abysmal" refugee camps on two Greek islands are "on the edge of catastrophe", Europe's human rights watchdog has said.

Dunja Mijatovic, Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights, spoke of an "explosive situation" on the Aegean islands, home to 36,000 asylum seekers.

Hours later, Greece's parliament passed a bill to fast-track deportations.

The prime minister said refugees would be protected but Greece's gates would not be thrown open to everyone.

The left-wing opposition has criticised the law and some humanitarian groups, including United Nations refugee agency UNHCR, have warned it could restrict protection for asylum seekers.

But centre-right Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said the move would deter those not entitled to asylum, telling parliament: "Enough is enough."

On the Macedonia issue, it's clear Macron and the French are throwing their weight around. Macron went off on a solo-run this week over NATO which prompted Merkel and Pompeo to respond. I'm not sure Merkel is all that happy siding with the Trump government but Macron forced her hand.

There is without a doubt a long game at play here and Macron thinks he can position France as the new defacto leader of Europe if he pushes the issues that Germany is to coy, for historically valid reasons, to push.

Axon wrote:

There is without a doubt a long game at play here and Macron thinks he can position France as the new defacto leader of Europe if he pushes the issues that Germany is to coy, for historically valid reasons, to push.

You know what you did, Germany. You know what you did.

Spain hits the polls for the 4th time in 4 years.

With more than 85% of the votes counted, the opposition conservative Popular Party follows in second place, and the far-right Vox party appears to have heavily increased its vote share.

Right-wing parties have the most votes combined, though no majority.

Spain has not had a stable government since 2015.

This was the country's fourth election in as many years.

Voter turnout at 18:00 local time (17:00 GMT) was 56.8%, almost four points lower than at the last general election in April.

Spanish politics has become increasingly fragmented in recent years with the emergence of new parties.

Russia - [MEDDLING INTENSIFIES]

Serbia’s intelligence agencies have uncovered a Russian intelligence plot involving members of the Serbian army, President Aleksandar Vučić has said, after convening a meeting of the country’s national security council.

His comments on Thursday evening came after a video was uploaded to YouTube by an anonymous user this week, showing a purported Russian spy handing over a bag of cash to another man, whose face was blurred.

Serbian officials have identified the agent as Georgy Kleban, who served as deputy military attache at Russia’s embassy in Belgrade. It is believed he left his post last year. Vučić named the Serbian man in the video only as Z.K and said he was a retired member of the Serbian military.

He said the meeting took place last December, but did not say who had made the video. The video was not made by Serbian intelligence, but the country’s security services had obtained evidence of Kleban contacting other members of the Serbian army. “There have been 10 contacts with three sources,” said Vučić.

Daphne Caruana Galizia is owed the truth. What I don't want to see is this story end in Malta but for the issues she highlighted get dealt with. Tax avoidance on the scale she uncovered, while legal, is amoral.

Anyway, keep an eye. Could have a fallout for years to come.

Mixolyde wrote:
Axon wrote:

There is without a doubt a long game at play here and Macron thinks he can position France as the new defacto leader of Europe if he pushes the issues that Germany is to coy, for historically valid reasons, to push.

You know what you did, Germany. You know what you did.

There is a younger generation in Germany who are beginning to realise that an inactive Germany is not ideal either. Kramp-Karrenbauer, Merkel's successor, view is:

“Germany, like any other nation in the world, has its own strategic interests . . . we act according to our interests every day,” she said. “We must finally start to admit that.”

There is a lot in what she is saying and Germany will have to have that discussion.

There are some cracks forming between Germany and France:

“I understand your desire for disruptive politics,” Ms. Merkel said. “But I’m tired of picking up the pieces. Over and over, I have to glue together the cups you have broken so that we can then sit down and have a cup of tea together.”

Honestly, Germany often plays it too safe for my tastes, but Macron - while I like his big ideas especially as it pertains to increasing the power of the EU (including a joint EU military force), sometimes needs to slow down a bit. Example: vetoing the start of membership talks for North Macedonia after them doing everything needed sends a bad message to others looking to join the EU.

From May 5th:

Eleima wrote:

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 government crackdown on gilets jaunes protesters 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 protesters 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 protesters 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.”

Since then, we've seen major budget slashes in health and hospital budgets. Absolutely no extra help for shelters for survivors of domestic abuse, no training for the police (some actually refuse to take complaints, which is illegal of them). Oh and he still has abusers in his government.

Always kinda hard to read "Macron has great ideas" when this is what's actually going on.