[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

That is surprisingly good news. The news report I watched recently made it sound like the far-right candidate was getting really close to winning, but even though 43% is disturbingly high, it is not that close.

On the other hand, Emilia-Romagna is supposedly a historically 'safe' left-leaning region, so the result might still not be very good.

Edit: damn

Turnout for Sunday's ballot was about 67% of some three-and-a-half million registered voters, compared with 37% in a previous vote in 2014.

He absolutely represents a large portion of Italian citizens, but for now, not enough.

Germany AfD: How far right caused political earthquake

In February 1930, Adolf Hitler was in a jubilant mood. "Our biggest success we had in Thuringia," he wrote. "There we are the most significant party. The parties in Thuringia trying to create a government cannot secure a majority without our co-operation."

Germany may have pledged "never again". But 90 years on, the far right has once again played - albeit briefly - the role of kingmaker in the eastern German state.

Thuringia's AfD - led by a man who can, a German court ruled last year, be reasonably described as a fascist - has caused a political earthquake which has brought thousands of Germans on to the streets in the protest.

Until a few days ago, many of those protesters had never heard of Thomas Kemmerich.

The regional politician was, for 24 hours or so, unexpectedly elevated to the role of state prime minister thanks to the support of regional AfD politicians who ignored their own candidate in order to oust existing prime minister Bodo Ramelow who, following inconclusive elections last year, had been widely expected to continue as leader over a newly negotiated left-wing coalition.

After countrywide outrage, Mr Kemmerich stood down. But not before the Free Democrat came to symbolise the vulnerability of what the Germans call the Brandmauer - the firewall which, by decades-long political convention, is supposed to keep the far right from exerting real influence over German politics.

For many it's a mark of national shame that the AfD has found such fertile electoral ground in the former east of the country. It's one of the reasons for the inconclusive election result in Thuringia.

At national level, the party's presence in the Bundestag has coarsened parliamentary debates and, arguably, its campaigns centred around migration and national identity have broken old German taboos and shifted politics to the right, as the political centre struggled to deal with the electoral challenge.

Yeah they are following the usual fascist playbook of shifting the Overton window even if they don't hold power, until they reach a point where what they want is more normalized and they do gain power. It is working pretty well in a lot of places.

LeapingGnome wrote:

Yeah they are following the usual fascist playbook of shifting the Overton window even if they don't hold power, until they reach a point where what they want is more normalized and they do gain power. It is working pretty well in a lot of places.

it's political terrorism.

This isn't political, but it's European and it made me smile.

Cardboard trafficking gang busted by police in Madrid

ILLICIT CARDBOARD!

A criminal gang that trafficked tonnes of stolen waste cardboard from Madrid to Asian countries has been shut down, Spanish police say.

More than 40 suspected gang members have been arrested on suspicion of environmental offences and money laundering.

The gang has been accused of illegally shipping over 67,000 tonnes of waste worth €10 million (£8.4m).

Much of the waste was stolen from council-owned recycling bins.

A waste management company based in Madrid has been organising the illegal collection of paper and cardboard since 2015, police said.

The criminal gang is estimated to have cost Madrid city council around €16 million through loss of recyclable materials.

The Greens, Pred. Remember the Greens

Anyway, we've had our GE yesterday and counting going on today. In an absolute seismic change, Sinn Féin are set to get the most first perferences. It is so surprising to all even SF didn't run enough candidates to max their seats numbers. I would be stunned if SF don't try and engineer a rerun of the GE ASAP with the potential result of Mary Lou McDonald becoming the first female Taoiseach.

And be careful cheering on SF. They do have major issues about them. Most concerning is the thinking that they are still control by senior IRA members. Not claiming that they don't have a valid point of view but they are complicated.

The reasons for this are many but it boils down to one issue: Housing. Gen X, Millennial and Gen Z just don't care about Sinn Féin's past and want vested interests to be tackled. Vested interests that benefit the Boomer generation.

Always like to talk to my aunt on days like these. Incredibly asute individual and was wondering what her reaction was. While she could give a preference to SF, she freely admits that the 2008-2010 crash did not effect her generation. The effect was felt elsewhere and this is the outcome.

And you thought Brexit was fun up to this point.

All in all, I'm still digesting this weekend.

Ireland's situation has always perplexed me the more I've read about it, but mostly in a "Huh, I didn't know that!" kind of way. Everything I'd been told held up Ireland as one of the nations that had experienced an economic "miracle" post-1990 or so, but the housing thing, specifically, is a major concern I've begun to hear from young Irish people.

(It's also another datapoint in my growing belief that we have deeply, deeply, deeply underestimated the impact of the 2008 financial crisis and recession on the world we live in today.)

Well, both of those are true. The problem is while our economy move to the top of the league our planning did not. Far too many have interest in keeping the price of land and property high. In other words, similar dynamics to San Francisco or London. The younger generations have just flipped the table as opposed to playing the game anymore. Don't really blame them.

For what it’s worth, the far right has almost zero influence. We tend to have far more common cause with the oppressed of the world than its authoritarian regimes. Don’t really have to explain why, do I?

SF are the anti-establishment party but a left leaning one.

Edit: and if you need to explain why the generations under the Boomers are flipping the table to another Boomer, try sending them this from a Boomer in a right wing party.

Axon wrote:

For what it’s worth, the far right has almost zero influence. We tend to have far more common cause with the oppressed of the world than its authoritarian regimes. Don’t really have to explain why, do I? ;)

This isn't the point of this thread, but I was watching Extra Credits' series on the Irish Potato Famine and Jesus H. Christ, it's almost the goddamn same thing.

Anyway, not the point of the thread. European neo-Nazis having a big ol' get-together in Hungary? Much more the point.

(Honestly, if you'd asked me to bet on which European country would hold a large, pan-European neo-Nazi gathering, Hungary would've easily made my Top 3.)

Also, I know we're almost a year on now, but I ended up thinking of it tonight... how big a deal was Lyra McKee's death in 2019? Like, has there been a lasting "The New IRA can f*ck off" effect?

To be quite honest, I'm not entirely sure it had that much impact. It was tragic but it didn't really change public opinion all that much. In reality, whatever way your politics swayed was unaltered by her murder. What most already know is that the splinter groups of the IRA are really drug and smuggling gangs. And a border is a lucrative thing for them.

They are going to try their stunts now and again but as a society we've learned that cold, hard police work defeats these outfits and not spectacular armed action. Because they actively want you to use to the latter and we've fallen for that trap way too often.

Edit. As something of proof.

New German Terror Cell ‘The Hard Core’ Planned to Attack Mosques to Start a Civil War

Members of a far-right terror cell plotted to launch a string of coordinated Christchurch-style attacks on mosques across Germany, with the aim of stirring up a civil war, according to reports.

Twelve men were arrested in raids across six German states Friday for their links to the group, which called itself "Der harte Kern" ("The Hard Core"). Details of their alleged plot were revealed in German media reports over the weekend, after prosecutors laid out their case against the men in a hearing Saturday.

Prosecutors say the group formed in September last year, with the aim of destabilizing and ultimately overthrowing the German state by carrying out attacks on politicians, asylum-seekers and Muslims. Those attacks, the group hoped, would create “circumstances akin to civil war.” Prosecutors say they have arrested four of the men — including alleged leader Werner S. — on suspicion of forming the group, while the remaining eight, one of whom was employed as an administrative official by state police, are believed to have agreed to provide financial support, procure weapons, or participate in attacks.

According to Germany’s Spiegel, the 12 extremists had met in Minden, a town of about 80,000 people in North Rhine-Westphalia on Feb. 8. At that meeting, 53-year-old Werner S. — who was already known to authorities for his extremist views, and was nicknamed “Teutonico” in the far-right scene — outlined a plan for the group to launch Christchurch-style attacks on Muslims while they prayed in mosques. Members of the group were assigned tasks to procure weapons, identify specific targets, and raise 50,000 euros to carry out the attacks.

Several days after that meeting, German investigators who had been monitoring the men on suspicion of forming a terrorist group intercepted a directive for 10 men to launch attacks in 10 German states, with the hope of provoking a violent response that would lead the country to erupt in civil war, according to the report.

German authorities have ramped up their fight against right-wing extremism as Germany grapples with a growing and increasingly violent far-right fringe in the wake of a large influx of refugees in 2015. Last June, a pro-migrant mayor was shot and killed by an alleged extremist,, and in October, an anti-Semitic gunman killed two people after trying to storm a synagogue in Halle.

Germany shooting: 11 dead, including suspect, after Hanau attacks

At least 11 people have been killed and others seriously injured after two shootings at shisha bars in the German town of Hanau, according to local police.

Nine people died in the attacks on the two bars at around 10pm on Wednesday night, police said.

A huge hunt was launched for the perpetrators involving dozens of armed police and a helicopter hovering above the commuter town 25km east of Frankfurt.

Police then tweeted at around 5am local time that special police force officers had stormed the home of the alleged suspect and found him dead along with another body.

“One of the dead people is most likely the culprit,” police said in a statement. “There are currently no indications of other perpetrators. Investigations into the identity of the victims and the suspected perpetrator are ongoing.”

Pure speculation:
The attack on shisha bars, and that it was apparently a lone gunman who seems to have killed himself (and left a note in which he claims credit for the attacks) suggests that it was right-wing terrorism.

If that turns out to be the case, I wonder if the raids against a right-wing terrorist cell from a few days ago triggered this attack or at least accelerated its planned timeline.

We'll see how the investigation develops during the day.

AUs_TBirD wrote:

Pure speculation:
The attack on shisha bars, and that it was apparently a lone gunman who seems to have killed himself (and left a note in which he claims credit for the attacks) suggests that it was right-wing terrorism.

I didn't want to say as much, but after the recent arrests, this was the first place my mind went to. As you said, however, we'll see.

AUs_TBirD wrote:

Pure speculation:
The attack on shisha bars, and that it was apparently a lone gunman who seems to have killed himself (and left a note in which he claims credit for the attacks) suggests that it was right-wing terrorism.

Confirmed.

The investigation into a deadly gun attack in Hanau is focusing on whether others knew about or helped organise it, Germany's federal prosecutor says.

The suspect shot dead nine people "of migrant background" at two shisha bars on Wednesday evening. He and his mother were later found dead in his flat.

Peter Frank said material the suspect Tobias R had posted online showed a "deeply racist mindset".

He had also been influenced by conspiracy theories, Mr Frank said.

Earlier Chancellor Angela Merkel said there were many signs Tobias R, 43, had acted out of racism.

EDIT:

However the co-leader of the far right AfD party said the attack was "neither right- nor left-wing terrorism" but the actions of "a madman".

Well, at least their mendacity is consistent.

They had a football game in nearby Frankfurt with a minute of silence for the victims that night.

A few jackholes interrupted it. The reaction from the rest of the stadium was swift and loud.

https://twitter.com/niggo2nd/status/...

"Nazis raus! Nazis raus! Nazis raus!"
(raus = "out")

So many lone gunmen on the right these days.

AUs_TBirD wrote:

They had a football game in nearby Frankfurt with a minute of silence for the victims that night.

A few jackholes interrupted it. The reaction from the rest of the stadium was swift and loud.

https://twitter.com/niggo2nd/status/...

"Nazis raus! Nazis raus! Nazis raus!"
(raus = "out")

Something in my eye...

For what it's worth, I'm not remotely concerned about AfD or German politics. These scenes reinforce that belief.

Prederick wrote:
AUs_TBirD wrote:

Pure speculation:
The attack on shisha bars, and that it was apparently a lone gunman who seems to have killed himself (and left a note in which he claims credit for the attacks) suggests that it was right-wing terrorism.

Confirmed.

Bigly confirmed.

DER SPIEGEL wrote:

DER SPIEGEL has learned that the 43-year-old suspect had no record with either the police or the domestic intelligence agency responsible for monitoring right-wing extremism in Germany. Peter Beuth, the interior minister of Hesse, the state where Hanau is located, said that authorities believe far-right extremism was the motive in the crime and that suspect Tobias R. was a militant racist.

That appears to be consistent with the statements made by the alleged perpetrator in Hanau in a confession letter he published on the internet before the crime took place. In the 24-page document, which DER SPIEGEL has obtained, Tobias R. wrote about his life, supposed insights and his ideological convictions. DER SPIEGEL has also learned that investigators believe the document is authentic.

In it, the 43-year-old wrote about how he believes that thousands of Germans are being monitored by some ominous secret service. He wrote that the intelligence service has employees "who are able to read the mind of another person and are also able to 'take control of them'" and "sort of 'remote control' them" from afar.

The feeling of being watched, he wrote, is one he had throughout his entire childhood and youth. Later, at the age of 22, that suspicion evolved into certitude, he wrote.

A large part of the letter is dedicated to explaining Tobias R.’s racist and right-wing extremist worldview. Even as a young man, he wrote, he had already developed the belief that the "bad behavior of certain ethnic groups” was a problem. He also claimed in the document that Islam is "destructive.”

As absurd as many of his views may be, long passages are coherently formulated. The letter reveals the crude worldview of a virulent racist who also appears to have been suffering deep psychological problems.

"These people are outwardly inherently objectionable and have also proven themselves historically incapable,” he wrote of immigrants. "Conversely, I came to know my own people as a country in which the best and most beautiful things in the world are born and grown.” The Germans, he wrote, "would have elevated all of humanity.”

He also listed more than two dozen countries whose populations he believes ought to be exterminated and speculates on the question of how many Germans are "purebreds and valuable” ("I could imagine a halving of the population”).

...

In his manifesto, R. also revealed that he is a supporter of the current U.S. president. In addition to taking up Donald Trump’s idea of building a wall between the U.S. and Mexico, he also wrote that the billionaire should "take the helm since his personality makes him the person most capable of setting the agenda in the U.S.”

R. was convinced that Trump is already implementing his ideas, albeit unwittingly "through the so-called remote control.” It all fits in with a message that R. sent to the American people in a video. In it, he warned of secret underground military bases. "In some of them, they worship the devil himself. They abuse, torture and kill little children.”

So basically a Qanon/4Chan white dude.

Interesting results coming out of Slovakia. This is more of a wait and see result but it does appear that outside of the Greens established parties are an endangered species. I do have co-workers in Bratislava and I'd be interested in what their view is.

That being said, we are going to be talking about this next week. It's pretty cynical from Erdogan as he is no doubt realising his lean towards Putin wasn't as wise as he thought and is now using these refugees as pawn. On the other hand, we have a beefed up European Border and Coast Guard Agency (still using the name Frontex but that's going to be phased out) looking to prove it's legitimacy.

And in the background is the politics of greater European cooperation in the area of defence. Now that European summits are not dominated by Brexit there will be some parsing of statements from European capitals over the week.

I love it, LOVE IT when someone comes up with an idea that they CLEARLY didn't think all the way through.

IMAGE(https://pbs.twimg.com/media/ESHDK8nWsAAoafg?format=jpg&name=medium)

I cannot wait for Japan to set up a fun-run for Filipinos in Bataan next.

Prederick wrote:

I love it, LOVE IT when someone comes up with an idea that they CLEARLY didn't think all the way through.

IMAGE(https://pbs.twimg.com/media/ESHDK8nWsAAoafg?format=jpg&name=medium)

I cannot wait for Japan to set up a fun-run for Filipinos in Bataan next.

One of my favorite exchanges from Derry Girls.

[the Orange Parade is playing outside]

Ma Mary: Already? They've started already?

Da Gerry: Think it's just a rehearsal, love.

Ma Mary: They've been playing the same three songs since 1795. What do they need to rehearse for?

Orla: Well, practice makes perfect, Aunt Mary. You know, that is why they are so cracker.

Erin: I'm sorry? Did you just call the Orange Order "cracker"?

Orla: I'm considering joining.

Erin: I don't think they accept Catholics, Orla, or, you know, acknowledge our right to exist.

Russian winter warmer, booze deaths down

LOL

MOSCOW (AP) — Winter has been unusually mild in much of Russia this season and the number of deaths from alcohol consumption declined. An alcohol policy group says the two developments are connected.

The National Center for Alcohol Policy Development said Thursday that accidental deaths from alcohol poisoning in Russia were down 37% in January compared to the same month a year ago. The center said 619 people died from alcohol in January, according to Russian news agency Interfax.

Interfax quoted center director Pavel Shapkin as saying less severe winter weather reduces “the alcohol burden on the population. As a result, the negative consequences of alcohol use go down sharply.”

How the killing of an abusive father by his daughters fuelled Russia's culture wars

At about 3pm on 27 July 2018, the day of his death, Mikhail Khachaturyan scolded his three teenage daughters, Krestina, Angelina and Maria. The apartment they shared – in a Soviet-era housing block near the huge ring road that encircles Moscow – was a mess, he told them, and they would pay for having left it that way. A large, irascible man in his late 50s with a firm Orthodox faith, Khachaturyan had run his household despotically since he allegedly forced his wife to leave in 2015.

That afternoon, his daughters would later tell investigators, he punished them in his customary sadistic way. Calling them one by one into his bedroom, he cursed and yelled at them, then pepper sprayed each one in the face. The oldest sister, Krestina, 19, began to choke from the effects of the spray. Retreating to the bedroom she shared with her sisters, Krestina collapsed on the bed and lost consciousness. Her sister Maria, then 17, the youngest of the three, would later describe this moment as “the final straw”.

Krestina woke shortly after 7pm to cries from the other side of the bedroom door. Running into the living room, she saw Angelina and Maria standing over their father, who was in his chair, struggling violently. Apparently believing her sisters were in danger, Krestina snatched the bottle of pepper spray from a nearby table and sprayed it frantically at her father.

But what Krestina had witnessed was not another assault by Khachaturyan on his daughters. While she was recovering in the bedroom, investigators say Maria and Angelina attacked Khachaturyan with a hunting knife and hammer they had retrieved from his car. Disoriented from the pepper spray and rapidly losing blood, Khachaturyan hobbled on to the landing outside the apartment. It was there that Angelina, the 18-year-old middle daughter, caught up with him and, investigators allege, drove the knife into his heart.

Several minutes later, one of the sisters called the police. Identifying herself as Angelina, she explained through tears that her father had attacked her under the influence of a heavy dose of sedatives, and that she had killed him in self-defence. Police found his body on the landing, with multiple stab wounds to the neck, arms and torso. The sisters were arrested for murder and held in a women’s remand prison in south-east Moscow.

News of the killing quickly spread across Russia, and in the months that followed, the country was divided over what drove the three teenage sisters to kill their own father. The case was covered obsessively by newspapers, evening news programmes, and TV talkshows. “It was all anyone could talk about for months,” said Alexey Parshin, Angelina’s lawyer.

Some, including Khachaturyan’s two sisters, claimed the young women were scheming ingrates who killed their father to steal his money. They cited evidence that the daughters had slashed each other in the minutes following the killing with the same knife they allegedly used to murder him, in what investigators would later call a deliberate attempt to mislead them.

Others – including their mother, Khachaturyan’s estranged wife – came to the sisters’ defence, refusing to accept that such an egregious motive could be behind their actions. As lawyers and investigators began piecing together the Khachaturyan family story, it became clear this was not a cold-blooded murder. Over hundreds of pages of court documents and transcripts of witness testimony, a picture emerges, which Mikhail Khachaturyan’s sisters contest, of a household terrorised by his paranoiac despotism – of routine sexual abuse, beatings, humiliation and death threats.

Despite this history of abuse, in June 2019 prosecutors indicted all three daughters on charges of pre-meditated murder. Two months after the killing, they were released from custody following an appeal from their lawyers, and as an investigation into the crime continues, they are staying with relatives, awaiting trial. A psychological assessment shortly after the killing found that Maria was mentally unsound at the time of the crime due to an acute stress disorder caused by her father’s abuse, and recommended her for treatment. But given the severity of the charges, Maria and her sisters face betwen eight and 20 years in prison for what they maintain was a desperate act of self-defence.

Meanwhile, Russia finds itself deep in a national debate over domestic violence. The sisters’ case has galvanised opposition to the country’s punitive legal system and conservative political culture. At present, Russia has no specific legislation to define, prevent or prosecute domestic violence. Women’s rights advocates are campaigning to overturn a controversial 2017 law on battery that has softened punishments and, they say, encouraged perpetrators to act with impunity.

Hundreds have taken to the streets since the indictment was issued to call for the sisters’ release and picket government buildings in protest against their prosecution. Fundraising concerts and theatre performances have been held to offset their legal fees and call for the passing of a law that would help prevent future attacks. An online petition for their release has gathered more than 370,000 signatures. “It’s become clear this is a problem of catastrophic proportions which can’t be ignored,” said Alyona Popova, a women’s rights activist who started the petition and helped draft a domestic violence bill now being debated in the Russian parliament. “Something has to be done.”

But as activists step up their efforts to reform the legal system, they are being countered by a campaign backed by the powerful Orthodox church to promote “traditional values” and portray the Russian family unit as under threat.

Orthodox priests are appearing on state TV channels excoriating the malign forces of globalisation, while mass vigils are being held across Russia to protest against western progressivism. Hundreds of social media accounts representing conservative movements are promoting an apocalyptic narrative that claims any moves towards regulating family affairs will lead to the disintegration of Russian families – and perhaps of Russia itself.

This story is particularly horrible, but this happens more than you think. A few stories happened in France too. One in particular of a woman who’s been raped and beaten by her husband for decades. And she got more jail times than the abusive (or murderous) husbands/partners/ex’s ever get.

They are seriously defending domestic violence? And the church is campaigning for it? Respect to the women there that are brave enough to stand up for themselves and I hope the church goes bankrupt.