Tuesday, June 13, 2017

European Roundup: May Channels Macron

"May battles to hold on as UK prime minister" by Stephen Castle New York Times  June 12, 2017

LONDON — Theresa May battled Monday to hold on as prime minister of Britain by shoring up support from restive lawmakers in her own Conservative Party.

To survive for long as the head of a minority government, she will need all of the caucus members’ votes. The defections of even a few could block major legislation and force her to resign, or she could be toppled through a party leadership challenge.

In a sign that May had not yet nailed down the backing she needs from her own party and an alliance with the Democratic Unionist Party, there were indications Monday that the Queen’s Speech may be delayed.

May’s future is in grave doubt after her party’s setback at the polls. What at first looked to be an easy victory turned into an electoral debacle. 

I didn't know she was dying.

Even so, the Conservatives appear to want to draw a breath and help her to stay on as leader and prime minister, at least for the time being.....

I give her four months.


"French see no one to counter Macron, set to sweep Parliament" by Elaine Ganley Associated Press  June 12, 2017

PARIS — Candidates in the runoff of French parliamentary elections hit the campaign trail on Monday, shaken by a record abstention rate in the first round and the prospect of a sweep by President Emmanuel Macron’s new party that would shatter the political landscape.

Less than half of registered voters — 48.7 percent — cast ballots on Sunday, the Interior Ministry said in its final count the morning after.

Those who did gave Macron’s Republic on the Move party more than 28 percent of the vote — more than 12 points ahead of its closest rival, the mainstream conservatives.

Related: Holy Macron!

Now 32% is down to 28%, and do the math. Less than half the voters show up, he gets 28% of that. They are claiming an unopposed mandate based on 14% of the people who bothered to show up. Rest must be getting ready to protest. That's why they didn't show up at the polls, and those protests can get pretty rowdy over there, 'eh?

If the sweep holds as expected in next Sunday’s final round, lawmakers for Macron’s party, many of them new to politics, could take more than 400 seats in the 577-seat National Assembly, the lower house of Parliament — unprecedented in the Fifth Republic.

Marine Le Pen’s far-right National Front fell flat with 13 percent of the vote. Le Pen, who had Europe on edge until she lost the May 7 presidential race, was trying to save herself and her party in the legislative contests.

She herself made it to the second round in her northern bastion of Henin-Beaumont, but some ranking party members were eliminated outright, notably campaign director Nicolas Bay, the party’s secretary general.

‘‘Lots of voters thought that [the election result] was played out in advance,’’ Bay said Monday on CNews television, reflecting a sense expressed by others that the huge presidential win by Macron’s party demotivated many potential voters. Macron, an upstart centrist, formed his On the Move movement less than 14 months ago then turned it into a political party, promising to return politics to the people.

I thought it was rigged.

Now, Macron’s rivals fear the elections will eliminate any effective opposition to counter an all-powerful president. He wants, within weeks, to start reforming French labor laws to make hiring and firing easier, and legislate a code of ethics in politics to end the scandals that over decades have eroded voter trust in the political class.

The Socialist Party of the deeply unpopular former president Francois Hollande was shredded in the first round, with its leader, Jean-Christophe Cambadelis, eliminated along with Benoit Hamon, the party’s presidential candidate. The party took less than 7.5 percent of the vote.

Party leaders and others of all stripes appealed to the French to vote next week, some saying a democracy needs more than one voice.


Guy Tremollieres, a 51-year-old Parisian, was pessimistic. ‘‘I think people don’t trust the politicians anymore,’’ he said.

Francois Fezeau, 29, however, said the results so far ‘‘fill me with enthusiasm.’’

‘‘We had a recent [presidential] election which shook up the classic parties and I think that the legislative elections give Macron the possibility to show what he is able to do.’’

French far-left leader Jean-Luc Melenchon decried the low participation rate in the first round of the elections, saying it shows France’s volatile political situation.

Melenchon said the fact that about 50 percent of voters didn’t go to the polls means ‘‘there is no majority in this country’’ to support Macron’s reform agenda, which he says includes ‘‘destructive labor rules’’ and would reduce freedoms.

Melenchon, who could see his party win around 20 seats, asked French voters ‘‘not to give full powers’’ to the president’s party in the second round next week.

Cambadelis, said the record low participation is a sign of ‘‘huge democratic fatigue.’’ He called on voters to favor more political pluralism in the second round.

Or realizing it is a rigged process and that it doesn't seem to matter who you vote for anymore, it's oligarchs who are served.


Also see:

Former Catalonian leader stands trial, and thousands of separatists protest

"For Portuguese taxpayers fed up with coming to the rescue of troubled banks, there’s bad news: another one needs help. The government said Wednesday it has won provisional approval from European authorities to recapitalize Portugal’s biggest bank by assets, state-owned Caixa Geral de Depositos, with 5.1 billion euros ($5.7 billion). The government will inject 2.7 billion euros into the bank, the Finance Ministry said. Since 2008 Portuguese authorities have already provided some 10 billion euros to four other banks, all of them non state-owned."

"An American ex-CIA agent walked free from a Portuguese prison Wednesday, a day after Italy dropped its extradition request for the woman who was convicted of taking part in the U.S. kidnapping of a Muslim cleric in Milan 14 years ago. A court in Portugal, where Sabrina de Sousa was arrested 18 months ago, ruled that she had to be released after Italy’s president granted her partial clemency late Tuesday. President Sergio Mattarella shaved one year off de Sousa’s four-year sentence for her role in the abduction of Osama Moustafa Hassan Nas. Also known as Abu Omar, he was kidnapped from a Milan street in February 2003. Italian lawyer Dario Bolognesi said de Sousa could opt to do community service instead of prison time. He told The Associated Press in Turin that he would advise her to meet with justice officials to work out a plan. Neither de Sousa nor her Portuguese lawyer was immediately available for comment."

Yeah, time to come home.