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British Election Update

by Zwackus Sun May 28th, 2017 at 02:18:09 AM EST

It seems that yet another election campaign built on inevitability is sputtering and gasping in the home stretch. Just a few weeks ago, pundits were wondering whether Labour would lose as badly as it did in 1983 ... or worse. The polls around then suggested that Labour would be lucky to do as well as in that epic defeat. Oh, what a difference a few weeks can make.

Front paged - Frank Schnittger

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Youth unemployment

by Colman Wed May 24th, 2017 at 12:02:19 PM EST

The Independent have taken the trouble to explain a little more about the structure of youth labour markets than we normally see:

There are two ways of measuring youth unemployment: the youth unemployment rate and the youth unemployment ratio. And in the examples above reporters are referencing the first.

But this may be misleading. The youth unemployment rate is the number of the country’s youth (defined as those between 15 and 24) who are unemployed as a share of the numbers of young people in that age bracket who are considered part of the active labour market, meaning they are actively seeking work.

The youth unemployment ratio is the number of the country’s youth who are unemployed as a share of the total number of young people in that age bracket, regardless of whether they are seeking work or not.

This is a particularly important distinction for this age group since so many of them tend to be in higher education or vocational training and are thus not part of the active labour market.

The upshot is that France is about the same as the UK (though you can argue that people go into education rather than work because there aren't jobs. Or not. Maybe they go into further study because they can.) and Greece and Spain are bad, but not as bad as the unemployment rates would make you think.

As we've discussed before, comparing unemployment rates across economies with different structures is fraught with all sorts of problems: changes in rates are more interesting, but don't generate click-worthy headlines.

Comments >> (5 comments)

The problem of German hegemony

by Frank Schnittger Sat May 20th, 2017 at 09:17:29 AM EST

One of the impacts of Brexit on the EU will be to remove one of three most powerful and influential members of the bloc. That can only have the effect of increasing German hegemony unless the other EU and Eurozone members take concerted action to prevent this from happening. So far they have shown little sign of doing so. German led austerity policies remain in the ascendant, particularly in Greece, although economic trends have been improving elsewhere. But politically, German conservatism, inertia, complacency and a sense of entitlement appears to rule the roost.

So why do the other EU member states not take more concerted action to ensure the EU and Eurozone are managed more in their collective interests?

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Leo Varadkar early favourite to succeed Enda Kenny

by Frank Schnittger Fri May 19th, 2017 at 03:54:56 PM EST


Simon Coveney and Leo Varadker, chief rivals to replace Enda Kenny.

Enda Kenny has finally resigned as leader of Fine Gael some months after it became clear his days in office were numbered following Fine Gael's disastrous performance in the 2016 General Election. Leo Varadkar has become the early favourite to succeed him as Leader of Fine Gael and Taoiseach or Prime Minister of Ireland.

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Can Merkel and Macron renew the EU?

by Frank Schnittger Mon May 15th, 2017 at 09:39:23 PM EST

Far be it for me to write a diary on French politics when there are French bloggers here far more qualified than I to do so. But the election of Macron as President, and now his appointment of a conservative as prime Minister are events of EU wide significance. He has been welcomed with open arms by Chancellor Merkel, and has disabused those who thought he might favour Eurobonds or more radical measures to counter the imbalances within the Eurozone.

So is he just a French version of Tony Blair, come 20 years later? Certainly his abandonment of the Socialist party, his creation of a new centrist En March party, his embrace of liberal democratic market led reformist policies, and now his appointment of a conservative prime Minister are reminiscent of Tony Blair's "third way" policies of the 1990's and early 2000's.  

But what made Tony Blair so deeply unpopular in left wing circles was not just his penchant for liberalising markets and privatising public services, but his poodle like craving for approval from establishment figures like the Queen and US President George W. Bush, and eventually his total complicity in the establishment of a false Casus Belli for war with Iraq.

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Labour's leaked manifesto

by Zwackus Fri May 12th, 2017 at 04:39:41 AM EST

A document, which is claimed to be the election manifesto for the (perhaps doomed) Labour party, has been leaked to the media at least a week early. Let's take a look.

Front paged - Frank Schnittger

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Farage's farrago of facts

by Frank Schnittger Thu May 11th, 2017 at 07:04:39 PM EST

Nigel Farage has always had a good sense of timing, retiring from the leadership of UKIP three times to avoid some shit storm or other.  However far from retiring from politics, he has been indulging in his favourite pastime: causing trouble for political establishments wherever he can.  His latest venture is to try to persuade Ireland to throw in its lot with the UK and leave the EU.

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Towards no Brexit deal on citizens' rights

by Migeru Sun May 7th, 2017 at 09:12:15 AM EST

On Friday Michel Barnier, the chief EU negotiator on Brexit, gave an important speech on the EU's position on citizens' rights.

In short, free movement of people is one of the four essential freedoms. These four freedoms are indivisible. This is how our Single Market works.

And let me be clear: the integrity of the Single Market will never be compromised in these negotiations.

But this point fell on deaf ears during the referendum campaign.

While the EU's position is reasonably plincipled, it seems to me it's a non-starter given Theresa May's stated positions. It also seems to me Barnier understands this.

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French elections: Second Round Open Thread

by Bernard Sat May 6th, 2017 at 07:29:14 PM EST

What do you know: it's Saturday and voting has already started. Polling stations are open in Saint Pierre and Miquelon, French Caribbean islands like Guadeloupe, Martinique or St Martin (the French half that is), French Guyana, French Polynesia and also in various French consulates across the Americas. Situations seems to have improved in Montréal were the voters had to stand in line for several hours two weeks ago.

Moving westward, tomorrow, polling stations will open in New Caledonia, Wallis & Futuna and French consulates in Oceania, Asia and Europe. Polling stations in mainland France will be open at 8:00 CEST (UTC+2) and will close at 19:00 CEST in most places, 20:00 in "big cities". As for the first round, two weeks ago, all polls are under embargo, by law, until the 20:00 closure time. Of course, the embargo doesn't apply to Belgian and Swiss media.

frontpaged - Bjinse

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The Macron Leak

by Zwackus Sat May 6th, 2017 at 04:27:08 AM EST

So, this is all over the news. No links, for reasons I will explain below.

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So what could a United Ireland look like?

by Frank Schnittger Thu May 4th, 2017 at 10:33:23 PM EST

Newton Emerson has long been one of the few articulate Northern Ireland unionist commentators on Irish politics, North and south. His latest screed, in the Irish Times, seeks to pour cold water on the increased discussion of the prospects for a United Ireland in Irish political discourse in the wake of the EU declaration of the "Kenny Text," which states that Northern Ireland can rejoin the EU post Brexit if it becomes part of a United Ireland in accordance with the terms of the Good Friday Agreement.

His main point appears to be that the "Kenny Text" might actually make the prospect of a United Ireland more distant by clarifying what it would actually entail: a takeover of the North by the south.

My view, which I have articulated in a comment on his article, is that it does no such thing. I reproduce that comment below together with some further commentary:

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Could the EU be about to sacrifice Ireland?

by Migeru Thu May 4th, 2017 at 12:25:49 PM EST

After the Juncker leak of his dinner with May, I think it is the Republic of Ireland that should be filled with a sense of foreboding.

The odds of no deal being reached just shot up considerably.

The EU had earlier made it known that its negotiating priorities were "People, Money, and Ireland". Note that money comes before Ireland. And the insistence on the UK paying an "exit bill" and just this week apparently raising it, stands in the way of a deal on Ireland.

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United EU Negotiating mandate and a United Ireland within EU

by Frank Schnittger Sat Apr 29th, 2017 at 04:23:47 PM EST

Brexit summit: EU accepts united Ireland declaration

EU leaders have agreed Northern Ireland will automatically become part of the European Union if its people vote to join a united Ireland in a future Border poll.

At a summit in Brussels which concluded shortly before 3pm (Irish time) on Saturday, the leaders of the 27 remaining EU states also unanimously approved guidelines for how the bloc will conduct its Brexit negotiations with the UK

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French elections: First Round Open Thread

by Bernard Sun Apr 23rd, 2017 at 08:58:25 AM EST

Polling stations are open since 8:00 this morning in mainland France. Polls are also open in overseas territories like Réunion island, New Caledonia and various French consulates throughout Asia, Oceania, Africa and Europe: pretty much all places west of the International Date Line up to the eastern shores of the Atlantic (including UK, Ireland, Portugal, Morocco and western Africa). For instance, there are 54 polling stations in the UK (42 in London - source).

For the Americas, Caribbean and Pacific islands east of the International Date Line, the polls were held yesterday, due to the time difference. At the French consulate in Washington DC, voter registration was up 30%. In Montréal, only a single polling place was open and the line stretched for more than 1 km; same in Toronto where the voters had to wait in line for more than 2 hours.

Frontpaged - Frank Schnittger

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Opinion polling and the French Elections

by Frank Schnittger Sat Apr 22nd, 2017 at 11:27:54 AM EST


Wikipedia provides an excellent summary graphic (above) of opinion polling in the 2017 French Presidential election (first round). It is illegal, in France, to publish any more opinion polls after midnight last night, so this is the final picture we have of the state of the race prior to the election. Of course, as with any polling analysis, one has to issue a number of caveats:

Read more... (48 comments, 812 words in story)

A Historic Re-alignment?

by Frank Schnittger Tue Apr 18th, 2017 at 10:37:45 PM EST

On the 3rd. January, in A Brexit doomsday scenario, I wrote that:

In an ideal world, she [Theresa May] might actually like to engineer a parliamentary defeat so that she could go to the country in a general election. This could potentially give her a personal mandate as Prime Minister, weed out any parliamentarians in her own party whose loyalty is suspect, add at least another 2 years to her Government's period in office, and provide her with a more precise mandate as to what to seek in the Brexit negotiations. She could put her Brexit wish list to the people and then fetch up in Brussels saying that these are the democratically declared wishes of the British people, and that it would be undemocratic for Brussels to reject them.

---<snip>---

A General election would have the added benefits of exploiting the divisions in the Labour Party under Corbyn and a UKIP party riven by internal shenanigans. Only the Lib Dems represent an option for disillusioned Remain voters, but they are more likely to eat into the Labour vote. Indeed the Lib Dems could replace Labour as the main opposition party if they manage to gain a majority of the 48% of voters who voted Remain. Oh the joys, from a Tory perspective!

In any case, given the peculiarities of the British first past the post voting system, May could win an overall majority with as little as 35% of the vote, provided the remaining 65% is scattered between Labour, the Lib Dems, UKIP, the Scots Nationalists and the Welsh and N. Ireland parties which generally don't matter in the Westminster arithmetic. Easily enough done, especially if voting Tory can be painted as a patriotic imperative to strengthen the British hand in the Brexit negotiations. Cue Land of Hope and Glory!

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UK Snap Election.

by Colman Tue Apr 18th, 2017 at 10:28:43 AM EST

So May has called a snap election in the UK for June 8th. As if the situation wasn't unstable enough.

Comments >> (22 comments)

Brexit by the numbers

by Frank Schnittger Tue Apr 11th, 2017 at 09:21:40 PM EST

The Economist has produced an index which lists all EU member states by their stances on what the Economist claims are the four key issues surrounding the negotiations (h/t Bernard):

Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty provides that any Brexit agreement has to be passed by qualified majority vote on the European Council as well as by simple majority in the European Parliament. This raises the interesting question as to which EU member state leaders Theresa May must win over if she is to get any agreement. I do the maths below.

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French presidential elections 2017: First Round

by Bernard Mon Apr 10th, 2017 at 08:09:56 PM EST

With two weeks to go until the first round, the Presidential contest has entered the official phase: since this Monday, the media are obliged by law to give equal time to each and every candidate, regardless of notoriety, or big party backing her or him. Each candidate will also have the opportunity to air their own 15 minutes segments for free on public TV.

For instance, Philipe Poutou, a factory car worker at a Ford Motor Company plant near Bordeaux,  running for the Trotskyst "New Antcapitalist Party", will get the same air time on national television than the other candidates like Macron, Fillon or Le Pen.

Since my first diary, the race for the coveted second round runoff on May 7 has been led by Le Pen and Macron in the polls. The recent developments seem to be Macron's support tapering off, but still keeping in the same range as Le Pen, with Mélenchon clearly rising over Hamon, the official PS candidate that many PS officials are openly betraying.

The scandal ridden Fillon is still polling several points behind the two front runners and about level with Mélenchon. But no matter what, even though this looks like "a four horse race" (to quote eurogreen), there's only room for two in the second round. So who will they be?

Frontpaged - Frank Schnittger

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The Brexit negotiating environment

by Frank Schnittger Mon Apr 10th, 2017 at 05:06:22 PM EST

Colman has initiated an interesting debate on the likely outcomes to the Brexit negotiations, but I am far more interested in the negotiating process which I have already discussed here. The possible outcomes, both short and long term, seem pretty variable to me, effected by all sorts of difficult to predict external and internal factors. Speculation as to outcomes is fun, but based on all sorts of assumptions which require elucidation if circumstances change. So what are the factors which are likely to impact on the outcome of the negotiations? I discuss some below, but would welcome the input of those closer to the evolving political dynamics in other member states of the EU.

Read more... (15 comments, 1142 words in story)
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News and Views

 15 - 21 May 2017

by Bjinse - May 14, 114 comments

Your take on this week's news

 8 - 14 May 2017

by Bjinse - May 8, 48 comments

Your take on this week's news

 Open Thread 15 - 21 May

by Bjinse - May 14, 27 comments

Shake your business up & thread it

 Open Thread 8 - 14 May

by Bjinse - May 8, 25 comments

Those who find beautiful meanings in beautiful threads are the cultivated

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