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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:

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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.

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The Council's Brexit negotiating guidelines

by Migeru Sun Apr 2nd, 2017 at 07:54:22 AM EST

We've had two front-page stories on Theresa Msy's Article 50 letter, so here is one about the EU Council's negotiating position (from Bloomberg, or did you think the Council would publish them on its website rather than leak them?).

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Your guess at most likely Brexit outcome.

by Colman Thu Mar 30th, 2017 at 11:10:16 AM EST

I thought it might be interesting to collect our best guesses at where we'll be in two to five years time.

Comments >> (33 comments)

Theresa May's A50 letter

by Frank Schnittger Wed Mar 29th, 2017 at 04:55:12 PM EST


The full text of Theresa May's A50 notification letter is available here, and is well worth a read in full. It is a largely unobjectionable 2200 word document, and takes into account some of the previous criticisms that the UK should not be allowed to "cherry pick" those aspects of the EU it likes, to the exclusion of those it does not like.

Overall it paints a positive picture of the EU it wants to do business with as an economic and security partner. So much so, that one wonders why the UK wants to leave in the first place! Membership already provides the benefits the UK says it wants to achieve in its future partnership with the UK.

One is left with the feeling that what the UK really wants is not to be just one member amongst 28: It wants to be in some kind of equal Partnership with the EU27 as a whole.

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Article 50 Day

by Colman Wed Mar 29th, 2017 at 11:13:02 AM EST

So today is the day that the fools running the UK government at the moment send the Article 50 notification to Europe on behalf of the Daily Mail, the Sun, the Telegraph and a pile of xenophobic old people nostalgic for the death penalty, caning in schools and incandescent fucking lightbulbs.

Meanwhile the Guardian have a story about a draft EU Parliament - the democratic one - resolution on Brexit. A few notable things:

  • there may be a transitional deal for after 2019 to ensure that custom controls and barriers on trade are not enforced on day one of Brexit, but that these arrangements should not exceed three years and will be “limited in scope as they can never be a substitute for union membership”.
  • the European court of justice will be responsible for settling any legal challenges during the transition period.
  • the UK will be able to revoke its notification of article 50 but this must be “subject to conditions set by all EU27 so they cannot be used as a procedural device or abused in an attempt to improve the actual terms of the United Kingdom’s membership”.
  • should Britain seek to negotiate any free trade deals with other countries while it is still an EU member state, there will be no future discussion of a deal with the union.
  • there will be no special deal for the City of London “providing UK-based undertakings preferential access to the single market and, or the customs union”.
  • the cut-off date after which EU nationals coming to the UK lose the automatic right to residency in the UK must not be before 29 March 2019, when the country leaves the EU, or the British government will be breaking EU law.
  • Britain should pay all its liabilities “arising from outstanding commitments as well as make provision for off-balance sheet items, contingent liabilities and other financial costs that arise directly as a result of its withdrawal”.
  • the outcome of the negotiations on the future EU-UK relationship “cannot involve any trade-off between internal and external security including defence cooperation, on the one hand, and the future economic relationship, on the other hand”.
We'll see what makes into the final resolution and how much of that reflects the thinking of the rest of the EU institutions. A final deal will require a majority vote in Parliament.

Comments >> (10 comments)

LTE: Pay and Policing in Ireland

by Frank Schnittger Tue Mar 28th, 2017 at 04:09:50 PM EST

Irish Independent: Garda bosses don't deserve respect (Scroll down to second letter)

A report by the Irish stockbroker Davy has found that average public sector wages amounted to €47,400 in Ireland, 40pc more than the average wage in the private sector.

In addition, Davy's calculations indicated that a private sector worker would need to save €590,000 to buy an annuity on retirement that matched public sector career-average salary pensions of €23,000 a year.

It also noted that public servants in Ireland were better paid on average than their counterparts in many other European countries. In the UK, average public sector wages are £26,200 (€30,800), which is on a par with what their counterparts in the private sector earn.

Members of An Garda Síochána had the highest average pay in 2016 at €64,700, or almost twice the average private sector wage. Surely one could expect extraordinary efficiency and competence for such generous remuneration?

Not a bit of it. Garda management is now known to have inflated its breath test statistics by almost 100pc and caused the wrongful conviction of thousands of motorists.

Even more worryingly, it is claimed that senior officers have no idea how this happened, and it seems they have no interest in investigating further. Those in private sector management would be sacked for allowing such conduct on their watch.

It seems clear that Garda management is incapable of running an efficient or truthful operation.

How is the public supposed to respect the law and the law-enforcers when the law enforcers themselves have shown such contempt for their responsibilities to the public?

I have no difficulty with gardaí and public sector workers in general being well paid, but they should have to earn it through the quality and integrity of the services they provide.

Frank Schnittger

Blessington, Co Wicklow

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A50 author thinks it's revocable

by Colman Tue Mar 28th, 2017 at 08:53:57 AM EST

In an interview with Politico.eu John Kerr says:

At that time, the rise of Austrian far-right leader Jörg Haider was a big worry for mainstream EU leaders and some southern European EU members had returned to democracy only in recent decades. Kerr imagined that the exit procedure might be triggered after an authoritarian leader took power in a member country and the EU responded by suspending that country’s right to vote on EU decisions.

“It seemed to me very likely that a dictatorial regime would then, in high dudgeon, want to storm out. And to have a procedure for storming out seemed to be quite a sensible thing to do — to avoid the legal chaos of going with no agreement,” Kerr said.

[…]

He has argued publicly — and controversially — that Article 50 is not irrevocable. In other words, during the two-year negotiating period set out in the text, Britain could decide not to leave after all and simply remain an EU member. However, he says he cannot imagine how politics in Britain would allow such a U-turn.

I guess the job of the Remainers is to effect precisely that U-turn.

Comments >> (3 comments)

European Elections 2017, next stop: France

by Bernard Mon Mar 27th, 2017 at 08:14:30 PM EST

After the Netherlands, France is next in line in the EU 2017 elections cycle. It'll start in about four weeks from now with the first round of presidential elections on Sunday 23 April.

There are 11 contenders for this first round and only the first two will face each other in a run off two weeks later, on Sunday 7 May.
But French voters won't be done with visiting their polling stations this spring yet: Sunday 11 June will be the first round of "legislative" elections to renew the 577 members of the National Assembly, with a second round scheduled the following Sunday, on 18 June.

To some extent, the parliamentary elections may be even more important to determine the direction of French policies, as I argued in my diary, five years ago.
But let's start with the Presidential contest.

Front-paged Frank Schnittger

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Should ET make more use of its Facebook page?

by Bjinse Thu Mar 23rd, 2017 at 08:04:01 PM EST

Because apparently there is an ET Facebook Page. Not that I can modify it or anything.

Discuss. Poll included.

Comments >> (15 comments)

An Independent Northern Ireland within the EU?

by Frank Schnittger Wed Mar 22nd, 2017 at 10:49:00 PM EST

Dr. Nat O'Connor (School of CPSP, Ulster University) has an interesting piece up on the Progressive Economy website on the options for Northern Ireland if it doesn't want to go the full Brexit with the leavers in Westminster. In particular he asks: Could Northern Ireland be an independent member of the EU, or have a "special status" within it? It is well worth a read in full and discusses the options for Northern Ireland under six headings:

    Being inside the European Customs Union
    Being inside the European Single Market
    Holding EU Citizenship Rights
    Participating in EU Programmes (e.g. CAP, Erasmus)
    Common EU Security and Defence
    The "European Project"

My response is included below the fold...

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An Independent Northern Ireland within the EU?

by Frank Schnittger Wed Mar 22nd, 2017 at 10:40:53 PM EST

Dr. Nat O'Connor (School of CPSP, Ulster University) has an interesting piece up on the Progressive Economy website on the options for Northern Ireland if it doesn't want to go the full Brexit with the leavers in Westminster. In particular he asks: Could Northern Ireland be an independent member of the EU, or have a “special status” within it? It is well worth a read in full and discusses the options for Northern Ireland under six headings:

    Being inside the European Customs Union
    Being inside the European Single Market
    Holding EU Citizenship Rights
    Participating in EU Programmes (e.g. CAP, Erasmus)
    Common EU Security and Defence
    The "European Project"

My response is included below the fold...

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Happy St. Patrick's Day!

by Frank Schnittger Fri Mar 17th, 2017 at 12:34:48 PM EST


St. Patrick's day has never been a particularly big deal for me: more an excuse for a lie-in or a long week-end away after a long winter. Although almost every Irish town or city has a St. Patrick's day parade which attracts almost every group you can throw a uniform or costume at as well as large crowds of onlookers, it has never seemed to me to be much more than an excuse for a monumental piss-up afterwards. Shure it's no harm to have a bit of craic, might be a typical response.  We seem to be in the process of patenting craic as a uniquely Irish contribution to world civilisation.

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Dutch Elections Results Thread

by Bjinse Wed Mar 15th, 2017 at 10:18:00 PM EST

UPDATED 17-03-2017
Final results:


(source)

Summary so far: by not losing dramatically, another solid win for marketista smiley-face Rutte (VVD), who will take the lead in forming his third government. Labour abandoned: social democratic big tent in tatters. Dutch politics likely to become Belgian: Don't expect a new government before the summer.

Two parties have potential to act as kingmaker for a VVD-D66-CDA government: Christian party CU (economic left and green, but moral blowhards) or Greens.

Comment freely and discuss.

Comments >> (37 comments)

The impact of Brexit on the Irish economy

by Frank Schnittger Thu Mar 9th, 2017 at 11:32:33 PM EST

There have been many dire predictions of the negative impact of Brexit on the Irish economy, with exports to the UK already down by half a €Billion or 4% in the last year and with some Irish mushroom exporters going broke because their margins couldn't survive the 10% devaluation of sterling that has already taken place. But the Irish economy is facing the twin challenges of Brexit and Trump from a fundamentally healthy position. Total exports to all markets rose by 4% to €117 Billion last year and UK exports, at 13% of the total, make up a continually declining part of total exports.

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News and Views

 17 - 23 April 2017

by Bjinse - Apr 17, 23 comments

Your take on this week's news

 10 - 16 April 2017

by Bjinse - Apr 10, 23 comments

Your take on this week's news

 Open Thread 10-23 April

by Bjinse - Apr 10, 40 comments

If you don’t thread, nothing ever happens at all

 Open Thread 3-9 April

by Bjinse - Apr 3, 22 comments

Every thread desires to live long, but no thread wishes to be old

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