Fri Nov 8th, 2019 at 06:17:20 AM EST
Spain will go to the polls on Sunday, November 10. Its the second election this year; an earlier one in April saw the Socialists - who had gained power in a confidence vote - gain an easy plurality, then refuse to negotiate a coalition with the left-wing Podemos (which would have allowed them, with the support of a few minor parties and the offered abstention of the Catalan Republican Left, to form a government). Instead, they gambled on new elections and winning a greater share of the vote.
Frontpaged - Frank Schnittger
Fri Oct 25th, 2019 at 12:20:13 AM EST
The fundamental rule of democracy is that we settle issues by voting (and if you don't get your way, you just keep pushing for another vote). But thanks to Brexit, a large majority of the UK population is now willing to accept political violence:
Voters on both sides of the Brexit divide believe that violence against MPs and members of the public is a "price worth paying" to secure their favoured outcome, a new study has found.
A majority of both Leave and Remain voters would be happy to accept attacks on politicians and violent protests in which members of the public are badly injured if it meant they got Brexit outcome they want, according to a new polls.
Researchers said they were "genuinely shocked" by the findings, which come amid concerns about threats against MPs.
71% of English Leave voters and 58% of Remainers think violence against MPs is now acceptable. They've already had one MP murdered over this, and you'd think that would be a red light. Instead, it seems to have incited public bloodlust. Meanwhile, 69% of Leavers and 59% of Remainers think injuring members of the public is a worthwhile price to pay (it is unclear if they asked the natural followup of "what about a member of your family?")
This is not a sign of a healthy democracy. Instead, it is a sign of own spiralling down into violence and authoritarianism. And no matter which way Brexit goes - and does anybody outside the UK even really care anymore? - the damage to the political system is going to last a long, long time.
So this is what its coming to... Frontpaged - Frank Schnittger
Tue Oct 15th, 2019 at 01:47:13 AM EST
For the past week, Extinction Rebellion has been peacefully protesting in London to demand action on climate change. The British government's response? Ban their protests:
Police have banned Extinction Rebellion protests from continuing anywhere in London, as they moved in almost without warning to clear protesters who remained at the movement's camp in Trafalgar Square.
The Metropolitan police issued a revised section 14 order on Monday night that said "any assembly linked to the Extinction Rebellion `Autumn Uprising' ... must now cease their protests within London (MPS and City of London Police Areas)" by 9pm.
Almost immediately, officers moved into Trafalgar Square and demanded that protesters remove their tents. Most XR activists staying at the site had already decamped to Vauxhall Pleasure Gardens, south of the river, and only a few dozen tents, along with gazebos and other infrastructure, remained on the square.
Mon Oct 14th, 2019 at 09:49:49 AM EST
Two years ago Catalans braved police batons and rubber bullets to vote overwhelmingly for independence in a referendum. Today, Spain jailed nine politicians who organised and supported that referendum process for a combined total of a hundred years for "sedition", after a trial that was little more than a judicial lynching. Protests against the verdicts are already breaking out across Catalonia, but Spain has invaded with 1500 riot police to "keep order". So we'll probably see more scenes of peaceful protesters being beaten, gassed and shot for daring to express the view that a democratic society should resolve questions democratically.
Because that, fundamentally, is what this is about. While Catalans are divided on independence, there has always been overwhelming support for the idea that as a democratic society they should be allowed to vote on it. Spain has responded to that idea with violence and brutality. It has treated Catalonia like a colonial possession, whose people must be kept in line by force, rather than as citizens of a democratic state. It has not behaved like a democracy, but like the fascist dictatorship it supposedly ended 40 years ago.
That treatment has unsurprisingly strengthened the desire for independence, as people seek to leave the country which mistreats them. When this mess began, Spain could have allowed a vote, and probably won it, and that result would have been accepted for a decade or more. Now, there's really only one outcome: independence. The question is how long it takes, and how many people Spain murders trying to stop it.
Frontpaged - Frank Schnittger
Mon Oct 14th, 2019 at 02:04:13 AM EST
Over the past decade, Hungary has become an increasingly authoritarian "illiberal democracy", as Prime Minister Victor Orbán has used his political dominance to stifle opposition. But they had local body elections today, and the tide may be turning:
The candidate backed by several opposition parties has been elected mayor of Budapest, in a blow to nationalist prime minister Viktor Orbán's Fidesz party.
With 74% of the votes counted in Budapest, Gergely Karacsony was leading Istvan Tarlos by 50.1% to 44.8%. Shortly after, Tarlos, the ruling party incumbent, conceded defeat on Sunday night.
"On the national level the result is nice but in Budapest, there is thinking to be done," Tarlos told a news conference flanked by Orbán, the prime minister. "Budapest made the decision to elect Gergely Karacsony today."
Despite Tarlos's reference to the national picture, opposition parties were also projected to win mayoral races in around 10 of the country's 23 largest cities in nationwide local elections. In 2014, they won just three of those races.
Local body elections aren't the same as national ones, but it suggests Hungarian voters are finally sick of Orbán. Hopefully they'll get a proper chance to throw him out in 2022.
Tue Sep 24th, 2019 at 10:24:29 AM EST
The UK Supreme Court has unanimously ruled that Boris Johnson's suspension of parliament was unlawful:
In a unanimous verdict, the court has ruled that Johnson's decision to prorogue parliament can be examined by judges, overturning the ruling of the high court in London.
Then, giving the court's judgment on whether the decision to suspend parliament was legal, Hale said: "This court has ... concluded that the prime minister's advice to Her Majesty [ to suspend parliament] was unlawful, void and of no effect. This means that the Order in Council to which it led was also unlawful, void and of no effect should be quashed.
"This means that when the royal commissioners walked into the House of Lords [to prorogue parliament] it was as if they walked in with a blank sheet of paper. The prorogation was also void and of no effect. Parliament has not been prorogued."
Thu Jul 25th, 2019 at 10:07:49 PM EST
Back in April, Spanish voters went to the polls to elect a new parliament. The Socialists emerged as the largest party, with 28.7% of the vote. But despite being the only party with the possibility of forming a government, they have failed to do so:
Frontpaged - Frank Schnittger
Thu Jun 20th, 2019 at 10:00:39 PM EST
Last month, Catalans elected three exiled and jailed pro-independence politicians to the European Parliament. Unfortunately, Spain no longer seems to respect the results of democratic elections, and the Spanish Electoral Commission today declared their seats vacant. The reason? None of them had made the required oath to uphold the Spanish constitution before the Electoral Commission. But in all three cases, it is because the Spanish state did not permit them to.
Frontpaged - Frank Schnittger
Wed May 29th, 2019 at 11:37:38 PM EST
Twelve Catalan politicians are currently on trial in Madrid on charges of "sedition" and "rebellion" over Catalonia's 2017 independence referendum. Many of them have been held without bail since their arrest almost two years ago. But now, a UN working group has concluded that their detention is arbitrary:
Wed May 15th, 2019 at 03:35:07 AM EST
That's the only conclusion that can be drawn from its "vow" to introduce an amnesty for crimes committed by soldiers and to derogate from the ECHR:
The new defence secretary has promised to introduce an amnesty on historical prosecutions for military veterans who served in Iraq, Afghanistan and anywhere else around the world - with the exception of Northern Ireland.
Penny Mordaunt will consult on proposals for a presumption against prosecution for offences committed more than 10 years ago and will say she supports plans to opt out of the European convention on human rights (ECHR) in future armed conflicts.
But the minister risks courting conflict with some on the right of her party, who want Northern Ireland to be included within any amnesty, following the prosecution of a former paratrooper for the murder of two people on Bloody Sunday in Derry in 1972.
Front paged - Frank Schnittger
Thu Mar 14th, 2019 at 12:21:15 PM EST
On 30 January 1972, British soldiers shot 28 unarmed civilians in Derry in Northern Ireland, killing thirteen people. The usual official whitewash followed, and the leader of the murderers was awarded an OBE for his services. But a second inquiry in the 2000's called the crime what it was: murder. The Police Service of Northern Ireland finally began a murder investigation, and now one former soldier has been charged with murder. But only one. As for the rest, the men who pumped bullets into a crowd, shot those trying to flee, and murdered those trying to help the wounded, they all get away with it. But it gets worse - because the reaction of the British government to this was not an acknowledgement of its past crimes and a desire that a prosecution might finally bring some justice, however imperfect, to its victims, but this:
Responding to the PPS decisions, the defence secretary, Gavin Williamson, said: "We are indebted to those soldiers who served with courage and distinction to bring peace to Northern Ireland. The welfare of our former service personnel is of the utmost importance and we will offer full legal and pastoral support to the individual affected by today's decision. This includes funding all his legal costs and providing welfare support.
"The Ministry of Defence is working across government to drive through a new package of safeguards to ensure our armed forces are not unfairly treated.
"And the government will urgently reform the system for dealing with legacy issues. Our serving and former personnel cannot live in constant fear of prosecution."
No, Cthulhu forbid murderers living in fear that they might finally face justice! Won't someone think of the poor, oppressed killers?
In case anyone needs reminding, the dead of Bloody Sunday were UK citizens, killed by their own government for daring to demand human rights. They deserve justice. But they will never get it from Britain.
Tue Mar 12th, 2019 at 09:06:44 PM EST
So, having rejected Theresa May's shit Brexit deal, UK MP's were told to vote until they got it right - and rejected it again. Which means that the UK is now just 16 days from Brexit and has no plan whatsoever.
Tomorrow the UK parliament will vote on whether to leave the EU without a deal. They will reject that (again). The day after they will vote on asking the EU for an extension, so they can flail around and fail to make up their minds some more. But with no prospect of any change to the deadlock, there is little point to an extension. The EU may grant it, simply to give the UK every possible chance, but ultimately the deal they have offered is the only deal on the table, and the UK can take it or leave it.
The real problem here is the dysfunction and delusion of the UK political class. Faced with the biggest political crisis in a century, they are unable to agree on anything, unable to even accept their negotiating position. So we have delusional absurdities like the EU just giving them whatever they want if they whine loudly enough, or that they can ignore their binding international legal commitments to the Irish peace agreement because they're Britain and they Rule The Waves. Or their imperialist delusions that Ireland would leave the EU and "re"-join their colonial oppressors for the convenience of the latter - or that threatening them with food shortages would change their minds (I guess they don't teach about the potato famine at Eton or Oxford...)
Given this utter failure, there is really only one solution: parliament can't make up its mind, so kick it back to the people in a second referendum. But that would involve the UK political class admitting its failures and yielding a smidgen of power (not to mention the risk that the people might then want to address the fundamental causes of an unfair electoral system and an intellectually inbred elite which produced this clusterfuck), so it will never happen. So instead they'll just continue the cannibalistic orgy all the way to the bottom of the cliff.
Thu Feb 14th, 2019 at 12:41:14 AM EST
Twelve Catalan political leaders went on trial in Madrid yesterday. Their crime? Advocating peacefully for an independent Catalonia and organising a referendum on the issue. The Spanish government calls this "sedition" and "rebellion". But what it really is is democracy. In a democratic state with freedom of expression, people can and should be allowed to advocate for independence. And in a democratic state, when people peacefully demand independence, it is entirely right and proper for them to vote on it. Spain attempted to crush that vote with brute force - and failed. Now they are attempting to crush its advocates. But in a democratic state, democracy should not be a crime. If Spain thinks it is, then it shows that that country is not a democracy, and not a fit member of the civilised world. Democratic countries should condemn this political trial, and demand that Catalans get what they have demanded all along: a free, fair and binding referendum on their independence.
Tue Jan 15th, 2019 at 09:29:39 PM EST
This morning the UK parliament voted on Theresa may's Brexit deal - and as expected voted it down in the biggest defeat for a UK government in the democratic era. So what happens now? The problem is that no-one can tell. The UK has passed into political singularity, and no-one knows what might come out the other side.
Frontpaged - Frank Schnittger
Wed Oct 10th, 2018 at 01:47:47 AM EST
Romanians went to the polls over the weekend to vote in a constitutional referendum to ban same-sex marriage. Or rather, they didn't - because the referendum failed due to miserably low turnout:
Tue Sep 18th, 2018 at 02:57:33 AM EST
Back in February, Spain sentenced rapper Valtonyc to three and a half years in prison for insulting the monarch. He promptly fled the country. Now, a Belgian court has refused to extradite him:
Thu Sep 13th, 2018 at 10:56:33 AM EST
Over the past few years, Hungary has been transforming itself into an authoritarian state. The government of Viktor Orbán has undermined human rights and the rule of law, attacked judicial independence, and shut down independent media. Not to mention being virulently Islamophobic. This is all a violation of European democratic norms, and its finally grown too much for the EU, which has voted to pursue disciplinary action against them:
Front paged by Frank Schnittger
Fri Jul 20th, 2018 at 12:38:49 AM EST
A week ago, a German court rejected the extradition of exiled Catalan President Carles Puigdemont on "rebellion" charges. He could be extradited for "misuse of public funds", but not for "rebellion" as there was no equivalent offence in German law (Germany requires actual or planned violence, not peaceful protest and democratic advocacy. The idea of a peaceful "rebellion" is nonsensical). And now, as expected, Spain is having a legal temper-tantrum and has withdrawn the European Arrest Warrants against all the exiled Catalan politicians:
Mon Jul 2nd, 2018 at 03:48:46 AM EST
Remember the European dream? An ever closer union founded on respect for human dignity, freedom, democracy, equality, the rule of law and respect for human rights? Its dead: it is now official EU policy that refugees should be left to drown:
Tue Mar 20th, 2012 at 07:39:29 PM EST
In May last year, Portugal reached a deal for a bailout from the IMF and European Central Bank. The bailout of course came with conditions: cuts, austerity, and privatisation. Now the cost of those cuts is becoming apparent: dead people.
There is a chart on the wall beside a machine that accepts credit cards. It shows the charges for seeing a doctor in one of western Europe's poorest countries, where opposition politicians blame budget cuts for a thousand extra deaths in February, 20% more than usual.
"They hiked the fees in January," said the receptionist, pointing to the new charges for everything from jabs and ear washes to having stitches removed. "Now a visit to the emergency room costs 20 instead of 9. A consultant costs 7.50. People are angry."
The health service is just one victim of sweeping cuts and increased charges for public services across Portugal.
Its a similar story in Greece, where German-imposed austerity has seen a resurgance in HIV and malaria (because needle-exchange programmes and hospitals were cut), and is expected to lead to a significant rise in infant mortality. Which is what happens when you cut healthcare and price it out of the reach of ordinary people.
It will take years before we have the proper numbers on this from an excess death study. But there's little doubt that these cuts will lead to tens of thousands of deaths in each country. And every one of those deaths can be laid at the feet of the foreign bankers demanding their pound of flesh. What they are doing to Greece and Portugal constitutes mass-murder on a vast scale. And they need to be held to account for it.