Welcome to European Tribune. It's gone a bit quiet around here these days, but it's still going.

Municipal elections in France

by eurogreen Sun Jun 28th, 2020 at 01:26:04 PM EST

I am a citizen assessor today at my local polling place in Lyon: looking up names, and verifying the integrity of the process.

The first round should have been cancelled, as it was held just a few days before confinement. Turnout was, logically, very low, and in particular, elderly electors mostly stayed away, wisely. The government then toyed with the idea of annulling the results of the first round, and holding both rounds of the elections after the confinement; this was unthinkable, particularly in the context, because the lists of Macron's La République en Marche party performed horribly, with no chance of winning a major city in the second round.

The first round was dominated by a "green wave" almost everywhere, with combined green-left lists set to make major gains in many places.

Frontpaged - Bernard

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European sovereignty : All Hail Mutti the Great

by eurogreen Tue May 19th, 2020 at 03:34:33 PM EST

A French-German Initiative for the European Recovery from the Coronavirus Crisis

A modest proposal with potentially far-reaching consequences. A founding act of European sovereignty?

I am incapable of saying, writing or even thinking anything positive about Emmanuel Macron. So I will lavish effusive praise on Angela Merkel : she is a conservative, but she is not stupid, nor is she doctrinaire. On a number of historic occasions, she has demonstrated an unstatesmanlike, but crucial, ability to change her mind. Who will follow? Who, in Germany, dare stand against her. And if this proposal goes through, in the twilight of her career, she will establish a lasting, positive legacy.

Frontpaged - Frank Schnittger

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Democracy in a time of coronavirus

by eurogreen Sun Mar 15th, 2020 at 02:31:58 PM EST

Today, municipal elections are being held, as scheduled, in France, while simultaneously the country switches into lockdown.

I see no conspiracy; on the contrary, the governments seems be in "rabbit caught in headlights" mode, and probably thought it would catch more flak from postponing the elections than from maintaining them. On the other hand, maintaining the elections in the current crisis may well be a useful way of de-fusing the political impact of elections which Government-aligned candidates seemed on track to lose badly.

Macron's "La République en Marche" movement has failed pretty miserably in its strategy to put down roots at a local level (Lyon is something of a special case, as we shall see). They are running lists in all major cities, but were not expected to win any. The crisis will overshadow the elections; depressed turnout will help de-legitimize any surge for the left; and perhaps there will be a "legitimist" reflex on the part of people who work that way, to soften their defeat.  

Personally, I'm a sort of microcosm of the divided French left : in Lyon, as is common in the larger cities of France, there are three competing lists from left of centre, and I have ties to all of them.

Frontpaged - Frank Schnittger

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Elections in Greece

by eurogreen Mon Jul 8th, 2019 at 12:22:00 PM EST

A general election took place in Greece, yesterday 7th July 2019. I will make a few comments, as nobody else has done so. Please note that I have no particular knowledge of politics in Greece, other than through my attachment to the DiEM25 movement. So this will be a somewhat ignorant and partisan little diary. The headline is "Conservative landslide", because the New Democracy party won a majority (158 of 300 seats)...
But in a normal European democracy, the news today would be all about the difficulty of cobbling together a left-of-centre government...

Frontpaged - Frank Schnittger

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Transparency in the European Union

by eurogreen Sun Dec 4th, 2016 at 12:09:49 PM EST

I have, perhaps foolishly, promised to produce a policy contribution on the above subject, in the context of policy development for DiEM 25.
Currently the only official policy we have is the original manifesto, supplemented by a few ad-hoc issues settled by a vote of members.

The policy formation process itself is still very much a work in progress, but basically it works like this :

  • a policy convener writes a questionnaire on a policy domain,
  • local (or virtual) groups respond with proposals
  • three generations of Green Papers are generated
  • there is a vote to validate a White Paper.

There are six domains identified :
  • Transparency
  • Refugees and Migration
  • the European New Deal
  • Labour
  • Green Investment
  • A European Constitution.
This proces is underway for the first three domains, with a deadline of 15th December for the first round of contributions.

The rest of this diary is the questionnaire written by Dániel Fehér.

You know what I'm asking you to do now, don't you?
That's right. My homework.

More precisely : my Diem25 local group is meeting tomorrow night on the subject, and we have ten days to present a contribution. So any ideas batted around here in the meantime are quite likely to end up in that contribution.

Frontpaged - Frank Schnittger

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ECB, wtf ?

by eurogreen Sat Mar 12th, 2016 at 11:08:44 AM EST

Two days after the latest round of ECB tinkering with the Eurozone's monetary parameters, I find nothing but a bored silence at the European Tribune.

This is distressing, as it exposes me to the risk of having to think for myself.

So I will expose my naive and shallow thoughts, in hope of provoking some enlightenment...

So, Super Mario the plumber has apparently thrown the kitchen sink at the Eurozone economy. This is the big bazooka, we are told. He has hit the lower bound on interest rates, he admits.

But what has the ECB ever done for us anyway?

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Taubira resigns

by eurogreen Wed Jan 27th, 2016 at 02:18:48 PM EST

Well, that's a relief...

French minister Christiane Taubira resigns after fallout over terror policy | World news | The Guardian

Taubira's ultimate showdown with Hollande and his prime minister, Manuel Valls, was over the president's controversial plans to strip convicted French-born terrorists of their citizenship if they have a second dual nationality. The measure - known as the "loss of nationality" plan - was to be written into the constitution next month.

The move, which the government had admitted was purely symbolic, was seen by critics on the left, such as Taubira, as having the dangerous side-effect of sending a message that French citizens could be divided into two categories - with those who were "pure" French worth more than those with mixed backgrounds.

As Justice Minister, it would have been her job to defend the amendments to the Constitution, and the ensuing legislation, creating two-tier citizenship.

This may seem a minor thing to nationals of countries which were founded along ethnic lines. But for the French Republic, it's a definitional issue, and in practice, a clear-cut left/right divider.

frontpaged with minor edit - Bjinse

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Regional elections in France

by eurogreen Sun Dec 6th, 2015 at 04:27:15 AM EST

[UPDATED] Sunday evening 13th December

On Sundays 6th and 13th of December, regional elections will be held in France. It is to be expected that the Front National will win two of the twelve regions on the French mainland, with a possibility of a third or even a fourth.

The left held 20 of the 21 regions (before the recent mergers) in the previous two elections, in 2003 and 2009. Instinctively, one expected a near wipeout this time around, but France's electoral geography doesn't work like that. It will hold at least four this time, quite likely six or seven (my estimation), possibly even more...

[I will be updating this diary over the next week or so as the situation evolves]


Seven for the right; five for the left; zero for the FN. Oh, and one for the Corsican regionalists/nationalists.

CORRECTED national figures :

Right 40.6%, Left 31.6%, FN 27.4%

Bearing in mind the absence of the left in two of the most populous regions. But still...

Verdict : Sarkozy wins the second round on points.

[editor's note, by Migeru] Front-paged - use as an open thread.

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Cameron's ransom note

by eurogreen Fri Nov 13th, 2015 at 03:36:03 PM EST

This week, David Cameron sent a letter to Donald Tusk, outlining his proposals for changes that he seeks in the EU and in the UK's relationship with it.

For years, Cameron's posturing has been a running joke in Europe. It was purely for internal consumption within the UK political scene, and completely nonsensical when seen from the continent. But now, with the EU seriously weakened on several fronts, it could be a catalyst for intensifying the unravelling of Europe.

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Buying time [Part 2] : Marktvolk vs. Staatsvolk

by eurogreen Thu Aug 21st, 2014 at 09:52:49 AM EST

Continuing my review of Wolfgang Streeck's Buying Time : The delayed crisis of democratic capitalism. (The first installment is here)

I want to strongly recommend reading the book.  Streeck is a philosopher and sociologist, and his take on economics is a refreshing re-injection of the social element that orthodox economics so rigorously excludes and ignores. My feeling is that, in the fightback against neoliberalism, "Buying Time" is as important as, and convergent with, Thomas Piketty's "Capital".

Chapter 2 : Neoliberal reform : from tax state to debt state

Streeck documents the progressive disenfranchising of actual electors, as each nation's creditors gain the whip hand after the transformation of our "tax states" into "debt states", and aggressively counters the neo-liberal meme that the slide into debt has been the product of demagogic profligacy.

front-paged by afew

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Buying time : Where now for capitalism and democracy? [Part 1]

by eurogreen Fri Aug 15th, 2014 at 12:53:53 PM EST

Wolfgang Streeck, leading figure of the Frankfurt school of philosophy, has published an incisive and compelling analysis of the interplay between capitalism and democracy in the developed world over the past forty years or so : Buying Time : The delayed crisis of democratic capitalism.

Eurotrib having been offered a copy, I have undertaken to review it. I feel suited to the task because I have nothing but an autodidact's random smattering of economics, sociology and philosophy, and will mostly restrict myself to a naïve synthesis of Streeck's theses, leaving my far more erudite and insightful readers to do the serious work. I will resist quoting directly from the text because I wouldn't know where to stop; everything is eminently quotable, written with admirable clarity and humour, nicely translated, a constant pleasure to read.

The book, based on the 2012 Adorno lectures, was published last year in Germany, and the English translation (by Patrick Camiller) has just been published by Verso, an imprint of New Left Books. It can be ordered in physical form from the publisher, or electronically from Amazon, iTunes, or Nook. (Yes, it's buying "Buying time" time).

The three chapters correspond to the three lectures on which they are based. Despite the book's relative brevity (less than 200 pages, excluding the extensive bibliography and index) I propose to do a diary on each chapter; each one is of sufficient density to merit discussion.

front-paged by afew

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Friday open thread

by eurogreen Fri Dec 27th, 2013 at 11:22:09 AM EST

The regulars are already down the pub...

Comments >> (4 comments)

Delphine Batho blows the whistle on Hollande

by eurogreen Sat Jul 6th, 2013 at 02:38:43 AM EST

Minister of Ecology of Ayrault's government until she was fired on Tuesday 2nd July, Delphine Batho held a press conference yesterday to give some background on the affair.

She explains that powerful interests are blocking France's energy transition, which was Hollande's electoral policy and which she was working to implement, and that these interests got her fired. I find it sufficiently explosive to merit a diary, though I don't have time to develop the subject.

Here's an extract from Le Monde :

front-paged by afew

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Crowdfunding a documentary

by eurogreen Sun Mar 31st, 2013 at 04:31:24 PM EST

Funding film making has always been a challenge. Government assistance is welcome, but opens up possibilites for some interesting scams :
Film tax-credit fraudsters jailed | UK news | guardian.co.uk

Five fraudsters who pretended to be making a Hollywood blockbuster as part of a £2.8m VAT and film tax credits scam have been jailed.

Tax inspectors were told that A-listers from Hollywood were starring in a £19.6m production that would be shot in the UK.

But the film, Landscape of Lies, was never made and the only footage shot was seven minutes of "completely unusable quality" filmed in a flat and costing just £5,000.

In the USA, copyright trolling appears to be a viable way to extract a revenue stream from any film that people can be persuaded to download; and circumstantial evindence suggest that there exists an industry of producing industrial-grade movies for the sole purpose of sending people threatening letters to obtain money.

It is pretty much the conventional wisdom that downloading films on the internet is damaging to the "film industry". Is it damaging to the art of film? That's less clear. The internet is also, of course, immensely enriching for cinema fans, and for all who work in the medium.

One of the most transformational ways the internet is useful to cinema is as a means of raising finance.

This diary is basically a plug for a film which needs funding if it is to be completed : Je suis une peau rouge [I am a redskin] by Virginie Valissant-Brylinski.

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What is marriage?

by eurogreen Sun Nov 4th, 2012 at 04:10:26 AM EST

I read an article in Le Monde this morning which rather irritated me. His Eminence Twenty-Three (yes, that's his name), cardinal-archbishop of Paris, indignantly opposes the Government's proposal to extend the possibility of civil marriage to same-sex couples :

« Mariage pour tous »: à Lourdes, Mgr Vingt-Trois dénonce « une supercherie » et les « lobbies » | Digne de foi" Marriage for all" : in Lourdes, Mgr Vingt-Trois warns of a "hoax" and "lobbies"
Ce projet n'est pas seulement une ouverture généreuse du mariage à de nouvelles catégories de concitoyens, c'est une transformation du mariage. Ce serait le mariage de quelques uns imposé à tous ». Pour l'Eglise, « la question fondamentale est celle du respect de la réalité sexuée de l'existence humaine. Imposer dans le mariage et la famille une vision de l'être humain sans reconnaitre la différence sexuelle serait une supercherie qui ébranlerait un des fondements de notre société et instaurerait une discrimination entre les enfants». Il a une nouvelle fois regretté l'absence de débat national, qui aurait permis d'aller au-delà « de sondages aléatoires ou de la pression ostentatoire de quelques lobbies ». "This project is not merely a generous opening up of marriage to new categories of citizens, it is a transformation of marriage. This would be the wedding of a few, imposed on all". For the Church the fundamental question is that of respect for the sexual reality of human existence. To impose in marriage and on the family a vision of the human being without recognizing the sexual difference is a deception that would shake a cornerstone of our society and introduce discrimination between children" . He again regretted the absence of a national debate, which would have enabled us to go beyond "random opinion polls or the heavy-handed pressure of a few lobbies".

My impression is that his eminence is mistaken, or is trying to mislead us, as to the nature of marriage.

front-paged by afew

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Euro Deathwatch Diary

by eurogreen Wed Sep 12th, 2012 at 05:57:44 AM EST

Little quick and dirty diary to commemorate the Day when the German Constitutional Court broke the back of the Euro.

Or not. Stay tuned...

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French presidential election : your prediction

by eurogreen Sun Apr 22nd, 2012 at 07:30:41 AM EST

No, you don't get to vote, it's just an unscientific opinion poll (tautology alert!)

To help to place your bet, I suggest this summary of opinion polls, and this article on abstention rates (news on participation at midday puts this year's abstention as somewhere between the 16.2% of 2007 and the 28.4% of 2002).

Please comment your prediction in this thread.

This poll closes at 6.30pm French time. Happy voting!

Comments >> (12 comments)

New Zealand general election

by eurogreen Fri Nov 25th, 2011 at 04:20:18 PM EST

Here are some personal notes on this weekend's election.

Anyone interested in the mechanics of the thing, and in following results, can check out the Wikipedia entry.
Don't bother with the NZ online press, unless you're extremely enthusiastic, as it is pretty much incomprehensible, even to an expatriate like me, but here it is :
NZ Herald

Just to kill any suspense :

the polls are unequivocal.

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French Socialist primary : Round Two

by eurogreen Thu Oct 13th, 2011 at 07:50:15 AM EST

Tonight, Wednesday 12th October, we have the TV debate between second-round candidates Martine Aubry and François Hollande. The vote is on Sunday, and is impossible to call for the moment. This may well be the decisive moment...

I will attempt to live-blog it, giving a bit of background, and my subjective impressions.

The debate can be followed live here, and it will certainly be available here after the event.

frontpaged - Nomad - bumped by afew

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[UPDATED] Daniel Cohn-Bendit in Lyon

by eurogreen Wed May 25th, 2011 at 03:39:46 AM EST

Political ecology in France has often been a bitter and fractious affair. The Green Party (Les Verts) has always been its leading representative, but rarely the only party vying for the ecologist vote. The party itself is explicitly organized on factional lines, with frequent power struggles, based not on discernible policy differences, but on tactics and personal power-seeking. There is also a Jacobin (or Leninist) culture of centralized decision-making and control, which is in flat contradiction with the roots and formal structure of the party, which is a federation of regional groups.

Les Verts have a reputation, largely deserved, for squabbles and bust-ups, and there is not the slightest doubt that this has cost us considerable electoral support over the years. The flip side of this is that we are undoubtedly the most democratic party in France; but the exercise of this intra-party democracy absorbs all our energy, leaving us exhausted and ineffectual.

Enter Dany Cohn-Bendit.

DCB, having been expelled from France by De Gaulle in 1968, has spent almost all of his adult life, and political career, in Germany, with die Grünen. Since the late 90s, he has been making guest-star appearances in the French party. Over the past couple of years, he has been involved in a determined effort to shift the political culture of Les Verts, and this is what brought him to Lyon [last Thursday].

promoted by Jerome

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