Archive for the ‘Democracy & Human Rights’ Category

19
Jan

The beginning of 2016 in Europe saw the collision of two problems that have long been left to run their course undisturbed. Making allowances for human-rights abusers in order to avoid causing offense is, after all, nothing new here in Europe. Neither is our often well-meaning refusal to question the potential impact of welcoming record levels of migrants to our societies. On New Year’s Eve, more than 500 women out celebrating in Germany felt the impact of this collision: They were raped, sexually assaulted, and robbed by gangs of largely migrant men and then blamed for it by the authorities. Mayor Henriette Reker, of Cologne, released a “code of conduct” for women’s behavior in public, which included keeping strangers “an arm’s length away” and staying away from groups of people. Her words could have easily been mistaken for that of the U.K.’s Islamic Human Rights Commission (IHRC), a pressure group with a long history of campaigning on behalf of convicted terrorists that published “precautionary advice” to prevent Muslims from “becoming targets of harassment,” stating that women “have to take personal precautions when they go outside.” Mayor Reker’s comments have rightly sparked an outcry from many activists and women’s-rights groups. But her words form part of a much darker picture, one that ends with women off the streets. Read more…

By Emily Dyer, Jan. 6, 2016 published in www.nationalreview.com
Read more at: http://www.nationalreview.com/article/429878/european-gang-rape-refugees
13
Jan

Catalonia’s new president

Written on January 13, 2016 by Waya Quiviger in Democracy & Human Rights

ARTUR MAS, who over five years as president of Catalonia led the region’s drive for independence, stepped down over the weekend after failing to form a government. His successor, Carles Puigdemont, is an even more fervent secessionist. In a speech in 2013 he vowed, quoting a Catalan journalist executed under the dictator Francisco Franco, that “the invaders will be expelled from Catalonia”—referring to the Spanish government. Indeed, it was Mr Puigdemont’s longstanding commitment to independence, which much of his centre-right Catalan Democratic Convergence (CDC) party has only embraced in recent years, that enabled him to form a government where Mr Mas had failed. It won him the trust of the far-left Popular Unity Candidacies (CUP) party, whose members had blocked the re-election of the pro-business Mr Mas but apparently consider Mr Puigdemont a more trustworthy radical.

Three months after elections were held, Catalonia’s independence movement now has control of the region’s government. But that control has come at a cost to the secessionists’ image. For years, the separatist movement has successfully sold itself as cool, kind and progressive. Backers of continued union with Spain were scorned as reactionaries, or even the inheritors of Franco’s legacy. Now, senior members of the independence movement worry that it will be identified with the CUP, whose raised fists and chaotic assemblies frighten conservative, middle-class Catalans. Mr Puigdemont’s CDC has traditionally represented a reassuring sense of order. The small but newly powerful CUP represents radical change on all fronts. Read more…

 

Posted in the Economist on Jan. 11th, 2016; http://www.economist.com/

24
Dec

With the results of Spain’s election on Sunday, a tumultuous 2015 for Europe is ending on a stinging note that underscores Germany’s increasing isolation and Europe’s deepening division.

Spain’s voters followed those in Portugal and Greece this year in punishing a conservative government that had allied with Brussels, Berlin and international creditors in carrying out the austerity policies pushed as the solution to Europe’s debt crisis.

After the Spanish vote, Italy’s prime minister, Matteo Renzi, a center-leftist who had built a good relationship with Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany, renewed his attack on austerity and, quite nearly, Ms. Merkel personally, effectively blaming her policies for the rise of populism across Europe. Read more...

Published on Dec. 22 in www.nytimes.com

15
Dec

Marine Le Pen, Postponed

Written on December 15, 2015 by Waya Quiviger in Democracy & Human Rights, Europe, Op Ed

The good news, on Sunday night, was that the National Front failed to win any of the 13 French regions. The prospect of seeing the far-right party’s leader, the bellicose Marine Le Pen, as chairwoman of the northern region, or her young equally pugnacious niece, Marion Maréchal-Le Pen, as head of the Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur region in the south, had evaporated.

One week earlier, after the first round of regional elections, their party had achieved unprecedented results, reaching 40 percent of the vote in those two regions and scoring a national average of 27.7 percent, ahead of all other parties. On Sunday, French voters rallied to stop them. Many who had stayed away for the first round eventually turned up for the second round.

7
Dec

Marion Marechal-Le Pen greets supporters (6 Dec)

The far-right National Front’s victory in the first round of French regional elections on Sunday will have an impact far beyond the composition of local governments and the shock it will have sent through the French political establishment.

In every single European capital, politicians will ponder the results and wonder how an anti-immigration, anti-European movement could become France’s first political party. They will also worry about what it means for Europe in a time of crisis — economic and existential.

The National Front may take over two, three or even more French regions after a second round of voting on December 13, but for many, the damage has been done.
1. Le Pen’s mainstream push pays off

Marine Le Pen, the National Front’s current leader and daughter of the party’s founder Jean-Marie, is reaping the rewards for her strategy of pulling the party away from the far-right fringes, ridding it of its extremist stigma, and courting the disenfranchised working class she says is being abandoned by the mainstream political parties of both right and left.

She stands a good chance of winning and then running the Nord-Pas-de-Calais region, an area more populous than 12 EU countries. Her personal victory, winning more than 40 percent of the popular vote in an industrial area that was historically a stronghold of the Communist and Socialist parties, shows how many voters have drifted away from the ruling left, after seven years of economic crisis.

Le Pen’s niece, Marion Maréchal-Le Pen, who is seen as more conservative than her aunt, notably on social issues, did even better in the Provence region. Other leading candidates also did better than expected, showing that the party has developed a grassroots following far beyond mere adhesion to Marine Le Pen herself. Read more…

12/7/15; http://www.politico.eu

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