In a surprise move British Prime Minister Gordon Brown announced on Monday his resignation as Labour Party leader, to pave the way for coalition talks with the Liberal Democrats. But Europe’s press doubts this gambit can keep Labour in power.
We start by recalling the conclusions of the European Council 14 December 2007, one day after the Treaty of Lisbon was signed (document 16616/1/07). Reflections on “institutional” matters, current policies and the next long term budget were expressly prohibited:
The European Union and especially many of the member states squandered the decade of the Lisbon strategy for growth and jobs. Are we going to fare any better under the new Europe 2020 strategy taking shape?
Sixteen months ago, I began to grow worried about Greece’s debt problems and its implications for the euro. At the time, I wrote,
The euro area has yet to demonstrate its cohesiveness when confronted with the growing economic divergence of its member states and even the specter of a sovereign debt default….Leaders will have to act together to show their commitment to preserving the single monetary policy in the euro area.
by Simon Tilford
Europe faces a critical choice between greater integration and disintegration. The gap between the rhetoric of a united and integrated Europe and the reality of national interests and politics has always dogged Europe. For much of the EU’s history this gap simply held Europe back and undermined the seriousness of the EU in the eyes of the outside world. However, the gap between rhetoric and reality is lethal when it comes to the euro. Unless the reality is brought into line with the rhetoric, the eurozone will unravel.
May 10th 2010 is a new foundation day for Europe, but not for a europe we should welcome. It is not a new foundation for the EU, which has shown itself to be remarkably unfit for dealing with the economic imbalance of massive savings in Germany and shaky borrowing at the periphery, but rather the Council of the Eurozone, the body hastily defined and rapidly presided over by President Sarkozy. The huge financial guarantee that France and Germany finally agreed at the week-end means that the Euro will last. It also means that the Euro has become more like an ordinary currency, with serious state funds behind it and authority to act directly in debt markets.
The EU agreed early Monday morning on a loan guarantee of around 500 billion euros for financially weak members of the Eurozone. Up to 250 billion euros in additional funds will come from the International Monetary Fund. While for some commentators the move will further weaken Europe’s economy, others hope it will bolster trust in the euro.
For all the talk now of the Lib Dems as the kingmakers, wooed by both Labour and the Tories for their 60-odd votes, it is possible to forget that Nick Clegg is not some shiny, unblemished debutante, but a seasoned politician with his own electoral baggage that could throw up sticking points with both Tory and Labour backbenchers (should Con-Lib coalition talks end in much ado about nothing). Indeed, if there is one reason for the Conservatives to turn around and attempt to go it alone with a minority Government, it’s the Lib Dems’ appalling record on whether British voters should be given the referendum they were promised on the Lisbon Treaty.
If ever there was an election in which media became message, the United Kingdom contest that climaxed on 6 May 2010 has been it. The focus on the three live TV debates between the Westminster party leaders – Gordon Brown (Labour), David Cameron (Conservative), and Nick Clegg (Liberal Democrat) – confirmed a drastic centralisation of opinion, and gave the London-based party bureaucracies the ability for the moment to switch off the centrifuge that has in the post-devolution decade since 1999 looked like tearing UK politics apart.
Against ‘common sense’: election reflections from a campaigner on migration and asylum, John Grayson
As we start to analyse the results of the 2010 election we may be witnessing a reversal in the fortunes of the Far Right BNP in England. Their leader Nick Griffin actually polled nearly 2% less in Barking than the BNP did at the last General Election and the BNP did not win council seats in their key areas including Stoke. In South Yorkshire in Barnsley their main target they polled half the percentage share of the vote compared with last year’s Euro Elections. The main problem is that this welcome electoral setback for the BNP may have been bought at the expense of their politics on immigration and asylum being adopted by the Conservative and Labour parties within a general common sense racist political culture driven by media images and messages.
A vast amount of energy has already been expended on the 2010 UK General Election, but one vital, complex and revealing aspect of it has remained resolutely ignored until now: the ‘four nations’ politics of this election – with very different election results in Scotland, Wales, England and Northern Ireland.
North Rhine-Wesphalia had state elections yesterday and returned a local parliament that shows no clear majority coalition. NRW, as it is often known in Germany, is the country’s most populous state, with roughly 18 million inhabitants (about 10 percent more than the Netherlands).
The BBC‘s news website had its highest traffic ever last Friday, the day following voting in the UK’s most closely fought general election in decades. According to BBC editor Steve Herrman, writing on the BBC’s editors’ blog, the BBC news website had 11.4m individual users on Friday. The previous record of 9.2m was on 5 November 2008, the day after Obama‘s election victory.
One of the electoral systems that is currently used in the UK for European Parliament Elections, London Assembly, Welsh Assembly and Scottish Parliament elections is currently being ignored in the talk about a new electoral system for the UK. So I did a little experiment with the Election Calculus Simulator. I used the different nations of the UK as the basis of the constituencies. (For purpose of these I ignored the votes for others, all vote figures were taken from the BBC website)
Those interested in a quick view of the major issues discussed in the Council of the European Union can read the latest Report on proceedings in the Council’s other configurations (dated 5 May 2010; document 9052/10; 9 pages).
What was inconceivable only a couple of months ago has now happened: EU leaders have agreed a massive €500 billion bailout package for eurozone countries facing sovereign debt problems – on top of the €110 billion already committed in a separate rescue package for Greece. An additional €250 billion could also come from the IMF should things get really sticky.