And more from Europe
Dear Mr. Papandreou — The sweeping victory that brought the Panhellenic Socialist Movement (PASOK) back to power with a single majority came as a surprise to many, to political actors, decision makers and independent observers in Turkey.
This seems to have gotten very little attention, but Greece changed governments last week. The ruling center-right New Democracy (ND) party called elections a couple of months ago, and the result was that ? predictably ? they got stomped hard.
ND had a wafer-thin majority of 152 seats out of 300; they lost 61 (!) seats, and are left with just 91. The rival Socialists jumped from 102 seats to 160, which will allow them to govern alone.
The Panhellenic Socialist Movement (PASOK) of Greece has won the country’s general elections, results have shown.
openDemocracy: This year you became the leader of your party. Could you start by saying something about how this happened?
George Papandreou: In January 2004, my party, Pasok (the Panhellenic Socialist Movement), had been in power for twenty years with only one brief interruption and I was my country?s foreign minister. As a party we were experienced and there had been changes over the years, especially among those leading the party, as you would expect. But we had become identified with power and with the establishment.
A large majority of Irish voted on Friday in favour of the EU Reform Treaty. In a second referendum in less than 16 months, 67.1 percent of voters said “Yes” to the Treaty of Lisbon, and 32.9 percent said “No”. At 58 percent participation was somewhat higher than in June of 2008 (53.13 percent), when a majority of voters rejected the Treaty. The European press discusses what steps must now be taken to reform the EU.
The Socialists have come out victorious in early parliamentary elections held in Greece on Sunday. George Papandreou’s Panhellenic Socialist Movement (Pasok) was the strongest force with 44 percent of the vote, ousting Kostas Karamanlis’ conservative Nea Dimokratia party. The European press comments on the election results and the expectations Papandreou must now live up to.
by Simon Tilford
The Greek economy is on a very dangerous course. Unless the government takes steps to boost productivity and strengthen public finances, Greece faces a bleak future. Many Greeks appear to believe that membership of the euro insulates their country from the threat of financial crisis. This is mistaken. Membership may free the country from the threat of a currency crisis, but not from a fiscal crisis.
The vote in Ireland last Friday, or more accurately the result last Saturday, has cleared away the biggest obstacle facing the ratification of the Lisbon treaty. The only member states that are still to complete ratification are Poland and the Czech Republic, in each of which the democratic political processes have already been concluded.
The executive Power shall be vested in a President of the United States of America, says the US Constitution (Article II.1).
Yesterdays blog post ?No EU President? looked at the tasks of the President of the European Council: to chair, to facilitate and to handle representative duties.
One of Europe’s most unusual leaders has now become one of its most powerful.
With the Irish public finally voting to ratify the Lisbon Treaty last weekend, pretty much the only thing standing in the way of the measure to increase European integration is one man: Czech President Vaclav Klaus. While the Czech parliament has approved the treaty, but it still awaits the president’s signature and he’s in no particular hurry. (Polish President Lech Kaczynski will reportedly sign it tomorrow.)
Five days after the Irish referendum the Europeans are still squabbling over the Lisbon Treaty. The Eurosceptic Polish head of state Lech Kaczy?ski plans to sign the EU reform document in the next few days. Meanwhile the leader of the British Conservatives, David Cameron, has again promised his country a referendum on Lisbon if he is elected prime minister next year and the Treaty has still not taken effect. For his part Czech President Václav Klaus continues to refuse to sign the document.
Bruno Waterfield is one of the knowledgeable British journalists covering the European Union, but somehow The Telegraph seems to have a craving for shock and horror with regard to the European Union. Sinister global power ambitions, secret dealings, dubious legal personality for the EU, ?embassies? and high symbolism are sprung on an unsuspecting British public in ?EU draws up plans to establish itself as a ?world power? ? (7 October 2009).
A new event announcement that is of interest lands in our inbox. Personal Democracy is holding a European conference in Barcelona on 20/21 November. Speakers include representatives from the US but also Europe and of course the Brussels bubble. Jon Worth and Susan Pointer of Google among them.
?Tony Blair would be a good choice for Europe?, writes Charles Grant of the Centre for European Reform in the Financial Times (6 October 2009). Because the President of the European Council lacks formal powers, his influence will depend on his force of personality, powers of persuasion and contact book.
According to Grant, Blair has a track record as a successful politician, he would give the European Union credibility in other parts of the world, he is a great salesman and he could help the EU to deal with a new Conservative government from 2010.
After Silvio Berlusconi’s lawyers broke out the “Animal Farm” defense that the prime minister should be first above equals, the Constitutional Court had heard enough, and today they stripped Berlusconi of his immunity.
Italy’s Constitutional Court has struck down a law that shielded Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi from prosecution. The judges ruled on Wednesday that the law contravenes the country’s principle of equality, among other things. Berlusconi may now be arraigned in court on charges of bribery and tax fraud. The European press discusses the consequences of the judgement for Berlusconi and his government.
In the final session on the 30th September, moderated by Odile Quintin, Director General for Education and Culture, we were introduced to three rapporteurs of the conference. Each rapporteur had been asked to respond to certain themes running through the conference. Chris Torch, Artistic Director of Intercult, has kindly shared his report with us, and you, reflecting on the theme Cultural diversity and intercultural dialogue.