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

Trumped looked like a loser

by Frank Schnittger Fri Oct 23rd, 2020 at 04:09:09 AM EST

A much more "normal" debate with much less interruption and incivility. Republican supporters will breath a sigh of relief that Trump didn't implode again.  However the longer the debate went on the more frustrated he became, and started to look more surly, bitter, divisive and angry, especially when Biden was speaking.

Even when invited to say how he would bring people together in his inaugural address he engaged in bitter recrimination, while Biden gave his usual bringing people together speech. When challenged about the 500 children separated from their parents - Trump just said "good".

The debate won't do much to change the trajectory of the campaign, but that must count as a defeat for Trump. He needed Biden to implode, and yet Biden probably gave his strongest performance to date, and was willing to say he would phase out the oil industry over time despite his reliance on winning Pennsylvania.

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US Senate Elections

by ATinNM Mon Oct 19th, 2020 at 05:32:31 PM EST

Started out as a quick comment to Franks' "It Ain't Over 'Till It's Over' diary and got carried away.

Frontpaged - Frank Schnittger

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It's not over yet

by Frank Schnittger Mon Oct 19th, 2020 at 01:46:22 PM EST

It's been almost a fortnight since our last round-up on the US Elections and not a huge amount has changed. Biden got a 3% uplift from +7% to +10% in the opinion polls after the first debate and Trumps subsequent Covid-19 diagnosis, with many Americans disapproving of Trump's performance in the debate and his failure to take adequate precautions against the disease. Post debate bumps in the polls often don't last, but the continued prevalence of the pandemic has kept Trump's performance on the pandemic front and centre of the political stage.

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The 2021-2026 EU UK Trade war

by Frank Schnittger Sun Oct 11th, 2020 at 02:57:07 PM EST

The 2021-2026 EU UK Trade war was an unprecedented event in post WWII European relations although it did have some minor antecedents in European economic wars prior to that - such as the 1932-38 Anglo-Irish economic war. It ended only after the near collapse of the UK economy and led ultimately to Scottish Independence and Irish reunification.

Relations between the UK and EU had been deteriorating ever since the 2016 Brexit referendum culminating in the breakdown of relations in early 2021 following the UK adoption of legislation which explicitly broke the "oven ready" EU UK Withdrawal Treaty which had been ratified in January 2020 following a general election fought and won on endorsing its terms.

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Harris wins Vice Presidential Debate

by Frank Schnittger Thu Oct 8th, 2020 at 04:16:35 AM EST

The Vice Presidential debate ended with a slight win for Kamala Harris but is unlikely to change voting intentions to any significant degree. The moderator allowed Pence to constantly over-run his speaking time and interrupt Kamala Harris on hers, and made no attempt to ensure the candidates actually answered the question asked.

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Electoral Tide swings towards Democrats.

by Frank Schnittger Tue Oct 6th, 2020 at 09:28:04 PM EST

It's been a month since ARGeezer's diary on the US elections, so what has changed? Firstly, some significant events have taken place:

  1. The untimely death of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg
  2. Threats by Trump to refuse a peaceful transition of power
  3. The nomination of Amy Coney Barrett to replace Ginsburg
  4. NYT release of information on Trump's tax returns
  5. The first presidential debate
  6. Trump's COVID-19 diagnosis
  7. Trumps hospitalization and release
  8. A cluster of other cases at the White House and among Republican senators who attended the White house ceremony to nominate Barrett to the Supreme Court.

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Respecting the Law

by Frank Schnittger Thu Oct 1st, 2020 at 12:26:54 PM EST

Two things puzzle me: Firstly, how can the UK government presume to rely on the benefits of WTO membership when it is itself in flagrant breach of international law in relation to the Withdrawal Agreement which was ratified only this year following a general election won on recommending its terms?

And secondly, why is the EU's only response to date been to threaten legal action against the UK before the ECJ when one of the stated aims of Brexit is to break free of the jurisdiction of the ECJ. Why would the UK respect the judgement of a court it has explicitly sought to delegitimize?

Allowing states to flout the law has real consequences for real people, as the people of Northern Ireland can testify only too vividly. Nobody has ever been prosecuted for the wilful gunning down of 26 unarmed civilians, 14 of whom died, in Derry in 1972. Now the Northern Ireland Prosecution Service has announced that only one soldier, named soldier"F" at the enquiry, is to be prosecuted, almost 50 years after the fact. Hence my draft letter to the editor below:

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Racism loses in Switzerland

by IdiotSavant Mon Sep 28th, 2020 at 03:29:44 AM EST

Over in Switzerland, the racist "People's Party" tried to have a Brexit-style referendum on ending freedom of movement with the EU, so they could stop the "flood" of foreigners. But the Swiss people said No:

Swiss voters have resoundingly rejected an attempt to tear up the country's agreement with the EU on the free movement of people, in a referendum that echoed the Brexit vote.

The largest party in the Swiss parliament, the rightwing, anti-immigration Swiss People's party (SVP), called the referendum, arguing that the country must be allowed to set its own limit on the number of foreigners coming in to work.

However, the initiative - opposed by government, parliament, unions, employer organisations and all other political parties because it would put Switzerland's overall relations with the EU in jeopardy - was rejected by 61.7% of voters, final results showed.

The EU had made it clear that freedom of movement was indivisible from the rest of their relationship, and that ending it would also mean ending trade, research and transport treaties, just as for the UK. Swiss voters clearly value those. And hopefully, it'll mean a fall in the fortunes of the People's Party as well.

Frontpaged - Frank Schnittger

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The reality of Brexit strikes home

by Frank Schnittger Fri Sep 18th, 2020 at 12:07:00 AM EST

Newton Emerson, a unionist commentator, has an article up in the Irish Times echoing Boris Johnson's complaint that the EU is threatening to blockade N. Ireland's food supplies. This is part of Johnson's justification for breaking international law even though discussions at the joint implementation body on the N. Ireland Protocol of the Withdrawal Agreement had been, by all accounts, making good progress in resolving outstanding issues.

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Breaking the Law: is this the Brexit end game?

by Luis de Sousa Sun Sep 13th, 2020 at 05:16:58 PM EST

Another extraordinary week in the Brexit saga has come to pass. This time around a complete surprise, as another showdown was only expected in October, when time runs out for a timely approval of a Free Trade Agreement between the EU and the UK, ahead of the end of the transition period on the 31st of December.

The UK government has dropped a legal bombshell on the Brexit process, sending shrapnel in all directions. Time to pick up the pieces and make some sense out of it.


Frontpaged - Frank Schnittger

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UK to break international law

by Frank Schnittger Tue Sep 8th, 2020 at 03:10:05 PM EST

The UK is to unveil internal market legislation tomorrow (9/9/20) which will break international law albeit in what they describe as a limited way. Specifically it will abrogate sections of the Withdrawal Agreement which require the UK to implement customs controls at the N. Ireland Great Britain sea border thus providing back-door access to the Single Market for British goods - whatever any trade agreement might say.

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The US Election as of Labor Day

by ARGeezer Mon Sep 7th, 2020 at 02:45:44 AM EST

As of Sept. 7, Sunday of the Labor Day Weekend some things have clarified a bit. The Trump campaign has pulled its TV adverts in Arizona and Biden is up on Trump there by 9 points. Three solid polls in Wisconsin show Biden up by 7+ points. Minnesota seems likely to hold for the Democrats. Pennsylvania is  the biggest weakness for Biden in the 'Blue Wall', with Michigan next. Democrats hold the west coast, Nevada, Arizona, New Mexico and Colorado and Hawaii by reasonable margins. And Democrats hold the east coast north of Virginia up to Maine.

Frontpaged with minor edit - Frank Schnittger

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Mairead McGuinness to be next Commissioner

by Frank Schnittger Fri Sep 4th, 2020 at 03:48:42 PM EST

Andrew McDowell and Mairead McGuinness candidates for European Commission role

The Cabinet has proposed Mairead McGuinness and Andrew McDowell as candidates to replace Phil Hogan at the European Commission.


Minister for Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney will not be one of the Government's nominees for the role of European Commissioner.

Andrew McDowell is a former Fine Gael advisor and until recently vice-president of the European Investment Bank .


Andrew McDowell is a former backroom Fine Gael Economic advisor and a political non-entity. No one seriously believes he will get the job. But Commission President Ursula Van Der Leyen had made it clear she wanted "both a women and a man, not a man and a women nominees," in the words of Leo Varadkar. Basically no man need apply, and in the end no one of substance did. Why put your present job at risk by applying for another, when you know you won't get the job?

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Who will replace Commissioner Hogan?

by Frank Schnittger Sun Aug 30th, 2020 at 09:36:51 PM EST

Commission President, Ursula Van Der Leyen has asked the Irish government to submit both male and female candidates to replace Phil Hogan as European Commissioner while EU sources are stating that any replacement is unlikely to retain the important Trade portfolio.

This creates a number of problems for the Irish Government. Firstly, it could be argued that asking the government to submit a shortlist from which she will make the final selection is an impertinence, as it is for the Irish government, and the Irish government alone, to determine who the next Commissioner from Ireland should be (subject to EU Council and Parliament approval).

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EU Trade Commissioner Hogan resigns following 'Golfgate'

by Bernard Thu Aug 27th, 2020 at 07:03:14 PM EST

Phil Hogan, in charge of the Trade portfolio in the EU Commission, announced his resignation yesterday night (August 26), following a week long political storm dubbed 'Golfgate'.
Hogan traveled to his native Ireland a couple of weeks ago for a short summer break, but he also attended a dinner in a golfing resort near Galway, on the western coast of Ireland, on Wednesday 19, to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the parliamentary golf society, along with 80 other Irish politicians. The problem? Ireland's coronavirus safety rules were just being strengthened to limit all gathering to just six people.

Frontpaged - Frank Schnittger

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Trump's re-election prospects

by Frank Schnittger Mon Aug 17th, 2020 at 12:35:54 PM EST

Irish Times Columnist Jennifer O'Connell has an article up basically saying that Trump, like all bullies, is afraid of all those who are not afraid of him, and seeks to patronise strong women because he is afraid of them. He is afraid of Kamala Harris because he knows she can beat him. This has provoked two letters to the editor in response from Jim O'Sullivan and myself:

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The political effects of electoral voting systems

by Frank Schnittger Thu Aug 13th, 2020 at 05:18:05 PM EST

Electoral system has served us well

Sir, – Brendan O’Donnell writes that an electoral commission should consider replacing our single transferable vote, multi-seat, proportional representation system on the grounds that it produces vagarious results, is a legacy of colonialism, and is shared only with Malta (Letters, August 12th).

On the contrary, I would argue it produces results broadly in line with the electorate’s preferences, in sharp contrast to the winner takes all system of first past the post operated in the UK which makes voting pointless in many “safe” constituencies and can award an overall majority to a party gaining less than 40 per cent of the vote.

It is also preferable to the archaic US “electoral college” system which has twice, in recent times, awarded the presidency to the candidate who lost the popular vote.

In addition, the US and UK systems generate an adversarial two-party system and political culture which fails to reflect the diversity of the electorate and which polarises debate between these two parties. As a consequence, they promote conflict rather than cooperation, and division rather than consensus building.

A case could perhaps be made for a European-style party list system which prioritises internal party back-room wheeling and dealing, but I think it preferable that the electorate can directly choose whom they wish to represent them.

If the diversity facilitated by our system, very occasionally, results in a delay in forming a government, that only reflects the diversity of views within the electorate, which can be slow to come to a consensus on some issues.

Ireland has, almost uniquely, avoided the extreme political polarisation seen in our neighbouring states, and our electoral system and the culture of collaboration and compromise it encourages must take some of the credit for that.

To be successful in Irish politics, you have to be able to attract not only first preferences, but lower preferences from other parties and candidates, and that puts a premium on being able to work with others rather than antagonising them. Divisive and polarising demagogues tend to do less well in such a system.

For all its complexities and faults , which includes a tendency towards clientelism and producing TDs better at articulating grievances than implementing solutions, I think our electoral system has served us well.

We tinker with it at our peril! – Yours, etc,

FRANK SCHNITTGER,

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France Municipal Elections: The Aftermath - Part 2

by Bernard Sat Aug 8th, 2020 at 06:53:44 PM EST

Recap from Part 1 and eurogreen's diary: Municipal elections were held in France last spring to elect the municipal council (and the mayor) in the 35,000-odd municipalities throughout the country, ranging from small villages with 10 inhabitants to major cities like Lyon, Marseille or Paris, and as far away as Papetee, French Polynesia.

In about 30,000 cities, the municipal council was elected after the first round held on March 15, by getting over 50% of the vote. For the remaining 4,600 cities, including most big cities, the second round, initially due for March 22, eventually took place on June 28, after the country-wide lockdown from March 18 to May 11.

These were local elections and not necessarily an indication of national political trends for the next presidential elections in 2022, when E.Macron is expected to run for re-election.

Still, do these unusual elections give us any indication as to the mood of the French electorate? Are they showing any significant evolution? Do we see similar trends in other European countries?

Frontpaged - Frank Schnittger

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A Peacemaker Remembered

by Oui Mon Aug 3rd, 2020 at 01:18:39 PM EST

John Hume: Origin of a Derry Icon 1960-1974

Frontpaged - Frank Schnittger

More below the fold ...

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The Set Up?

by Frank Schnittger Fri Jul 24th, 2020 at 09:46:56 AM EST

In Ireland we are used to insulting, malevolent, and utterly ignorant commentaries on our affairs in the British tabloids in particular, but also in "respectable" broadsheets like the Telegraph, and supposedly sophisticated magazines like the Spectator.

"Lttle Leo" was portrayed as the EU's Lapdog doing their bidding at the behest of Macron or whoever was the EU bully-du-jour. He was running scared of Sinn Féin and adopting their policies. He was regularly told to shut up and stop interfering as Great Britain went about its Great Brexit business.

In the past week two articles in the British media have offered a startlingly different perspective. The Editorial in the Guardian "an enviable beauty is born", was the less surprising. The Guardian is often more sympathetic to Irish (and Remainer) views, and even features Irish Times columnist, Fintan O'Toole, on occasion to offer an Irish perspective.

But if anything, it was the Economist which was the more gushing this week:

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News and Views

 October 2020

by Bernard - Oct 4, 129 comments

Your take on this month's news

 August - September 2020

by Bernard - Aug 15, 165 comments

Your take on this month's news

 October Surprises 2020 Edition

by Bernard - Oct 2, 4 comments

I read the news today, oh boy ...

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