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

"Fixing" the N. Ireland Protocol

by Frank Schnittger Fri Aug 12th, 2022 at 11:15:41 PM EST

Doug Beattie, leader of the Ulster Unionist party, has recently had two articles published here and here on Slugger O'Toole, the leading independent political blog in N. Ireland. In them he makes all the right noises about having the courage the make the right decisions, rather than the popular ones, and working together for the betterment of all living and working in Northern Ireland.

But his articles are also a policy free zone, making no specific proposals for moving the current impasse over the protocol forward, and blaming the DUP and Sinn Fein for the current dysfunctionality of N. Ireland politics. He is in danger of getting a reputation for talking the talk, while making no positive contribution to the lives of ordinary people whatsoever.

So I have taken it upon myself to suggest to him one positive action he could take which might also restore some credibility and relevance to the Ulster Unionist Party he leads. I am not waiting with baited breath to see him action my proposal, but at least it has the merit of calling his bluff.

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Planning for a United Ireland

by Frank Schnittger Mon Aug 1st, 2022 at 01:45:13 PM EST

I had the pleasure of attending the John Hewitt summer school in Armagh last week. It is named after a deceased radical protestant poet in N. Ireland and hosts talks on the arts, culture and politics. One contributor was Andy Pollak, and you can read an account of his talk entitled "The South is not ready for unification" here, where it is getting a fairly ferocious response.

I felt that Andy was at least half right in his analysis, and deserving of a more balanced critique. I thus felt inspired to write the response below:

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There Ain't Nothing Boris Can't Fix

by Oui Mon May 16th, 2022 at 11:31:21 AM EST

Frontpaged - Frank Schnittger

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Farewell, ARGeezer

by Migeru Sun Jul 3rd, 2022 at 01:17:09 PM EST

Three weeks ago, ET old-timer (in more ways than one: he had been around for nearly 15 years, and he considered himself an old man already then) ARGeezer passed away.

Please use this as a memorial thread.

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Will Sinn Fein Bail Boris Out?

by Frank Schnittger Wed Jun 15th, 2022 at 07:23:17 PM EST

The UK government, including Boris Johnson, Liz Truss and Attorney General Suella Braverman have justified the anti-Protocol Bill on the grounds that it is necessary to protect the Good Friday Agreement and to pre-empt loyalist violence. It will do this, apparently, by coaxing the DUP into the assembly which was only elected weeks ago.

However, there is no suggestion it will persuade the DUP to actually allow the formation of an executive, which would entail it losing the First Minister post and another Ministry under the d'Hondt formula because of the seats it lost in the election. According to Sir Jeffrey Donaldson, this is dependent on the legislation actually being passed, something which could take well over a year, assuming all intervening parliamentary hurdles can be cleared.

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Between a Rock and a Hard Place

by Frank Schnittger Fri Jun 10th, 2022 at 10:01:48 AM EST

Boris Johnson is reported to be delaying the publication of the Bill to over-ride parts of the protocol until such time as the DUP agree to the election of a Speaker in the Assembly. The DUP is refusing to proceed until they see the contents of the Bill and ensure that it directly over-rides the Protocol and doesn't merely give the power to Ministers to do so at some stage of their choosing.

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The Teflon de Pfeffel Johnson

by Frank Schnittger Mon Jun 6th, 2022 at 10:00:12 PM EST

Theresa May was gone within 6 months of having won a vote of confidence by a greater margin than Boris Johnson (63% vs. 59% support). But under the Tory Party rules, he cannot now be challenged in a vote of confidence for another 12 months, regardless of how badly the Tories do in the meantime.

A large majority, c. 170 of the 211 who voted for Johnson, are on his payroll and beholden to him for their jobs. It can be remarkably difficult to persuade people of the necessity of a certain course of action when their salaries depend on their not acknowledging that necessity. And, of course, the normal rules of political accountability don't apply to Boris Johnson.

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Chronicle of a Foretold Election: A Third Round?

by Bernard Mon Jun 6th, 2022 at 09:16:03 PM EST

Last April, we've had the two rounds of French Presidential elections. It was presented as a cliffhanger between incumbent Emmanuel Macron and Extreme-Right challenger Marine Le Pen. In the end, it wasn't even close: On April 24, Macron was re-elected 58% to 42% for Marine Le Pen.

But what about that so-called "third round" I've been mentioning since my first diary on the subject?

Parliamentary elections are scheduled for June 12 (first round) and 19 (second round). Even within the "presidential" regime of the French Fifth Republic, the president needs a majority at the Parliament to support his Cabinet: the National Assembly can overthrow the Cabinet with a censure motion.

This is where things can get interesting: when the president fails to get or looses the majority at the National Assembly, he has no choice but to appoint a leader from the new parliamentary majority as Prime Minister - a configuration called "cohabitation".

Frontpaged - Frank Schnittger

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Irish Neutrality and military alliances

by Frank Schnittger Tue May 24th, 2022 at 01:22:29 AM EST

The Irish Times: Neutrality and military alliances

A chara, - It has often been noted that generals tend to fight the battles of today with the weapons and strategies of the last war. Russia may be finding this out to its cost in the Ukraine.

Critics of Ireland's policy of neutrality and relative lack of military capability tend to call for us to join Nato or else to expend many billions of euro on fighters, tanks and ships to develop an independent capability to defend ourselves. /cont.

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Interim French government named

by eurogreen Sun May 22nd, 2022 at 01:30:55 PM EST

After a comical period of suspense, when the annoncement of a new Prime Minister (which leaked rumours promised would be a woman and an ecologist) and of a government, were repeatedly pushed back (as various people apparently turned the job down), Macron finally nominated Elisabeth Borne, a classic technocrat, reputedly from the left because she had worked for PS ministers; reputedly ecologist because she had worked for Ségolène Royal!

In any case, as with the selection of Macron's parliamentary candidates, nobody is under any illusions as to her autonomy or personal agency. Everyone does whatever the boss thinks is a good idea at the time; that is the definition of Macronism.

Frontpaged - Frank Schnittger

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At last, a progressive Australian government?

by eurogreen Sat May 21st, 2022 at 06:15:09 PM EST

Scott Morrison has conceded, Anthony Albanese has claimed victory.

At the time of writing, it's not clear whether the Australian Labor Party has an outright majority in the lower house of Parliament, but they will certainly find one by enrolling Greens and independents.. In the Senate, there is a clear ALP/Green majority. Overall, the two-party system is clearly weakened, with Greens and, "teals" (blue/green independents) making big gains.

He will be judged on results, but new Prime Minister Anthony Albanese seems set to be the most progressive Prime Minister since... Gough Whitlam in 1972.

Frontpaged - Frank Schnittger

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Time to wield the big stick

by Frank Schnittger Wed May 18th, 2022 at 10:43:24 AM EST

The Boris Johnson government has once again signalled its intention to break international law and its treaty obligations to the EU by introducing domestic legislation to over-ride parts of the protocol and to annul the jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice over protocol related matters. This is in addition to its current unilateral and illegal extension of grace periods on protocol implementation and its failure to honour agreements on data sharing and building facilities for goods inspections.

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N. Ireland Protocol receives democratic mandate

by Frank Schnittger Mon May 9th, 2022 at 12:03:50 PM EST

DUP leader Jeffrey Donaldson and his party are ignoring the democratic mandate of voters in the North.

The Irish independent has published my letter pointing out that the Protocol now has a democratic mandate in N. Ireland. Democracy needs to precede tribal bias against protocol

[Update] The Irish Times has now published the letter as well - and their sub-editor didn't mess with the text, so it reads better. (Fourth letter down).

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Expelling Russia

by Frank Schnittger Sat May 7th, 2022 at 11:20:41 AM EST

A Russian TV station this week broadcast video simulating the effect of nuclear weapons being detonated off the coast of Ireland, in a report introduced by Dmitry Kiselyov (pictured)

What more provocation do we need before we break off diplomatic relations with Russia?

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Northern Ireland Assembly Elections

by Frank Schnittger Tue May 3rd, 2022 at 08:19:33 PM EST

Voters in N. Ireland go to the polls on Thursday 5th. of May to elect a new Legislative Assembly. The election takes place on the same day as local elections in Britain which could prove disastrous for the Tories, as it represents the voters first chance to vent their disapproval of "Partygate", high inflation, and endemic Tory cronyism and corruption.

In N. Ireland the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) and their allies in the Traditional Unionist Voice (TUV) party and loyalist paramilitaries have tried to make the Protocol to the UK/EU Withdrawal Treaty the main issue. They even collapsed the last Executive (aka N. Ireland devolved government) over the issue and have threatened not to allow a new Executive to be formed unless the Protocol is scrapped or radically reformed.

They claim the Protocol creates a sea border between Britain and N. Ireland, and thereby diminishes their "Britishness". The fact that it also gives  N. Ireland preferential access to the Single Market many in Britain would die for gets lost in the waves of emotion they have created around the issue.

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It Could Happen Here: Chronicle of a (not so) Foretold Election

by Bernard Tue Apr 19th, 2022 at 08:20:31 PM EST

It was pretty much written in advance. All pundits agreed. Emmanuel Macron was leading the polls, far ahead of his challengers. Politicians from the French Social-Democrat party, the Parti Socialiste (PS), moved to support Macron, leaving the official candidate, Anne Hidalgo, in the dust. So did other politicians from the mainstream right-wing, the former Gaullist party of Chirac & Sarkozy, Les Républicains, this time, to the detriment of the Les Républicains candidate, Valérie Pécresse.

The Russian invasion of Ukraine even boosted Macron's lead in the polls, leaving his main challenger, Marine Le Pen, several percentage points behind, with the only left-wing candidate,  Jean-Luc Mélenchon (France Unbowed) far behind, and fascist firebrand Eric Zemmour numbers sinking fast.

For the second round, coming up next Sunday, 24 April, every polls showed Macron leading by a wide margin, regardless of his opponent. All pundits agreed: Macron was all but sailing to re-election.

Not so fast.

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Hungary and the EU

by Frank Schnittger Wed Apr 6th, 2022 at 11:38:39 PM EST

The Irish Times: Hungary and the EU

A chara, - Hungary and Serbia have just elected Putin allies into government. That is their democratic right, even if the elections weren't conducted by fully democratic means. However, there is no reason why the EU should tolerate a state of affairs whereby EU money is funnelled to the cronies of oligarchic leaders who give aid and comfort to our enemies. Any discussions about Serbia joining the EU should now end.

The EU should also invite Viktor Orban to trigger Article 50 and leave the EU. Failing that, the EU should trigger the enhanced cooperation mechanisms for fully supportive and democratic EU member states. A bit like the Euro Group, which only includes euro zone members, these mechanisms enable further cooperation between willing states over and beyond what countries like Hungary are willing to support.

Any incremental EU spend should only be directed through this "new enhanced cooperation" EU. Gradually, as the "new" EU develops, it can shed the "old" EU, Hungary included, as so much dead skin. The current EU budget could be the last, with all new shared funding being directed through the new EU. The new EU should also have greater enforcement powers for European Court of Justice decisions, and more use of weighted majority voting, to prevent one or two members holding the rest to ransom.

It's time we stopped faffing around with would-be dictators who undermine the democratic freedoms of EU citizens. When it comes to an existential crisis like Ukraine, we need to be clear on who is for and against the development of a greater and more democratic EU. It is clear that Putin (who supported Brexit) and his supporters are now our enemies. It's time the whole structure and membership of the EU reflected that. - Is mise,


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Russian war aims in Ukraine

by Frank Schnittger Mon Apr 4th, 2022 at 06:23:45 PM EST

As the Ukraine war progresses there has been much confusion over what Russia's real war aims are especially as these appear to have changed as the realities of fierce fighting on the ground have caused them to re-group. Yesterday RIA Novosti, a Russian state media outlet, published a lengthy piece by Timofey Sergeytsev entitled What should Russia do with Ukraine outlining their war aims. (h/t - Andy Thornton). What follows below  are some of the highlights in an English translation of the full article.

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Hungarian elections: Putin's man in Europe survives

by IdiotSavant Mon Apr 4th, 2022 at 04:53:45 AM EST

Hungary went to the polls today in parliamentary elections, in which would-be dictator Viktor Orbán - Putin's man in Europe - was facing a unified opposition for the first time since taking power in 2010. Unfortunately, it didn't go well:

Frontpaged - Bernard

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Chronicle of a Foretold Election

by Bernard Sat Apr 2nd, 2022 at 08:47:16 PM EST

The title of this diary is, of course, totally stolen from a well known Colombian novelist, Nobel prize in literature.

This April, there will be elections in several European countries, starting Sunday, April 3, with general elections in both Serbia and Hungary. Also, parliamentary elections in Slovenia will take place on April 24 - Polls often take place on Sundays on the European continent.

Since I don't know much about the Hungarian, Serbian or Slovenian politics, I will focus on the upcoming French presidential elections instead:

  • First round is scheduled for Sunday April 10: there are twelve candidates, including the incumbent, Emmanuel Macron.
  • Second round is scheduled for Sunday April 24: the two candidates with the most votes at the end of the first round, will enter a run-off second round.

Read more... (45 comments, 1200 words in story)
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