Welcome to European Tribune. It's gone a bit quiet around here these days, but it's still going.
Yea, but an "us against the world" mentality depends on having a bogeyman figure who is a really nasty bad guy out to do Britain Harm. Thus the EU is run by GERMANS and bureaucrats who want to punish Britain and do the plucky Brits down. Brexiteers are always on the look out for traitors and back-sliders. Psychologically, it doesn't really work so well otherwise - Brits would have to admit they are largely at fault for their own troubles..,

The other fly in this psychological ointment is Ireland.  My friend's friend acknowledged the UK were putting Ireland in an awkward position and that the border issue was a real problem. The ideal solution would be for Ireland to rejoin the UK/Commonwealth outside the EU but he acknowledged that looked unlikely. But Ireland as part of the EU makes it more difficult to cast the EU in the bogeyman role. You need to posit that Ireland is really being run by Germany now.

Index of Frank's Diaries

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Sun Mar 4th, 2018 at 08:45:15 PM EST
[ Parent ]
That would definitely conform to a pattern, sure. It worked for the Breferendum after all.
What I am envisioning would be more in the line of 'We're really, really so fucked, no-one respects us any more. America has ditched us, the EU forgotten us, our fate seems unassailably grim.
Of course good leadership would be more than ever essential, not just relatively better than the last 30 years or so, but Churchill level.
A situation where the effort to create a bogeyman would be wasted, as it was so obvious to anyone with half a brain that it was the Tories' fault, no ifs or buts or maybes.
It's no secret I have been rooting for Corbyn for years so I won't pretend objectivity, but his dignity under attack has only grown his political maturity and he continues to exhibit a human decency extremely rare in Britpol.
So would he be up to the difficult job of leading the UK through such a fall from grace?
I'd like to think so, there's a gritty calm there that represents the best of British values, and the young people already have sniffed it out.
You can say that I'm a dreamer... :)

'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty
by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Sun Mar 4th, 2018 at 10:42:08 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The problem for Corbyn or any British PM post Brexit is that if Brexit turns out to be as bad as it could be - a hard, no deal, Brexit with WTO rules or even a trade war with the EU as the EU tries to recover unpaid Brexit bills - then GDP will fall by c. 10%, government revenues will crater, and it will become impossible to fund even basic public services.

If Corbyn tries to increase taxes to make up the revenue shortfall he risks exacerbating the exodus of industry and highly skilled workers and so the task becomes one of managing a decline, implementing austerity, and taking the blame for falling living standards. I would expect a period of great political instability as ruling elites fight over diminishing assets and the great unwashed become increasingly radicalised.

Index of Frank's Diaries

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Mon Mar 5th, 2018 at 01:46:24 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Frank: I would expect a period of great political instability as ruling elites fight over diminishing assets and the great unwashed become increasingly radicalised.

A politically unstable country but with a strong military: pretty much the concern expressed in my comment downthread.

by Bernard on Mon Mar 5th, 2018 at 07:49:04 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Any chance of a diary on the Italian election result? I am not qualified to write it.

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Mon Mar 5th, 2018 at 01:48:06 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I'd love to Frank, but I am not in diary league.
Not politically astute enough by a long way.
De Gonfio,  please come grace us with your take on what looks so far like an historic election.
Mv5* has 30% of the vote so far, with Salvini (Lega) in remote second place with 14%.
They would need 40% to govern outright, so now the alliance game begins.
There is a very delicate political calculus to be made, both by Mattarella the President who is the ultimate arbiter, and the 5* who have a difficult choice on how to govern with 10% less seats than they would have needed.
Their plan is to invite opposing forces to come together on points of the 5* program and do something risibly rare in Italian politics: vote for their legislation without seats and treats being offered in return.
Considering the gargantuan levels of ego in Italian politics I think they may be way optimistic about this considering their first proposal is to cut all parliament's and the senate's paychecks in half!
Something they have done since the beginning, giving the money to start up small businesses.
Their electoral victory is not in question, but the tripolar situation and their abhorrence of allying with their enemies could make the country too ructious to govern effectively. Mattarella would possibly reject them as a potential government and revert to a stopgap technical government which would likely have no 5* members in it.
This was intended all along by means of the electoral law, but will take considerable aplomb to get by the enraged supporters who will be nothing if not vociferous, and it makes Italy look really bad at home and abroad.
Very hard to see what will happen next, but this has been an epic journey this far and a tribute to the energetic campaign they have run.
I will go out on a limb here but I believe many political aspirants will study their form very carefully from all over the world.
Their program is excellent, greener than greens, more anti-poverty than the PD centre left, and for a 'happy deplaning' (felice decrescita) from the consumer society growth model. They have also communicated who their ministers will be pre-election, another first.
Anti-war, pro-legal asylum and better-managed immigration policies, anti-corruption, anti-mafia.
Not one platform plank I disagree with!
(Still pinching myself...)
They have rewritten the book on Italian politics and are still young as a movement, the candidate for premier, Di Maio is 32 years old!

'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty
by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Mon Mar 5th, 2018 at 03:02:54 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The coverage I have seen of Italian politics and the 5* movement, even on PBS, has mostly been critical to dismissive. Garbage not collected in Rome. 5* incompetent. Etc. I suspect a game of 'looking good, looking bad' may be what is mostly on offer, but I would really like a view from Italy.

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Mon Mar 5th, 2018 at 05:11:16 AM EST
[ Parent ]
This is the Anglo position first noted ahead of the election 13 Feb. From the Local
Campaign 2018 Spot Check, "Is Italy's Five Star Movement still an 'anti-establishment' party?"

Euractiv went into overdrive 2 Mar "Italian election campaign plagued by fake news". The author defers to BuzzFeed News "investigations." The reader then has to inspect circular references to Italian cryptologists, Facebook, Twitter, NYT, and Google relays to discover the "fake news" allegations do not "echo" but originate with Ben Cardin's Senate Foreign Relations Committee report said to detail "Russian Election Interference In Europe".

Simon's casually concludes

The two parties [M5 and Norde] are broadly in favour of lifting the European sanctions against Russia, adopted in response to the annexation of Crimea by Moscow.

Diversity is the key to economic and political evolution.
by Cat on Tue Mar 6th, 2018 at 04:11:41 PM EST
[ Parent ]
There is a problem with blaming Italian politics on Russia: Russia's modus operandi is to sow chaos, but, in Italy, how could you tell if you had succeeded? And even if Putin did intervene and support right wing parties he was certainly not successful. But opposing fossil fuel sanctions is just rational for Italians. Everyone wants to be warm in winter.

The main issue with 5* is that they scare the shit out of the executives and owners of Western Media, so straight up reporting is a very bad career move for 99% of all reporters. Then there is a lack of sources. If the media companies don't send reporters to Italy and can't use reports from fringe online groups their reporters can't say anything except to quote official sources such as Cardin.

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."

by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Wed Mar 7th, 2018 at 04:23:34 PM EST
[ Parent ]
"There is a problem with blaming Italian politics on Russia: Russia's modus operandi is to sow chaos, but, in Italy, how could you tell if you had succeeded?"

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Wed Mar 7th, 2018 at 05:55:14 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Even the organised smearing of Corbyn was gadfly level compared to the media lynching I have seen here in Italy these last 5 years, vitriol and vituperation,  rinse repeat.
I have heard that Putin has backed far right parties in Europe from sources I respect. Apparently Europe's inflicting US-sponsored sanctions had repercussions, who could possibly predicted?
Berlusconi was very chummy with Putin when in power, signing Italy up for cheap gas contracts and hosting him at 'elegant dinners' (Bunga bunga galore and a new bordello bed gifted personally), so possibly there's something quid pro quo-ish to look for there, but I doubt it.
The huge misconception internationally is that MV5* is right-oriented, let alone hard right! Beyond ridiculous.
Centre-right was Berlusconi's (dwindling) chunk of the vote, libertarian in desire for smaller government,  low taxes and juicy kisses to big business.
Tirades against commies under every Italian bed, the magistrates for daring to charge him for grave crimes and so on.
He mellowed a bit, but his breed is dying off demographically and the electorate spanked him soundly.
But that was nothing compared the thrashing they gave Renzi, richly deserved as it was.
Salvini in coalition with Berlusconi and a couple of insignificant 'partitini' have a slim majority of seats, but not enough for an absolute rule.
The 5*MV tripled the number of their seats but since they stubbornly refuse to ally themselves with any present party (a major plus) they fall just short of the number needed.
The PD took a bath and has to ask itself if it has much future with less than 20% of the vote.
All foreign journalists assumed that just because the 5*ers agreed with Salvini about the Euro, and had made that expedient but stinky alliance in Europe with Farage,that Grillo -and thus his following- must be  fascist.
Italian politics has been held in such low repute for so long internationally that, while colourful, it has been static and corrupt, uninteresting.
So the MV5* has been left mostly under the press radar except for the lunching from the Italian press.
Grillo himself has restyled himself 'guarantor' but no longer leader. He has handed that job over to Di Maio, who has pulled off what all considered impossible, with an intelligent campaign.
He has a very copacetic personality, a bit boy next-door with an impish grin and a razor-sharp mind.
He is fearless in his denunciation of the 'Caste' running the country further into the ground, but while still a mere stripling of 32 has a gravitas beyond his years. He has a very relaxed, sober demeanour,(a calming influence in the bear pit of Italian politics) and communicates in simple but not extravagant rhetoric (as do most pols.)
A great sense of humour -quick-witted and spontaneous- and a sunny smile have helped his ascent to popularity, but he has a playful, serene temperament that handled even the massive stress of the campaign with dignity and considerable acumen, answering the absurd charges from the media with resolved aplomb that gained much respect from the public.
He campaigns with no bodyguard, and violence at their rallies is unheard of.
He is patient, punctilious and even a little saturnine sometimes, all of which contribute to his unusual maturity for such a young man. There's a distinct air of statesman to him.
Salvini is a coarse, cruel man with an instinctive grasp of how to rile people up, just like his hero  Trump. It would be horrible to see him Prime Minister but he will not go down without a noisy fight, and if in opposition will be a pugnacious, belligerent and sometimes sly adversary. It is a bit of cult of personality with him though as his inner circle are short on brains, and he has a love/hate relationship with Berlusconi, whom he has finally surpassed in popularity with 17% to Silvio's 15%. They disagree about many things so as a coalition while together they outnumber the 5*MV they will start arguing immediately with other coalition members, an ugly thing to behold.
Italians know this, but the numbers don't lie.
Mattarella now has a Rubic's cube of a tripolar parliament, this may take weeks or months to tease a solution out.
Renzi is toast at this point, but so delusional he can't let go of the banana in the bottle, thereby blocking his own party's possible re-alignment towards a more constructive attitude to the MV5*. Worse this slows the whole country'so possible progress. A selfish, vain rooster, thoroughly enamored of himself to the point that he will be the last to know Italians are fed up with his shrill self-glorification, and boundless energy for political mischief.
The whole country is in a wobbly state over this election result that's neither fish nor fowl.
One thing for sure is that Beppe Grillo's redheaded stepchild has outgrown its perceived limits and is inexorably heading for more power to realise its programmes. This is not a flash in the pan, but a turning point towards a more vigorous, less senile political arena in these coming years.
It has been incredible to see the idea turn to a movement and now in all but name a proper political party, embracing the best of Italy's long traditions, cultural history and the modern era of the world wide web.
Politologists will be discussing this bizarrely conceived, post-ideological, avant-garde movement for a while methinks.
The most likely alliance is actually with the Renzi-freed remnants of the PD, which should firmly protect the movement from summarily absurd accusations of being right-wingers. If they were they would ally with Salvini and just get it over with.
Not going to happen.    

'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty
by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Wed Mar 7th, 2018 at 02:46:34 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Thanks for keeping us updated.

Do you have any english language sources for the program of M5*? Or if they have an english outlet of some sort?

I can always quote wikipedia, but I prefer primary sources as long as I can understand them.

Wikipedias description

The "five stars" are a reference to five key issues for the party: public water, sustainable transport, sustainable development, right to Internet access, and environmentalism. The party also advocates e-democracy, direct democracy,[22] the principle of "zero-cost politics",[23] degrowth,[24] and nonviolence.[25] In foreign policy, the M5S has criticized military interventions of the West in the Greater Middle East (Afghanistan, Iraq,[26] Libya) as well as any notion of American intervention in Syria.[27]

Crazy right-wingers, eh?

by fjallstrom on Wed Mar 7th, 2018 at 12:12:04 PM EST
[ Parent ]
More analysis:
The Five Star Movement, having been in second place for five years now, is now the biggest party in the Italian parliament.

It probably won't join a government, as that would cause an immediate crisis for the organisation, which thrives on its ideological incoherence. Like the original Five Star, once tainted by unpopularity, it would be rarely be heard or thought of again.

As a party with a strong "anti-establishment" flavour (and flavour is very much the word for it), Five Star attracts a lot of support from younger voters, and quite a lot of traditionally centre-left-voting blue collar workers.

The dispensation of the centre media is that Italians, especially young people, have just seceded en masse to the "populists", "anti-establishment parties of the left and right". According to CNN, "the fascists did scarily well". We'll come back to this last point, but for now I'm interested in what constitutes this figure of "populist", "anti-establishment" politics for the press.

By and large, there is a tendency to treat it as a crude generational war, politically indiscriminate in its resentment. This is roughly how The Economist, voice of the capitalist centre, represents things, such that everyone from trade unions, to mainstream parties, to "an ill-defined 'ruling class'" is blamed by these angry youths for the generational gap in prospects.

by generic on Wed Mar 7th, 2018 at 05:56:47 PM EST
[ Parent ]
According to CNN, "the fascists did scarily well".

Salvini's coalition got 43% of the vote in Israel. Did CNN just call Israelis fascists? That's a lot better than the 30-35% he got in Russia and in Putin's colony the US. Meanwhile, the PD won in the UK, France, and Germany. M5S won Poland and Spain, but not much else.

by gk (gk (gk quattro due due sette @gmail.com)) on Wed Mar 7th, 2018 at 06:27:01 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I know, right? Lol.
Another couple of things. They are fanatical about rule of law, praising and urging more funding for the police and secret service but not the military. This gave me pause, a bit of a red flag of traditional rightist rhetoric. (Meanwhile Salvini is encouraging Italians to arm themselves to repel immigrant invaders...)
I came to peace with it because of two reasons. One is the cops really are underfunded, so much so that they pay for their own gas for cars, have outdated equipment and apparently are even short of office supplies.
Cops have not been in the news for excessive force, cruelty or false arrests recently, we are a long way from Genoa G8, when they went on a sadistic rampage under Fini's control under a Berlusconi government. They have a better profile now and in my experiences with them in rural Appennini have been generally positive. Very low profile, little overt authoritarianism.
MV5* have been accused of being dictatorial within their own party, initially expelling members for even being under investigation as they want an unblemished roster of candidates who all stay on track with their precepts. To give you some contrast here just in the last election the PD had 29 candidates and the RW coalition 21 who were indicted, on trial or with criminal records. Naturally they saw an opportunity to criticise the movement for excessive party discipline and standards too high for politics.
In a country famed for corruption this marked them out distinctly, and their main rallying cry chanted at rallies is 'Onestà, onestà'.
They have unbent a bit since and as long as there is no damning evidence of crime before trial they will wait until judgement, but their ruthlessness in cleaning their own house is much appreciated by a public weary of the status quo. In this last batch they blond two candidates had Masonic ties and were smartly escorted out back into oblivion.They even expelled a mayor well loved in his town because he compromised on building an incinerator and thus betrayed the ecological ideals of the movement. He was revoted in anyway and is apparently otherwise doing good work as an independent.
All their mayors inherited chaotic, debt-ridden treasuries and impressively went immediately to work hiring and firing to cut costs, usually getting acounts into the black quite early in their terms in office.
Virginia Raggi, the (first) female mayor of Rome has been media lynched continuously for not solving all the city's decades-old problems created by previous left and right misgovernments overnight. Rubbish, wild pigs and rats featured heavily in front press pages with screaming headlines about her terrible incompetence. She has borne her role with great poise and dignity, doing much for the city in one year. The rubbish and transport sectors were completely under mob control and she has cleaned them both up. Chiara Appendino, the 5* mayoress of Turin has likewise balanced the municipal coffers and also won 'Most popular mayor in Italy award' after a year in office.
So the charge of incompetence whipped up by the media (and sadly believed by much of the public for a while) is losing potency as they chalk up more experience and gather ever more support.
They know that if they want to succeed in lowering corruption they have to be squeaky clean themselves, and so far few candidates have strayed from the straight and narrow, and when they did were immediately expelled from the movement. Growth has been so fast they need to learn to better discriminate sometimes. This temptation for rascals to ride the political wave of change to slip into the movement, but most of the candidates are seasoned activists in their areas. Another rule they have is that candidates must live and work in the area where they seek the vote, which makes for much greater accountability. The other parties parachute their people into places far away from where they are known too well and they can fall upwards to the party's content. A prime example is the PD minister Maria Elena Boschi, enmeshed n a banking scandal that involves her father and brother and made her loathed in her home town of Arezzo because so many people there lost their savings in the last  (of many Renzi-decreed) bail-ins. She has lied about her interference in the matter as it is completely out of her bailiwick as she was not finance minister.
Grillo'sometime erratic and irascible presence is fading into the past though he still retains enormous affection and pride for what has been achieved. He has 'retired' from leading and is there if needed only.
The baton is firmly passed to the youger generation now, and he is happy as a clam with his brainchild (along with Web guru Roberto Casaleggio) started only seven scandal-filled years ago.
As I see it they are left of the PD but avoid both the academicised intellectual baggage and bourgeois knee-jerk liberalism of the old pseudo socialist limo left like the plague. They claim to be post-ideological, taking sheets from both sides' hymn books as -and only if- they please and thus creating a democratic alternative to both centre left and right.
This is a thin tightrope to walk. As they grow they will encounter new and possibly unseen challenges as Italian politics is full of wily old wolves with Phds in Machiavellismo.
Italians are waking up from the limbo of resigned fatalism in which they have been wallowing till recently. While things are still tough and often tragic here since Italy has the lowest growth in the EU and the highest debt, the rich-poor gap is widening and only a few are feeling the meagre updraft of a GDP growth of less than 2%, even with low oil prices and Draghi's QE cheap money.
The candidate for Economy minister is a very progressive Keynesian and will give a good rattle to the Euro cage if placed in office.
Now for turning this roadblock of Salvini into just a speedbump...
Five fingers crossed for Mattarella to make the correct decision.

'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty
by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Thu Mar 8th, 2018 at 02:15:45 AM EST
[ Parent ]

Beppe Grillo just came out for holding that paragon of environmentalism, the Olympics, in Turin.

by gk (gk (gk quattro due due sette @gmail.com)) on Sat Mar 10th, 2018 at 04:25:40 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The dolt! Is he totally ignorant of the systematic manner in which the IOC rips off host cities and their citizens?

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Sat Mar 10th, 2018 at 08:30:05 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Yes that rankles quite a few supporters.
Some context, Raggi forbade the building of a huge stadium boondoggle in Rome and was roundly criticised for it. She also decided not to candidate Roma for some huge sports event in 2025 because the city coffers were too depleted by preceding administrations and burdened with huge debt. This pissed off the builder/real estate moguls who have been fattening their wallets for decades and form much of the backroom PTB in the city, cosily in cahoots with the rest of the 'Casta' in the Capital.
So Grillo's backing this move for Torino is to show they are listening to the numerous people who love sports in Italy and they don't want to come off as the party of joyless 'No' to everything, (one of the biggest smears pointed at them).
According to what I have read, the infrastructure for the winter olympics is already largely in place in the Torino hinterland so the expenditure will not be as huge as it often is for this kind of thing.
Of course the more mature a political force they become, the more they drift to the centre, and shed some of their rougher edges and more extreme socio-political stances...
So we are hearing a lot less about chemtrails, anti-vax rhetoric and leaving the Euro. The voters can taste an imminent empowerment possible in the next government and as long as they remain far to the left of the decaying, fractured PD they will grow.
Salvini wants a 15% flat tax, the 5* want a citizens' stipend of €780 a month in return for civic neighbourhood labour of 8 hours a week and free tuition in a new professional qualification. Then at the 3rd job refusal the funding will stop.
In the South, struck by poverty and 45% youth unemployment this was a huge vote-getter so they will have to follow through to keep the voters sweet.
This is slagged as 'assistentialism' by all the other parties, (natch).

'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty
by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Sat Apr 7th, 2018 at 06:56:59 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Superficially or not, the M5S rise could be comparable with the populist win in Lithuania in October 2016:

Anti-emigration party storms to victory in Lithuania

An obscure protest party in Lithuania with just one MP in parliament has stormed to power in a shock general election victory after pledging to tackle the country's emigration crisis.

Hundreds of thousands of Lithuanians have been lured abroad by higher wages in an alarming "brain drain" that has seen the population plummet to less than 2.6m

It has lost more than 370,000 people -  of which roughly half have gone to Britain -  since the eastern European country joined the bloc in 2004.

The Peasants and Green Union (LPGU) must now forge a coalition government after becoming the biggest party in Lithuanian politics, with 54 of the 141 seats

They dominated a coalition with the Social Democrats, who had quibbles from time to time and left the government in September 2017 (and soon started splitting) - thus attention German Social-Democrats?! There has been much trash talk from the serious media and political commentators against LPGU, but their government is still standing without anything notable for international commentary. I am not an insider to tell the difference that their governing makes.
by das monde on Wed Mar 7th, 2018 at 07:10:07 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Reducing immigration and promoting family welfare for demographic reasons are platform planks for both Salvini and Di Maio.
MV5* cares much more about the brain drain of emigration due to very high youth unemployment, especially in the south.
They never hate on immigrants, and just want to take the corruption and trafficking down to zero,along with the lowering the absurd waiting time to establish asylum  (2-3 years, while in other countries it's a tenth of that).
Salvini would let them drown, idem many of his followers, some of whom are immigrant hostel camp burners, neighbourhood vigilante groups who commit hate crimes.
Georgia Meloni, leader of Brothers of Italy, the third party in the right wing axis (5% of electorate) has just come back from a bootlicking visit to Orban, to give you an idea of where she stands on the r-w spectrum. One of her ministers has just been indicted for corruption in the rubbish business of Salerno.
You want real rightwingers, you don't need to look far...

'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty
by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Thu Mar 8th, 2018 at 02:33:29 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Even a factual overview combined with your opinion piece above would take the bare look off the front page! Most people have no idea what 5* are about and have this vague notion - gleaned from the MSM - that they are some sort of inchoate protest movement with little or no idea of how to govern. Their views on the EU and Euro would also be of interest here.

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Mon Mar 5th, 2018 at 01:17:42 PM EST
[ Parent ]
For example Booman has just written this in his last post - we really must push back on his simplistic analysis, but I am not qualified to do so:

If we really want to have some introspection and responsibility, it's time for the left as a whole to look at what happened in Italy yesterday and get real. It's true that Italians are feeling overwhelmed with migrants and that the economy is stagnant, which means that there are actual causes for the right-wing populist revival of fascism. But the Five Star Movement, which got the most votes, is a completely Putin-aligned political phenomenon. Putin has been pushing these fascist forces in elections throughout Europe as a way of weakening the European Union and NATO. Helping Trump and  hurting Clinton were part of the same overall plan.

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Tue Mar 6th, 2018 at 03:47:25 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Why I don't read BT anymore.

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Tue Mar 6th, 2018 at 03:51:27 PM EST
[ Parent ]
In the absence of any better qualified commentator on Booman (other than fjallstrom who has written a typically cogent and terse comment here, I have posted the following response on Booman:

Warmed up Hillary soup?

Sorry Booman, but your lead post and some of the comments here are just plain silly. It may or may not be to the Democratic party's advantage to focus on Russian meddling the world over as a way of getting at Trump (and perhaps avoiding a deeper self analysis for Hillary's failure). I will leave it to yourself and your allies to judge what is good politics for you to pursue in the USA.

But as far as Europe is concerned, its just totally off point. Italy has long had a strong Communist party with a history of alignment with the Soviet Union. That party is now weaker than ever, and the 5* movement is NOT it's successor. It is prospering for entirely domestic reasons of austerity, stagnation, and the immigrant crisis. Sure the Russian ambassador is doing his job - while the US has none. A legitimate point to make against Trump. But if you were blogging in Italy, as a progressive, I suspect you would be supporting the 5* movement.

5*'s policy positions are pretty mainstream in Europe. Virtually nobody doubts that the US and EU meddled in the Ukraine and that that meddling backfired spectacularly. Virtually nobody knows who to support in Syria. Probably all but humanitarian interference there is to be avoided. Certainly it is difficult to see the US position as obviously preferable to Putin's. Probably the best outcome, and now the obvious one, is for Assad's regime to win quickly so as to minimise further loss of life. There is almost nothing left to win there anyway, and it is in Europe's interest to limit the further inflow of refugees that is destabilising European politics.

But you risk delegitimising the US progressive left abroad by buying into neo-con fantasies and media propaganda. It was a difficult enough choice for most progressives outside the US to choose between Hillary's neo-con warmongering and Trump's totally incompetent isolationism. Either way the USA and the rest of the world loses. If the US left cannot offer us something better we will become indifferent to the result of the mid-terms and even Trunmp's re-election - always assuming he doesn't actual start a nuclear war somewhere or a trade war with the rest of the world - something he seems intent on doing. Either way, everybody loses. Is a moderately competent conservative US President the best we can hope for in the future?

Is that all the US left have to offer? Or do you simply not care what the rest of the world thinks? The USA has already lost it's place as the largest economy in the world (measured in PPP GDP (IMF and CIA World Factbook) . It has also lost almost all semblance of leadership in world politics. I am personally not looking forward to China taking over, and the EU is too diffuse a power ever to exert really powerful global leadership. But I am fearful of what will happen in the vacuum of there being almost no global leadership of any kind. Can you offer us nothing better than warmed up Hillary soup?

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Tue Mar 6th, 2018 at 05:46:53 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Harsh, but entirely fair

keep to the Fen Causeway
by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Tue Mar 6th, 2018 at 10:15:47 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I have in general stopped commenting on Russiagate, though I keep reading to see if anything more substantial turns out. But when the Russia-explanation spills over into Europe I tend to react.
by fjallstrom on Wed Mar 7th, 2018 at 12:03:16 PM EST
[ Parent ]
melo: A situation where the effort to create a bogeyman would be wasted, as it was so obvious to anyone with half a brain that it was the Tories' fault, no ifs or buts or maybes.

Quite the opposite I'm afraid: those who threw Britain in that hole will want to make sure that blame is deflected from them and aimed squarely at their favorite bogeyman - the (German run, French inspired) Europe instead. Patriotism; still the last refuge of the scoundrels, is it not?

I've already written before that I fully expect a rise in violent rhetoric as the Brexiters dreams fail to materialize. Renewed violence in Northern Ireland is not only a small price to pay (by others), but a welcome diversion too. And let's not forget Gibraltar:

Gibraltar to Spain: We won't be blackmailed on Brexit transition - Politico

Gibraltar will not be bullied into accepting joint sovereignty between the U.K. and Spain as a condition for being included in a Brexit transition period, the territory's deputy chief minister, Joseph Garcia, said.

Spain has sought to reclaim sovereignty over Gibraltar from the U.K. for nearly 300 years, and the EU has effectively given Madrid veto authority over any provisions pertaining to the Rock in a Brexit agreement.

Anxiety among Gibraltar officials has deepened, however, since Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy said in December he viewed that veto power as applying to a transition deal as well.

Spain sets Brexit challenge with Gibraltar demands - FT

Spain is demanding joint management of Gibraltar's airport after Britain leaves the EU, as it spells out its position on an issue that could derail a Brexit deal.

Alfonso Dastis, Spain's foreign minister, told the Financial Times that Spain wants a bilateral deal with the UK that includes "managing the airport together" as well greater co-operation on tax fraud and tobacco smuggling.

His position falls well short of a full-blooded demand for sovereignty over Gibraltar as part of a Brexit deal. "Sovereignty is something we aspire to, that we are not renouncing, but in these negotiations it is not the issue," Mr Dastis said.

Britain still has one the most powerful militaries of Western Europe and it doesn't take much to picture an ultra-nationalist government being tempted to use it to "right" the European "wrongs"...

by Bernard on Mon Mar 5th, 2018 at 07:45:02 PM EST
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Given the overwhelming lethality of modern weaponry and its immense cost, I'd expect that any hostilities between what are under-sized and over-equipped forces would quickly result in a more or less total evaporation of the UK's ability to project force beyond its borders.

A day or two of carnage, as air defense assests are used up at an alarming rate and air and naval forces mutually annihilate each other, followed by an angry sulk. No European power has the sort of overwhelming force necessary to make much progress, I think.

by Zwackus on Tue Mar 6th, 2018 at 06:17:11 AM EST
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I'd expect low level skirmishing at most, posturing and blockading being more likely. Though once you start a cold war, the risk of it heating up is obviously high.
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Tue Mar 6th, 2018 at 10:52:32 AM EST
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My worst case scenario is for a trade war precipitated by the UK refusing to pay any exit bill in a no deal scenario followed by a radical Sterling devaluation which forces the EU to respond with some tariffs, labelled "administrative fees", to maintain competitiveness and avoid falling foul of WTO rules.  It the UK retaliates the EU my be forced to up the ante with greater tariff or non tariff barriers.

But that is about as bad as I think it could get. Even my fetid imagination falls short of actual military hostilities. That is a war no one could win. Consumer boycotts, maybe, a breakdown in cooperation in lots of areas, possibly, some cybersecurity mischief, almost certainly. War is something we keep for the third world and to keep Russia at bay.  That keeps the military industrial complex busy and in profit. The last thing anyone wants is to fight on their own soil.

Germany England football matches might have an extra edge to them, though. And of course Ireland will continue to beat England at rugby...

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by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Tue Mar 6th, 2018 at 12:54:09 PM EST
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I could see a bit of posturing around Gibraltar.

But don't underestimate how badly wrong it could go if the ERG types displace May, get their diamond hard Brexit and discover that 18th C solutions don't work for 21st problems. Not even for the assholes who thought they'd clean up. An election where they and UKIP successfully put the blame on traitor May and her backer Soros could throw up some frightening times: they'll need something to distract the masses, and sticking it to Johnny Foreigner is always a popular option.

by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Tue Mar 6th, 2018 at 01:13:12 PM EST
[ Parent ]
In the USA it is axiomatic that 'The highest return you will ever get on an investment is from donations to a successful politician'. That is pretty sad as a business model. How are you going to externalize the destruction of your own society? Because that is the end result of all contributions by the wealthy to politicians. Only the cover story has improved since James I granted a salt monopoly patent. Most of these 'donors' are just buying the right to plunder the public by one scheme or another.

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Tue Mar 6th, 2018 at 04:06:38 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I'd expect some bloody nonsense in Northern Ireland. The only trick the right wing knows is to blow up some nationalist outrage to shift the debate. Worked brilliantly for Rajoy with Catalonia.
by generic on Tue Mar 6th, 2018 at 01:34:40 PM EST
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Am I missing some sarcastic scare quotes here?

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Tue Mar 6th, 2018 at 02:43:30 PM EST
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Not really. He isn't in jail, the parties on the left are in a very difficult situation where they have to finesse a position  between the breakup of the nation and endorsing a right wing crack down and the different-but-same party, the C's get to grab some attention.
What's not to like if your Rajoy?
by generic on Tue Mar 6th, 2018 at 06:17:16 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The Spaniards I spoke to (not from Catalonia) were convinced the separatists were a minority and would lose the elections called by Rajoy. The separatists won again - hardly a ringing endorsement for Rajoy.  The people I spoke to were, however, very upset that anyone would try to break up Spain, and thus very supportive of Rajoy's attempts to preserve unity - even if not necessarily PP supporters. They found it very difficult to understand my point that much of what he has done has been counter-productive, if Spanish unity is the objective.

I'm not sure how your analogy with N. Ireland works. The DUP trying to impose Brexit against the wishes of the majority there is already an outrage. It has been partly responsible for the breakdown in relationships with Sinn Fein which has prevented a re-establishment of devolved institutions there. Sinn Fein came with 1,000 votes of becoming the largest party at the last Assembly elections. There is a large majority against the DUP now on the Brexit issue, and if they aren't careful that political consensus against them will broaden to all other issues.

If I were a DUP member now, I would be very nervous that I have put "the Union" back in play. Their fate depends on the survival of the May government, but for how long? The fact that the Varadker government hasn't been amenable to their idea of "compromise" on the border may encourage some to try some dirty tricks against Varadker. It would want to be very smartly done to succeed. Irish nationalism is not short on conspiracy theories about what Mi5 and some loyalist groups might get up to. It is very likely any obvious atrocity would backfire spectacularly.

Index of Frank's Diaries

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Tue Mar 6th, 2018 at 06:59:43 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Well, if the separatists had lost decisively the issue would have been put on the back burner. Who wants that? Maybe if you cared about the economic or otherwise well-being of Catalonia, or really Spain, but I think we have proven decisively that that doesn't describe anyone in the EPP.

But, on reflection, Northern Ireland wouldn't work. They'd probably have to go for Scotland if they want to achieve something similar. No one in mainland UK cares that much about Northern Ireland.

by generic on Wed Mar 7th, 2018 at 12:41:03 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Within two years of Brexit actually happening if Labour come to power in it's aftermath they will be blamed by the media for all the consequences - austerity, inflation, real pay reductions, job losses, higher taxes - even though any "expert" economist will tell you they are all caused by the Tory led Brexit.

The media operate on a 24 hour cycle and aren't interested in factors that take years to become apparent. The public, too, are quick to develop amnesia about actually having supported Brexit and will blame the government of the day, even if only by blaming Labour for not having made the consequences of Brexit clear.

It's always somebody else's fault - the Government, Jewish bankers, nasty Germans, unelected Brussels bureaucrats, awkward Irish, ungrateful former colonies, immigrants, welfare scroungers, you name it. The list of potential suspects is endless.

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by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Tue Mar 6th, 2018 at 01:08:04 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Since December Gibraltar's position viz. BREXIT was similar to DUP in NI. The "Overseas Territory" would not accept a different deal than any offered the UK. The gov objected to EU grant of veto power of any BREXIT "deal" to Spain. Gib gov vigorously defended its reliance on UK to negotiate with EU and Spain, since the UK sponsored its membership in the EU. It sent two delegations to Whitehall (sideline or "second-class" committee briefings) Jan-Feb to ascertain UK negotiating position on its behalf and basically came away empty handed. Note that the EU official position has always been Gibraltar for all intents and purposes, regardless of Gib claims to sovereignty, is UK.

At Jan UK-ES bi-lateral conference ES basically offered to assume role of Gib sponsor in EU. Gib gov initially rejected the implication, DUP-like expecting UK obligations.

Gib and Spain agree "joint" operation of the airfield is a canard. A superceding, bi-lateral contract already exists.

Since May's conspicuously ridiculous rejection of EU draft text last week, including but not limited to NI border and EU citizen rights, Gib gov has turned to direct negotiation with EU task force. That's why ES is backing off and changed its representative.

Diversity is the key to economic and political evolution.

by Cat on Tue Mar 6th, 2018 at 04:31:35 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I can't see the EU task force being overly exercised by what Gibraltar wants or doesn't want. They will take their lead from Spain. In the short term Spain needs at least a blocking minority on the EU Council to ensure it's interests are protected in a manner of its own choosing. After 1.4.2019 they have the right of veto on any further deals, so its position may harden accordingly.

The EU also refused to take a position on May's promise of "no border in the Irish sea" to the DUP, much to the latter's annoyance. The EU's position is simply that that is an internal matter fro the UK to decide. (Had it taken a position, the DUP would probably have accused the EU of interfering in the UK's sovereign constitutional affairs!).

So the Gibraltarians can make as much noise as they like. They are not a party to the negotiations. No doubt the UK government will make a point of sticking up for them against the evil imperialistic designs of the Spanish! But if you were an EU negotiator and you already have 27 Bosses to worry about - not to mention the EU and some regional Parliaments - are you seriously going to manage the UK's internal affairs for them as well?

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by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Tue Mar 6th, 2018 at 05:35:25 PM EST
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