Europe

The Puzzle of the 2012 Greek Elections

May 8, 2012 by

With the Greek Parliamentary election behind us—likely the first of at least two such contests in this political season—we need to take stock of the situation and separate myth from fact. My objective is to make sense of the electoral results by describing and analyzing the Greek political system in both its historic and nascent forms. The particulars of the bailout have been widely discussed elsewhere in the press and policy circles, and I will refer to them only in the ways in which they inform the topic.

European’s Have Rejected Austerity Madness: Will the U.S. Get the Message?

May 7, 2012 by

So the voters of Europe have spoken, and surprise, surprise: they are not too keen on fiscal austerity. France’s president, Nicolas Sarkozy, became the first incumbent to lose since 1981. In Greece, the mainstream parties that have been happily participating in the country’s national suicide were soundly rejected by the electorate.

Kremlin Human Rights Watchdog’s New Master

May 5, 2012 by

In two days, Vladimir Putin will be inaugurated for this third term as the President of the Russian Federation. And with his reentry into the nation’s chief position, the issue of human rights and the development of civil society, a touted reform in the past four years under current President Medvedev, face an uncertain future. Earlier this week President Medvedev’s held his final meeting with the Kremlin’s Council on the Development of Civil Society and Human Rights.

The European Far Right: Actually Right? Or Left? Or Something Altogether Different?

May 4, 2012 by

Marine Le Pen’s ability to attract nearly a fifth of the vote in the first round of the French presidential election was a resounding victory for her party. While Le Pen’s Front National (FN) did not secure enough of the vote – 17.9% – to make the final run off, there is no doubt the FN voting bloc will be influential in deciding whether Nicolas Sarkozy retains office or Socialist candidate Francois Hollande becomes the 5th Republic’s first left President since Francois Mitterand.

Latin America Delivers A Swift Kick

April 30, 2012 by

On one level, April’s hemispheric summit meeting was an old fashioned butt kicking for Washington’s policies in the region. The White House found itself virtually alone—Dudley Do Right Canada its sole ally—on everything from Cuba to the war on drugs. But the differences go deeper than the exclusion of Havana and the growing body count in Washington’s failed anti-narcotics strategy. They reflect profound disagreements on how to build economies, confront inequity, and reflect a new balance of power in world affairs.

ILO Urges Worker-Friendly Recovery Policies

April 30, 2012 by

Although economic growth has resumed in much of the world since the 2008 financial crisis, the global unemployment situation remains alarming and could worsen, according to the International Labour Organisation (ILO). European governments, in particular, should adopt more worker- friendly approaches in dealing with fiscal austerity, according to the agency’s “World of Work Report 2012″ that was released here and at its headquarters in Geneva Sunday.

Spain is the New Greece

April 29, 2012 by

Nearly one Spaniard in four is unemployed, according to data released on Friday, as the country’s economic and financial predicament prompted a government minister to talk of a “crisis of enormous proportions”. The data from the National Statistics Institute showed 367,000 people lost their jobs in the first three months of the year. At this pace, Spanish job losses are equivalent to 1 million per month in the United States.

Income Inequality and the Rise of European Separatist Movements

April 19, 2012 by

Separatist movements typically flourish during times of economic or political distress. While in the recent past separatism has been associated most with emerging or failed states and linked with armed conflict and insurgencies, the west’s economic dislocation and the ‘rise of the rest’ has coincided with a surge in political movements and a desire for autonomy and independence – not only among violence-prone regions of the world, but among the strongest of emerging states, and the EU.

A Party Without Putin

April 19, 2012 by

In addition to swapping government posts, the political tandem of Putin and Medvedev, which has dominated Russian politics for the past half decade, may be configuring yet another switch. According to the Russian newspaper, Vedomosti, President-elect Vladimir Putin and soon-to-be Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev are set to separately meet with leading members of the ruling United Russia Party in late May.

What’s Left?

April 15, 2012 by

The public suicide of 77-year-old pharmacist Demitris Christoulas a short distance from the parliament building in Athens and the outpouring of grief and anger reveal the trauma and desperation in Greek society in the midst of an economic crisis. In a handwritten note before he shot himself in the head, Christoulas complained that the government had made it impossible for him to survive on the pension he had paid into for 35 years.

Analysis: Putin’s Port Project to Divert Russia Urals Oil to Baltic

April 12, 2012 by

In a move to further expand Russia’s market into the world system, Moscow commissioned a port to be constructed on the Baltic Sea, thus creating a route in which oil from the Urals could be traded more easily in the European market. Concerns over expected future production levels—Russia’s current volume has been deemed unsustainable when compared to overall project cost—have been leveled against Moscow.

Russia Unlikely to see Reforms Post-Medvedev

April 9, 2012 by

There is a Russian proverb, “Не пеняй на зеркало, коли рожа крива,” which loosely translates as, “Don’t blame the mirror for your ugly face”. Ironically, Russia’s ruling elite are not blaming themselves for the shortcomings of the so-called, Putin-Medvedev tandem.

Hungary’s Sovereignty Struggle

April 6, 2012 by

When the Hungarian Communist regime fell in 1989, the transition occurred rather smoothly. The transition to democracy had been encouraged by political parties such as the Christian Nationalist Party and the Hungarian Democratic Forum. Hungary did not witness the same amount of violence that has followed dramatic shifts in governance like in Romania at the time, or Iraq in the early part of the last decade or in Libya this decade. A gradual transformation to full democracy was planned and executed.

Why Europe is not yet ‘A Culture of Peace’

April 5, 2012 by

It is undoubtedly true that the greatest unacknowledged achievement of the European Union (EU) is to establish ‘a culture of peace’ within its regional enclosure for the 68 years since 1944. This has meant not only the absence of war in Europe, but also the absence of ‘war talk,’ threats, crises, and sanctions, with the single important exception of the NATO War of 1999 that was part of the fallout from the breakup of former Yugoslavia.

Boomerang

April 1, 2012 by

Toulouse, Europe’s aerospace hub in the southwest of France, has hit the headlines for the wrong reasons. A twenty-three-year-old French citizen of Algerian origin, Mohamed Merah, went on a shooting spree last month, killing seven people and terrorizing a million residents for ten days before a police sniper’s bullet ended his life. Among his victims were three unarmed soldiers, a rabbi and three children at a Jewish school.

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