Western European News Digest
Greens Big Gainers in German Elections
March 27 (EIRNS)In today's vote, the CDU-FDP coalition in the state of Baden-Württemberg suffered an historic loss. The Green party is going to form a government with the Social Democrats (SPD) as a junior partner, ending 58 years of Christian Democratic (CDU) government in Germany's southwest. For the first time ever, the Greens are able to place a minister president (governor) at the head of a German state. The results are CDU 39% (-5.2), Greens 24.2% (+12.5), SPD 23.1% (-2), FDP 5.3% (-5.4), Left 2.8% (-0.3), other 5.6% (+0.3).
In Rhineland Palatinate, the SPD lost its absolute majority and is now forced to form a coalition government with the Greens. The Free Democratic Party (FDP) lost all its seats in the state parliament. The results are SPD 35.7% (-9.9), CDU 35.2% (+2.5), Greens 15.4% (10.8), FDP 4.2% (-3.8), Left 3% (+0.4), other 6.5% (0.0).
The surge of the vote for the Greens is due to two weeks of non-stop media lying about an alleged nuclear catastrophe in Japan. This hysteria has not taken place in other European countries. The only comparable precedent would be the anti-Muslim hype that took place in the U.S.A. following the 9/11 attacks.
Mass Strike Comes to London
March 26 (EIRNS)The global mass strike hit London in a big way today, when 400,000-500,000 people, far more than the organizers expected, participated in a demonstration against the austerity budget of the U.K.'s Cameron government. As in Wisconsin, the protest brought out nurses, teachers, firefighters and other public sector workers, students, pensioners, and other groups, demanding an alternative to the huge spending cuts being imposed by the government.
Ed Milliband and other leaders of the Labour Party also addressed the rally in Hyde Park, but probably didn't quite get the response they hoped for. Milliband told the protestors that he was "proud" to stand with them, but was heckled when he said that "some cuts" were needed.
French Elections Yield Breakthrough for LaRouche-Affiliated Party
March 20 (EIRNS)France held the first round of cantonal elections Sunday, which elect half the members of the local council, with runoffs to take place on March 27. While final totals will be determined next week, the clear tendency of the first round shows a victory for the Socialist Party (25%), a massive defeat for President Nicolas Sarkozy's UMP party, which barely made it to 17%, a breakout for Marie Le Pen's right-wing National Front, which reached for 15% nationwide for the first time.
David Cabas, one of the three Solidarity and Progress candidates running in the canton of Ploërmel, in Brittany, came in third in a field of four, with 7.56% of the vote. Along with promoting the right ideas at the right time, Cabas benefitted from straightforward coverage, despite (or perhaps because of) the fact that he attacked President Sarkozy head-on, calling for him to resign. S&P is led by LaRouche's longtime associate Jacques Cheminade, who is a candidate for the Presidency.
Mediterranean Has No Tsunami Warning System
March 21 (EIRNS)Europe has no tsunami alarm system for the Mediterranean, which as part of the Alpide Belt, suffers both powerful earthquakes and tsunamis.
According to tsunami expert Costas Synolakis, the conditions for powerful tsunamis exist throughout the seismically-active Mediterranean. Synolakis recommends a temporary solution by having Europe join the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center (PTWC), which covers the Caribbean, Pacific, and Indian Oceans. "We need to have this interim coverage and then slowly let Europe decide where it will build its monitoring center, how this will come about and what will be the jurisdictional boundaries," he said. "But we cannot wait forever until people figure it out."
Scientists: Fallacy of 'Old' Nuclear Plants
March 22 (EIRNS)Pierre Gadonneix, the former CEO of the state-owned power utility Electricité de France (EDF), stated on radio station BFM Business that, "In France today, the older nuclear power plants are, the safer they are, because they are refurbished every ten years. It is not how long it has been in operation that makes a power plant safe, but its design and the investments made in it. The French nuclear power plants are young: The average age of reactors is slightly over 20 years; the oldest is only 30 years old. If you compare that to the United States, where the Westinghouse reactors are rigorously the same as France's, reactors are allowed to operate for 60 years."
The French reactions also come in response to German elected officials calling for the shutdown of France's nuclear reactor in Fessenheim, Alsace, on the Franco-German border. After their statements, some 9,000 people, most of them Germans, crossed the border on March 20 to demonstrate in France in favor of shutting down the reactor. Fessenheim is the oldest French reactor, operating since 1977.
Sinn Fein Plans All-Ireland Strategy
March 20 (EIRNS)The Sinn Fein party's 14 Republic of Ireland MPs will meet with its members of the Northern Ireland Assembly at Stormont, the Northern Ireland Parliament, tomorrow to plan their cross-border political strategy, Sinn Fein Assembly group leader John O'Dowd told the Belfast Telegraph. Upcoming are elections for the Republic's upper house, the Seanad, who are elected by the Dail (lower house) and other institutions, and, in Northern Ireland, there will be Assembly and local elections on May 5.
Today, O'Dowd said, "This first meeting will focus primarily on advancing the united Ireland and all-Ireland political agenda. No other political party on this island has the depth and geographical spread of Sinn Fein elected representatives. We are the only party with a strategy and a team to deliver all-Ireland political change."
Portuguese Government Falls
March 23 (EIRNS)Portuguese Prime Minister José Socrates said on Wednesday that he had submitted his resignation to the President, after Parliament had earlier rejected his minority Socialist government's latest austerity measures in a vote.
The rejection "had taken away from the government all conditions to govern," Socrates said in a televised statement. He said his government would remain in power in a caretaker capacity.
All opposition parties voted for a resolution to reject the measure's austerity plan proposed by Socrates. Only the Socialists, who have 97 seats in the 230-seat parliament, voted in favor of the measures.
Tens of Thousands Protest Around EU Summit
March 24 (EIRNS)Initial police reports are that tens of thousands of people, under the aegis of the European Confederation of Trade Unions, showed up at the start of the two-day EU summit in Brussels, Thursday, to protest the "pro-corporation" nature of the discussion. Agora Erasmus in Belgium, the sister organization of the LaRouche movement's Solidarité et Progrès party in France, put out a leaflet, "Freeze the Bankers' Speculation, Not Our Wages!," in English, French, and Dutch, for demonstrations against the EU defense of bankers' looting at the expense of Europeans' living standards.
Greek Students Confront Papandreou
March 22 (EIRNS)While visiting the island of Syros Monday, Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou had to face protesters, who, he claimed, were hurling "verbal abuse," including high school and University of the Aegean students demonstrating against the government's policy while Papandreou was meeting with local government officials. There were clashes with police, who used tear gas to drive off the protestors.
Student protests, in cooperation with teachers and parents, over government austerity, are starting to emerge. Last week, teachers, students, and parents occupied 100 schools throughout Greece. The union of primary school teachers has announced a 24-hour strike on March 30, joining a strike by the high school teachers union and other unions.
German High Court Rules Against Deutsche Bank
March 22 (EIRNS)Deutsche Bank AG, Germany's biggest bank, lost a crucial court case in the Constitutional Court of Germany, on Tuesday, over an interest-rate swap. This has been the first such case over sales of these "products" to companies and local governments heard in the country's highest civil court. The bank must now pay Ille Papier Service GmbH EU541,000 plus interest, in damages resulting from the swap purchase, ruled Federal Court of Justice Presiding Judge Ulrich Wiechers, in Karlsruhe, the court's seat, today.
The ruling will influence dozens of other cases Deutsche Bank has with municipalities in Germany, with similar disputes in Italy, France, and Great Britain.