Western European News Digest
Finnish Elections Can Sink Bailout Deals
April 18 (EIRNS)As a result of the Finnish elections, in which the anti-bailout True Finns Party won a significant vote, a European Union bailout of Portugal is becoming less and less likely. Although not the largest of the Euroland countries, Finland is one of the few that has a triple-A rating, a creditworthiness essential for the European Financial Stability Facility. As reported April 17, any new bailout package will have to be approved by the Finnish Parliament. The expansion of that fund requires a unanimous vote among Euroland countries, and now, that is in serious doubt.
The breakdown of Sunday's vote points to having the new True Finns Party involved in talks to form a coalition government. Finnish state TV YLE reported that the election "turnout was up from 2007 in what will be seen as a protest vote against the established parties and the eurozone bailout." The final results are: National Coalition Party: 20.4%; Social Democratic Party: 19.1%; True Finns: 19.0%; Center Party: 15.8%; Left Alliance: 8.1%; Green League: 7.2%; Swedish People's Party: 4.3%; Christian Democrats: 4.0%; Pirate Party: 0.4%; Others: 1.6%. YLE continues: "Government formation is expected to be difficult, with True Finns' leader Timo Soini driving a hard bargain on support for eurozone economies among other issues. Social Democrat chair Jutta Urpilainen, nevertheless, said that the populist True Finns deserved a place in government after their strong showing in the ballot."
The commentaries in the Swedish media stress the nature of the protest vote. Actually all government parties lost votes, including the Greens by 1.3%, in spite of the Fukushima accident leading to a surge in the anti-nuclear opinion. The Center Party with the former Prime Minister Mari Kiviniemi will go into opposition, having dropped from 35 to 16 seats in parliamenta real thrashing, as happened to Fianna Fail in Ireland and Jose Socrates in Portugal.
The anti-EU bailout was very high profile in the election, with True Finn leader Soini going against the bailouts in every speech he made. The Social Democrats, although pro-EU, also campaigned against extending the bailout to Portugal.
Iceland to the World: 'If We Can Do It, You Can Do It!'
April 21 (EIRNS)Icelandic parliamentarian Birgitta Jonsdottir issued an international appeal April 15, calling on people throughout the world to reject a "banking system that is unacceptable," and to refuse to "let them scare you into submission." Speaking to Michelle Rasmussen of EIR and the Danish Schiller Institute, Jonsdottir represented the majority of the Icelandic population which refused to agree to a taxpayer bailout of a major private bank, despite massive pressure.
Jonsdottir emphasized that every country in the world, especially others in the crisis-wracked European Union, faces exactly the same problem as Iceland. She said she "hoped this [the Iceland rejection] will be an inspiration for others."
Sinn Fein Attacks Privatization Report
April 21 (EIRNS)A new Irish Government-sponsored report on privatization of government assets, the McCarthy report, was released yesterday. It calls for raising EU5 billion by selling government-owned energy, natural resources, and transportation, as well as gaming companies.
Sinn Fein spokesperson on natural resources Martin Ferris called on the government to reject the McCarthy report, declaring, "Sinn Fein will join with others in strongly opposing this and we will be putting pressure on the government to not only reject the report's recommendation of a sale of over 5 billion, but also abandon its own plan to sell 2 billion.... Contrary to statements from the government that the proceeds from the sale will go to fund job creation, the report recommends that they go to pay off the debt."
Mecklenburg Defending Fusion Research
April 18 (EIRNS)The state government of Mecklenburg-Prepomerania (MVP) was the only one to vote against the insane resolution for the nuclear exit passed April 15 by the Bundesrat, the upper house, comprised of the Federal representation of the 16 German states. Ironically, the minister president of MVP is a Social Democrat, and opposed to the drive of the rest of his party to also shut down the German fusion research center at Greifswald. The two MVP government parties in a grand coalition, the Social Democrats and Christian Democrats, also plan to pass a joint counter-resolution in their state parliament in defense of fusion research.
The entire issue will now play a prominent role in the election campaign for new MVP state parliament, which will be elected on Sept. 4.
French Right-Wing Goes Populist
April 20 (EIRNS)As the right-wing populist movements make breakthroughs in the rest of Europe, there is an insidious effort to push them in France as well, and President Nicolas Sarkozy and his Interior Minister Claude Guéant, who are already campaigning for the Presidential elections in 2012, are surfing on this wave.
To respond to the growing so-called "outcry" of the population against immigration, a club called the Popular Right was created within Sarkozy's UMP party, which has now some 44 deputies. The aim of this club is to outdo Jean-Marie Le Pen's National Front anti-immigration rhetoric, but with a heavy dose of Ayn Rand-style British Liberalism: beyond raving against Islam, calling for law and order, their charter calls for a "balanced budget," and for the values of "meritocracy."
Czech Republic Will Continue Nuclear Program
April 18 (EIRNS)Unlike its western neighbor, Germany, the Czech Republic has made clear that it has no intention to abandon its nuclear power generation program. Prime Minister Petr Necas, who leads a center-right coalition, said a tender to expand the country's two nuclear power plants would move forward. "There is absolutely no reason to limit (Czech nuclear power plants)," Necas told a news conference in Prague. "The government would have to be a bunch of fools to take such a step."
State-owned CEZ, central Europe's biggest utility group, plans to build two additional units at its Temelin plant near the Austrian border, as well as up to two other units in neighboring Slovakia and another at its Dukovany station in the east of the Czech Republic.
Greece Politically Imploding
April 18 (EIRNS)While the government of Prime Minister George Papandreou is making declarations every day that Greece will never default, the Greek political landscape is imploding under his feet. A poll commissioned by the daily Kathimerini revealed the collapsing support for his ruling PASOK party, as well as the main opposition party New Democracy, and that if an election were held today, neither one could form a majority government.
The poll showed that 8 in 10 Greeks say that their personal economic situation has deteriorated since last year. Support for PASOK has dropped from 35% in March, a collapse at that time, to 33.5% this month. New Democracy also saw its support decline by the same margin, to 27%. Support for the Coalition of the Radical Left (SYRIZA) increased by 0.5% to 5.5%.
Netherlands Elderly Fear Euthanasia
April 22 (EIRNS)Elderly people in the Netherlands are so frightened of being killed by doctors that they carry cards saying they do not want euthanasia, according to Kevin Fitzpatrick of the anti-euthanasia group "Not Dead Yet." Fitzpatrick is quoted in the London Daily Telegraph saying that it is "nonsensical" to say that we all have a right to die, when what is really being sought is the right to a premature death.