11-17 March, 2012
15 YEARS AGO
Kenya's President Odinga was suprised to be offered a starring role in DG Enlargement's latest video.|
In the few years that followed the fall of the communist regimes all over central Europe and Russia, what followed was a complete chaos. The economies were in ruins and the state apparatus had collapsed. Social services couldn'tfunction due to a lack of finance. The working population that had spearheaded the opposition to the old regimes were in a dead-end. This was clearly the case of the famous Polish Gdansk Shipyards, where thousands of workershad created and manned 'Solidarnosk', the organisation that opened the first hole in the entire communist edifice of the Warsaw Pact. Only a few years after the fall of communism in Poland the government was obliged to shut downthe Gdansk Shipyard, laying off all its personnel due to the fact that there was nothing to be built in it.
Beyond the beleaguered
Nicolas Sarkozy is, to use conventional wisdom, belea-guered. That phrase, as media-watchers are no doubtaware, is the usual shorthand for any world leader whomay be under domestic or international pressure, and whose waning popularity is such that he or she risksdomestic annihilation at the polls or severe credibility losson the international stage. Recent examples include USPresident Barak Obama, and, for wildly different reasons,George Papandreou. When the Irish economy collapsedin late 2010, and Brian Cowen was seemingly pre-des-tined to see his Fianna Fáil-led coalition government alsogo the same way, it was habitual for the then-Taoiseach(prime minister) to be described this way. In much thesame way, the demise of Sarkozy is similarly predicted.He has even threatened to withdraw from politics shouldthe upcoming presidential election not go his way, re-affirming the old adage that all political careers end infailure.Sarkozy, like the German Chancellor Anglea Merkel, hasboth pinned their political futures on the continued suc-cess of, to use another neologism, the European Project.Depending on one’s prejudice’s this is either testament tothe generous well of the European spirit or unbridled folly;either way, both leaders have committed themselves tosomething, supporters of European progression contend, isbigger than the narrow confines of domestic arguments.Right now, Merkel is, unlike her French counterpart, doing well in the polls, although that might all change ahead of next year’s elections, and she has offered to help campaignfor Sarkozy; it might not be such a bad offer, he apparent-ly needs all the help he can get.But Srakozy is not the only one under pressure. The would-be nominee of the far right, Marine Le Pen, iscomplaining that she is having great difficulty getting onthe ballot; she needs 500 signatures from citizens to qual-ify as a candidate. Her supporters are claiming that, whileher issues are considered to be at the forefront of the elec-torate, potential voters fear being stigmatised as support-ers of her policies, and are claiming something akin tointimidation.Speaking to the BBC, Jean-Marc de Lacoste, who headsthe National Front (FN), which is behind Le Pen, has saidthat previously potential supporters were put-off by graffi-ti campaigns and other property damage. It is a shamelessattempt to gear-up support for her candidacy. But morethan that, it is a disgraceful attempt to play the victim. The values of the FN are counter to those of what mod-ern-day Europe should stand for. One my take exceptionto Nicolas Sarkozy or to his main rival, Francois Hollandefrom the Socialist Party, but they fight on a political level;however parties like the FN may like to deny it, they donot represent democratic values, or fight for the rights of the little person swamped by big business and big politics;they seek to gain through exploiting fear and fermentingprejudice.At a time when populist parties, including the NationalFront in the UK, and the Austrian Freedom Party, areseeking to gain funding from the EU as part of a pan-European alliance, the rise of the far right should not bedismissed. But the lack of support in France is not due tothe far right being denied access to democratic structures,as they like to proclaim. Sometimes, political parties, whorely on the support of the people, are beleaguered for agenuine reason. It seems that some of them haven’t workedthat out yet.
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