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Meet Marion Maréchal, the next voice of French nationalism

Čt, 03/14/2019 - 15:43

THE REVAMPED Confluence neighbourhood of Lyon is a laboratory for modern eco-living. A self-driving electric bus runs along the river Rhône, and green architecture overlooks converted docks. Waterfront cafés serve health food, and arts centres rise on former industrial land. The new influx of metropolitan types into the district helped Emmanuel Macron win fully 82% of the vote in the second round of the French presidential election in 2017 against the nationalist Marine Le Pen.

Yet today this neighbourhood is also the improbable new home to a rather different sort of experiment, run by the youngest member of the Le Pen political dynasty. In a side street a private graduate school, the Institute of Social, Economic and Political Science, opened its doors last autumn. It is the brainchild of Marion Maréchal, niece of Marine, and granddaughter of Jean-Marie, founder of the National Front (now the National Rally). In theory the 29-year-old Ms Maréchal has given up politics, having been elected to the National Assembly for a term in 2012 while still a law student. In reality the third-generation Le Pen has ambitious plans to shape the agenda on the right—from outside electoral politics.

France may cherish conceptual thinking, but its aspirant politicians usually tread a route to electoral office via jobs as party hacks or on...

Kategorie: Evropa, Souhrn

Norway and Switzerland: two approaches to life outside the EU

Čt, 03/14/2019 - 15:43

THE SWISS are getting ready once again for a referendum that could muck up their relations with the European Union. On May 19th they will have a chance to block an EU law that is meant to protect the continent against terrorism by forcing the Swiss, along with everyone else in Europe’s Schengen free-movement zone, to tighten rules on gun use and ownership. Swiss men, most of whom do an annual stint as army reservists, may keep a weapon under their bed at home when they are not on duty. The EU’s instruction to curb this privilege, among other things by banning people from possessing semi-automatic weapons, has enraged Swiss on the prickly right, even though their federal parliament has diluted the EU’s edict, for instance by exempting members of shooting clubs from such strictures.

In any case, the nationalist Swiss People’s Party, the country’s largest, still jibs at the Schengen zone’s freedom of movement and rails against the European Convention on Human Rights. It argues, for instance, that migrants who commit crimes should be expelled forthwith and that asylum-seekers should be denied legal aid in pursuit of residence; the right lost referendums on those issues three years ago. But if the Swiss repeatedly use referendums in an effort to block such European laws from affecting them and propose nationwide initiatives to amend their...

Kategorie: Evropa, Souhrn

A Croatian inventor says he is building the world’s fastest car

Čt, 03/14/2019 - 15:43

YOU GET what you pay for. And if you pay €1.7m ($1.9m), next year you can take delivery of an electric car that can reach 412kph (256mph). The C_Two, says Mate Rimac, who builds them, is the most powerful road car ever. “Not electric, not hybrid, not combustion engine, but ever.” (Definitional issues mean his claim is sure to be contested, for example by Bugatti or Hennessey.) If you allow time to charge the battery after every 650km, but ignore speed limits, traffic jams and a wait for the Channel Tunnel, you could leave Sveta Nedelja, the town outside the Croatian capital where they are being built, after lunch and be in London, 1,650km away, for dinner.

Croatia’s economy grew by 2.8% last year but Mr Rimac’s company left it in the dust. A year ago he employed 200 people; now he says he employs 500. In a few years he expects to employ thousands. Thanks to a low national birth rate and high emigration, Croatian companies are experiencing labour shortages. But finding workers is not Mr Rimac’s problem. The trouble is that nobody in Croatia has the right experience.

“Eight and a half years ago I was one man in my garage,” says the 31-year-old entrepreneur. Now he is planning a 50,000 square-metre campus for his company that other countries would “give their liver for”. He thinks many of his compatriots don’t like him...

Kategorie: Evropa, Souhrn

A comedian could be Ukraine’s next president

Čt, 03/14/2019 - 15:43

A MEMORIAL COMPLEX featuring photographs of brave protesters fills Kiev’s Independence Square, or Maidan. Displays reproduce Ukrainians’ Facebook posts from key moments during the movement that overthrew the former president, Viktor Yanukovych, five years ago. “I stopped counting covered bodies,” reads one, recalling the day when police opened fire on demonstrators. “How many of them are there?” The revolution was dubbed the “Revolution of Dignity”. Yet ahead of a presidential election on March 31st, the campaign is anything but dignified.

Among more than 40 candidates, the front-runner is Volodymyr Zelensky, a comedian and actor best known for playing a teacher who becomes president in a popular television show called “Servant of the Nation”. He is now attempting to turn make-believe into reality, presenting himself as a fresh face to a population frustrated with the old elite. “People want to show the authorities the middle finger, and he is playing the role of this middle finger,” says Volodymyr Fesenko, a political analyst.

The two other main contenders are the incumbent president, Petro Poroshenko, and a former prime minister, Yulia Tymoshenko. Many reformers had pinned their hopes on Slava Vakarchuk, a rock star who declined to run. Anatoliy Hrytsenko, a former defence minister, has the backing of many opinion-...

Kategorie: Evropa, Souhrn

Turkey is soon due to take delivery of its Russian missiles

Čt, 03/14/2019 - 15:43

FOR TURKEY’S president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, a deal is a deal. “There can never be a turning back,” Mr Erdogan said on March 6th, referring to his country’s purchase of a Russian air and missile defence system, which America and NATO strongly oppose. “Nobody should ask us to lick up what we spat.”

The two S-400 batteries Turkey has ordered from Russia, which come with their own radar, command centre and missile launcher, for a reported $2.5bn, pack more bang for the buck than most rival systems. But they may end up costing Turkey much more. Unless it walks away from the deal or mitigates the risks the system poses to NATO, the country could end up on the receiving end of American sanctions. The clock is ticking. Russia plans to deliver the first of the batteries by July of this year.

Having simmered since 2017, when the purchase was made public, the row over the S-400s has recently come to a boil. Days after Mr Erdogan’s statement, the Pentagon warned that Turkey would face “grave consequences” for buying the system. Two senior State Department officials are said to have delivered a similar message in person the previous week.

According to the Pentagon, Turkey risks expulsion from the F-35 programme, under which the country stands to acquire 100 fighter jets from America, and sanctions under a law (known as...

Kategorie: Evropa, Souhrn

Germany’s chancellor-in-waiting makes a rightward tilt

St, 03/13/2019 - 19:12

DUMPING ON VOTERS is rarely a winning strategy for politicians. But Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer, who leads the Christian Democratic Union (CDU), Germany’s largest party, says her compatriots are becoming “the most uptight people in the world”. Ms Kramp-Karrenbauer had been criticised for a joke, made during west Germany’s riotous carnival season, about “third-gender bathrooms” for “men who can’t decide if they want to sit or stand when they pee”. But she was not in the mood to apologise. How absurd to police jokes at a carnival, she thundered last week, going on to defend the rights of carnivores, fireworks fans and children who like to dress up as cowboys and Indians.

The semiotics of carnival in Germany are difficult for outsiders to parse. But what initially seemed a silly-season story now looks like a tactical gambit. Last December Ms Kramp-Karrenbauer narrowly beat a conservative rival in an election to replace Angela Merkel, Germany’s chancellor and her mentor, as CDU leader. That put her in the top position to take over as chancellor when Mrs Merkel steps down, as she has promised to do. Many on the party’s right who had grown tired of Mrs Merkel’s big-tent centrism feared they were in line for years more of the same. Ms Kramp-Karrenbauer wants to change their minds.

She has started by sharpening the CDU’s...

Kategorie: Evropa, Souhrn

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