The Great Debate UK

German elections bring forward a possible stalemate situation for EMU

-Jane Foley is research director at The opinions expressed are her own.-

Next month’s UK general election is not the only one of significance in Europe. There is the possibility that the German regional elections in North Rhine-Westphalia on May 9 could result in the end of the CDU/FDP government’s majority in the upper house of parliament.

While this would not alter Angela Merkel’s status as Chancellor, lessened support would make it more difficult for her to implement planned tax cuts and health services reforms. Fear that she may lose support in NRW is currently delaying the transfer of a German loan to Greece. In turn this means the markets are bracing themselves for a possible default in Greece; an event which could change the present composition of the Economic and Monetary Union of the European Union.

German popular opinion is firmly set against the notion of providing loans to Greece; although Germany as the largest EU economy is obliged to lend around 8.4 billion euros to Greece very soon to help the latter avoid default. While the election in NRW will not be fought on the subject of Greece it does give an added edge to concerns about lack of fiscal manoeuvrability in the region.

Brown must create Afghanistan war cabinet


richard-kemp2- Col. Richard Kemp is a former commander of British Forces in Afghanistan and the author of Attack State Red, an account of British military operations in Afghanistan published by Penguin. The opinions expressed are his own. -

Disillusionment with the inability of the Kabul administration to govern fairly or to significantly reduce violence played a role in the reportedly low turnout at the polls in Helmand.

From afar, G8 seeks a handle on Afghanistan


Luke Baker- Luke Baker is a political and general news correspondent at Reuters. -

The mountains and deserts of southern Afghanistan are far removed from the elegant charms of Trieste in northern Italy, but there will be a link between the two this weekend.

Foreign ministers from the Group of Eight nations meet in the Italian city on the Adriatic on Thursday for three days of talks, with the state of play in Afghanistan, as well as developments in Iran and the Middle East, front and centre of their agenda.

Why the results of the European elections matter


justin_fisher- Justin Fisher is Professor of Political Science and Director of the Magna Carta Institute at Brunel University. The opinions expressed are his own. -

It’s fair to say that the results of the European elections in Britain were something of a shock. Of course, it was evident that Labour was going to do badly and the BNP’s success in winning its first European seats did not come entirely out of the blue. But the collapse of Labour’s vote exceeded what most had predicted, and the realisation that the BNP now has 2 of the UK’s 72 MEPs is more dramatic than the possibility that it might occur.

Rise of BNP reflects voter disengagement


jg- James Graham is the Campaigns and Communications Manager of Unlock Democracy The opinions expressed are his own. -

The rise of the far right in Britain is not a sign that people are flirting with fascism but a signal that disengagement has reached a crisis point.

Why election results matter to parties’ grassroots


justin_fisherJustin Fisher is Professor of Political Science and Director of the Magna Carta Institute at Brunel University. The opinions expressed are his own. -

The elections this Thursday are widely expected to be bad for Labour. And depending upon which poll you believe, they may not be brilliant for the Conservatives. But a familiar call will emerge nevertheless – that a loss of seats, particularly at local council level, will lead to a further decline in that party’s grassroots. This reality is, however, a bit more complex.

Political motives behind the trial of Suu Kyi


Soe Paing- Soe Paing is Director of the Office of the National Coalition Government of the Union of Burma, based in the U.S. The opinions expressed are his own. -

The arrest and the filing of criminal charges against Aung San Suu Kyi for alleged violation of house arrest rules under Section 22 of the 1975 State Protection Law or “Law to Safeguard the State Against the Dangers of Those Desiring to Cause Subversive Acts” indicate that the incumbent military regime in Burma is not interested in the offer of Aung San Suu Kyi’s party — National League for Democracy (NLD) — to join the elections scheduled for 2010 if certain conditions are met.

Ten reasons to vote in EU elections


paul-taylor– Paul Taylor is a Reuters columnist. The opinions expressed are his own –

Opinion polls predict a record low turnout in next month’s EU-wide European Parliament elections. The Strasbourg-based assembly was once regarded as a toothless talking shop, but that has long ceased to be true. Indeed there are many reasons for Europeans to cast a vote.