Opinion

Paul Taylor

Analysis: Austerity protests may curb euro zone reform

Paul Taylor
Sep 28, 2010 11:13 UTC

PARIS (Reuters) – Anti-austerity demonstrators are back on the march across much of Europe, fueled by anger at crisis-induced spending cuts, pension and labor market reforms that will hit the old, sick, poor and public employees hardest.

Yet despite strikes and protests called by shrinking trade unions, there seems little prospect of any euro zone government abandoning structural reforms or savings measures driven by financial market pressure, the European Union and the IMF.

“Public opinion and the unions are fighting a rearguard action and they know it,” said Ronald Tiersky, professor of European politics at Amherst College in the United States.

“Cutting back welfare state benefits has been on the agenda for a few decades and the financial crisis has brought additional public awareness of the limits to sweet deals.”

Spanish unions have called the first general strike in eight years Wednesday against public spending cuts and easier hire-and-fire laws enacted by the Socialist government. The umbrella organization of EU unions plans Europe-wide protests against austerity on the same day.

Austerity protests may curb euro zone reform

Paul Taylor
Sep 28, 2010 11:13 UTC

PARIS (Reuters) – Anti-austerity demonstrators are back on the march across much of Europe, fuelled by anger at crisis-induced spending cuts, pension and labour market reforms that will hit the old, sick, poor and public employees hardest.

Yet despite strikes and protests called by shrinking trade unions, there seems little prospect of any euro zone government abandoning structural reforms or savings measures driven by financial market pressure, the European Union and the IMF.

“Public opinion and the unions are fighting a rearguard action and they know it,” said Ronald Tiersky, professor of European politics at Amherst College in the United States.

Former Iranian chief justice rises to senior Shi’ite rank, eligible to be next leader

Paul Taylor
Sep 24, 2010 22:11 UTC

ayatollah 1The former head of Iran’s judiciary has attained a senior Shi’ite clerical rank, joining a handful of men eligible to become supreme leader of the Islamic Republic, according to Iranian websites.

The Kalame opposition website said Ayatollah Mahmoud Hashemi Shahroudi, who ran the justice system from 1999 to 2009, had become a marja-e taqlid (source of emulation), meaning that people may choose him as their personal spiritual guide. (Photo: Ayatollah Mahmoud Hashemi Shahroudi in Tehran, January 11, 2005/Raheb Homavandi)

“Ayatollah Mahmoud Hashemi Shahroudi announced himself as a source of emulation on Tuesday. He issued his resaleh (thesis interpreting Islamic law),” the website of opposition presidential candidate Mirhossein Mousavi said on Thursday.

French strikes challenge Sarkozy on pension reform

Paul Taylor
Sep 22, 2010 22:23 UTC

PARIS, Sept 23 (Reuters) – French trade unions launched the
second 24-hour strike in a month on Thursday against President
Nicolas Sarkozy’s unpopular pension reform, seeking to force his
government to go back on plans to end retirement at 60.

Strikes and street protests were expected to cause
widespread disruption to rail, air and urban transport, schools
and postal services, with organisers hoping to better the huge
turnout in demonstrations on Sept. 7. [ID:nLDE68K145]

Unions said 2.5-2.7 million protested around the country
that day, while police estimated the number at 1.1 million.

Analysis: Swedish rout highlights European socialist crisis

Paul Taylor
Sep 20, 2010 13:33 UTC

PARIS (Reuters) – The crash of Sweden’s long-ruling Social Democrats to their worst defeat since 1914 highlights the decline of socialist parties in much of Europe, drained by social change, economic crisis and the rise of new issues.

The re-election of a center-right Swedish government for the first time in modern history and the entry of a hard-right anti-immigrant party into parliament show how far the times have changed, even in social democracy’s north European heartland.

How the center-left should respond, and whether it can regain the ascendancy in Europe at a time when loyalties are shifting across the political spectrum, are now being fought out in internal party tussles in Britain and France in particular.

Germany’s Weber tipped for ECB job despite dissent

Paul Taylor
Sep 20, 2010 08:07 UTC

PARIS (Reuters) – Should a man who publicly opposed the European Central Bank’s most difficult decision in the heat of the euro zone crisis, breaking ranks with its leader, succeed Jean-Claude Trichet as ECB president next year?

That is the decision European Union leaders will have to make unanimously within the next nine months.

German Bundesbank president Axel Weber, 53, an outspoken inflation “hawk”, is frontrunner to take the reins of the bank that manages the world’s number two reserve currency, shared by 16 European countries, when Trichet’s term ends in late 2011.

Analysis: Germany’s Weber tipped for ECB job despite dissent

Paul Taylor
Sep 20, 2010 06:02 UTC

PARIS (Reuters) – Should a man who publicly opposed the European Central Bank’s most difficult decision in the heat of the euro zone crisis, breaking ranks with its leader, succeed Jean-Claude Trichet as ECB president next year?

That is the decision European Union leaders will have to make unanimously within the next nine months.

German Bundesbank president Axel Weber, 53, an outspoken inflation “hawk,” is frontrunner to take the reins of the bank that manages the world’s number two reserve currency, shared by 16 European countries, when Trichet’s term ends in late 2011.

Euro zone crisis redux? Not really

Paul Taylor
Sep 16, 2010 11:04 UTC

PARIS (Reuters) – There are days when it looks like deja vu all over again for the euro zone.

But the debt crisis that shook the European single currency area in April and May, sparking panic on global financial markets, is unlikely to return with full force.

True, yield spreads between Greek, Portuguese and Irish bonds and benchmark German Bunds, and the cost of insuring those countries’ debt against default, have returned to near the peaks they reached at the height of the crisis last April and May.

Analysis: Euro zone crisis redux? Not really

Paul Taylor
Sep 16, 2010 10:32 UTC

PARIS (Reuters) – There are days when it looks like deja vu all over again for the euro zone.

But the debt crisis that shook the European single currency area in April and May, sparking panic on global financial markets, is unlikely to return with full force.

True, yield spreads between Greek, Portuguese and Irish bonds and benchmark German Bunds, and the cost of insuring those countries’ debt against default, have returned to near the peaks they reached at the height of the crisis last April and May.

French unions test strength in pensions strike

Paul Taylor
Sep 7, 2010 07:17 UTC

PARIS (Reuters) – French unions began a show of strength on Tuesday with nationwide strikes and demonstrations against an unpopular pension reform but looked unlikely to shake conservative President Nicolas Sarkozy’s resolve.

Union leaders aimed to put some 2 million protesters onto the streets and severely disrupt rail and air traffic, schools and hospitals with stoppages that began on Monday evening.

“Tomorrow will be totally decisive. The number of demonstrators will determine more or less the changes the government will make in the reform,” Francois Chereque, leader of the CFDT trade union, said on France 3 television.

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