And the next is France

Marine Le Pen has two weeks left to try her miracle. The polls predict a defeat against Emmanuel Macron in the second round of the French presidential election in May 7th. The different polls are showing a clear victory of her rival, around 62% against 38%. Macron seems bounded to be the next president of France without even being politically defined. He has no political party to speak of and has never held elected office, but he is one of the front-runners for the French presidency. There is something wondrous about Macron. Nothing important of what is known about him seems strictly aligned in the life’ symmetry. Both candidates are outside the traditional French political paradigm for the first time since World War II. They do not belong to the traditional parties which have formed government since then, neither are Republicans nor Social-Democrats. The Social-Democrat withdrawal is another worrying issue to be analysed at another moment and not only in France, but throughout Europe.

Marine Le Pen is a woman with many edges: to get a glimpse about her, I must refer to a statement she made before the elections, 12 days before the first round, about the Velodrome raid, known in all the history books as ‘La Rafle du Vél d’Hiv’, and which have been very poorly matched by French public opinion but above all, outside France: she denied the responsibility of France, its rulers, its police, its diplomacy and security services in the most famous of the raids of Jews to be deported in the Second World War, one of the most unearthing sinister national ghosts. To understand these statements, it is necessary to place them in a very French context, the difficulty with which France has managed the idealization of the French Resistance, the omission of the collaborationism and, ultimately, all the events derived from the Nazi occupation, from Vichy and De Gaulle’s appeal of June 18th, when France split into two halves which disputed the official legitimacy. The fact was that most of the population were indifferent, or collaborating with the Vichy regime. These are old stories, truly. In fact, Le Pen’s reflection, although dishonest, is typically Gaullist, characteristic of the foundational Gaullism, when the General, forced by the task of building a new republic over the rubble, resentments and defeats of the previous one, exaggerated the narrative about the good resistant French people and attributed them the moral purity necessary to enhance the pride of belonging. Le Pen’s reflection is an anachronism without historical foundation or justification in which a hypothetical France is invented and did not exist, but she would recreate if she finally wins the Presidency.

On the other hand, it is her recent visit to the Kremlin: when the Russian President Vladimir Putin sat at the table with the French right-wing candidate, and he broke the Slav antifascist icon’ suit. What the Cold War divided, is being united by the jihadist attacks, as well as the yearning of Putin and Le Pen to see a divided Europe. Le Pen has officially become the favourite candidate for the Kremlin. Her party FN received a $9 million loan from the Moscow-based First Czech-Russian Bank, while all the European entities turned their backs on her. The National Front (FN) always opposed those sanctions against Russia for its interference in Ukraine. Moscow regrets the ills that affect the EU, but the side effects of the NF are the best ones for Russia. Le Pen is sceptical about NATO and has promised a referendum on France’s presence inside the EU. The same as all populist proposal, nothing new. A ‘Frexit’ would disrupt the political power of the EU. Perhaps that is why the Russian Foreign Minister, Sergei Lavrov, defined Le Pen as “realistic, or anti-globalist” a compliment extended to Donald Trump, and to all the club members as well. Anti-EU, anti-Euro, anti-NATO, against the elites, against the finances world, pro- nationalizations, against the international trade liberalization agreements… Looking to paragraphs of the populist formations programs, many voters would not be able to differentiate them or which country are these referring to.

Marine Le Pen has fifteen days left to capture all those pissed off French. She already has the slogan for the second round: “I am the candidate of the people“. Nothing original and typically populist. She also knows that she must go all out and intensify her attacks against Macron: ‘the people’s candidate’ against the favourite of finance, banks, CAC 40, the press, the ‘establishment’ … The head of the FN cannot surrender yet without trying another ‘Trump effect’. The FN has won more than seven million votes in the first round. It is the party that has the strongest voters base. Volatility is not a disease which might affect to Le Pen.

For Marine, as she likes to be called, the confrontation with Macron will oppose with well-differentiated arguments: nation against European Union; Protection against liberalism; Patriotism against internationalism; Identity versus diversity; ‘The people’ against the elites. Like Donald Trump, the leader of the National Front (FN) has found the perfect channel to reach the public, to transmit her messages and political slogans and, at the same time, to avoid the criticisms and attacks from many newspapers and TV channels. Her secret weapon are the social networks. The traditional media, also in the very civic and cultured France, face a growing discredit.

The traditional right and left old and mangy, of Fillon and Jean-Luc Mélenchon, this time have remained outside. They have been sharing the representation of a melancholic citizenship who denies the risk, the doubt and the frictions of an open society. Le Pen thinks she’s something else, something fresh and new. Those disenchanted, pouting voters, is what FN can aspire to. But Marine Le Pen may have exhausted the adhesion voting in the first round. Neither the ‘Trump effect’ nor Putin’s moral help, seems sufficient to defeat Emmanuel Macron. The destruction of the old political paradigm has just begun and, of course, renewal will not be easy.

Turkey: The Coup has been completed

 

 

The US President, Donald Trump called to his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan to congratulated for his “Pyrrhic victory” during the last Sunday’s referendum, despite the big criticism coming from the international observers. The Turks approved on Sunday in a minor victory a constitutional reform promoted by Erdogan which will allow him to extend his mandate until 2034, and replace the parliamentary system which has characterized the Turkish democracy, by a presidential system. Large cities such as Istanbul, Ankara, Bursa and Izmir strongly rejected such a reform, but it has been largely supported in rural areas where ‘a strong leadership’ was preferred.

President Erdogan was looking for this wished election date for years; it was for him the possibility of seizing such a great an unknown power in Turkey since the times of the mythical founder of the Republic, Mustafa Kemal Atatürk. Erdogan arranged everything in his favour not only to get the approval of his constitutional amend, but also to achieve it with a big great result. The seriousness of his face during the first public intervention after knowing the first election results, left no room for doubt. “The referendum has been won, but no victory has been achieved,” Abdulkadir Selvi, a columnist close to the Islamist AKP (Justice and Development Party and Erdogan’s) government, wrote in the daily newspaper ‘Hürriyet’. And It didn’t happen because of a lack of resources: Erdogan has well exploited the last attempted coup: the massive subsequent purges, with about 50,000 imprisoned, seemed to pave the way for his absolute victory.

The Republican People’s Party (CHP),of social-democratic ideology and main opposition party in Turkey, announced on that it will call for the cancellation of Sunday’s referendum. The Turkish political analyst Semih Idiz stated, “In the end, Erdogan has gotten his way and got the system he wanted, but it is not the victory he was hoping for. Erdogan asked for at least 60% of  people’ support during the campaign, which would have given real legitimacy to his executive presidency.” Finally, it has remained at 51.41%.The opposition has not acknowledged these results and announced that they will be impugn them at the Constitutional Court.

The referendum on Constitutional reform in Turkey has also triggered a reactions’ wave across Europe. The idea that Erdogan is walking in the opposite direction of the European values, ​​is the most repeated thesis, and although in this reform does not appear anything referring to the re-establishment of the death penalty, which is the limit that all EU countries and institutions have designated as insurmountable, the way in which this referendum has been carried out and the political consequences arising from the outcome, are viewed in Europe with much scepticism and as a bad affair. The most obvious symptom has been the OSCE and Council of Europe election observers’ conclusions, who have formally pointed out that the referendum which has decided to reinforce the powers of President Erdogan, has not taken place under conditions of the required democratic impartiality. It is not often that a mission of election observers makes such a drastic statement about an election process, especially being Turkey a member of the Council of Europe.

From countries such as Belgium and the Netherlands, warnings have already been made to Erdogan about the use he might make of the election’ result, and they are analysing the possibility of limiting the maintenance of Turkish nationality to those migrants who have acquired as well that of their country of residence: they must either renounce to their Turkish nationality or lose the acquired nationality, i.e., Belgian or Dutch.

If it were not enough, Erdogan referred to the possibility of calling a new referendum, this time on Turkey’s accession to the EU, with the clear intention of asking the Turks to vote against it. In addition, another vote on the re-instatement of the death penalty.

Recep Tayyip Erdogan removed his democratic ruler’ mask long time ago. From the failed ‘coup’ or better, ‘self-coup’, we have witnessed the spectacle of an autocratic and threatening Turkey. It began by the blackmailing to the EU with the refugee crisis, while he was embracing with other autocratic leaders or dictators in front of the spotlights. Thousands of people have since been arrested, detained and expelled from their jobs for their alleged involvement in the coup, without a single evidence. A whole purge to strengthen Erdogan’s power. The red alarm’ lights have long been lit around Erdogan, especially after those incidents with the Dutch and German authorities during last March.

With this new authority’ twist, the president of Turkey has consummated the betrayal of those who elected him through the ballot box and to the thousands of citizens who went into the streets to preserve the democratic order.

Erdogan plans to dismantle the democratic regime and all the political plurality which had been reached by the transcontinental nation, minimizing or just finishing with his political opposition. He wants an Islamist Turkey just for him: a country which he can handle like that Ottoman empire he has been dreaming his whole life. Bye-bye Atatürk!

Brexit & Gibraltar

 

 

Following the takeover of  United Kingdom positions, the other 27 states and the European Council, the Euro Chamber has imposed its own conditions and requirements for the Brexit negotiations. A list of conditions including the absence of any reference to Gibraltar. Moreover, the European Union determines that the future status of Gibraltar must be agreed between the UK and Spain. And it is not a coincidence. In the draft of the European Council guidelines, the now famous clause 22 states that “no agreement between the EU and the UK could be applied in the territory of Gibraltar without an agreement between Spain and the UK.” The speech of EU leaders like Manfred Weber has reminded that Spain’s interests are those of the EU, regarding this dispute. The EU have finally admitted a certain fact: The Rock is an English possession overseas and its status is to be negotiated between the colonial power, the UK, and the colonized, Spain.

The Rock was occupied by troops of the UK on August 4th, 1704, when an Anglo-Dutch fleet commanded by Admiral George Rooke, seized Rock. Rooke, aware of the strategic importance of the Gibraltar isthmus, ordered the English flag to be raised. The conquest was ‘legalized’ by the Treaty of Utrecht. The document, signed by Anne Stuart, Queen of England, and Philip V of Spain, states: “The Catholic King, by himself and by all his successors, gives by this treaty to the Crown of Great Britain the full and entire property of the city and castle of Gibraltar, together with its port, and the defences and fortresses that belong to it.

The Treaty of Utrecht makes no reference to any border boundaries or jurisdictional waters. Only granted to England the town of Gibraltar and the Spanish forts built for its defence. The English expelled the local population who took refuge in the vicinity, creating what is now the little village of San Roque. Then, the British authorities repopulated the Rock with people brought from Malta, Cyprus and North Africa. In 1830 England unilaterally granted to Gibraltar the status of a Crown colony. Today, Gibraltar is almost the only colonial symbol of the old British Empire. According to the UN, the colonial situation of Gibraltar destroys the unity and territorial integrity of Spain, and its maintenance is contrary to the Charter of the United Nations. That is why the UN has repeatedly urged the UK to end its presence in the Rock.

I am surprised by the astonishment of the English people by the UE declarations to these facts, including the left-wing daily The Guardian, after the EU decision to recognize something as elementary as Gibraltar is a colony. That is not said by Spain but by the United Kingdom itself, as by Parliament’s Act, the sovereignty of the Rock is in Westminster and its legal status is that of ‘overseas territory’, something similar to other small territories under English sovereignty dispersed by the world, with no other difference than the clause of reversion of Gibraltar to Spain, provided by the Treaty of Utrecht. It is also say by the UN, which puts Gibraltar among the territories to decolonize, which does not happen with Ceuta or Melilla, for example.

The tabloid newspaper ‘The Sun’, showing the xenophobia daughter of the Brexit, has decided to launch its vomiting campaign in defence of Gibraltar, painting the front the Rock with the Union Jack and giving to their readers a bilingual poster where announces “Hands off Our Rock / Our Rock Is Not Touched “. The Sun´ columnist Kelvin Mackenzie, has named the Spaniards “follaburros” (fuck asses), urging to his compatriots to prepare for a good old fight and even dared to suggest the expulsion of those Spaniards currently residing in the UK, (“Say goodbye, Manuel“). “Up yours senors!”, which can be translated as “fuck up, gentlemen” aimed at the “meddlesome leaders” of Spain and EU, about Gibraltar´ legal status for the future. He seems to have forgotten that in Spain are more than 300,000 British citizens as residents. Absolutely unfortunate all, especially coming from a people who think so high and civilized about themselves!

Gibraltar was just one of the many reasons why the UK should not have leave the EU. One might expect from a mature and responsible country that, instead of nourishing the populism, both from Gibraltar and from the public opinion, it should remember these evidences. Gibraltar is a dispute as old as convoluted which has to be resolved by Spanish-British negotiations. It is clear that the Gibraltarians are very nervous, while the old Tory guard redoubled the war´ drums. Their nervousness is understood, like the warmongering of the old Tory guard, who dreams of reviving imperial glories by sending the Navy to Gibraltar, as they did in the Falklands. But Theresa May’s position is weak.

There is no need to invade Gibraltar, not even closing its border. It will suffice to apply its legal rules because, according to the advantages London has negotiated, it is not included in the Schengen Treaty as internal borders within the EU, which has allowed it to have the fourth per capita income in the world and, to be like the rest of the British colonies, real tax havens. The strict application of that treaty would suffice for such advantages to disappear. The UK must accept the evidence about this matter. It should not be difficult in a country which used to have such an immense empire. After all, if UK could return India to its people, could well return Gibraltar to the Spaniards. The people from Gibraltar want to maintain their current status as an English colony forever is understandable, they have in it a privileged standard of living. But that Europe would accept and defend the maintenance of a colonial order on the territory of a member country was unacceptable and offensive.

The Gibraltarians say they want to be British and European. Until now it was possible. Now they must choose. With regards to the English, we know that for them the only thing which counts are their interests, and that is precisely what the Gibraltarians fear the most. From now on their xenophobia, their abject insults, their ridiculous threats, or their alleged superiority to the rest of the world will not do any good. Long live the Brexit!