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The UK’s election upset: Political mould is broken across the country

Europe's World - Fri, 08/05/2015 - 15:45

A Tory government, sceptic on the EU, with a small majority sounds familiar – think of the Major government in the 1990s (though with a majority then of 21 well ahead of Cameron’s slender advantage). But little else looked the same as politicians, pundits and the public alike surveyed the new British political scene on Friday morning.

Within minutes of the UK’s polls closing on Thursday evening, an election outcome no one had predicted was harshly outlined by the exit polls: a Tory majority government, a complete wipe-out for the Lib-Dems nationwide, and a dreadful and hugely disappointing overall result for Labour, with their wipe-out in Scotland by the Scottish Nationalist Party every bit as bad as Labour’s worst scenarios.

Big names fell throughout the nightLabour’s Douglas Alexander went early on, later shadow Chancellor Ed Balls after a recount in the grey light of the next morning. Vince Cable, Simon Hughes, Charles Kennedy, Danny Alexander and many other Lib-Dems saw their parliamentary careers ended, while Nick Clegg kept his seat only to gaze out over a rump Lib-Dem contingent of 8 MPs down from 57. The Lib-Dem share of the UK-wide vote was under 8%, a debacle from which there may be no return. By early breakfast time, pundits were wondering if it would be Clegg or Miliband to step down first; in the event, UKIP’s Nigel Farage beat them to it, resigning first, then Clegg shortly before midday and Miliband less than 30 minutes later. The face of British politics changed in one short hour.

The two big victors of the night were David Cameron and Nicola Sturgeon. Cameron is back in Downing Street with a majority no poll had predicted before election day and that the Tories hadn’t dared to dream of. And Nicola Sturgeon led the SNP to victory in 56 out of Scotland’s 59 MPsup 50 MPs from 2010. As one Scottish journalist put it ironically on Twitter, there were even so more Unionist MPs in Scotland than pandas (three MPs – one each of Labour, LibDem and Tory, with just two pandas on loan from China in Edinburgh zoo).

The UK’s first-past-the post system delivered the Tories their small but so unexpected majority with about 37% of the vote, while the landslide in Scotland reflected the SNP getting over 50% of Scotland’s votes. Labour was  wiped out in its historic heartland of Scotland, despite – or indeed very much linked to – the ‘no’ vote in the independence referendum. The UK Independence Party with its anti-EU, anti-migration, Little Englander stance came out of the night as the UK’s third biggest party in percentage terms – around 12% – but only one MP. Leader Nigel Farage failed to win his target seat and promised (before his resignation) to fight for proportional representation, something that David Cameron is not likely to be spending time on in the next five years.

EU Referendum, potential Brexit on Cards

David Cameron has said very clearly that he would not govern again without holding an EU referendum, so that prospect will now move centre stage. He has also said it would be by 2017, yet it is very unclear how any treaty change could be agreed and ratified by the EU’s 28 member states in such a short time scale, but that will be his aim.

Cameron’s likely demands for EU reform are fuzzy and have changed often in the last couple of years. Migration, despite its prominence in the British political debate in the last few years, did not figure centrally in the election campaign, but issues of controlling and restricting other EU citizens from UK benefits is likely to figure strongly in Cameron’s demand for EU reforms, but what sort of changes other member states will support is less than clear.

Still, with a possible ‘Brexit’ now on the cards, other EU leaders, however reluctant given the ‘awkward squad’ approach of the UK to EU affairs, will mostly do what they can  to keep the UK in while protecting their own interests. The most recent polls put the ‘yes’ vote for staying in ahead, but much can change in a country with a Tory government with a small majority and a strong right-wing agenda, a large eurosceptic UKIP contingent, a wiped-out Lib-Dem party, and a Union with Scotland fraying rapidly.

While the main focus in EU politics for the Cameron-led government will be the referendum, the loss of British influence in the EU over the last five years – from a low profile on Ukraine and Turkey, to no influence over budgetary policies – is likely to continue along with the UK’s wider lessening of global foreign policy influence.

Future cuts in public expenditure are likely to lead to a harsher atmosphere, with unpredictable impacts on opinion on the EU. The Tories’ promised cuts are likely to leave the British state a much smaller share of national income than, in some predictions, since the 1930s. The Tories promised £12 billion in cuts from the welfare budget heralds some drastic attacks on poorer people’s benefits, from young people to the disabled and sick.

Independence for Scotland on the cards again

The bonds linking the four countries of the United Kingdom are now visibly strained to a new level with Scotland and England heading in such different directions politically. The vote in Scotland was in many ways positive, representing a new, positive engagement with politics across the country, including a more positive outlook on the EU, on migration, as well as a strong anti-austerity position. But the SNP will have little influence over Cameron’s majority government (though in his first statement on the steps of no 10, Cameron promised more devolution soon), and the chance of a majority at Westminster with Labour disappeared in the earlier hours of Thursday night.

In the middle of election night, Nicola Sturgeon insisted that this vote was not one about independence, but held out the possibility that elections to the Scottish Parliament due next year would indeed potentially bring the issue up all over again. Any ‘no’ in the now definite EU referendum would also clearly propel the more pro-EU Scots towards an independence ‘yes’. The UK’s historic 300-year existence is now under question like never before.

Where next for the UK?

Cameron has said he would not serve a third term as Prime Minister, so his fellow cabinet ministers will  surely be setting out their stalls very soon to succeed him as leader, and contenders will doubtless be pushing for a leadership election in two years’ time rather than the three or four that Cameron might prefer.

The UK has a clearer government now than many had expected, but the future of the UK, as a country and in the EU, is anything but clear.




The post The UK’s election upset: Political mould is broken across the country appeared first on Europe’s World.

Categories: European Union

Why I would bet on the UK staying in Europe

Europe's World - Fri, 08/05/2015 - 14:40

So it would appear that we will have a Conservative Government with a small majority in the House of Commons. A single party governing over a divided country means the first priority will be dealing with divisions within the United Kingdom – most notably the ‘Scottish question’. Yet of equal importance for this government will be the question of Europe.

David Cameron promised to hold a referendum on British membership of the EU before the end of 2017 if re-elected to Downing Street. Such is the desire to see this amongst his back benchers that Europe might be the issue that maintains discipline among them for other government business – at least until a referendum campaign begins.

Ironically, it may be that the result is the best that those concerned with seeing Britain continue as a member of the EU over the medium term could have hoped for. The UK is now certain to hold a referendum which it would not have had if Ed Miliband had triumphed. Yet, and perhaps more significantly, Cameron’s victory means that the conditions under which this referendum will be held will be more favourable than virtually any conceivable alternative.

For one thing, the ability of the Tory right to talk of a UKIP threat may now be limited; UKIP won only a single seat, which was not claimed by party leader Nigel Farage. More importantly, support for UKIP seems to have affected Labour as much as the Conservatives, notably the defeat inflicted on Ed Balls by the Conservatives, where UKIP polled around 7,000. One potential implication of this is that these backbenchers will find it much harder to bully the Prime Minister when he comes to drawing up the wishlist for his much-vaunted ‘re-negotiation’ of the terms of EU membership.

This in turn increases the likelihood that David Cameron will campaign in favour of continued membership following a re-negotiation that is more likely to succeed. Thus, both major national parties alongside, presumably, the SNP, will come out against ‘Brexit’.

Given this, and despite the suspicion with which the British press – particularly the tabloids – is viewed by Europhiles, it seems likely that only the Daily Express will openly campaign for ‘Brexit’. It will be interesting to see how the Murdoch press approaches the referendum campaign, but my bet would be that metaphors about ‘holding ones nose and voting to stay in’ will be thick on the ground.

Finally – and this would have been the case whatever government had been elected – the business community will come out overwhelmingly in favour of continued membership. However unpopular some in business – notably the banks – may be, their capacity to induce fear was on open display at the time of the Scottish independence referendum and will doubtless be at the fore again in a referendum on EU membership.

Support for British membership has been rising steadily over the last year or so, and this combination of political and broader contextual factors points to a victory for the anti-Brexit camp. For all the uncertainty the prospect of a referendum might seem to bring, there is room for some optimism for those keen to see the UK continue as an EU member.

Of course there are caveats. Perhaps the overwhelming lesson of last night for all those – particularly academics – interested in politics is that polls must be taken with a pinch of salt. And referenda are, of course, particularly unpredictable.

Events in Scotland point to the fact that one referendum may not be enough. For all the rhetoric of some Europhiles that a popular vote on EU membership might ‘lance the boil’ or ‘empty the poison from’ UK-EU relations, it is conceivable that one referendum will lead to calls for a second.

All this being said, it seems that we are finally at a point where the British can have a genuine debate on EU membership. The election campaign warns us that this campaign might not be an exercise in soaring rhetoric and clarity of vision, but that chance for a proper debate is welcome. Were I a betting man – which, after last night, I no longer am – I would place my stake on the public voting to remain in the club.



IMAGE CREDITS: CC / FLICKR – Council of the European Union

The post Why I would bet on the UK staying in Europe appeared first on Europe’s World.

Categories: European Union

The Chief Monitor of the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission to Ukraine urged all sides to respect ceasefire during the forthcoming commemoration events

OSCE - Fri, 08/05/2015 - 14:27

KYIV, 8 May 2015 – The Chief Monitor of the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission to Ukraine Ambassador Ertugrul Apakan today urged all sides to ensure a lasting ceasefire during the commemoration events scheduled for this weekend.

"I urge all sides to mark the  commemoration of the events 70 years ago by intensifying efforts to support a sustainable ceasefire – one that endures not only through the holiday period, but also in the coming days and future,” Apakan said.

“I call on all sides to exercise restraint, adhere to full and comprehensive ceasefire and ensure that peace prevails during upcoming weekend and beyond.”

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Categories: Central Europe

Draft opinion - Trade in certain goods which could be used for capital punishment, torture or other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment - PE 555.011v01-00 - Committee on Foreign Affairs

DRAFT OPINION on the proposal for a regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council amending Council Regulation (EC) No 1236/2005 concerning trade in certain goods which could be used for capital punishment, torture or other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment
Committee on Foreign Affairs
Barbara Lochbihler

Source : © European Union, 2015 - EP
Categories: European Union

Szimmetrikus válasz az amerikai fenyegetésre?

Hídfő.ru / Biztonságpolitika - Fri, 08/05/2015 - 14:21
Az amerikai kormány kikényszerítette; orosz műholdas helymeghatározó rendszer Nicaraguában, elektronikus felderítés Kubában. Jöhet az orosz rakétavédelmi rendszer Kanadában, Mexikóban?
Categories: Biztonságpolitika

'A Joint Economic Space on the Continent': Putin Meets China's Xi

RIA Novosty / Russia - Fri, 08/05/2015 - 14:20
Russia's Vladimir Putin and China's Xi Jinping "achieved a unity of views on a wide range of issues" during their meeting on Friday.

Categories: Russia & CIS

Wolfgang Ischinger: "Kein Rosinenpicken für Großbritannien"

EuroNews (DE) - Fri, 08/05/2015 - 14:19
Über den Ausgang der Wahl in Großbritannien sprachen wir mit dem deutschen Diplomaten Wolfgang Ischinger. Ischinger, der den Vorsitz der Münchener…
Categories: Europäische Union

Vasilyeva Sentenced to 5 Years in Jail for Embezzlement

RIA Novosty / Russia - Fri, 08/05/2015 - 14:02
Russian ex-Defense Ministry official Evgeniya Vasilyeva was immediately taken into custody in the courtroom.

Categories: Russia & CIS

Agriculture and Fisheries Council - May 2015

Council lTV - Fri, 08/05/2015 - 13:42

EU Ministers of Agriculture and Fisheries meet on 11 May 2015 in Brussels, to discuss the development of organic production in the EU and the simplification of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP).

Download this video here.

Categories: European Union

Cikk - Fiatalokhoz szólt Schulz Auschwitzban: „ti vagytok a remény ezen a sötét helyen”

Európa Parlament hírei - Fri, 08/05/2015 - 13:38
Általános : „Reményt hoztatok erre a sötét helyre. Annak a reményét, hogy együtt felléphetünk az antiszemitizmus, a rasszizmus, az intolerancia és ultranacionalizmus visszatérése ellen” – mondta az EP elnöke fiatalok előtt beszélve Auschwitz-Birkenauban a „Train 1000 to Auschwitz” program keretében május 8-án. Az eseményre 1000 fiatal érkezett Európa különböző részeiből, akik Brüsszelből vonattal tették meg a szimbolikus utat Krakkóig.

Forrás : © Európai Unió, 2015 - EP

Is #Brexit a reality? and why should the Eurobubble care?

Public Affairs Blog - Fri, 08/05/2015 - 13:33

Yesterday was a long night on both sides of the Channel. With the final results of UK general elections imminent, the option of a popular referendum on the UK’s EU membership is likely to soon become a reality.

Against this backdrop, FleishmanHillard is examining what an exit might hypothetically mean for the institutional set-up in Brussels – starting with the EP. Have a look at the implications for Parliament in our in-depth analysis posted here.

With 73 British MEPs currently in the European Parliament, a UK exit would significantly disrupt current political group dynamics and impact policy choices. Important questions would be raised over the impact on parliamentary group dynamics and changes to current coalition formations.

Key amongst these changes would be the potential emergence of the ALDE group as a ‘kingmaker’ for political agreement, increasing its influence vis-à-vis the larger political groups.   


Additional headline implications of a UK exit

  • The Grand Coalition of the EPP and S&D would become more fragile, with a possible return to the traditional left v. right alliances
  • With the EFDD no longer a viable group, Marine Le Pen’s Front National delegation might give the formation of a new Eurosceptic group another try.
  • The S&D’s centre of gravity might move further towards the left, without its 20 MEP strong Labour delegation.
  • Any UK exit would likely necessitate a widespread reallocation of senior EP positions
  • Larger Member States might not push for a reallocation of vacated seats

We hope you find this analytical insight interesting, and we will follow up with an analysis of a UK exit on the Council’s political dynamics in the coming days.

Stay tuned!


The Institutional Research Unit



Categories: European Union

Levegőben az An-178 - Képgaléria

JetFly - Fri, 08/05/2015 - 13:24
Már beszámoltunk Olvasóinknak arról, hogy 2015. április 16-án bemutatták Kijevben az új Antonov An-178-as katonai teherszállító repülőgépet, melynek nagy jövőt jósol a gyártó. Az An-12, An-26, An-32 típusok leváltására szánt repülőgép 2015. május 7-én teljesítette első repülését, melyről egy képgalériát állítottunk össze Olvasóink számára. Az An-158-ason alapuló, Progress D-436-148FM hajtóművekkel szerelt új An-178-as a Kijev melletti Gostomel repülőtérről emelkedett a levegőbe! Kérjük, tekintsék meg galériánkat!
Categories: Biztonságpolitika

Léginavigációs kutatás-fejlesztési platform alakult Magyarországon

JetFly - Fri, 08/05/2015 - 13:16
A HungaroControl Magyar Légiforgalmi Szolgálat Zrt. Kutatás-fejlesztési és Innovációs Platform létrehozásáról 2015. május 8-án együttműködési megállapodást írt alá tizenegy felsőoktatási intézménnyel, a KTI Közlekedéstudományi Intézettel és a Magyar Tudományos Akadémia Számítástechnikai és Automatizálási Kutatóintézetével. Az együttműködés célja a léginavigációs tevékenységgel szorosan összefüggő K+F és innovációhoz kapcsolódó területek feltárása, közös projektek koordinációja, az oktatók, hallgatók kutatómunkájának, nemzetközi kapcsolatépítésének támogatása, valamint európai uniós pályázati lehetőségek kiaknázása.
Categories: Biztonságpolitika

Article - Schulz in Auschwitz: "We have come together here to keep the memory alive"

European Parliament (News) - Fri, 08/05/2015 - 13:11
General : Martin Schulz paid tribute to young people during a visit to Auschwitz-Birkenau: "You have brought hope into this dark place that together we can and will fight the return of anti-Semitism and racism, intolerance, and ultra-nationalism every step of the way." The Parliament President was talking to them as part of the ”Train 1,000 to Auschwitz” commemorative event on 8 May, bringing together 1,000 young people from all over Europe who took a train journey from Brussels to Krakow.

Source : © European Union, 2015 - EP
Categories: European Union