Posts Tagged ‘elections’

A voté


Which is what is said when you drop your vote into the box when voting here in France. Tomorrow is the second round in the French Legislative elections. Unfortunately I will not be voting. The first round of the elections took place last Sunday and in most places there was no-one who won more than 50% of the votes, so there is a run off between the top two or three candidates this Sunday.

Where I live in the centre of Strasbourg (Strasbourg 1 constituency result pictured – I like to think of it as Strasbourg City, or Strasbourg Centre constituency) we had the only Parti Socialiste(PS) deputé in Alsace elected last time, in 2007. This time Armand Jung is through to the second round with almost 42% and the UMP challenger has 28% so hopefully he will be back representing me after tomorrow.

The good news is that there had been fears that there might be a Front National(FN) deputé elected in Alsace but there was not. It was thought if they did not elect someone straight off then they might get candidates though to the second round. In fact they have only got one through to the second round of the elections, and that in a ‘triangular contest’ i.e with a PS and a UMP candidate. So hopefully they will not get a candidate elected in Alsace. The map shows that the vote of the FN from the Presidential election got stronger the further you got from centres of population, with the blue getting darker as the votes for the FN increased.

Other things to look for  include the result from Strasbourg 2, or Strasbourg South as I like to think of it. This seat has been held by the UMP since the 80’s and had Ostwald moved into it as part of a redistribution before the elections which brought in 27,000 voters believed to lean more towards the right. Despite that the PS led in the first round  and it looks like we might have Alsace’s second PS deputé.

In the third Strasbourg constituency, imaginatively called Strasbourg 3, or Strasbourg North to me, there was a huge commotion because the PS mayor of Schiltigheim, who had been selected to fight the seat for the PS, was forced to stand down as part of a deal with Europe Ecologie-Les Verts(EELV). Here there is an all woman slate with a female EELV candidate and PS substitute. Their task is much harder, only being ahead by 39% – 37% and a lot will depend upon how the FN vote splits between the different candidates.

Otherwise, nationally in the first round a number of PS deputés were re-elected but only one UMP deputé and that was here in Alsace. One of the things I like about Alsace is how Christ is a common surname. So, one of our existing deputés was J. Christ and he is in front on the first round and looks like he will be re-elected on the second round. It does the heart good to imagine the French equivalent of the Speaker, which could be Sego if she overcomes her little local difficulty, shouting Christ in Parliament to call him to speak! (Although one thing that came out before the election was that he didn’t do too much of that- the UMP excuse being that he was busy on Parliamentary committees showing not much changes the world over.)

Nationally the issue is whether the Vague Rose will result in the PS electing enough deputés to govern on their own or whether they will need support from other parties. All will be revealed tomorrow night.

The change is now


People might have noticed that there was an election taking place in France for the post of President yesterday. On my way to one of the city’s Irish pubs in order to watch a football match yesterday I passed a school which was being used as a polling station with people going in to vote. All very familiar.

What is not familiar and is, therefore, different is that the municipality provide space for the different parties to post-up posters of their candidate. The ones seen here are just outside the polling station pictured earlier. When there were ten candidates in the first round there were ten of these hoardings outside this school and at different locations all over Strasbourg.

Opposite the posters and the polling station someone had put forward their own view on the vote, Left = Right + vaseline:

Reading Labour’s desperate racist campaign – What they are saying


It is only a week since the news about the despicable dog-whistle racist leaflet produced for Reading Labour by the Public Impact Ltd company of John Howarth so it is not surprising that some of the Reading Labour bloggers are only now catching up.

As usual, one of the first to respond was the now Redlands Labour candidate, Tony Jones, which I wrote about here. Well, as I reported here, he has now had second thoughts about posting the statement and letter from Reading Labour in full and has removed the post. You can still read it in full here or below:

View this document on Scribd

We then had the woeful attempt by Battle ward councillor Sarah Hacker which I reported on here. It has now ben joined by Redlands councillor Jan Gavin who just posts the Labour party press statement with no comment. Then yesterday they were joined by Whitley councillor Rachel Eden who in this bizarre post has published the letter to the Reading East Conservative Agent from the Reading Labour Party Agent. This formed part of the post by Tony Jones but it was thought that after this post by WAS, followed by this from Janestheone, pointing out the criminal nature of posting the letter that led to him taking his post down. I have tried to comment on the post from Ms Eden which is waiting on her to approve it for publishing. How long do people think I should wait?

Elvis is alive and well and living as a candidate for the Front Nationale in Alsace


On Sunday there were what are called cantonale elections in France. They were for around half the seats in the département,(French wiki) here the Bas-Rhin.(wiki) Explaining the different levels of French Government would be a much longer exercise than I plan here but the département lies below the region and above the city.

Of the 23 cantons having elections in the Bas-Rhin two elected candidates on Sunday with the remaining 21 elections to be decided by a run-off between the first two candidates.

A lot has ben made internationally of the surge of the Front Nationale(FN) to come third with 15% of the poll nationally behind the Parti Socialiste(PS) and President Sarkozy’s UMP (17%),  One aspect highlighted in the article linked to is the number of races in France where the FN are second and in the run-off, 400. In Bas-Rhin the FN are the main opponents in the run-off in 8 of the 21 elections as can be seen in the full list of second round races here or below.(Click on the display to see it full size.)

One of the main areas of interest has been around the result has been in the canton in which I live, in Strasbourg 2.(Gare – Halles – Finkwiller)  Here the candidate for the Greens has come second behind the sitting candidate for the PS, Jean-Jacques Gsell.  As a result of the Strasbourg city council being run by a coalition between the PS and the Greens the latter have a number of Adjoint, or Deputy Mayors, and the person challenging the incumbent is one of these Deputy Mayors. The Mayor of Strasbourg has waded in and called upon the Green candidate to respect the collaboration on the Strasbourg council step down from the second round.  You can read her reaction and that of the incumbent here. The piece has lots of western imagery referring to the film ‘The Train whistles Three Times’ which is on rotation on one of the film channels here and casting the Mayor as the Sheriff.

Finally, from the other département in Alsace here is a picture of the run-off in Andolsheim where the contest is between the party of Mr Sarkozy and fascist Elvis impersonator:


Voting all over the World


This weekend around the World people are voting in important elections.  In Brazil voting takes place for the successor to President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva with his former Chief of Staff, Dilma Rousseff, widely expected to win but there seems to be uncertainty over whether she will get the 50% necessary to avoid a run-off election at the end of the month although a poll at the end of last month had her on 52%.

In Sarajevo people are out voting for the Parliament, assemblies in the two semi-autonomous regions and for a number of Presidents.  The Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights, with the unfortunate acronym for such an important body of ODIHR, of the OSCE has observers in the country for the elections.  The long term observers report can be found here and we will find out their views on the conduct of the elections on Monday.  It is hoped that the elections will result in new leadership for the country which is still racked by ethnic tensions and corruption and has 43% unemployment.

In Latvia elections were held yesterday and it seems the government who, faced with serious economic difficulties because of  the World economic troubles, were honest with the people and took hard decisions and have been re-elected possibly with a majority for itself.  With one party in government and one major opposition are we seeing the shake out of the hundreds of parties established after the end of Soviet occupation of Latvia and a move toward a more normal European model of fewer larger parties?  The OSCE had observers at the elections and said they complied with expected norms.

I’ll end this trip round the World in Germany where they were not voting yesterday but this weekend marks the 20th year since the reunification of the country.  The fall of the Berlin wall and the reunification of Germany, together with the end of the Soviet occupation of Europe was the biggest most important event of my lifetime.  I too will raise a glass to celebrate getting back our continent.  There was much said about the state of the German economy in the last 20 years but it seems to be roaring ahead now am I think the troubles it has faced have been as a result of the costs of reunification.  I’ll just end saying that Margaret Thatcher was against the reunification of Germany, another example where she was wrong about Europe.

UPDATE:  Finally, to round up my tour of the World, here’s a video of a presentation to the Swiss Parliament on agricultural tariffs, (hat tip Harrys Place) its the way he tells them:

On the money


I long ago gave up on the Guardian.  As a self-proclaimed progressive paper it seemed to me to spend too much time opposing the actions of the Labour Government and the Prime Minister, Tony Blair, for not being left wing enough.  Far too many public schoolboys attacking people working for real progressive change for everyone rather than the dilettante shouting from the comfortable armchairs of the middle-class  intellectuals.  So I do not feel the anger and betrayal of the paper for supporting the Lib Dems at the up-coming election.  The best criticism of the decision I have seen is here at Harrys Place, one of the few must-read every day blogs, and I reprint it here in full:

“You are young-ish. Between the ages of 25 and 40. You are a graduate. Of a good university – almost certainly Russell Group, and probably elite – Oxbridge, Durham, Bristol or one of the London colleges. You live in inner north London. Or at least the better bits of south London. Clapham, maybe. Or St. Reatham, at a push. You earn more than the national median wage of £21,320. In fact, you, or your colleagues whom you respect and whose positions you aspire to one day take, earn substantially more than the London median wage of £30,000. Your chief executive earned £471,000 in 2008/9.

A small hedge fund? Blue chip? The law?


The Guardian.

You attended your editorial meeting where the general election line was discussed. Not decided, mind you. That decision is jealously guarded by your more senior colleagues. The ones who are even further removed from reality than you are.

You’re not particularly interested in history. 1997 is a dim memory. In the meantime there’s been Afghanistan (you forget that you supported it at the time – the increasing number of body bags provide the “moral” imperative now), Iraq, PFI, detention without trial, the – horror of horrors – Digital Economy Bill.

All Labour. You’re a modern sort of person – you don’t need to think about the history, the background, the context. What’s important – what fits with your assumptions – is the requirement for the tired, old party to be punished.

And so there is no heated debate. Just an echo chamber. Because all your colleagues think just like you do. You all know that you’re liberal, enlightened, sensible. How could anyone on the left possibly disagree with support for a Liberal Democrat vote?

And so the die is cast.

And suddenly you find a furore you didn’t expect. Some of your readers (not the CIF commenters, but the ones who’ve read the actual paper for years) are angry. Upset.

People are accusing you of ignoring 13 years of transformational change. You don’t use the NHS that much, and don’t have kids. Your colleague, James, has children, but he didn’t realise what a big deal those Sure Start Centres were – it’s not like Tessa or Henry attend them, so how could you expect him to know? You didn’t really notice that Labour had transformed the public services. You noticed that you had to increase the pay of your agency cleaner shortly after 1997, but that was the only real up close experience of the effects of the minimum wage you had. You think ASBOs are an ante-diluvian horror, not a vital tool to defend law abiding working class people. You think the New Deal was terribly unfair, rather than an essential tool of fairness and empowerment. Most of all, you’re glad that the government that introduced student fees will soon be gone. The massive expansion in higher education is great and all – we’re all liberal, and we wouldn’t turn around like those died-in-the-wool Tories and say it was a bad idea. It’s just that there are more important issues. Education is a right, not a privilege, and if we have to dramatically cut back the number of places available and remove the maintenance grants that Labour reintroduced for the poorest third in order to shout that principle loud and clear, then that’s just the way it has to be.

And that’s why you, and all your colleagues, and your senior colleagues who made the actual decision, made the brave, progressive choice to advocate a vote for the Liberal Democrats. Time for a change. Change that works for you. Or whatever it is.

But your readers all have a choice too. Some of us will never buy the Guardian again. It’s nothing personal.


We just don’t think you really understand the way life actually works in the UK, or what really matters in the lives of the people that a great progressive newspaper should support.

We’ll remember this. And long after the slam-dunk defeat of 2010 is a distant memory, after we’ve clawed ourselves back into contention, back from third place, if that is what it is to be – and by God we’ll fight to prevent your complacent and counter-productive desires becoming a reality – we’ll recall what you did and said.

We’ll recall that you put the electoral system above the education system, that you put House of Lords reform above continuing reform of the benefit and tax credit system to empower working people. And we’ll recall that you put Nick Clegg’s earnest vacuity ahead of a hundred years of blood and sweat and tears.

And then we’ll recall that there is only space for one searing, demanding, committed force for change and reform. And that the chance for the likes of you passed in the flames of the first War.

Some of us may be new Labour, Blairite, warmongers, or whatever people like you want to call us, and some of us may be traditional socialists or social democrats, but our party is a broad church of reform.

We’ve had tough times before. We’ve lived through tempestuous change in the 1980s and we’ve come back, renewed and reformed, dedicated to representing the aspirations of working people. Because our mission is too important to allow it to be cast aside through our own introspection, complacency or self-imposed irrelevance.

And that is our strength. We work with each other day in and day out, and our coherence, solidarity and discipline as a mass party representing working people means that we’ll be around long after the Guardian and your favoured liberal choice of the moment have been obscured by the shifting sands of time.

We will bury you.”

I have already voted.  A further quote comes from a recent post by Oliver Kamm (Hat tip JTO):

This is a feeble, unimaginative, incompetent and intellectually incurious Prime Minister, whose hapless, cynical and dysfunctional government has debased the notion of public service, coarsened public life and forfeited any claim to public respect, and I shall be voting for its return to office next Thursday.

My postal vote arrived Wednesday and was returned on Thursday.  Having read the Paul Routledge book (interesting you can only get used copies and at a cost of £0.01) on Gordon Brown, I was already concerned about the traits which became obvious once he became leader of the Labour Party and Prime Minister, bullying, indecisiveness etc.  And this was from a generally supportive and semi-authorised biography.  I set  out my concerns on my previous blog (which unfortunately is dead) and stated why I thought he should not become leader of the Labour Party on the resignation of Tony Blair.  Over time I became more and more disenchanted with his leadership and just saw the Party heading towards defeat which seemed the only chance of getting rid of him and moving on.

This week I voted Labour.  I did so because in my constituency there is a very good hard-working Labour MP I wish to carry on.  I disagree with Kate Hoey about most things in politics but she is a hard-working effective champion forVauxhall, a place and a people that need a champion like her more than most constituencies.  I finish with something I wrote in an earlier post after the sad death of Michael Foot which included the following from Alastair Campbell:

“Third, and most importantly, his desire that Labour should win another General Election. He did not agree with everything the Labour government did. But he delighted in so much of the change made under first Tony and now Gordon, two men of whom I never heard him say a bad word, even when disagreeing with some of their actions. And to the end, the very end, he would argue with anyone who cared to engage that in the choice between Tory and Labour about who should run Britain, there wasn’t really a choice at all.”

She’s back & why its good to talk


As previewed earlier, a week in St Malo enjoying Easter in the sunshine at the seaside followed by a week with a computer too slow to be able to write anything before I deleted programmes from the hard disk to get it usable again and then a weekend at Niederbronn-Les-Bains mean that I have experienced more of France and Alsace and have items to post in the coming week.  Before I get to those there a couple of things I want to get off my chest.

Sadie‘s back having survived working for Martin Salter.  Read it and enjoy.

Important elections in Northern Cyprus between candidates wishing to complete the talks to unite the island and another wishing to have two independent countries which will have a huge impact upon the future of the island, probably the most important elections taking place now.

Touch my dirndl


All eyes this weekend will be on Germany where there are elections tomorrow and where last weekend the Munich Oktoberfest started.  At the start of the election campaign it looked like Chancellor Angela “Angie” Merkerl and her CDU/CSU party would get enough votes, as would the pro-business FDP, for them to form a government.   A Report in the German media on Wednesday showed that despite what has been called one of the most dull elections it was now looking much closer and that after the German result may see another left/right grand coalition.  This would be something of a success for the leader of the SPD, Frank-Walter Steinmeier, who had been all but written off.(And has gone from being seen as something of a bureaucrat to having his own version of the Obama Girl.):

One of the things which has been picked up has been the growth of the Pirate Party.(here, here, and here)  After the success of the Swedish Pirate Party in the European elections where it polled enough to gain an MEP, people are questioning whether it might happen in Germany too, or are they a small, very well organised, noisy minority able to get people to a flashmob when Angela Merkerl is speaking but not to get out the vote?  Certainly, in the first round of a by-election in France their Pirate Party managed just over 2% of the vote.  Elsewhere there (and here) has been interest in how well the left party will do.  I might just be sad enough to watch the results come through on German TV tomorrow.

At the same time in Munich the annual Oktoberfest has been taking place.  Here’s Der Spiegel’s quiz about it and here a photo gallery of it.  If you look at the pictures you’ll see women wearing traditional Bavarian dresses (called Dirndl) which is my excuse to show this, “touch my dirndl”:

Throwing my arms around Luxembourg


P1030407The first time I voted in France was in a student election.  I was given the various lists of candidates and an envelope and then told to go behind the curtain into the voting area and vote.  But none of the lists had a box on them.  Where was I to put my cross?  How did I show I wanted particular candidates?  It was only after I put one of P1030406the lists into the envelope, having randomly crossed off some names, of people I knew nothing more about than the others I did not cross off, that I was able to put it in the box and cast my vote.  I later found out that the way you vote in France is by putting the list into the envelope and then putting that in the box.  I don’t know what people scrutinising the vote would have thought when my vote came out with people crossed off.  I hope the people concerned did not see it as they could take it personally when it was a mistake by someone who didn’t know what they were doing.  Anyway.  The photo at the top is of my Carte Electorale which has to be shown to the polling officer to get your envelope and the one below is of the lists of candidate.  One of these is put into the envelope and you then have to sign before your name in the electoral register, the hole in the box is openned and you drop your vote in.

Anyway, enough of elections.  I’m off to Luxembourg to see Morrissey and then I am catching a train at 5 in the morning to play cricket in Burgundy.  I will vote on my return.  To mark the visit to the master and go some way to explain the title of this post here he is:

Vote, vote etc.


I had been wondering where the election litereature for Sunday’s elections had gone, but not enough to be onto the town hall complaining about its absence.  Then today on my way to do a little light grocery shopping at the local Co-op I passed the ‘Facteur‘(postman) and was surprised, we are towards the end of his round and our mail is reecived around midday, as it had been today.  There is no second delivery.  Then I spotted his sacks were full of brown envelopes and a-ha I thought a special second delivery for election literature.  Sad follower of politics that I am I looked forward to gettting P1030381home and openning the envelope and on the left are my envelope and its contents.  In the centre and on the left are the leaflets and on the right are the voting lists.  If you want to vote for a party you take their list with you to the polling station to vote, but more about the actual process of voting later.  The main leaflet on the center is from the Parti socialist with the list of their eighteen candidates down the right.  Behind that is the leaflet for les Gauliste which helpfully shows a map of the  Grand Est electoral region which comprises, Alsace, Lorraine, Champagne-Ardenne, Bourgogne and Franche-Comte.  There are also leaflets from Libertas, europe-ecologie, Front National, Nouveau Parti Anticapitalist (of which more here), Mouvement Democrate (Sort of Lib Dems), Alliance Ecologiste Independante, Front De Gauche (comprising the parti communiste francais , gauche unitaire and Parti de Gauche), Europe Democratie Esperanto, Lutte Ouvriere and the UMP of the current President Sarkozy (although they also seem to share their list with Le Nouveau Centre, La Gauche Moderne and Progressistes).  Observations, only the Parti Socialiste have not put their A5 to use for voting list of candidates in the bundle so they must be confident there will be plenty at the polling station.  The official Greens are all, obviously environmentally friendly, lower-case whilst the independent greens are upper-case.  The Front National and UMP did not bother putting their URL on their leaflet so either the right thinks people can find their website anyway, they are not keen on promoting it, or being essentially conservative they have no truck with this modern interwebhighway thingy.  Four more days till we vote.

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