French Election

On Sunday, France held the first round of the presidential election cum referendum on EU membership. Emmanuel Macron won the largest share of the votes with 24% of the vote, followed close behind by Marine Le Pen with 21.3%. Thus, these two candidates will now compete for the French presidency in a runoff vote on May 7.

During his first interview after the election, Macron said,

The French people have decided to put me at the top in the first round of the vote,” “I’m aware of the honor and the responsibility that rests on my shoulders.”

In contrast, Marine Le Pen said that the outcome of the election was “an act of French pride” and called on French citizens to support her in order to defeat Islamist terrorism.

On Monday, Ms. Le Pen quickly renewed her attacks on Mr. Macron calling him “weakling” for his anti-terrorism policies.

The defeated candidates also gave their opinions about the outcome of the election and called on French citizens to support Emmanuel Macron against the xenophobic Marine Le Pen in the runoff vote on May 7.

The socialist Benoît Hamon, with 6% of the votes, was the first to concede and called on his supporters to vote against Marine Le Pen.

Fillon conceded with a 40-minute speech:

“The obstacles in my path were too many and too cruel,” he said. I accept responsibility for this loss,” added Fillon, asking his constituents to remain united and determined going forward into the French parliamentary elections. The defeated leader said he had ”no choice but to vote against the extreme right.” “I will vote in favor of Emmanuel Macron,” he concluded.

Jean-Luc Melenchon refused to say who he would back, criticizing both candidates for having “no stance on the environment or the future of civilization, and who both challenge the welfare and social model of the country.” He also said that the 500,000 members of his organization, La France Insoumise, will hold a vote to decide whether to support Macron, cast a blank vote, or abstain in the runoff vote in May.

The current President, François Hollande called on French citizens to reject far-right candidate Marine Le Pen and back Macron in the runoff on May 7.

For the first time in six decades, neither of France’s main left-wing or right-wing parties had a candidate remaining in the run-off election.

The outcome of the first round of the French election portrays a terrifying scenario. French citizens will now have to choose between Emmanuel Macron, a former investment banker who represents the establishment, and Marine Le Pen, a xenophobe who wants to destroy the EU and expel millions of legal resident immigrants in the name of fighting terrorism.

Macron’s victory would probably lead to the French working class losing purchasing power, which, in the short-term, will weaken the French economy. On the other hand, Le Pen’s victory would be catastrophic. She wants to hold a referendum on EU membership, and expel millions of immigrants who sustain the French economy.

According to recent polls, Emmanuel Macron will win the second round with 59% of the vote. However, experts have suggested that there is a factor which could give Le Pen the presidency: so-called Islamist terrorism.They think that a major terrorist attack in the next week in France would send a shock wave through French society, giving Le Pen a real chance of becoming president.

Paradoxically, Marine Le Pen wants to eradicate terrorism and Islamist terrorists want to assassinate her. However, they need each other to survive for the following reasons:

1- Marine Le Pen needs a terrorist attack to have any hope of victory.

2- Islamist terrorists need Le Pen to cause chaos in Europe if they want to spread their ideas and attract new militants.

While French citizens await the outcome of the runoff vote on May 7, the establishment is endorsing Emmanuel Macron in order to instate a new financial dictatorship in France if he becomes president. Marine Le Pen, meanwhile, has renounced her membership in the National Front (her political party) while being endorsed by Trump and U.S. alt-right organizations.

It is clear, then, that Neither Le Pen nor Macron will transform French society into a fairer one. Thus, the only thing that French citizens can do is organize and prepare themselves for a long battle against the unfair measures implemented by their next president.

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Organizing to Resist Threats to Our Rights

Ongoing political degradation and the rise of bigoted movements in western countries such as the U.S., France, and the Netherlands represent a real threat to our democracy. Its birthplace can be found in the U.S where President Trump has launched his personal crusade against immigration, women, LGBT, and human rights. 

In addition to that, Marine Le Pen in France and Geert Wilders in the Netherlands could soon both follow Trump’s steps as heads of their respective governments. Both have expressed their intent to target immigration and human rights if they win the next elections. They have aslo called on the international community to unite to create an international coalition to spread their ideas worldwide. Such a coalition could be catastrophic, since it would eliminate the rights that our ancestors achieved through decades of fighting.

As a result of all of this, there is clear evidence that, in the near future, bigotry will continue increasing to levels not seen in decades. It is in this context that we cannot wait any longer to unite and organize to resist these threats. For that reason, I suggest we start working to create a new inclusive organization to lead the resistance in western countries. It would fight back against any threat to our society regardless of political orientation.

In most cases, people tend to associate resistance against xenophobia with the Democrats in the U.S and Social Democrats in Europe. Both are supposed to be left organizations which defend the working and the middle class. However, their ties with the so-called establishment backed by previous administrations invalidate them from fighting xenophobic populism.

The resistance against bigoted movements must be broad and target xenophobic leaders, but also those who are acting indecorously by helping bigots such as Trump to win elections in their countries. For that reason, it is not possible to build an effective resistance, settled with old generations of unpopular Democrats (US) and Social Democrats (EU) leaders.

The alternative must come from those who have never represented any political party, instead, it should come through a new organization, which should represent all those minority groups who have been ignored in western countries for decades. It should come from below. Yet it is crucial that we know what this broad movement is for, as well as what it is against.

Under the existing context, a generation of true right defenders are leaving traditional political parties such as Democrats in the U.S., and Socialist Parties all across Europe. They are engaged in a process which causes divisions in their parties and finally, are forced to leave if they want to keep their convictions up. Unfortunately, after they leave their political parties, these brilliant minds feel betrayed and do not want to join any other project since they all seem very similar to each other.

Further, in just a few months, thousands of citizens from all over western countries have started to become interested in politics since they understand that it really impacts in their lives somehow. They are very energetic and want to protect their rights, but they have never participated in any political organization or movement, and they do not know how to do it.

For that reason, we need to start working to create a new inclusive organization to attract either, the millions of citizens from the working and middle classes who are interested in organizing a resistance, and those disenchanted brilliant minds who already left traditional political parties.

During the creation of this organization, there should be intense debate about who is allowed to take leadership positions. In my opinion, if this organization wants to repair the damage that has been caused by traditional political parties during decades, it should limit the participation of those who have ever had positions in other political parties or who have represented them. However, since this platform needs to be inclusive, I think it should discuss with them so we can learn how to prevent similar mistakes in the future.

As mentioned, there will soon be many challenges to confront, and unless we are ready, we will lose our freedoms. So let’s organize and resist these threats. Your contribution could determine the future of our global democracy and liberties. To that end, I am calling on you to share this as many times as you can with your contacts to begin an important discussion about the creation of such an organization.

If you are interested in this project contact me at: josepgoded@riseup.net

    

Will 2017 Be the Beginning of the End of The European Union?

Over the next few months, a sequence of events will determine the continued existence of the European Union. This year, both France and The Netherlands will hold crucial presidential elections. The rise of Alt-Right political parties in both countries such as the Front National (FN) led by Marine Le Pen in France and The Party for Freedom (PVV) led by Geert Wilders in the Netherlands could trigger the end of the European Union.

The first important test for the European Union will be on Wednesday, March 15, 2017, when the Netherlands will hold its presidential election. The anti-European Alt-Right candidate Geert Wilders has been leading all national election polls for several consecutive weeks. While his party currently holds 15 seats in the Dutch parliament, the latest poll now puts the PVV at 29– 33 seats, placing his party far ahead of the currently ruling Dutch Tories (VVD), who now consistently poll 23-27 seats. Wilders promised to hold a referendum on European Union  membership as the UK did if he wins the Dutch general election of 2017. He thinks that the European Union is obsolete and opposes all immigration policies.

“We want to be in charge of our own country, our own money, our own borders, and our own immigration policy,” “As quickly as possible the Dutch need to get the opportunity to have their say about Dutch membership of the European Union,” Wilders said.

“It is time for a new start, relying on our own strength and sovereignty. Also in the Netherlands,” “If I become prime minister, there will be a referendum in the Netherlands on leaving the European Union as well. Let the Dutch people decide,” Wilders said.

Wilders’ plans to hold a referendum represent a real threat to the European Union, but it would not be the end of the project in any case. However, what most worries European leaders is Wilders’ intentions to violate human rights and international law on a regular basis whether the Netherlands remains part of the EU or not. So far, his statements indicate that he will not step back on his intentions to start his personal crusade against refugees and Muslims. It might open an identity crisis among the European Union members. Wilders has suggested numerous times that the Judeo-Christian culture is superior to other cultures from all over the world.

“Our Judeo-Christian culture is far superior to the Islamic one. I can give you a million reasons. But here is an important one. We have got humour and they don’t. There is no humour in Islam. .. Islam does not allow free speech because free speech shows how evil and wrong Islam is. And Islam does not allow humour because humour shows how foolish and ridiculous it is,” Wilders said.

Like President Trump, Wilders also wants to stop immigration from Islamic countries.

“We want to stop all immigration from Islamic countries. We want to stimulate voluntary re-emigration to Islamic countries. We want to expel all criminals with dual citizenship and deprive them of their Dutch nationality. We want to de-islamize our nation. Dear Friends, there is a lot of work to do. We, the defenders of freedom and security, have an historic duty. Our generation has been entrusted with a huge task: To oppose Islam and keep the flame of liberty burning. I say it without exaggeration: the future of human civilisation depends on us. Now is a time when everyone in the West must do his duty. We are writing history here. So, let us do our duty. Let us stand with a happy heart and a strong spirit. Let us go forth with courage and save freedom,” said Wilders.

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A few months ago, Wilders was found guilty of inciting discrimination against Moroccans.

“The Netherlands have become a sick country.” “I am not a racist and neither are my voters. This sentence proves that you judges are completely out of touch. Support for the Party for Freedom is stronger than ever and keeps growing every day. The Dutch want their country back,” Wilders said.

“Today I was convicted in a political trial which, shortly before the elections, attempts to neutralise the leader of the largest and most popular opposition party. But they will not succeed, not even with this verdict, because I speak on behalf of millions of Dutch,” Wilders said.

The second and most important test for the European Union will be the 2017 French presidential election.The first round will be held on April 23. If no candidate wins a majority, a second round between the top two candidates will be held on May 7.Until a few days ago, François Fillon, the Republicans (LR) candidate was considered the favourite to win the two-round presidential election in April and May. However, his implication in a fake jobs scandal related to payments to his wife from MP funds has all but eliminated his chances of success. Marine Le Pen, the National front (FN) candidate is now, the favourite to win the first round of the election. A victory for her in the second round would represent a real threat to the EU. Le Pen wants to leave the European Union and it could never exist without France (one of the co-founders). She stated:

No, I think we need to renegotiate with the EU because I want to see French sovereignty restored in France, supported by a referendum.”

If I am voted in, I will announce that a referendum will be held in six months time. I will spend those six months going to the European Union and telling them: ‘I want the French people to regain at least their territorial sovereignty because I want to control the borders – they don’t belong to you.’”

“The EU is deeply harmful, it is an anti-democratic monster. I want to prevent it from becoming fatter, from continuing to breathe, from grabbing everything with its paws and from extending its tentacles into all areas of our legislation. In our glorious history, millions have died to ensure that our country remains free. Today, we are simply allowing our right to self-determination to be stolen from us,” Le Pen said.

Even if France remains in the EU, Le Pen would still represent a real threat to the EU. Like President Trump, Le Pen is also willing to violate international law to start her personal crusade against immigration, Muslims and Islam.This would violate all European values and human rights which could accelerate the disappearance of the EU. 

“The progressive Islamisation of our country and the increase in political-religious demands are calling into question the survival of our civilisation,”said Le Pen.

“For those who want to talk a lot about World War II, if it’s about occupation, then we could also talk about it (Muslim prayers in the streets), because that is occupation of territory,” she said at the gathering in Lyon.

“It is an occupation of sections of the territory, of districts in which religious laws apply. It’s an occupation,” Le Pen said.

“There are of course no tanks, there are no soldiers, but it is nevertheless an occupation and it weighs heavily on local residents,” said Marine Le Pen

In conclusion, this year will be full of threats and challenges for global society.The potential disintegration of the European Union represents one of these, but no one knows how it will end. History is full of threats and challenge that are often happily resolved. The elections in The Netherlands and France will be all about choosing between tolerance or intolerance, war or peace, friendship or enemies, future or past…Their citizens will have an enormous advantage since they can see what Trump is doing in the U.S. and based on that they will make an important decision that will change the world for the better or worse. Whether the European Union changes or not, what’s most important is that citizens will have the last word. Whatever your decision will be….Remember to think critically…And stand up for human rights.

By Josep