Spain’s postnational local election?

Richard Corbett MEP directs us to this BBC report on Spain’s rash of political parties dominated by immigrants from other European countries, especially Germany and Britain. In one municipality, San Fulgencio, there are some three such parties, including one run by a former policeman that declares its opposition to immigration.

This immediately raises an interesting question of language. As Corbett points out, the BBC reporter refers throughout to “ex-pats”, who are apparently something quite different to “immigrants”. I am an expatriate, you are a local, he is an immigrant, they are bogus asylum seekers taking our jobs? I suppose it’s not surprising that these large, usually politically silent, communities should export their political preferences with them – one can well imagine people who fit into UKIP, the BNP, or the Tory hard right fitting into what Edward Hugh calls Spanish separatism.

Certainly, we can discern a progression through perhaps three phases. To begin with, these places were tourist resorts (hence the infrastructure problems that motivate much of this political activity, the lead times being long). Then they began to be retirement communities, with the demographic shift and the run-up of the property market. Now, interestingly, not only are the retirees living longer, but the expat (or immigrant!) population is getting younger, in a symbiotic process with the appearance of an expat economy.

Tourists are politically irrelevant, at least in the context of an open society. Retirement communities may have been thought to be so. If people have families and businesses, though, they can’t help but have interests that are affected by local politics. Corbett raises an interesting point when he postulates a British Polish Party. After all, they would be starting at stage three already, although the fact a lot of them intend to leave would be a countervailing force.

I wonder how many more extranational political parties the EU will see?

The Third Annual Satin Pajama Awards

I should give people a last chance to suggest blogs for the stin pajama awards.

The purpose of the awards is to recognize the efforts and contributions of Europe’s many talented bloggers, to maybe help build a sense of community among us, and, more than anything, it’s a chance for people to discover lots of new good blogs.

A blog is eligible if it’s written by Europeans or has a European (Czech, Catalan…) theme. Our own blogs aren’t eligible. Finalists are chosen based on the number of nominations as well as editorial discretion. So you want to nominate a favorite blog even if someone else already mentioned it.

The polls will open on Tuesday May 22.

Nominees for Best Southeastern European Weblog
Nominees for Best CIS blog
Nominees for Best Writing
Nominate Best Culture Weblog
Nominees for Best Personal Weblog
Nominate Best New Weblog
Nominees for Best European Weblog Overall
Nominate Best Political Weblog
Nominate Most Underappreciated Weblog
Nominees for Best Humor Blog
Nominees for Best German Blog
Nominees for Best French Weblog
Nominate Best UK Blog
Nominees for Best Expat Blog
Nominate Best Academic Weblog

Serbia: Day 109, and over

At the last possible moment, they pulled it out. Serbia has a new government.

Prime Minister Kostunica will stay Prime Minister. Some ministries will be shuffled; control over state security will be divided (since, in Serbia, nobody trusts a rival party to control this). Oh, and they’ll kick the Radical leader out of his position as Speaker of the Parliament.

The new government will probably be weak and consumed by constant internal bickering and backstabbing. But it’s still much better than the alternative of a Radical (opportunistic, vaguely fascistic populist-nationalist) government.

Also: 109 days to form a government. That’s pretty impressive. It’s much better than their previous record of 70 days from 2004. This one will be hard to beat.

Still, here’s a tentative prediction: just as the Italians have a habit of short-lived governments, the Serbs are going to have a habit of long post-election wrangling periods. I’d bet a euro that after the next election — two, three, or four years from now — the next government won’t be formed for at least 60 days.

Speaking of bets, seven weeks ago I bet that Serbia would form a new government at the last possible moment. I was right! But I also bet that before this happened, the UN Security Council would make a decision on Kosovo. I was wrong… Oh, well, that’s 1-for-2.

So, that’s sorted. On to Eurovision!

Consider this an open thread.

Witch Doctors of the EU

Orac reports on the curious case of a Bulgarian witch doctor, practising in Serbia in a creditable interpretation of the Bologna process, who advised a patient suffering from premature ejaculation to sexify a hedgehog. It turns out in comments that Bulgaria actually licences shamans.

Bulgaria is now a member state. I’d like to see the DG Education & Culture meeting where they try to define a Europe-wide qualification for necromancers.

Quick-Reaction Alert

So France gets a new president. So I’m jumping from the window, running to the AFOE control room..

Nicolas Sarkozy’s first act as President has been to go for a “retreat” in the monastic surroundings of a giant yacht belonging to media boss Vincent Bolloré, who claims to have no business with the French government. Well, well, well.

Except for this one, under which his SDV Group logistics firm gets the job to carry the French diplomatic bag. €5.6 million to you. Or this one, of indefinite value, under which his firm gets the job of transporting cash (and medals!) by air for the Ministry of Finance. That is, Sarko’s old job.

Or, finally, this one, under which SDV gets the contract to provide all the French Ministry of Defence’s air charters, for some €36 million. Hat tip to Arnaud Labrousse, and these guys.

General Management

You may have noticed that the Satin Pajama Awards back in February. First my job got in the way, then my computer died, then I moved to a new city, and, well, I never got back on track, until now. They’ll be held on Tuesday May 15 22.

Nosemonkey’s doing his fourth euroblog roundup.

Still some time left for the reader survey. C’mon people, it’s not that long if you skip all those vodka questions.

Serbia: Uh oh

So Serbia has elected a new Speaker of the Skupshtina, or Parliament. That’s the first step towards forming a new government. This after more than 100 days of post-election wrangling.

Should be good news, right? Except that they elected the leader of the Serbian Radical Party — the obnoxious populist-nationalist guys.

“Obnoxious” doesn’t really do it. The leader of the Radical Party is currently on trial in the Hague for war crimes. The acting leader has been accused of war crimes… plausibly accused, IMO, though there’s not enough evidence to bring it to trial. And the party in general is crawling with former paramilitaries, sleazy businessmen who got rich under Milosevic, and mouth-breathing beat-the-Gypsies racists. There’s not a lot to like. In the last election they played down the nationalist aspect and played up the economic populism — Jobs for everyone! We’ll crack down on corruption! Banks are charging too much interest — we’ll renationalize them!

The Radicals got about 28% of the vote, which means they took about 1/3 of the seats in Parliament. But they’re pariahs, so everyone figured the other parties would find a way to bury their differences and form a government.

Maybe not. Continue reading

Président ou Présidente?

The French are still making up their mind [Update – they have made up their mind: Nicolas Sarkozy has been elected President – more soon]. Once again in record numbers – the only official figures released so far estimate the voter turnout at noon at 34,11%, the highest number since 1974, apparently. One winner of the Presidential race is therefore clearly institutional democracy – although burning cars is probably considered a way of political expression by some, not least, Ségolène Royal, who, earlier this week, warned that a Sarkozy victory could lead to violent protests in some Banlieues. While that is certainly not entirely out of the realm of the possible, and Sarkozy’s reaction was appropriately forceful, accusing her of fanning the (possible) flames, I doubt it was a particularly clever move on Royal’s behalf, to end her campaign by scaring voters. Apart from that, she’s probably also lost all votes of those about 3000 policemen who are now spending the evening in the suburbs to preempt any possible social unrest.
Continue reading

2007 blog reader survey

If you’ve already taken the blog reader survey on another blog, your answers will be applied to this blog too if you click the link (and you’re on the same computer, with cookies enabled), so please give us three seconds of your time.

If you haven’t taken the survey, do it if you got some time to spare. The full survey takes about 12 minutes, but you can skip the later questions if you like.

…The idea is to support blogads and by extension blogging itself, as well as satisfying our curiosity. Some questions won’t apply to the Europeans among us.