World View: Austerity and Illegal Immigration Big Issues in Greece/France Elections

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com.

  • Left and right plan dueling May Day rallies in France
  • Greece's ultra-nationalist Golden Dawn party promises to expel all non-Greeks
  • Greece opens a controversial detention center for illegal migrants
  • German Right-wing activists plan 'Mohammed cartoon' contest ahead of May 13 election
  • International war crime conviction of Charles Taylor may end the tribunal

Left and right plan dueling May Day rallies in France

May 1 is Labor Day in France, and this one will be different from others because of the presidential elections scheduled for Sunday. Socialist party candidate François Hollande is expected to win on Sunday, defeating the incumbent center-right candidate Nicolas Sarkozy. May Day is usually a day for the Socialists and the Communists, but this time there will be competing rallies, causing one analyst to quip, "Choose your camp. The Berlin Wall has been rebuilt in the middle of Paris, just like in the good old days of the Cold War." Austerity is a major issue, as Hollande has promised to ignore previous austerity commitments, and Sarkozy is calling for a May 1 rally to celebrate "real work," in reference to what he said were people who preferred to collect unemployment benefits and state handouts rather than hard-earned wages. On the far right, anti-immigrant candidate Marine Le Pen is calling on "patriots" to assemble in Paris on May 1 to honor Joan of Arc, the French Catholic saint who led a battle to drive illegal immigrants (the English) out of France in 1429. France 24

Greece's ultra-nationalist Golden Dawn party promises to expel all non-Greeks

Greece is deep into an economic and social crisis, and with Greece's voters totally disgusted with both major political parties, formerly obscure parties are hoping to gain seats in Parliament in Sunday's election. The ultra-nationalist Golden Dawn party is expecting to win seats in Sunday's election. According to one parliamentary candidate:

"We want all illegal immigrants out, we want to take their stench out of this place. They shouldn't be here and they will leave one way or the other - the good or the bad way."

Golden Dawn plans to start by expelling illegal immigrants, and then go on to legal ones. Golden Dawn's rhetoric resonates with Greeks who blame rising crime on the hundreds of thousands of illegal immigrants entering the country through porous borders. Polls show that Golden Dawn could enter parliament with 5% of the vote, after getting only 0.23% in the last general election three years ago. Linked to racist, anti-immigrant attacks, Golden Dawn is set to become the most extreme right-wing party to sit in parliament since Greece returned to democracy after the fall of a military dictatorship in 1974. Reuters

Greece opens a controversial detention center for illegal migrants

Residents are protesting against the new Amygdaleza detention center for illegal migrants that opened just northwest of Athens. A total of 1,200 migrants are to be moved into the center by mid-May. Then additional centers are to open in different parts of the country. About 130,000 immigrants cross the country's porous sea and land borders every year -- the vast majority via Turkey -- and the authorities are forced to release those who are arrested because of a lack of permanent housing. Released migrants then travel to other EU countries, causing those countries to demand that Greece do something to stop the flow. The government opened the first detention center just a week before Sunday's elections in the hope of defusing the popularity of the neo-Nazi Golden Dawn party. Kathimerini

German Right-wing activists plan 'Mohammed cartoon' contest ahead of May 13 election

Pro-NRW, which has been categorized as an extremist right-wing group by Germany's domestic intelligence agency, is running a "Mohammed Cartoon Contests," and plans to display the cartoons outside of mosques, in the runup to Germany's May 13 elections. German officials believe that the pro-NRW is trying deliberately to promote violence between themselves and Salafist groups, and they fear the Germany embassies and companies operating abroad would also be affected. In January 2006, a Danish newspaper published some political cartoons featuring the Muslim prophet Mohammed. (See "Muslim world boycotts Danish goods over offensive cartoons" and "Cartoon controversy explodes into worldwide confrontations between Muslims and Westerners.") That incident, where the publication of cartoons was done relatively innocently, produced violence and boycotts in a number of countries. Spiegel

International war crime conviction of Charles Taylor may end the tribunal

I was listening to the news last week when a U.N. war crimes tribunal convicted Liberia's former president Charles Taylor of war crimes. Both the BBC and al-Jazeera could stop gushing incessantly about how historic this conviction was and how it would "send a message" to other would-be war criminals that they'd better watch out or the U.N. might get them too.

So first off, the prosecutor had originally claimed that they would convict Charles Taylor of ordering war crimes -- genocide, rape, torture, etc. But they couldn't do that. All they could do is prove that Taylor had sold weapons to rebels who had committed those crimes. Well, that's what Russia is doing today in Syria. Is the U.N. going to arrest Vladimir Putin?

This trial has gone on for ten years, and cost an estimated $50-$200 million. Now that Taylor is convicted, British taxpayers will have to foot the bill for Taylor to serve his sentence in a British prison -- costing up to £100,000 per year.

Finally, nobody gives a shit about an international tribunal when a country is fighting for its existence in a generational crisis war. The only "message" that this conviction has sent is that the United Nations has found another scapegoat that will allow U.N. diplomats to pat each other on the back and say, "Good job, Bunky! You should be proud!" Reuters


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