All posts by Bill Wirtz

Why Angela Merkel Just Keeps Winning

She looks as unruffled and collected as ever: Angela Merkel’s relentless success is much in the line of German politics, which eulogises experience and calmness in the face of major challenges.

In September, Germans will head to the polls to vote for a new parliament. While European countries such as the Netherlands or France have seen massive rises in far-right movements, Germany – while being one of the most permissive countries when it comes to immigration – has been largely untouched by any kind of political shift.

Continue reading in FEE

The Frustration of French Voters Will Play into Le Pen’s Hands in the Long Run

After the first round of voting last Sunday, the French electorate decided to send independent candidate Emmanuel Macron (23.8 percent) and far-right nationalist Marine Le Pen (21.6 percent) to the next round of voting on May 7th.

Opponents of Le Pen’s radical policies are now calling for a gathering of the so-called “Front Républicain,” the Republican Front.

Front Républicain

Inspired by the name of Le Pen’s National Front, the Republican Front gathers those who reject the rampant nationalist positions of the French far-right, which they consider contrary to the “Republican spirit.”

While not an established party in itself, the Republican Front represents a coalition of different parties in the République against a particularly unpopular candidate like Marine Le Pen.

Continue reading in FEE

FORGET FREXIT, THE EU’S NEXT THREAT COMES FROM THE EAST

In about two years, the United Kingdom will officially leave the European Union, and commentators around the continent are speculating about which country will be next. In Western Europe eyes are on France and the Netherlands, as both have strong Euroskeptic movements, bolstered by anti-immigration parties. But to identify the larger but creeping threat to the EU, you need to look east.

One country facing a rising tide of Euroskepticism is the Czech Republic. Anti-immigration sentiment has surged in the Central European state ever since it joined the EU in 2004.

About two thirds of Czech people oppose taking in refugees, and a 2015 poll found that 94 percent favor closing the borders completely. Czech politicians have capitalized on these sentiments, with a growing number of politicians running under an “anti-immigration” banner.

Continue reading in Newsweek 

France is Literally Burning 100 Million Euros

Since January 2017, France requires all cigarette packs to be sold in plain packaging — they all come in the same green-ish colour, only a neutral font lets the consumer identify the different brands. The government’s anti-tobacco fanaticism costs the taxpayer a fortune.

It sounded a bit like Paris had Stockholm Syndrome when the papers announced “the government is buying 100 million euros worth of cigarettes off of French tobacconists”. These coloured packs which were delivered to the tobacconists before the law and make a up a total amount of 15 million packs of cigarettes, or a 36-hour tobacco consumption of the entire country. With a total weight of 250 tons, an astounding number of old, coloured packs, complete with brand name, will be prohibited soon.

Read more at Freedom Today Network

In Europe, Bill O’Reilly would still have a job

“F**k it, we’ll do it live!”

Bill O’Reilly’s iconic moment as a peeved host of “Inside Edition,” mixed with his more recent habit of dominating the ratings at Fox News, seem unusual in Europe. Here, TV, especially shows about politics and culture, attempts to maintain a facade of earnestness. Apart from the UK’s “Prime Minister’s Questions,” the weekly shouty session of witty jokes and sassy remarks between the government and the opposition, European politics is usually something you skip on the channels. Even diehard fans of the spotlight are unable to avoid yawning at the banality of political “entertainment.”

The reason for this is simple: many stations are publicly owned, and those that aren’t still tend to remain apolitical. In Germany, privately owned TV stations have only existed since 1984, with state-owned channels ARD and ZDF covering almost the entirety of political news broadcasting. Public stations make up 45 percent of the market there. In France, among the top five stations, two (23.1 percent of the market share) are owned publicly, while three (34.5 percent of the market share) are in private hands

Continue reading at RARE Politics