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Thursday, June 20, 2002


So the French results are in, and Chirac has a bigger majority than ever. The part I don't get is how this is somehow all going to lead to accelerated reform.

Now it is going to be one of Bonobo's central tenets that we are not political, not in the normal partisan sense at any event. The issues at stake are too important for that. So in one sense a change in the political complexion of Europe's goverrnment seems - at the meta level - perfectly normal and healthy. If you believe in democracy, then democracy needs to be representative, and all the people need to feel represented, at least some of the time, ergo: goverments change hands. This is the bonobo view (which is whats sets us apart from the garden variety chimpanzee).

So on one level everything's fine. But then there's this reform bit, and it's here that I have the problem. If we look at the issues that are moving the European electorate at the moment it's the FEAR of change that is moving people, and not the desire for more. If we begin to think about why the left voters are staying at home, it's got more to do with a lack of enthusiasm for the reform process which the left parties are timidly advancing, than with a desire to accelerate this process, and if the voters of the right are looking to their traditional parties for protection from the processes of globalisation, and in particular from the convulsive movements of peoples that these are producing, it's in order to try to put a BRAKE on these processes. That is, these voters want more protection from their governments, not less.

What we are witnessing is a revival of NATIONALISM in Europe, and all of this is going to make the job of co-ordinating the EU a mighty difficult one. Keep your eyes on the Sevilla summit.

Which makes me a little out of sympathy with AP's Barry Renfrew:

Left-leaning governments across Europe are being kicked out by voters worried about ailing economies, crime, illegal migrants and a fear that traditional policies of state control don't work.Europeans are turning to conservative, and even far-right parties, for tough economic reforms and law-and-order policies. Many see the left as out of step with ordinary people........

This a far cry from the 1990s, when the left swept to office across Europe and ecstatic supporters talked of decades in power. The left believed it had the answers for post-Cold War Europe in a globalized economy - a blend of capitalism and traditional left-wing social policies to protect workers and fund generous welfare programs.There was also a strong belief that the left would speed up integration of the European Union ( news - web sites), turning it into a 15-nation power to rival, even eclipse, the United States.

But perhaps more than any other factor, the left has failed to tackle key law-and-order issues worrying many voters, especially illegal immigration and crime. Rightly or wrong, many voters link the two and feel threatened in their own homes. A growing number of Europeans are worried or feel threatened by the influx of hundreds of thousands of newcomers, legal and illegal, from the Middle East, Asia and Africa. Even in traditionally tolerant nations like the Netherlands and Denmark, populist outsider parties have made strong gains by capitalizing on fear of large ethnic minorities that show little sign of integrating."
Source: Yahoo News LINK

Perhaps the FT is a bit nearer the mark:

As the polls closed the abstention rate stood at a record high of almost 40 per cent among France's 41m electorate - well above the exceptional level in the first round of 35 per cent. The refusal by such a large segment of the electorate to go to the polls underlined French people's weariness with voting after two consecutive rounds of presidential and general elections in two months.

So come on, which is it, a dynamic and imaginative population, tired of the heavy hand of bureaucracy and chafing at the bit for reform, or an insecure and worried group of voters, locked in the safety of their own homes, and saying, in the immortal words of the Economist: 'if you're one of the planets tired and huddled masses, then clear off'.

Well at least Le Pen didn't get any seats.


It must be Marc's birthday or something, what with all this attention:

For some reason, popular waves of computer technology tend to be personified. The personal computer era had two faces: Steve Jobs and Bill Gates. In its boom years, the Internet, despite being decentralized technology with countless contributors, had a leading man: Marc Andreessen, co-founder of Netscape Communications, who wrote code and became rich, the first of the young Internet millionaires, smiling from the cover of Time magazine at 24, barefoot and wearing shorts.

What a difference six years make. Last month, Mr. Andreessen, 30, spoke to a group of potential customers at the Four Seasons Hotel in Manhattan. There were all of five people representing four companies: two investment banks, a media company and a consumer product marketer. Outnumbering the potential customers were Mr. Andreessen and his colleagues from Loudcloud Inc., an Internet company based in Sunnyvale, Calif...............
Source: New York Times LINK

It seems to me that someone's tryin to push the idea that Loudcloud's goin to be the 'next new big thing'.....

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