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From wannabe to president: how Emmanuel Macron beat Marine Le Pen to win the French election

Written by Paul Smith.

After a tense and often antagonistic election campaign, Emmanuel Macron is to become the next president of France. The result is, of course, in all sorts of ways extraordinary. In a little over a year, the 39-year-old former finance minister has gone from being a wannabe to the future tenant of the Elysée Palace. He struck out alone to form his own political movement and while much of the froth surrounding the election has focused on his opponent, the enormity of his achievement needs to be acknowledged and cannot be underestimated.

Even before the first round, all the polls had Macron pegged to win the second round 60/40. But then, between the rounds, Le Pen seemed to be nibbling away at Macron’s lead – not by much, but by enough to cause some butterflies among her opponents. Macron appeared lacklustre at a crucial time. Fears of a low turnout and Jean-Luc Mélenchon’s refusal to formally endorse Macron also threw a number of unknowns into the mix. Continue reading From wannabe to president: how Emmanuel Macron beat Marine Le Pen to win the French election

What’s Left of the Left?

Written by Simon Toubeau. 

The paradox of the contemporary European left is that while many of the burning issues defining political debates- growing economic inequality, employment precariousness, the sustainability of health spending or pension entitlements- are traditional left-wing concerns, Social Democratic parties seem incapable of credibly addressing them either in office or in opposition.

So, what’s left of the left? The origins of the paradox stems from the mis-match in the architecture of authority between democracy and capitalism, rendering the notion of democratic capitalism ever more hollow. This tension has compounded broader demographic and economic transformations to divide the electoral base of the left. In France, the UK, the USA and elsewhere- there is a split between those in favour of regulated openness and those in favour of nationalist closure. Continue reading What’s Left of the Left?

New Labour 20 years on: assessing the legacy of the Tony Blair years

Written by Steven Fielding.

On the 20th anniversary of one of Labour’s greatest victories, party members are, to say the least, conflicted about the governments made possible by the election held on May 1 1997. The virtues of Labour’s longest uninterrupted period in office, based on an unprecedented three back-to-back victories (two of which produced its biggest ever House of Commons majorities) are not exactly being shouted from the rooftops.

For Jeremy Corbyn, 1997 is the stuff of nightmares: and those members who re-elected him leader in 2016 clearly agree. To them, the election is a morality tale, a political version of the Faustian legend. It represents the moment Tony Blair sold Labour’s socialist soul for the sake of a few votes. “Blairite”, to them, is a term of abuse, and Corbyn the ultimate anti-Blairite – a figure who remained true to his principles during the dark days of New Labour. Continue reading New Labour 20 years on: assessing the legacy of the Tony Blair years

Donald Trump’s 100 days of u-turns, bombs and cake

Written by Todd Landman.

The hundredth day of an American president’s term traditionally marks the end of the honeymoon period – a time to take stock of early achievements, launch new legislation, and set a new direction. But the score card for Donald Trump’s first 100 days doesn’t read well, and the direction for the next four years is looking so new as to radically contradict the premise of his campaign.

Trump hasn’t commenced the wall along the US-Mexican border, his signature campaign pledge. He has failed (and spectacularly) to repeal and replace the healthcare reforms collectively known as Obamacare, and the courts have thwarted his orders to ban foreign nationals from several mainly Muslim countries from the US. And on a moral front, his compassion for Syrian children killed in a horrific chemical attack was offset by his decision to turn away 10,000 Syrian refugees. Continue reading Donald Trump’s 100 days of u-turns, bombs and cake

Corbynism might not actually end – even if Labour loses the election

Written by Tim Bale and David Jeffery.

Because the general election looks set to produce an impressive win for the Conservatives, its main interest lies not in the result itself but in the result of that result. The House of Commons will look very different on June 9, and the implications of that could turn out to be very big indeed. That’s especially true for the opposition.

For Labour, heading for what many of its own people fear will be a very big defeat, it’s all about who comes after Jeremy Corbyn. True, he may not step down immediately. But he is unlikely to stay for long after the party’s first post-election conference in September. There, Corbynistas hope to make a change to party rules that would make it much easier to get a left-wing successor into the contest to replace him. The aim is to require just 5% of MPs and MEPs to nominate candidates for leadership, instead of the current 15%. That would significantly shift the balance of power in these contests from parliament to party members. Continue reading Corbynism might not actually end – even if Labour loses the election

Macron and Le Pen to face off for French presidency – but she won’t be pleased with first round result

Written by Paul Smith.

In the end, the polls were right. Emmanuel Macron will go into the second round of the French presidential election against Marine Le Pen. For a while it seemed as though a dead heat were on the cards but, in the end, Macron took first place, with nearly 24%, ahead of Le Pen at just under 22%.

Republican candidate François Fillon and far-left contender Jean-Luc Mélenchon followed close behind, with Socialist Benoît Hamon trailing badly. Continue reading Macron and Le Pen to face off for French presidency – but she won’t be pleased with first round result

Is the country coming together after the Brexit Referendum?

Written by Cees van der Eijk and Jonathan Rose.

The necessity of the country coming together after the Brexit referendum has been expressed repeatedly, including by the Prime Minister. For a democratic society to function it is necessary that the outcome of elections or referenda is respected; not only by those on the ‘winning’ side, but by the losers as well. One of the most important mechanisms by which ‘losers’ consent’ is acquired is by their respect for the ‘rules of the democratic game’, and by deeming these as more important than getting the most desired outcomes from more specific political battles. But for ‘losers’ of elections or referenda to take this position, it is necessary that the process by which political outcomes are obtained is itself perceived to be legitimate and implemented fairly. If that condition is not fulfilled, it becomes difficult for those on the losing side to accept that they were in the minority, to respect the outcome of the referendum, and for the country to get together after the democratic contest has run its course. Continue reading Is the country coming together after the Brexit Referendum?

Snap election a win-win for Theresa May: she’ll crush Labour and make Brexit a little easier

Written by Tim Bale.

So Theresa May, it turns out, is only human. After months of denying she was going to do it, the British prime minister decided to call an early general election – first and foremost because she knows she’s going to win.

Indeed, she’s not just going to win; she’s going to win big. Contrary to common wisdom, bookies don’t necessarily know better than opinion pollsters when it comes to predicting political events, but they know a racing certainty when they see one. Within minutes of the PM’s announcement, one national chain was giving odds of 2/9 on an overall majority for the Conservatives, with Labour out on 14/1. Continue reading Snap election a win-win for Theresa May: she’ll crush Labour and make Brexit a little easier

Shakespeare’s King John and the Constitution of Rights and Justice

Written by Vanessa Pupavac.

The peace of heaven is theirs that lift their swords
In such a just and charitable war.

The cause is young Prince Arthur’s claim to the Plantagenet throne. Arthur’s mother Constance has pressed the right of her ‘oppressed boy’ around Europe, and found listeners at the French court to supports international military action against Arthur’s uncle King John. Continue reading Shakespeare’s King John and the Constitution of Rights and Justice

All is True: Shakespeare’s Henry VIII, International Criminal Justice and Political Trials

Written by Mladen Pupavac and Vanessa Pupavac.

My surveyor is false. The o’er-great cardinal
Hath showed him gold; my life is spanned already:
I am the shadow of poor Buckingham,
Whose figure even this instant cloud puts on,
By dark’ning my clear sun.

Lord Buckingham has been arrested for high treason. But he finds that he cannot plead his innocence because the powerful Cardinal Wolsey, adviser to King Henry, has brought ‘the examinations, proofs, confessions / Of divers witnesses’ to testify against him. Shakespeare’s Henry VIII written with John Fletcher is rarely played. Henry VIII is often only mentioned in connection with being the play where the infamous cannon was fired that burnt down the Globe theatre in 1613. Nevertheless the play addresses themes of political power, justice and due process that remain compelling today, themes that the recent BBC radio production brought out so well.   Continue reading All is True: Shakespeare’s Henry VIII, International Criminal Justice and Political Trials