German Election – and Elector – Reflections

Friday, November 5th, 2004

It’s day two of the great George W. Bush re-election wake (since his victory only became definitive on Wednesday the 3rd – day Zero); time to search for some sort of intelligent word about what it all might mean from the German press, perhaps from the highly-respected Die Zeit. There we find, as lead article, what is basically a Teutonic riff on the “two nations” theme out of the election results, in Thomas Kleine-Brockhoff’s article The United Half-Nations. Maybe you’ve already drunk up all the English-language commentary on the 2004 presidential election that you have been able to find, and so are sick of hearing about this thesis and watching it quickly approach the status of a cliché. But if you can still stand it, the German perspective on it here is somewhat intriguing. (more…)

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Europe Faces Its New Challenge

Thursday, November 4th, 2004

The result is finally in – Bush wins – and most of the rest of the world is rather less than pleased. You would rather expect that, but can get filled in on the details here in the Washington Post. In that article there is a brief reference to a commentary from Le Monde; reason enough to go take a look at the full piece itself, in the original French (Electoral Archaism). It turns out that that Le Monde commentary is perhaps not the most definitive word to turn to from France’s newspaper of record, since at the time it was put on-line the presidential election’s final result was not yet known – it begins “Despite an advantage held by George W. Bush, the result of the American elections remains uncertain.” (more…)

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Europe’s Own Voting Mess

Thursday, October 21st, 2004

Uh oh: looks like some funny business with the counting of the ballots. And don’t you find it a little suspicious that all the local election officials, the ones in charge of recording and counting the votes, are all professed partisans of the incumbent?

Yes folks, it’s the old bait-and-switch tactic again. All of this has truly been going on, but not (yet?) in Florida. I’m referring here instead to the recent “elections” in Belarus, commonly known as “Europe’s last dictatorship,” where to no one’s great surprise President Alexander Lukashenko managed to get passed the amendment to the Belarussian constitution that allows him to keep on running for re-election as long as he is physically able.

The key, of course, is that now that the Belarussian constitution allows him to run, it’s overwhelmingly likely that he will always win. This is not due to any special place Lukashenko occupies in the hearts of his countrymen, but rather to his efficiency in finding ways to win, irrespective of what may be the voters’ preferences. Johnni Michelsen of the Danish commentary newspaper Information managed to infiltrate the country to observe the Belarussian election process himself and send back a report: Chaotic Election Day in Belarus. (more…)

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Notes from the French Underground

Monday, August 23rd, 2004

The account is published in Le Monde, but you almost expect that the message was smuggled out in microfilm, in the form of text requiring a secret decoder-ring to decipher. It tells the tale of a dangerous “mole” who has managed to penetrate one of the Organization’s high rituals: a correspondent from this leading French newspaper reports from on-the-scene at one of the “Ask President Bush” campaign appearances the Bush campaign has recently held around the country (Meeting George Bush, Half Rock Star, Half God). (more…)

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Whither Germany in Afghanistan?

Thursday, August 14th, 2003

Reviewing recent EuroSavant coverage, one subject clearly stands out: Iraq. “Democracy in Iraq,” “It’s Hot in Iraq,” “Iraq Through Spanish Eyes,” etc. Maybe I should just change the name of this weblog to something like “IraqSavant” – is the .com domain name still available? (If it was, it isn’t by now!) I do try to avoid excessive concentration on one subject, or on one particular national press. But to a great extent what continues to happen in Iraq remains of great concern and interest, especially in August (the “silly season” or “cucumber time,” etc., when little else that’s truly attention-worthy ever happens, except maybe for travel accidents: crashing airliners, the Russian submarine Kursk, etc.), and especially now that more nations are being drawn into involvement, having generously agreed to assist the Americans and the British in occupation duties.

So here’s a change: How about a fairly in-depth treatment from the recent German press about what’s been going on in . . . um, Afghanistan? No wait, this is truly interesting, especially from the German point of view. You see, the Germans and Dutch last Monday finally came to the end of their six months of joint responsibility for the ISAF (International Security Assistance Force), charged with helping Hamid Karzai and his Afghan Transitional Administration with establishing security in the country. So were there sighs of relief all around last Monday from the Deutsch and the Dutch? Not exactly: next to take up the ISAF baton is NATO, and of course both Germany and the Netherlands are long-standing members of NATO. In fact, at last Monday’s handover ceremony German lieutenant general Norbert van Heyst formally handed over ISAF’s green banner . . . to German lieutenant general Goetz Gliemeroth, acting for NATO! (more…)

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