EuroSceptism Surge

We can celebrate about the gradual awakening of the people especially in Europe where most of the problems of the globe happen to originate.

EU elections: Seven regions in Europe that would rather go it alone

sceptism

The European parliamentary elections have drawn to a close bringing major gains for both Eurosceptic and Far Right movements. The results have dealt a blow to governments, with the French PM even calling the result “a political earthquake.”

The most major anti-EU public mood was demonstrated in France, where Marine Le Pen’s far right National Front scored more than a quarter of the votes cast. Without even waiting for the final figures, French PM Manuel Valls announced on national television that such a result for the anti-EU party was a political “earthquake” for France – and the entire Europe.

“The sovereign people have declared they want to take back the reins of their destiny,” said Marine Le Pen.”Our people demand just one politics. The politics of the French, for the French.”

Marine Le Pen, France's National Front political party head, reacts to results after the polls closed in the European Parliament elections at the party's headquarters in Nanterre, near Paris, May 25, 2014. (Reuters / Christian Hartmann)

Marine Le Pen, France’s National Front political party head, reacts to results after the polls closed in the European Parliament elections at the party’s headquarters in Nanterre, near Paris, May 25, 2014. (Reuters / Christian Hartmann)

Eurosceptic and far-right parties were also showing gains in Greece and Denmark, as well as the UK and Italy.

Greece’s leftist Syriza, which opposes the austerity measures was expected to get 26.7% of the vote, beating the center-right New Democracy of Premier Antonis Samaras. At the same time the far-right Golden Dawn party was receiving 9% of the vote.

In Germany eurosceptic AfD was getting only 6.8%, while according to exit-polls Chancellor Angela Merkel’s center-right Christian Democratic Union was winning with 36% of the vote.

The number of seats gained by each party appears on the screen of the hemicycle of the European Parliament, in Brussels, during the announcement of the European elections results on May 25, 2014. (AFP Photo / John Thys)

The number of seats gained by each party appears on the screen of the hemicycle of the European Parliament, in Brussels, during the announcement of the European elections results on May 25, 2014. (AFP Photo / John Thys)

According to preliminary results the centre-right European People’s Party, led by former Luxembourg Prime Minister Jean-Claude Juncker, was still on track to win the elections and get 212 seats in the European parliament – down from 274 seats. The center-left Socialists and Democrats were projected to grab 185 – down from current 196. The Alliance of Liberals and Democrats was expected to get 71 seats – down from 83.

Although pro-European parties are still holding the vast majority of the seats in the parliament, larger number of anti-EU lawmakers may increase disagreements and complicate passing unpopular measures on which mainstream parties are divided.

Turn-out rates at the elections – an indicator of how engaged the public feels with Europe – remained virtually unchanged from 43 percent back in 2009. However, while some countries showed better turnouts, in others it plummeted – like in Slovakia, where a record low of 13% of eligible voters cast their ballots.

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EU elections: Seven regions in Europe that would rather go it alone

independencia

As EU parliament elections loom, the number of regions seeking to go it alone is increasing. Both resurgence in nationalist pride and disappointment at Brussels’ centralized economic management have led to an increase in separatist moods.

Scotland

On 18 September, Scotland is voting in a referendum over whether it wants to become an independent country or remain part of the United Kingdom. With five months to go until the vote, polls show that support for independence is steadily growing.

An ICM poll last month showed that support for independence is now 39 percent, while those who would vote to stay in the UK has fallen to just 42 percent. When people who haven’t yet made up their mind are stripped out, the results are 55-45 in favor of staying in the UK, the Scotland on Sunday newspaper, who ordered the poll, said.

First Minister of Scotland Alex Salmond found the poll’s results encouraging.

These are very encouraging polls and show the yes campaign has the momentum because it is more positive and more trusted than the no campaign,” he said.

Pro-independence supporters as they gather for a rally in Edinburgh on September 21, 2013. (AFP Photo)

Pro-independence supporters as they gather for a rally in Edinburgh on September 21, 2013. (AFP Photo)

Salmond argues that Scotland would benefit economically from being able to manage its own affairs. He also argues that Scottish independence would be better for the North of England because the UK economy is too centered on London and the South East.

The ‘No’ campaign has relied on scare tactics, such as how Scotland won’t be able to keep the pound and why people will be worse off financially out of the UK.

Catalonia

In April, Spanish lawmakers voted overwhelmingly to reject a request by authorities in Catalonia to have a referendum on independence on November 9. A large majority of 299 MPs voted against the motion, with just 47 in favor. The region in the North East of Spain already enjoys a wide degree of autonomy, but the economic crisis in Spain has led to a surge in Catalan nationalism.

The Catalans argue that, as Spain’s richest region, they would be better off economically if they split from Madrid.

Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy maintains that a referendum would be illegal, because under Spanish law referendums on sovereignty must be held nationally and not regionally.

Together we all win, but separate we all lose. This isn’t just a question of law, but of sentiment…I can’t imagine Spain without Catalonia or Catalonia out of Europe,” he told parliamentarians prior to a seven-hour debate on the issue.

Catalans gather in a bid to create a 400-kilometre (250-mile) human chain, part of a campaign for independence from Spain during Catalonia National Day, or Diada, on Passeig de Gracia in Barcelona, on September 11, 2013 (AFP Photo / Josep Lago)

Catalans gather in a bid to create a 400-kilometre (250-mile) human chain, part of a campaign for independence from Spain during Catalonia National Day, or Diada, on Passeig de Gracia in Barcelona, on September 11, 2013 (AFP Photo / Josep Lago)

Venice

In March, 2.1 million Venetians, 89 percent of voters, chose independence and to break from Rome. But Italian law is clear that it will not allow Venice any independence, so the poll was quite informal.

But unlike Scotland and Catalonia, which already have strong regional governments, Italy’s regions have little legislative autonomy and little hope of gaining more. In a 2006 referendum, the Italian electorate rejected constitutional reforms that would have devolved more power to the regions.

The situation frustrates Venetians who live in one of Italy’s most prosperous regions, yet Venice receives only five euros from the Rome government for every seven euros it pays in taxes. Venetians would be much better off as an independent nation.

Since the economic crisis of 2008, 85,000 Venetians have lost their jobs and 8,000 businesses have disappeared from the region.They insist they would be much richer if they split from Rome and managed their own affairs.

Reuters/Manuel Silvestri

Reuters/Manuel Silvestri

Flanders and Wallonia

Belgium is split between Dutch speaking Flanders in the North and French speaking Wallonia in the South. If Flanders decides to go it alone, then Belgium may cease to exist as a country.

This would mean that French speaking Wallonia would seek to join Paris as the region has shared everything with France and has been French in everything but name.

Many in France would be happy to welcome Wallonia.

If Belgium falls and Flanders declares independence which seems more and more possible every day, France will welcome Wallonia with pleasure,” said Marine Le Pen, leader of the French nationalists.

The leader of the Flemish Nationalist Party (N-VA), Bart de Wever, whose party made big gains in the local elections of 2012, has said he doesn’t want to leave Belgium but wants to turn it into a confederation, in which the Dutch speaking North has fiscal independence but shares some things such as defense with French speaking Wallonia.

Polls show the New Flemish Alliance (N-VA) separatist party will get 32 percent of the vote in the upcoming elections

If they make a strong electoral showing, however, I think they’ll bring the (Flemish) nationalist question up again after the vote,” said political scientist Dave Sinardet in a recent debate.

Pedestrians walk on the pavement, 14 May 2007, a few meters next of two billboards pasted on a shopwindow by a local resident of Ninovse Steenweg, Sint-Jans-Molenbeek / Chaussee de Ninove, Molenbeek-Saint-Jean, expressing his opinion in favour of two republics ie Flanders and Wallonia, instead of the Belgium monarchy (AFP Photo / Herwig Vergult)

Pedestrians walk on the pavement, 14 May 2007, a few meters next of two billboards pasted on a shopwindow by a local resident of Ninovse Steenweg, Sint-Jans-Molenbeek / Chaussee de Ninove, Molenbeek-Saint-Jean, expressing his opinion in favour of two republics ie Flanders and Wallonia, instead of the Belgium monarchy (AFP Photo / Herwig Vergult)

Brittany

A less known independence movement is Brittany in northwestern France.A poll in January found that one in five Bretons want independence from Paris. Yves Pelle, the chairman of the Breton nationalist party, was said to be “favorably surprised” by the poll.

Brittany has long been isolated from the rest of France. Breton is a Celtic language close to Cornish and Welsh and has recently undergone something of a revival. Efforts to assert a distinct Breton cultural identity enjoy much greater support than political nationalism.

The sea batters the Brittany coastline near Plouhinec in Finistere as an Atlantic storm hits western France, January 1, 2014. (Reuters/Mal Langsdon)

The sea batters the Brittany coastline near Plouhinec in Finistere as an Atlantic storm hits western France, January 1, 2014. (Reuters/Mal Langsdon)

Sardinia

Another little known separatist movement is the Italian island of Sardinia in the Mediterranean.

According to a recent poll commissioned by the University of Cagliari, 40 percent of Sardinians would be in favor of independence, while 60 percent want greater autonomy from Rome.

However, due to the large number of political parties that support independence on the island, the independence camp has been disjointed and lacking in unity.In the 2014 regional election there were more than ten Sardinian parties of various connotations: for example, autonomist, separatist, right and left wing etc.

There was also a tongue-in-cheek campaign earlier this year, selling the idea that Sardinia should join Switzerland. A Facebook group has been started to hawk Sardinia to the Swiss, suggesting Sardinia becomes Switzerland’s 27th canton to help reduce the national debt.

The Italian island of Sardinia (Reuters)

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