“À la Bastille!”

Once again, with apologies to Pierre Ranger… [It’s a tradition, we know… – Ed]  Indeed!  Play La Marseillaise! Adds  And a French winner on Le Tour on Bastille Day! Pete Baker

The French Elections and the Macron phenomenon…

‘Brenda from Bristol’ probably summed up the mood to this year’s general election when stopped in the street by a TV reporter. ‘Oh no, not another one!’ [i] In Northern Ireland we are used to annual or even bi-annual elections but even our electoral activity pales in comparison to the poor people of France who have been called to the polls four times in three months. The French system despite its demands on the electorate has its merits. For a … Read more

Events of 2016 will shape the challenges of 2017

To put it mildly, 2016 has been a pretty eventful year politically with Brexit, the election of Trump, a failed coup in Turkey, the downfall of Renzi as well as slightly inconclusive elections in both Ireland and Spain. As we hurtle to the close of the year, many interested or active in politics will be hoping for some sort of respite over the festive season before what could be an even more eventful year in 2017. Whatever 2017 as in … Read more

Neither liberty, equality, nor fraternity

Imagine a woman on a beach on a hot day, perhaps your mother, sister, girlfriend or wife. She doesn’t take the sun well so she doesn’t wear a bathing suit and covers her head with a cloth and her shoulders with a shawl while she sleeps. Imagine four police officers approach her, waken her up, demand she uncover her head and shoulders, then fine her for not exposing enough flesh. That’s close to what happened on a French beach yesterday. … Read more

Time cannot silence the Voices of the Somme

At the start of July I posted on Slugger O’Toole to introduce Somme Voices, a month-long series of daily tweets in remembrance of that dreadful World War One battle. I’m returning to Slugger to bring the Somme Voices project to a close with a final poem. The reason is that I’d like to quote this one in its entirety and Twitter is a less-than-perfect medium for something of considerable length. It does, however, give me the chance to make a … Read more

French President Francois Hollande :”The negotiations will be conducted with the United Kingdom, not with a part of the United Kingdom”

With the UK Parliament sovereign, and Sinn Féin’s calls for a border poll dismissed as an unwelcome distraction, quite where the “very special place” Martin McGuinness thinks Northern Ireland is in isn’t entirely clear.  Nor whom he thinks he can press that “case” with in his attempt to ignore the UK-wide referendum result.  He should remember, however, that neither he nor his party, alone, speak for the Northern Ireland Executive. He should also pay very close attention to the responses the Scottish First Minister is … Read more

Turning the tide against le Pen

On Sunday evening, the Front National’s marine blue wave crashed early on the breakers. Despite holding a first round lead in six regions, the party failed to win any contests in the second round run-off. Instead, the Republicans, formerly the UMP but still led by Nicolas Sarkozy, won in seven regions and the Socialist Party of current president Francois Hollande took control of the remaining five.     Dédiabolisation Although Marine le Pen has toiled to ‘de-demonise’ the party, the … Read more

Terrorist attacks in Paris

PARIS ATTACKS: At least 40 people are reported to have been killed. There have been shootings at, at least, two bars or restaurants, including a Cambodian restaurant, and there have been explosions reported near the Stade de France where the French national football side were playing Germany.

“À la Bastille!” – Redux

Once again, with apologies to Pierre Ranger… [It’s a tradition, we know… – Ed]  Indeed!  Sadly, no French winner in the Tour de France today.  Nor will there be in Paris.  Play La Marseillaise!   Pete Baker

Greek deal: This Is NOT a Coup

Whether the Syriza-led government of Greece survives its own domestic democratic pressures remains to be seen following the deal struck at the Eurozone summit yesterday – in the end the 28 EU leaders didn’t have to meet…  The Guardian live-blog on the Greek crisis notes one possible scenario Analysts at Eurasia Group suspect Greece could soon head towards a national unity government, if many government MPs refuse to back the bailout deal on Wednesday night. If Tsipras loses his majority and potentially even … Read more

Ireland has missed a glorious chance on Greece

As the Greek tragedy rumbles on France has said it will keep up efforts to reach a deal. France has also maintained that the biggest critics of Greece are the other smaller countries. This brings Ireland into the spotlight. Has the government really been politically clever in how it has handled the Greek crisis? Ireland has a strong reputation in Europe. At several junctures in the history of the EU it is Ireland that has helped to bring people around … Read more

“For those who can’t read Greekdebtspeak, well, you’re on your own”

With European leaders, including Syriza’s erstwhile ally the Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi, warning Greek voters that they will be, effectively, deciding whether or not they want to stay in the eurozone, the BBC takes a side-ways look at the wording of the controversial 5 July referendum the Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tspiras suddenly announced at the weekend.  From the BBC article Voters go to the polls for the Greek referendum. pic.twitter.com/xpp3OWEvgX — Jamie Ross (@JamieRoss7) June 29, 2015 Here’s the … Read more

On Bonaparte the Barbaric

There have not been many self-made monarchs in world history, but all of them were, without exception, to put it mildly, more than a little eccentric. As Lord Acton famously wrote, while power tends to corrupt, absolute power corrupts absolutely, and the three best-known examples of politicians who started out as republican idealists and ended as self-proclaimed sovereigns are classic personifications of the dictum. The second president of the Central African Republic, Jean-Bedel Bokassa, could claim a distinguished military career … Read more

Drawing Charlie

One of my favourite cartoonists has made one of the best cartoons, if something good can come out of all this bad. The above by Dave Brown that is, tomorrow’s cartoon in the Independent. A remix of the first post-attack edition of Charlie Hebdo to be published tomorrow, whose cover I will not divulge here, but you can sneak a peek here. Normally, when a politician and person of power gets cartooned they buy it and hang it on the … Read more

Open Society at a crossroads in France

The attacks on Charlie Hebdo, followed by the targeting of Parisian Jews has laid the frail state of France’s ‘Open Society’ bare for all to see. Jewish businesses and synagogues are staying closed for their own safety and the far right Front National is, ironically, poised to benefit from an attack on free speech.

The home of the European Enlightenment is at a crossroads.

Anti austerity socialists take a beating in French town hall elections…

My French isn’t great, but using translate this snippet in Le Monde strikes me as getting close to the predicament parties of centre right and centre left face in tackling an unpredictable future after the first round of France’s municipal elections: Malheureusement, je ne vois aucune personne politique capable ni d’expliquer la situation aux Français ni de conduire le bateau entre les écueils, mais je suis convaincu qu’une telle personne ne viendra ni du FN ni d’aucun parti extrême. Like … Read more

Vo Nguyen Giap, 1911-2013

The death has been announced in Hanoi of Vo Nguyen Giap, the self-taught general who drove the French out of Vietnam. His generalship at the pivotal battle of Dien Bien Phu, freeing the North from colonial rule and then later forcing the Americans to abandon their support for the various regimes in South Vietnam, was largely responsible for the eventual re-unification of the country under a communist government in Hanoi. Giap is probably not as well known as the events in … Read more