Western Europe Tracker 30.11.12


Reuters: France’s National Front smells opportunity as rivals feud. ‘France’s far-right National Front party celebrated a fourfold increase in requests for membership on Thursday as a feud convulsed its main right-wing rival the UMP. UMP leadership contenders accuse one another of fraud in an internal election and the party now risks a permanent split just months after it lost power, a potential gift for Socialist President Francois Hollande.’


Der Spiegel: One German Town’s Struggle with History. ‘Völklingen, a town in the western German state of Saarland, has had a district named after a Nazi war criminal for the past 56 years. Many residents are fighting passionately to make sure that it stays that way.’


BBC: Dutch approve move to scrap blasphemy law. ‘Dutch authorities have decided to approve a motion abandoning a law under which it is a crime to insult God. The BBC’s Anna Holligan, in The Hague, says that there was much debate about the issue after a Dutch court ruled that the far-right anti-Islam politician Geert Wilders should be allowed to criticise Islam, even if his outspoken opinions offended many Muslims.’


The Economist: Trouble ahead. ‘The ruling party does badly, but is heading for more clashes with Madrid. As victories go, it was a humiliation. Catalonia’s premier, Artur Mas, had hoped to ride into history on the back of a surge in support for independence. Yet on November 25th he joined the list of European leaders hammered by austerity-exhausted voters. Although the polls had suggested that his Convergence and Union (CiU) coalition, which is more separatist than ever, would win an absolute majority, it got its worst result since 1980. After winning only 31% of the vote and losing a fifth of his deputies Mr Mas controls just 50 in the 135-seat assembly. He will get a second term, but with diminished authority.’


The Local: Oinking Sweden Democrat MP steps down. ‘Sweden Democrat MP Lars Isovaara is leaving all of his political duties after he reportedly snuffled and spat in contempt at a parliamentary security guard, party leader Jimmie Åkesson announced on Thursday.’


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