Merkel

Hungary to be stripped of its EU voting rights?

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The EU is voting to strip Hungary of its EU voting rights for consistent failure to heed their values, including migrant quotas. Last year an apathetic turnout to a referendum held on the subject said 98.4% of Hungarians were against forced migrant quotas. Putting to one side the altruism of the EU, trying to force a member state to tow the line is absurd, not so much for the country but the migrants.

Let’s not forget this is the EU making up for Merkel’s single-handed poorly executed thought bubble in the first place. She put forward a come one come all rhetoric on her own.

In a sense the EU can rant on all it likes about humanitarism (although 80% are economic refugees (i.e. not fleeing war zones) according to figures by Eurostat) but forcing asylum seekers into a country that doesn’t want them doesn’t seem optimal. We can snigger at Hungary and call them bigoted, racist or worse but the fact of the  matter is migrants on the whole won’t be welcome.

The EU forcing unwanted guests to a Hungarian dinner table has obvious consequences. The embittered host is likely to ruin the goulash and spoil the palatschinke in an attempt to get the visitors to leave.  Many are unaware the third largest political party in Hungary is Jobbik (won 21% of seats in the 2014 election) which has all the hallmarks of Roehm’s SA, right down to the uniforms. Jobbik has a record of roughing up Jews, Gypsies and Roma so before Brussels tells Budapest it must accept migrant quotas perhaps an assessment of the reality would be wise. Jobbik is left to do its ruffian business and Hungarian authorities turn a blind eye. That is the bigger issue at sort before imposing quotas.

Surely if refugees were asked Hungary is the last place they want to go after leaving their homeland. Refugees aren’t cattle but the EU is treating them so. Aren’t they surprised when the majority seek Germany as the end destination because of the relative generosity? Do the EU authorities think these migrants don’t have excellent internal information networks? Of course they do.

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To rachet this down a notch what are EU values anyway? The Brits are leaving because they don’t agree with EU values. The Greeks are being trodden on for refusing to accept EU austerity values. The Austrians were threatened with sanctions and punishment if they democratically voted in a right wing president. Are these worthy values? The Swiss handed back a 30 year free pass to join the EU presumably because they didn’t believe in EU values. The list goes on.

Sometimes it is had not to think of the EU as the Gallactic Senate from Star Wars trying to get aliens from different galaxies to agree on everything.

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We all know how unwelcome visitors are treated in the Star Wars Bar when different backgrounds and cultures literally don’t see eye to eye. The EU would do well to respect the diversity of its members, which includes diversity of thought and culture. It is not to say the EU doesn’t have a point from time to time they are dreadful executors of it.

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Macron has boarded a modern day Titanic but Le Pen has stolen over a third of the life boats

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The Titanic was most infamous for being an unsinkable ship. We all know the tragedy of its maiden voyage. Folklore tells us that to calm the passengers, the band played as the ship went down. The cautionary tale is one that fits the EU almost too perfectly. Macron’s win is akin to the EU playing the band (well Macron did play the EU anthem for his victory speech rather than La Marseillaise) all the while the Hard Brexit iceberg has ripped a huge hole below the waterline of SS Titanic II. The problem is the EU continues to behave as if the SS Titanic II is indeed unsinkable. Le Pen’s loss is much like believing the water tight compartments will keep the ship afloat. They couldn’t be more wrong as chief designer Thomas Andrews told White Star Line boss J. Bruce Ismay – who protested she was unsinkable- “She’s made of iron, sir! I assure you, she can… and she will. It is a mathematical certainty.”

The SS Titanic II’s crew treats its customers with varying levels of service. It entertains Lady Merkel and Lord Macron in proper first class fashion but for steerage passengers like the Greeks, Spanish and Portuguese they are kept locked below deck. The Greeks were willingly given passage on the SS Titanic II in full knowledge they possessed forged promissory notes as they boarded. The belief was that when they landed on the other side of the Atlantic they’d be able to work it off. Sadly the crew has finally realized it is futile and are now demanding they hand over whatever they have left before handing out life jackets. Moreover they must promise if they’re let out of steerage they must stay chained to the Master at Arms.

In all seriousness the treatment of the Greeks is despicable beyond words. 36% of Greeks live below the poverty line. 58% youth unemployment. That means many can’t access affordable healthcare because it is generally provided by corporates and when you lose a job you lose the healthcare. This means many are forced to use A&E of major hospitals which are now overcrowded and understaffed as more doctors are leaving to seek better fortune for their services elsewhere.

If that wasn’t enough, mothers who had given birth were being restricted from taking their new-borns home if they couldn’t pay the fees. While the government has banned this practice they have introduced new laws to allow the seizure of assets (e.g. homes) if debts are not settled.

Naturally the EU wishes to keep control over the way Greece handles its economic affairs but using the nation’s defiance of autocratic rule from Brussels as a weapon against it shows how little the federal state truly cares for its members. Deeds, not words. It promised to punish steerage countries, Spain and Portugal, for breaching debt covenants. This is the real EU. It is a supranational. A federation through the back door.

The Brexit vote is without a doubt the most damaging iceberg for the EU. The gaping hole it exposes is far more serious than any perceived phyrric victory through Macron’s win.

The issue here is that if Hard Brexit (May is likely to get the majority she needs on June 8th to push for it) is shown to work for the UK (likely) and the idea of extortionate exit penalties are legally unenforceable (confirmed last week) then the risks of jumping ship are sharply lowered. The problem for the EU is that there won’t be enough life boats to save all the crewreaucrats when more member states realize self preservation is the only viable option.

Le Pen’s 1/3rd of the vote, Hofer’s 46% in Austria, Wilders’ 25% increase in seats in The Netherlands, the Sweden Democrats jump to the top of the polls, Italy’s ousting of Renzi, Brexit, the Swiss handing back a 30yr standing free ticket to join…these don’t look like promising trends for an EU which is already badly listing. Despite ample warnings the EU refused (and still refuses) to change its course or exercise due care.

Will Captain Juncker go down with his unsinkable ship or follow Seamen Martin Schulz off before it is too late?

Over 10.6 million Frogs want to jump out of the EU’s boiling pot

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While the media and the EU will no doubt be jumping for joy they’ll overlook the fact that over 1/3rd of the French who voted, or over 10.6 million, want to jump out of the EU’s boiling pot. Think about that number – over TEN POINT SIX MILLION.  Le Pen’s father only managed slightly better than 5mn or 17.8%. Macron won convincingly (Twitter follower growth ratio accurate again) although one can hardly call 1/3rd of a population backing a far-right nationalist something to celebrate.  It is a damning figure. Period.

The extent of the Le Pen gains should be viewed by the EU as a terrible omen. However many of the Brussels brigadiers have ignored it already as their tweets make painfully clear.

After losing 15 out of 15 referendums against it  the EU desperately needs reform. The Dutch election was still a strong win for Wilders and Rutte only saved seats by adopting a more anti-EU stance. The pro-EU Dutch leftists were slayed. The Swiss recently handed back their long standing invite to join the EU. The Austrians almost voted in the far right FPO and after Greens President van der Bellen recently said all women may be obliged to wear the hijab to show cultural sensitivity they may well think to do that next time. The right wing Sweden Democrats are well ahead in the polls looking to win the 2018 election. The Italians are on the way to vote in the eurosceptic M5S party as their referendum last year on parliamentary reform became a free kick to boot out the establishment. Hungary’s Orban has had enough of the EU’s directives on migrants. Greece is being forced to sell its assets in order to secure another bailout and submit to being a Brussels’ (Berlin?) protectorate despite the EU bending over backwards with the help of Goldman’s creative accountants to get the Greeks into the club. This will not end well as Greece has 37% poverty, 58% youth unemployment and a soaring suicide rate. Now almost 10.5mn French now think the EU is not working. Brexit anyone?

The problem with elections is that even though Macron will serve 5 years, over 1/3rd of his citizens are not happy with the state of terrorism, unemployment and the EU. If Macron doesn’t solve for these problems, Le Pen’s 2022 chances grow and she’s already calling for a radical overhaul of Front National.

The press was making Macron to be a tough negotiator on Brexit. Let’s not forget that the ranting Jean-Claude Juncker has had to be brought into line by Angela Merkel and Donald Tusk over his Brexit negotiations skills (or lack there of). EU lawyers have said the other day that the  €100bn Brexit bill has no legitimacy. The U.K. Local council elections should speak volumes of May’s mandate to pursue full strength hard Brexit.

Macron’s win buys the EU time. Nothing else. In fact the truest test of how petrified the EU truly is can be summed up like this. If they were supremely confident in their own legitimacy there would be no need for the constant self-reaffirmation and shouting from the roof tops about what a great place it is. If indeed it was so, democracy would endorse them every time. As it stands the self-praise would even make Barack Obama blush.

Max Headroom – “Hard Brexit vote is between Coke Classic May, Diet Coke Farron & Coke Zero Corbyn”

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Be honest with yourself. If you were after the best taste (casting diet aside) would you have real Coke over Diet-Coke or Coke Zero? Full fat milk in your latte or soy milk? 34% fat King Island Brie cheese or a block of no-brand low fat supermarket cheddar? Wine from a bottle or a cask? The answers are obvious. The real thing always tastes better. Even in the adverts, Coke used to put girls eating fatty foods, seemingly balancing out their decadent junk food cravings with Diet Coke because it was “just one calorie” conveniently forgetting all the other unhealthy chemicals that went into the can to make it so. We know better and is it any wonder? Who could forget in the 1980s when Coke decided to change the formula of real Coke causing massive hoarding of the original, with a whole secondary market treating the scarce commodity like precious metals. Such was the backlash, Coke had to restore the old faithful. In their hearts people want the real thing. Same for Brexit.

The UK Labour Party has been espousing Coke Zero under Corbyn when constituents are clearly calling out for the real thing. The recent local elections saw a total drubbing. While local elections aren’t always a read across for national elections, the results are so telling that Theresa May, as much as she is inconveniencing the voters for the third time in such a short period, has clearly got the mood of the Brits for hard Brexit. I listened to London Mayor Saddiq Khan rabbit on about why Corbyn is the better option for the UK in the face of being so trashed in the local elections. He went so far as to say how evil Theresa May was to call an election to further her majority. Err, Mayor Khan, perhaps if the opposition were a viable alternative she would never have done so. Even The Guardian is arguing that the Lib Dems are the only hope for a soft Brexit. Tim Farron has no chance. Here are the results of the local elections.

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Labour lost its status as the largest party in Cumbria and its heartlands Blaenau Gwent, Bridgend and Merthyr Tydfil – good blue collar coal mining areas. Labour also lost Glasgow, the first time since 1980.

Here is how England looked:

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Here is how Scotland fared (mostly voted Remain):

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Here is how the Welsh voted (mostly voted for Brexit):

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Despite all of the pre & post-Brexit scaremongering of how the UK would slide into the abyss, the economy has done anything but reflect that. Juncker is now so unleashed in his bullying over Brexit negotiations that Merkel and Tusk have had to rein him in. The plucky Brit is probably the last person to cave into oppression. They love the idea of doing the opposite of what people dictate. We have cautionary tales. Who could forget when Obama told them that Brexit was a bad idea? Now we have Juncker and Verhofstadt hiking the Brexit bill like gangsters demanding a ransom.

The Brits are speaking – “Give us Hard Brexit. We don’t want soft compromises. We voted out so let’s make sure we fight for the best deal.”

Or perhaps as Max Headroom, the man of the moment of the New Coke once said, “Say, would someone mind checking the ratings? I seem to have an audience of two.”

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Twitter – Macron 66%, Le Pen 34%; Facebook – Macron 53%, Le Pen 47%

IMG_0575.PNGFor once the polls seem to reflect the Twitter stats. Since the first round, Macron has accumulated 66% of the Twitter follower growth vs 34% for Le Pen. Facebook follower growth on the same metric puts Le Pen at 47% of the growth vs Macron at 53%, As we gleaned from the first round, Macron had the third highest number of followers on Twitter but the fastest growth, with Le Pen 2nd. Twitter seemed to forecast better than Facebook.

IMG_0576When her father ran in 2002, Jean Marie Le Pen garnered only 17.9% of the second round. It would seem Marine Le Pen should double that number. That in and of itself is a massive shot across the bows of the establishment. Of course a Macron victory will be viewed by the EU as an endorsement when there could be nothing further from the truth.

We only need to see Tusk & Merkel’s slapdown of Juncker over Brexit in recent days to show the disharmony within the inner sanctum. Have you seen the latest Greek  bail-out negotiations? Talk about surrendering sovereignty to Brussels. Note the Conservatives gained 558 council seats in local elections this weekend by taking voters back from UKIP, which lost all but one of the 115 seats the party contested and Labour surrendering 320 seats, a margin which if replicated on June 8 will hand Theresa May a healthy majority. Brits want a hard Brexit not one built on compromises.

While there is some cachet in voting in the ‘youth’ in France we only need to look at Canada to see what an utter disaster Trudeau has been. His ratings are falling like a stone as Opposition Leader Rona Ambrose makes regular mince meat of him in Parliament. View any of their debates in parliament and Trudeau can’t string two sentences together.

In any event, markets should breathe a sigh of relief at a Macron victory although they’re pricing that already. Note that he is likely to be far more Trudeau than Alexander the Great and for France that will likely mean more of the same which will only give Le Pen far a better chance in 2022.

Vive l’Allemagne?

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While probably not as caustic as Trump’s “because you’d be in jail” quip to Hillary Clinton in the 2nd debate Marine Le Pen made a pretty stinging remark of her own with regards to the outcome of the French presidency in the last debate – “in any case, France will be governed by a woman: either me, or Madame Merkel”

Melenchon could well do this

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Jean-Luc Melenchon may seem to be the polar opposite of Marine Le Pen but my bet is that the run off in the French presidential election is between these two and the left-wing candidate may end up the next President of the Republique. Social media feeds have these two well out in front. To the French voter they both bring the promise of ending decades of high unemployment (especially youth) and ‘nationalist’ fervor. Both are anti-EU. Melenchon wants to pull France out of NATO. Melenchon is not dissimilar to Le Pen on immigration either suggesting he’d want to bring in 10,000 doctors rather than unlimited migration which he openly says steals French jobs. Melenchon is anti-Merkel and her Eurozone policies. He wants a 100% tax on salaries over 400,000 euro and bump minimum wages 16%. He wants to be 100% renewable by 2050 promising 100,000s of green jobs in the process which have shown elsewhere (e.g, Australia) to fall well short. Either way the markets are not pricing a polar outcome. If either wins, it is a loss for the EU although expect Juncker to champion it as a victory for the club if Melenchon is anointed.

Le Pen has had much longer to form her base. She speaks eloquently, forcefully and carries a consistent policy line unlike Fillon or Macron who have shifted stance with the wind. People who are struggling around the world are seen tiring of spineless bureaucrats. Traditional party lines are increasingly irrelevant. They want a reversal of fortune not served a buffet of convenient lies which in no way reflects the life they struggle with everyday. Melenchon is not removed from this phenomenon. Nor is Le Pen.

One could be forgiven for thinking that Melenchon is channeling his Beppo Grillo than Hugo Chavez. I can see his appeal to the battler. The question is whether the French people, should they be given these two to choose between on May 7, stay at home in abject apathy or tap their inner-revolutionary to carry the tricolor. Melenchon maybe trailing on social media feeds but his growth is faster than Le Pen, something that was striking in the US election.

The only certainty in my view is another torpedo to the hull of Brussels, the viability of the euro project and the euro itself. That will only play in Theresa May’s favour on June 8. Think of the French presidential election much like the national rugby team. They play hot or cold and you can never be sure until the whistle blows.

When the dust settles I will be fascinated to see which areas vote which way. Let’s accept the views from both Le Pen and Melenchon are broadly similar (although getting there will be totally different) so the vote may swing to how sick and tired French are becoming of giving up their freedoms.