European Parliament rejects French Commission candidate. Macron personally offended.
Amid fury in Paris, Macron warns EU of institution crisis over Commission jobs
• last updated: 11/10/2019 - 19:04
By Michel Rose
PARIS (Reuters) – French President Emmanuel Macron spoke on Friday of a “political crisis” between the EU’s executive and its parliament after lawmakers rejected his pick for commissioner, while members of his party blamed a leading German conservative for the debacle.
The lawmakers on Thursday emphatically rejected Sylvie Goulard, Macron’s pick to head industrial policy in the next European Commission over her role in a jobs scandal, in which she denies wrongdoing, and her past work as an adviser for a U.S. think-tank which paid her more than 10,000 euros a month.
Their move could potentially delay the start of the new Commission, which is due to take office on Nov. 1, and curb the influence of France, the European Union’s second biggest economy and a founding member of the club.
Each EU member state nominates a candidate for the Commission who must then pass a confirmation hearing in the European Parliament.
“We must not allow a European political crisis to escalate,” Macron told reporters before a meeting with Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban at the Elysee palace in Paris.
He said a Europe consumed by “its own petty wars” would become a weaker power on the global stage.
Privately, French officials are seething and accused Manfred Weber, a German conservative member of the European Parliament, of orchestrating Goulard’s downfall as revenge after Macron scuppered his hopes of becoming the next Commission president.
“There’s vengeance and resentment, and we feel we’re paying the price of tactics by the (conservative) European People’s Party, which are alien to us because we’re newcomers,” a source within Macron’s party told Reuters.
Weber’s entourage denied they acted out of revenge.
“The EPP group always insisted on the seriousness of the procedure because the European Parliament has an important democratic role to play with these confirmation hearings,” an EPP official said.
Another source close to Macron said “anti-French” sentiment among countries in Germany’s orbit also played a role in Goulard’s rejection, reflecting a sense that Macron had acquired too much influence in the incoming executive.
It was Macron who successfully proposed Ursula von der Leyen, another leading German conservative, to become the next Commission president, and Goulard received a huge portfolio overseeing the EU internal market and European defence integration.
Poland cannot into surprises.
October 14, 2019 / 7:06 AM / Updated 6 minutes ago
Poland's ruling nationalists win majority in parliament
WARSAW (Reuters) - Poland’s ruling Law and Justice (PiS) party won a majority in Sunday’s parliamentary election, securing a second four-year term to continue reforms that have put it on a collision course with Brussels.
PiS secured 45.2% of votes, according to results from 83% of constituencies published by the electoral committee on Monday. The biggest opposition grouping Civic Coalition (KO), which comprises centrist and liberal parties, came second with 26.1%.
The leftist alliance, The Left, got 12.1%, while the bloc of agrarian PSL and anti-system Kukiz’15 was at 8.8%. The far-right Confederation has probably also passed the threshold and managed to get into parliament, scoring 6.7% based on partial results.
“The most important thing is that we achieved our aim - from the very beginning our plan was to get the majority,” Deputy Prime Minister Jacek Sasin told private broadcaster TVN24 on Monday.
According to Reuters calculations, PiS won 238 out of 460 seats in lower house, the Sejm, although this result is subject to change depending on the performance of other parties.
Poland’s euro-denominated government bonds rallied on Monday after the results came out. The zloty started Monday trade at 4.3056 to euro, almost unchanged since late Sunday. Warsaw stock exchange started the day with a 0.4% slide.
Romania OTOH can.
Dancila's Romanian government falls in no-confidence vote
10 October 2019
Romania's government has collapsed after losing a no-confidence vote weeks ahead of a presidential election.
Prime Minister Viorica Dancila was defeated amid dramatic scenes by 238 votes in favour of the motion - five more than needed in the 465 house.
She was appointed in January 2018 - the third prime minister in seven months. Romania has for years been plagued by government corruption scandals.
President Klaus Iohannis will now choose a replacement government.
He will hold talks with all parliamentary parties, with new elections due in late 2020.
Ms Dancila's Social Democrats (PSD) have been in power since 2016.
However, Ms Dancila lost her parliamentary majority in August after a succession of setbacks.
Her centre-left party suffered huge losses at the European elections in May, coming second with less than 23% of the vote behind the National Liberal party.
In the same month Liviu Dragnea, the president of the PSD who was widely viewed as the most powerful figure in Romanian politics, was jailed for corruption after he was found guilty of having two party members paid by a state agency for fake jobs.
President Iohannis now has three options for a new government: a centre-right coalition led by the National Liberals a centre-left alliance under former PM Victor Ponta, or a caretaker cabinet.
Romania's budget deficit is soaring, and opposition leaders are reluctant to push through the necessarily restrictive 2020 budget in an election year. The presidential vote is only a month away.
Ludovic Orban, the leader of the opposition National Liberal party, said the result of the no-confidence vote had "stopped the Social Democrat Party from hurting Romania".
Ahead of Thursday's vote in Bucharest, Ms Dancila told members of her party to abstain in an attempt to avert a rebellion. She tried to encourage others to back her by pledging to provide €300m ($330m; £270m) to a number of local communities.
Ms Dancila, who is also a candidate in the presidential ballot due to be held on 10 November, became Romania's first female prime minister in January 2018.
Her appointment followed the sudden resignation of Mihai Tudose, who quit after his own party withdrew its backing.
In 2017, Romania's government scrapped a controversial decree that would have shielded many politicians from prosecution for corruption. The move followed weeks of street protests.
Hungarian opposition pulls an Istanbul on Orban in local elections.
Opposition makes big gains in Hungarian local elections
October 14, 2019 | Dominik Istrate
Hungary’s opposition parties have made important gains the country’s local elections, with joint opposition candidate Gergely Karácsony scoring a surprise victory in Budapest.
Mr Karácsony, a green-socialist challenger received 50.9 per cent of the vote in the Hungarian capital while Budapest’s incumbent pro-government mayor István Tarlós got 44.1 per cent despite all major Hungarian pollsters predicted him to score a slight victory. Independent candidate and opposition journalist Róbert Puzsér, whose decision to run was often predicted to block Mr Karácsony from winning, eventually got 4.5 per cent. Final turnout stood at 51.5 per cent.
Karácsony said his first task would be to make a wide-ranging agreement about cooperation with Hungary’s prime minister Viktor Orbán, a deal Mr Tarlós also struck to ensure the capital’s financing.
The ruling Fidesz party also suffered a decisive blow in Budapest’s 23 districts out of which 14 were won by opposition candidates, including four out of the five Buda districts that are considered rather conservative.
The candidates of the alliance of the Hungarian Socialist Party, the left-liberal Democratic Coalition, the liberal Momentum party, the far-right-turned-conservative Jobbik party and the Hungarian Greens also won big in 10 Hungary’s largest cities, including Szeged, Eger and Miskolc.
While Fidesz remained by far the strongest party in the Hungarian countryside, winning the party list vote in all 19 Hungarian county governments, it lost critical political strongholds such as the cities of Szombathely or Hódmezővásárhely.
“We acknowledge this decision in Budapest, and stand ready to cooperate,” Mr Orbán told an audience of Fidesz supporters, stressing that Budapest would now be in huge debt if it not had been for the capital’s outgoing mayor.
The Hungarian PM continued to stress that despite losing Budapest, Fidesz is still the strongest party of the country.
Portugal bucks the European trend.
October 7, 2019 / 1:34 PM / 7 days ago
Portugal president seeks swift talks on premier after Socialist win
LISBON (Reuters) - Portugal’s president will consult the main political parties on Tuesday so as to have a prime minister-designate in place without delay to tackle issues such as Brexit following the Socialists’ victory in Sunday’s election, his office said.
Despite winning more seats than in the last election, the Socialists fell just short of a full parliamentary majority and their leader Antonio Costa, prime minister for the past four years, needs to negotiate a new deal with one or both of his far-left allies in the previous legislature.
President Marcelo Rebelo de Souza, the head of state, said in a statement on Monday that he wanted a new premier to be designated swiftly “given that on Oct. 17 there is an important European Council meeting, namely about Brexit”.
In his victory speech on Monday, Costa said voters liked the 2015 deal under which the Left Bloc and the Communists backed his Socialists to sideline the right, and he wanted it to continue. He said he also intended to negotiate with the animal rights and environmentalist People-Animals-Nature party.
Leaders of the two far-left parties both said they had no objections to Costa being nominated as premier and were ready to negotiate if he committed to improving the lives of workers and boosting public investment, especially in healthcare.
Analysts say the president is likely to demand assurances from the parties that they agree an arrangement that will last.
Costa’s minority government has received praise from Brussels and at home for combining fiscal discipline with measures to promote growth after recession and the austerity of Portugal’s 2010-14 debt crisis.
With most votes counted, the Socialists led by a wide margin with 106 seats, 20 more than in 2015. They can still win some of the four seats yet to be assigned, but not a full majority of 116 in the 230-seat assembly.
In the streets, people were cautiously upbeat that a stable government will be possible, but many urged caution.
“Let’s see what happens from now on,” said Marcelina Castela, 65, a post office worker in Lisbon. “It would be great to have a more cohesive and consistent alliance, but on the other hand maybe it will create more bickering between them.”
Tunisia set for possible makeover.
Tunisia election: exit polls point to landslide win for 'Robocop' Kais Saied
Thousands take to streets after two polls give conservative academic more than 70% of the vote
Michael Safi in Amman and agencies
Mon 14 Oct 2019 07.52 BST
A low-profile, conservative law professor has beaten a charismatic media magnate released from prison last week in Tunisia’s presidential election runoff, according to exit polls.
In a contest that reflected Tunisia’s shifting post-revolution political landscape, Kais Saied scooped more than 70% of the vote, according to two exit polls, more than 40 points ahead of Nabil Karoui. The official results are expected later on Monday.
Saied thanked the country’s young people “for turning a new page” and vowed to try to build “a new Tunisia”. About 90% of 18- to 25-year-olds voted for Saied, according to estimates by the Sigma polling institute, compared with 49.2% of voters over 60.
Karoui told a news conference he had been denied a chance to compete fairly and would decide whether to appeal once the electoral commission had announced the official tally.
Analysts said the choice of the two candidates over better-known political faces, including many associated with the country’s revolution or with the old regime of the overthrown president Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali, reflected widespread discontent with the country’s ailing economy – a key factor that drove Tunisians on to the streets in 2011.
Some Tunisians nickname Saied, 61, “Robocop” for his stiff manner and dour presentation. They call Karoui, 56, a flamboyant tycoon who wears designer suits, “Michael Corleone”, a reference both to his suaveness and the corruption allegations that have dogged him for years.
The pair squared off in a rare television debate on Friday evening in which Saied – who is not a member of a political party and shunned mass rallies through his campaign – addressed the audience in classical Arabic while Karoui, speaking in the local dialect, propounded his campaign’s ambitious promises to help the poor.
Karoui has run the private television station Nessma since 2002, burnishing his charitable reputation in past years with a popular show in which he distributes appliances to needy families.
Saied, in contrast, was relative unknown in decades he spent teaching constitutional law at a university in Tunis until he retired in 2018 and launched his political campaign.
His relative lack of charisma may be playing to his advantage, according to analysts, who say his appeal rests on the idea that he is incorruptible and sternly civic-minded.
He argued for scrapping the country’s parliamentary system in favour of a decentralised democratic model and is socially conservative, declaring his support for the death penalty and against a law currently under discussion that would distribute inheritances equally between men and women. He has spoken disparagingly of homosexuality and says he would seek to limit the work of foreign NGOs in the country.
Karoui was arrested on corruption charges on the eve of campaigning earlier this year in timing that many saw as a ploy to stem his popularity but which appeared to have backfired, enshrining his status as an outsider. He remains under investigation and cannot travel abroad.