UK: General Election 2017

Last year and following Brexit, David Cameron resigned and Theresa May became Prime Minister with promises of not calling for an early election. However, two months ago she triggered Article 50 and by doing so, the UK’s withdrawal of the European Union began. Two weeks later, she dismissed her aforementioned promises and called for an early general election (3 years earlier than planned). Now, after the terror attack at Manchester Arena on May 22nd, yesterday’s BBC Question Time Leaders Live program, and the Champions League Final just won by Real Madrid in Cardiff, a rather traditional campaign is reaching its end. The British Labour and Conservatory parties are, once again, at the top of the polls, followed far behind by the LibDems and Ukip. All aim to win the most of a total of 650 seats and therefore have control behind the black door numbered 10 on Downing Street.

Each party has published their own manifesto since the campaign first began back on May 3rd. On the one hand, Tories plan to lower immigration, reduce taxes and increase funding of the National Health System as well as state-controlled schools. In regards to Scontland, Conservatives will only allow a referendum to take place once Brexit is resolved. On the other hand, the Labour Party, under Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership, pledged to reinstate public control of the energy industry, railways, buses and the Royal Mail besides their characteristic promises to boost workers’ rights. In addition, they do not plan to reduce immigration quotas and will try to pass a legislation to reduce voting age to 16. Moreover, the Liberal Democrat manifesto includes a plan to offer a second EU referendum which would include an option to remain in the European Union, environmentally focused measures (such as banning diesel cars sales), and introduce a proportional voting system. Finally, Paul Nuttall’s Ukip promised to establish a “one in, one out” immigration system as well as other anti-Islam measures besides cutting back the UK’s foreign aid budget.

Despite the overall distrust towards polls, I believe they should be taken into account. While mid-April averages showed a 43.2% for the Tories and only a 25.4% for the Labour Party (BBC tracker), the last polls prove Tories’ lead has narrowed with just five days left before voters head to polling stations all over Britain: 43.6% Conservative and 37.7% Labour, leaving both the LibDems and Ukip well below 10% (BBC).

Most likely, Mrs May will continue to be Prime Minister after June 8th,  Brexit negotiations will continue as planned and immigrants fleeing armed conflicts will be negatively affected. Perhaps, the British government will be Trump’s last standing ally even after the information leak which followed the Manchester attack and amid ongoing investigations about the American President’s ties to Russia. Nevertheless, the only way to see what happens is to let history play out, and hope that the British people keep in mind not only their future but also that of the rest of the world next Thursday.

IMAGE: The Telegraph

Elecciones en Francia.

Después de una peleada primera vuelta de votación el 23 de abril, sólo quedan dos días para que el futuro de Europa cambie. Para la noche del domingo próximo, Marine Le Pen o Émmanuel Macron se habrán consagrado victoriosos en la segunda vuelta de las elecciones presidenciales francesas. Sin embargo, ninguno de los dos ha alcanzado este estadío indemne.

Por un lado se encuentra la líder del Front National, quien ha sido acusada por malversación de fondos pertenecientes al Parlamento Europeo. Supuestamente, Le Pen financió parte de su campaña con dinero proveniente de la institución regional. En cuanto a su programa de políticas públicas, éste incluye un referéndum sobre la membresía de Francia en la Unión Europea para implementar la independencia de la eurozona. Además, planea expandir las Fuerzas Armadas y el sistema penitenciario. Finalmente, la candidata de extrema derecha pretende reducir la cuota anual de inmigración a 10.000 personas.

Por otro lado, el antiguo Ministro de Economía, Industria y Asuntos digitales, Émmanuel Macron, ha puesto fin al sistema bipartidista de la Quinta República con la conformación su un movimiento independiente (En Marche !). Macron apoya la permanencia de Francia en la Unión Europea. Entre sus promesas se incluyen la expansión de las fuerzas policiales con la creación de 10.000 nuevos puestos. También ha prometido mantener la edad de jubilación como se encuentra establecida por cinco años más, así como conservar la semana laboral de 35 horas como fue legislado el año pasado. Ambas medidas son claros intentos de conseguir el apoyo de os votantes de izquierda. Finalmente, el candidato independiente prometió trabajar en pos de la igualdad de género tanto en la administración pública como en el sector privado.

Tras el debate del miércoles pasado, los sondeos sitúan la intención de voto para Macron al rededor del 61,5% y para Le Pen en el 38,5% (Ipsos). Sin embargo, existe la posibilidad de que la abstención de los votantes de extrema izquierda, quienes votaron por Mélenchon en la primera vuelta, tenga un impacto considerable en el resultado final.

Sondeos, encuestas y predicciones han probado ser inútiles en las bien conocidas elecciones e instancias de referéndum recientes. No obstante, se suele reivindicar que el caso francés es una excepción en la cual la intención de voto tiende a hacerse efectiva en las mesas de votación. Ahora, sólo podemos esperar, pues el pueblo francés tiene la última palabra sobre quién gobernará desde el Palacio del Elíseo.

IMAGEN: Joel Saget

The French Elections.

After a tight first round of vote on April 23rd, there are only two days left before Europe’s future changes. By Sunday evening, either Marine Le Pen or Émmanuel Macron will have won the second round of the French presidential elections. Neither has gotten to this stage unscathed.

On one hand, stands the leader of the Front National party who has been accused of embezzling funds belonging to the European Parliament. Allegedly, Ms. Le Pen funded part of her campaign with money that belonged to the regional institution. In regards to her public policy scheme, it includes a referendum on France’s membership of the European Union and therefore implement the country’s independence of the eurozone. In addition, she plans to expand the armed forces and the penitentiary system. Finally, she intends to reduce the annual immigration quota to 10,000.

On the other hand, the former Socialist Minister of Economy, Industry and Digital Affairs, Émmanuel Macron, has put an end to the bipartisan system of the Fifth Republic by forming an independent movement of his own (En Marche !). Macron stands by the continuity of France’s membership in the EU. Another of his promised policies includes the expansion of the police force by 10,000 more men. He has also pledged to keep the retirement age as it is for five years, and also to maintain the 35-hour working week established last year. Both of these measures are clearly an attempt to gain support from left-wing voters. Lastly, the independent candidate has pledged to work towards gender equality both in the public administration as well as in the private sector.

After last Wednesday’s debate, the polls place the vote intention for Macron at 61,2% and that for Le Pen at 38,5% (Ipsos). However, there is a chance that the abstention of far-left voters who supported Mélenchon in the first round will impact the final result.

Polls and predictions have proven useless in well-known recent elections and referendums. However, it is widely claimed that the French case is an exception where the vote intention is generally made effective at the polling stations. Now, we can only wait, for the French people have the final say about who will rule from the Élysée Palace.

PHOTO CREDIT: Joel Saget.

Ungrateful. 

The world has always known misery and death. They are both profitable and functional to society.

The shoes you wear hold the sweat of other people, the food you eat holds the bent back of other men and women, and the roof over your head holds the work of those who came before you.

Ungrateful, you read this while people are being slaughtered as they cry out for help and others are hostages of their own governments. We have reached the point where we are not safe even within our own borders, we are in danger at home. Furthermore, compassion has proven to be futile. Who cares if a celebrity thinks about my people when I’m under fire?

Now we are accomplices, we are guilty of silence, guilty of looking the other way when goose bumps invade our skin. So if you can, donate to whichever organization stands for your values. If you are able, get out there and say something.

The international community keeps failing humankind and that is why each of us must create change. Governments are a reflection of each nation’s people; if you disagree with them, find other ways to contribute. Never stay still, either the world will rise around you while you linger on the margins, or it will come down crumbling. Wether you care about the environment or other people or animals, you are responsible for the mark you leave on this world. Make it great.

United States of Trump.

Against polls, the media, the voices of celebrities and even members of his own party, Donald Trump has become President-elect of the United States of America. Why did almost nobody predict what happened?

This year has proven that political scientists and analysts have become part of a different kind of congregation, one whose divinity is embodied by polls and mega data. Brexit, the Colombian peace treaty, and now the results of “the leader of the free world”‘s election.

There must be something that we are failing to see or comprehend about today’s society. If the elder portion of the population decides the future of younger generations, then the road towards fairness and equality becomes much more strenuous. Furthermore, it is possible that a feeling of uncertainty and complete fear of what is to come in the near future has blinded the people who hold on to whatever makes them feel somewhat safe. However, it is clear that said feelings are not constrained by national borders as Europe witnesses the rise of Mme Le Pen and Alternative for Germany at the expense (or as a result) of the ever-decreasing popularity of the heads of State.

In regards to last Tuesday’s election, the result does not only affect Americans, but the entire world. The international scene remains unchanged for the time being but it is highly unlikely the fragile balance will last much longer. Despite the fact that Donald Trump’s campaign has been full of sexism, homophobia, xenofobia and overall discrimination, it is likely that the purpose was only to say what the people wanted to hear and therefore, his government will not stick to every promise that has been made. Although he will be pressured by society, it is still unclear what will happen with the Republican majorities in both the Senate and the House of Representatives. Moreover, his Chief of Staff, most probably Stephen K. Bannon, will be a key figure during the next four years.

Summing up, I believe that Trump is just a character built to get to the White House and that his team will hold most of the power. It is still probable that Donald will not be as manageable as they might think and then the world will be hanging off a cliff.

 

 

Photo credit: Pete Souza

Life in this world.

A flaky cease-fire, the threat of an incompetent President in the epicenter of capitalism, nuclear testing, religious extremism, millions of people far from home, bombings, human trafficking, brexit, peace traties with guerrillas, melting ice caps, activists, hackers, international organizations, and intelligence agencies. 

We live in a world that is full. We have so much that we resort to throwing away what we’ve got in order to buy new things. Life comes wrapped in dollar bills. We exist solely on the opinion of those around us but mostly of those on social media who we don’t even know. 

People in power play Russian roulette and fight their private battles, but the ones who pay the price are always the people. We have pushed ourselves to the edge, we are to blame for the resurface of xenophobic conservatism as well as terrorism, for the opulence of the rich and the misery of the poor, for the extinction of species and climate change. 

Humanity is (not so) slowly murdering itself. I don’t want to see the end, I don’t wish to bring a new human to life if what I leave behind me is mere destruction. My words have already been said, my thoughts already thought, but my life is yet to be lived. 

I pledge guilty in the name of the world’s population and all I will ever want is to make this home a little sweeter for you, me and those to come. 

Facultad de Cs. Sociales, UBA: Elecciones en el centro de estudiantes.

Segunda semana de septiembre, los pasillos atestados de carteles se llenan de militantes. Desde la puerta del aula hasta la vereda uno puede acumular una decena de flyers y trípticos. La puja por el poder se da entre agrupaciones de estudiantes, que sólo cubren la centroizquierda y la izquierda más radical del espectro ideológico, e inunda más que nunca el edificio de la facultad.

Quienes sean electos para la presidencia del CECSo lo ocuparán únicamente durante un año. Este recambio anual brinda por un lado, una inconstancia que obstaculiza el desarrollo de la comunidad educativa y por otro, un recambio saludable que evita la megalomanía.

Desde mi punto de vista, la estructura presidencialista debería cambiarse por una de inspiración legislativa, en la que se elijan representantes de cada agrupación para conformar una asamblea que dirija el epicentro de la política estudiantil. Dado que las asambleas plenarias que se llevan a cabo regularmente tienden a derivar en conflictos entre las distintas organizaciones que participan, la existencia de una asamblea reducida permanente permitiría mayor estabilidad en la conducción del centro de estudiantes.

También cabe destacar que si uno presta un mínimo de atención a los discursos pronunciados repetidas veces durante el curso de una clase, los reclamos y posturas ante la realidad política, social y económica, suelen ser similares. Entonces, ¿por qué resulta ilógica la creación de un único control multipartidario o multisectorial?

Finalmente, creo que la puja mencionada al principio no contribuye a la construcción de una comunidad educativa en la que tanto estudiantes como docentes se involucren activamente. En cambio, exacerba la indiferencia de algunos mientras sólo se escuchan unas pocas voces que transmiten el mismo mensaje. Los obstáculos y posibles vías para la realización de un proyecto “legislativo” estudiantil quedarán para el futuro, por ahora sólo queda acercarse a las urnas desde el 12 hasta el 17 de septiembre inclusive.