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.