Mar 30 2011

Changing Political Dynamics in Britain, Germany, and France

Feature Stories | Published 30 Mar 2011, 10:06 am | Comments Off on Changing Political Dynamics in Britain, Germany, and France -

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steven hillDemonstrations in London over the weekend drew at least half a million people saying no to massive planned government cuts in services. People traveled from all over the country for the biggest march since the 2003 demonstrations against the Iraq war. Prime Minister David Cameron’s government has planned $130 billion in cuts to health care services, as well as welfare services, and would result in the loss of nearly 500,000 public sector jobs. The Labor Party, which is now the main opposition party, derided Cameron’s conservative panacea of a so-called “Big Society” in which volunteers and charities would fill the holes in cut services. Meanwhile Germans also turned out in hundreds of thousands across their country over the weekend, but over a slightly different matter: Germans, horrified by the nuclear disaster unfolding in Japan, demanded a shut down of Germany’s nuclear reactors and a transition to truly clean energies like wind and solar. The largest anti-nuclear demonstrations in Germany’s history benefited the anti-nuclear Green Party which saw big gains in regional elections as a result. Germany’s Green Party, along with the Social Democrats threatens the power of the Christian Democrats. The CDU, a strong backer of nuclear power, is Chancellor Angela Merkel’s party. Even though Merkel shut down more than a third of Germany’s nuclear plants immediately after the Japan disaster, she now faces what some are calling “the beginning of the end” of her political leadership. And, in France, the National Front, the extreme-right party now headed by Marine Le Pen, Jean-Marie Le Pen’s daughter, has made big gains over the ruling UMP party in municipal elections held last Sunday. The F.N. as it’s called, is banking on public anger over high unemployment and increasing hostility toward France’s immigrant Muslim population. Incumbent Nicholas Sarkozy’s UMP party has split on how to respond to the vote, which comes a year before Presidential elections.

GUEST: Steven Hill, author of Ten Steps to Repair American Democracy, and his latest, Europe’s Promise: Why The European Way Is The Best Hope In An Insecure Age

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