Gates of Vienna News Feed 5/26/2014

More details are available tonight about the final results of yesterday’s elections to the European Parliament. Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi’s party, the center-left Democratic Party, will be the largest party in the new parliament, followed closely by the German Social Democrats.

In other news, during his trip to Israel Pope France paid a visit to the Al-Aqsa Mosque and met with the Grand Mufti. The Pope called on Christians, Jews, Muslims, and space aliens to work together for peace and justice.

OK, so I made up the part about space aliens. But still…

To see the headlines and the articles, click “Continue reading” below.

Thanks to C. Cantoni, Insubria, Jerry Gordon, JP, Takuan Seiyo, and all the other tipsters who sent these in.

Notice to tipsters: Please don’t submit extensive excerpts from articles that have been posted behind a subscription firewall, or are otherwise under copyright protection.

Caveat: Articles in the news feed are posted “as is”. Gates of Vienna cannot vouch for the authenticity or accuracy of the contents of any individual item posted here. We check each entry to make sure it is relatively interesting, not patently offensive, and at least superficially plausible. The link to the original is included with each item’s title. Further research and verification are left to the reader.

» Father of Isla Vista Shooting Victim Repeats Call for Gun-Control Legislation
Europe and the EU
» EP Vote: Greece: Syriza Wins But Fails to Triumph, ND Stands
» EU Election: Focus Falls on Economy to Counter Eurosceptic Gains
» European Vote in the New Europe, From Austria to Slovenia
» Eurosceptic Parties Won Victories in European Parliament Elections, But Can They Organize an Alliance?
» French Political Class in Turmoil After Front National’s European ‘Earthquake’ Victory
» Germany: Angela Merkel: Far-Right’s EU Success ‘Regrettable’
» German Eurosceptics Gain Votes in Blow for Angela Merkel
» Iceland: Progressive Party in Hot Water Over Anti-Mosque Comments
» Italy: Renzi’s PD Set to Land Huge Win in EP Elections
» Italy: Clini Graft Probe Deals With Iraqi Clean-Up Project
» Italy Will Forge ‘More Consistent’ EU Policy, Says Mogherini
» Italy’s Center-Left PD Wins Most Seats in S&D
» Italy: Trial Requested for Professors in Sicily Nepotism Case
» Italy: European Elections: In the Med: Each Country Goes Its Own Way
» Le Pen Sparks Earthquake in France, Eurosceptics Grow
» Merkel Deplores Populist Rise, Praises PD Successes
» Netherlands: EU Elections: D66 Dominates in the Cities But PVV Takes Rotterdam
» Netherlands: European Elections: What the Dutch Papers Say
» Netherlands: Real Dutch EU Election Results Put CDA on 5 Seats, PVV and D66 on 4
» Renzi Vows to Change Italy and EU After Huge Win
» South Stream Gas Project ‘Strategic’ Says Guidi
» UK: An Open Invitation to Visit City’s Mosques
» UK: BBC in New Mumbling Row Over Crime Drama Quirke
» UK: Fury Over ‘Offensive’ ‘Pakistani Only’ To Let Sign in Nelson
» UK: Michael Gove Attacks ‘Ficticious’ Claims He Has Banned US Books From Schools
» UKIP is on Its Way to Westminster, Claims Farage
North Africa
» Former Libyan Premier Supports Anti-Islamist Operation
» Islamists Kill Libyan Journalist
Israel and the Palestinians
» Netanyahu Tells Pope Barrier ‘Prevented Palestinian Terror’
» Pope Visits Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem
Middle East
» 6 People Killed in Attacks Across Iraq
» British Jihadists in Syria ‘Responsible for Beheadings and Crucifixions’
» Syria: NGO: Witness Claims Father Dall’Oglio Killed
» President-Elect Continues Army Push in East Ukraine
South Asia
» Thailand’s King Endorses Military Junta
Australia — Pacific
» Gillard Sounds the Alarm on Social Justice

Father of Isla Vista Shooting Victim Repeats Call for Gun-Control Legislation

Richard Martinez condemns ‘rudderless idiots’ in government

The father of one of the six college students killed in California on Friday has repeated his call for stricter gun laws and condemned the US government and powerful gun lobby for failing to enact change.

“We’re all proud to be Americans,” Richard Martinez said. “But what kind of message does it send to the world when we have such a rudderless bunch of idiots in government?”

Police named Elliot Rodger, 22, as the suspect in the killing of six University of California, Santa Barbara students in the beachside community of Isla Vista. Rodger, who also died in the incident, is suspected of injuring 13 others, eight of whom sustained gunshot wounds and four of whom were hit by his car.

Martinez, the father of Christopher Ross Michaels-Martinez, 20, of Los Osos, California, has condemned the National Rifle Association and lax US gun laws multiple times since the incident.

On Monday, he told HLN his son died at an Isla Vista delicatessen because of Congress’s failure to pass substantial gun legislation in the wake of mass shootings including the December 2012 massacre at Sandy Hook elementary in Connecticut, in which 20 children and six adults were killed.

“Have we learned nothing?” Martinez asked. “These things are going to continue until somebody does something, so where the hell is the leadership?

“My kid died because nobody responded to what occurred at Sandy Hook. Those parents lost little kids. It’s bad enough that I lost my 20-year-old, but I had 20 years with my son. That’s all I’ll ever have but those people lost their children at six and seven years old.

“How do you think they feel? Who’s talking to them now? Who’s doing anything for them now?”…

           — Hat tip: Takuan Seiyo [Return to headlines]

EP Vote: Greece: Syriza Wins But Fails to Triumph, ND Stands

Samaras claims voters rejected radical changes

(by Demetrio Manolitsakis) (ANSAmed) — ATHENS, MAY 26 — The top place won by Syriza, the good result registered by Elia (Olive) against all forecasts, the disappearance of the Democratic Left (Dimar, a political force which for a number of months was part of the government coalition together with Nea Dimokratia and Pasok), the positive result posted by the new To Potami (River) — in just 88 days, as stressed by its leader Stavros Theodorakis — and finally the third place gained by neo-Nazi party Chrysi Avgi (Golden Dawn) are the first results coming out by Sunday’s European vote in Greece.

However, radical left party Syriza, in spite of the referendum-like nature that its leader Alexis Tsipras, the European left candidate for EU president, tried to give to European and local elections, did not obtain a result which could justify a radical change of the political situation with potential early elections. Syriza’s victory is due to the loss by some 7% of the vote for Nea Dimokratia compared to political elections in June 2012 while Syriza lost a small part of its electorate compared to two years ago (26.89% of the vote in national elections in 2012, 26.42% in Sunday’s European vote).

Premier Antonis Samaras and his government partner, Socialist leader Evanghelos Venizelos, said the stability of the coalition is not in danger and early elections are not part of his plans.

According to Samaras, Greek voters sent a message to the government while at the same time refusing the radical change demanded by Syriza. “The attempt of those looking for political uncertainty, uncertainty and government instability has failed”, said the premier. “The government remains a guarantee of stability and normality in the country”.

Venizelos for his part stressed that his party stood its ground and that people rejected Syriza’s “blackmail”.

“Politics based on polarization banking on lies, vulgarity and blackmail are not over”, said Venizelos. “Someone sought to provoke a political crisis at a time when Greece is about to exit the economic crisis, he added, listing his next steps: updating an agreement on the program with Nea Dimokratia, widening parliament’s support for the government, requesting the intervention of President Karolos Paoulias for national agreement and calling a new congress of Pasok for October.

For his part, Alexis Tsipras, talking to reporters, re-discussed his demand to call early elections questioning the “political legitimacy with which the current government will deal with the public debt issue. Respect towards democracy calls for elections as soon as possible so that political normality is restored”.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

EU Election: Focus Falls on Economy to Counter Eurosceptic Gains

French President Francois Hollande and German Chancellor Angela Merkel have said the EU must focus on jobs and growth to counter a surge in support for Eurosceptic and far right parties.

The three big centrist blocs in the European Parliament are on course for a majority after last week’s election…

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

European Vote in the New Europe, From Austria to Slovenia

Centre-right parties grow in the area

(ANSA) — TRIESTE — In the Balkans centre parties prevail, in Germany Angela Merkel’s party is confirmed, popular party falls down in Poland. Here is the map of yesterday’s European election in the New Europe. Croatia, experiencing the first European election, chose the centre.

AUSTRIA : according to exit polls, Popular Party is winning with 27.1%, while the Social Democrats (SPOE) reach 23.8, Eurosceptics (FPOE) came third with 20.1% and double their seats (from 2 to 4). Green Party are around 14.6% . BULGARIA: : according to exit polls, the conservative party Gerb led by former prime minister Boyko Borissov wins (28.6%), followed by the Socialist Party, led by Sergei Stanishev , with 19.8%, and by the Turkish minority party, DPS, with 14.9% and 3 seats.

CROATIA: Clear victory of the centre-right coalition led by the Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ ), with 41%, that will gain 5 of 11 MEPs assigned to the country. The centre-left coalition gained 29.9% and 4 MEPs.

GERMANY : Angela Merkel’s CDU is confirmed as the first party (35.3%), although it saw the worst result since 1979. SPD is growing (27.2%) and the antieuro party Fuer Deutschland had a great success, with 7%. One seat is also gained by the neo-Nazi party NPD ..

LATVIA: the popular party ‘Unity’ gains 46%, the Conservatives of ‘National Alliance’ 15%. Social Democrats pro-Russian of the ‘ Harmony Centre ‘ (13%) and the Union of Green Parties (8%).

POLAND: PO, Popular Party which is currently governing, have lost one third of the votes (compared to 2009) but remains the first party in Poland. The Eurosceptics of the KNP led by Korwin — Mikke Janusz have recorded a great success and could gain 4 seats with 7.2%, Conservative party Pis is struggling for supremacy, with 31.8%.

REP. CZECH : The pro-European Ano won ( 16.13 %), followed by the Liberals of Top 09 (15.95%), Social Democrats (CSSD) led by the premier (14,17%). Even the Communists will take part in the Europarliament (0.98 %).

ROMANIA: The Socialist Coalition led by Prime Minister Victor Ponta is winning with 41% Liberals are ranked 2nd with 14.9%, the Popular party, PDL, does not go beyond 11,8%. Hungarian Democratic Union in Romania (Popular Party) won 7% and the Populists of the PMP 6.7%. SLOVAKIA: with the lowest turnout, 13 %, the Social Democrats (Smer) led by Prime Minister Robert Fico won (24,09 %), followed by the Popular Christian Democratic Movement (KDH) with 13.21%, and the Slovak Union of Christians Democrats (SDKU) with 7.75%. SLOVENIA: official victory of the Slovenian Democratic Party (centre-right) with 24.86%, followed by Nova List Slovenija and Sls (centre) with 16.46%, by the list Verjamem (centre) with 10.50% and by DeSUS (centre) with 8.16 %, followed by the Social Democratic Party (centre-left) with 8.05% Only 24% went to the polls.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Eurosceptic Parties Won Victories in European Parliament Elections, But Can They Organize an Alliance?

Yesterday afternoon, I spoke with my Geneva -based European observer following the close of European Parliamentary Elections in 28 member countries. He indicated that both the UK Independent Party (UKIP) led by Nigel Farage and Marine le Pen ‘s National Front each were poised to pick up 24 seats in their country’s MEP delegations. Eurosceptic parties like Denmark’s anti- immigrant People’s Party led with 26.7 percent doubling its delegate slate, while Greece’s left progressive Syrizia came out on top with 26.5 percent . Geert Wilders’ Freedom party tied for second in The Netherland despite poor exit polls on Thursday evening. Elsewhere, the right wing Austrian People’s Party appeared to be leading with 20 percent of the vote v up from 7 percent in 2009. In Italy, the Democrat Party led by PM Matteo Renzi trounced the Five Star Movement copping fully 40 percent of the vote. Italy will take over the revolving Presidency next month.

However, there was evidence that some anti-Semitic and neo-Nazi parties won delegates in their European parliamentary slates. Witness Hungary’s Jobbik Party which came in second with 14.7 percent, while Greece’s Golden Dawn was third with 9.7 percent.

For results overall and by EU Member countries, consult the Financial Times European Parliament election results on -line, at this interactive graphic, here…

           — Hat tip: Jerry Gordon [Return to headlines]

French Political Class in Turmoil After Front National’s European ‘Earthquake’ Victory

The far-Right party has taken a quarter of the popular vote, beating both president Hollande’s Socialists and the centre-Right UMP

France’s political establishment was in total disarray on Monday as its main parties reeled from the “earthquake” of seeing the far-Right Front National (FN) come first in European elections.

François Hollande, the deeply unpopular president, staged a crisis cabinet meeting to find ways to parry what is the French Socialist Party’s worst score since European elections were first held in 1979…

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

Germany: Angela Merkel: Far-Right’s EU Success ‘Regrettable’

The success of far-right parties in the European Parliament elections is “remarkable and regrettable”, the German Chancellor has said.

The three big centre-right, left and liberal blocs are still on course for a majority, but they have all lost seats to parties vowing to reduce the power of the EU or abolish it completely. Angela Merkel said countries had to win back voters by offering the path to “growth and jobs”.

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

German Eurosceptics Gain Votes in Blow for Angela Merkel

New Eurosceptic party Alternative for Germany gained ground, winning seven seats

Chancellor Angela Merkel’s ruling Christian Democrats have been dealt an embarrassing blow by Germany’s new Eurosceptic party which won seven percent of the vote in the European election, putting the party on course to enter national parliament for the first time…

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

Iceland: Progressive Party in Hot Water Over Anti-Mosque Comments

Sveinbjörg Birna Sveinbjörnsdóttir, first on the Progressive Party’s list in Reykjavík for Saturday’s municipal elections, voiced her opposition to the proposed mosque in Reykjavík on Friday. Reykjavík City Council has already allocated a lot for the mosque and construction is set to begin this year…

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

Italy: Renzi’s PD Set to Land Huge Win in EP Elections

M5S second, Berlusconi’s FI below 20% in third

(ANSA) — Rome, May 26 — Premier Matteo Renzi’s centre-left Democratic Party (PD) was on course for a massive victory in Sunday’s European elections, with projections making them Italy’s top party with around 41% of the vote. “It’s a historic result,” Renzi said via his Twitter account, @matteorenzi. “I’m moved and determined (and) now (I’ll go to) work for an Italy that changes Europe”. Comedian-turned-politician Beppe Grillo’s anti-establishment, Eurosceptic 5-Star Movement (M5S) was projected to land about 22% and ex-premier Silvio Berlusconi’s opposition centre-right Forza Italia (FI) was on course to capture only 16% of the vote.

The PD hailed the outcome as an endorsement of the ambitious programme of institutional and economic reforms Renzi has embarked on since unseating his party colleague Enrico Letta in February to become Italy’s youngest premier at 39.

“If the projections are confirmed, it’s an historic result that rewards the government’s reform drive,” Reforms Minister Maria Elena Boschi said. Renzi’s reforms include a drive to change the Constitution and transform the Senate into a leaner assembly of local-government representatives with limited lawmaking powers as part of an overhaul of the country’s slow, costly political machinery.

He has also introduced a tax bonus worth 80 euros per month for low earners and the unemployed in a bid to boost Italy’s weak growth after its longest postwar recession.

Hailed by some as the biggest centre-left victory since World War II, Sunday’s outcome has also given a popular mandate to the Renzi, who was Italy’s third consecutive premier to come to power though backroom maneuvering rather than as a direct result of elections. The M5S, which captured a stunning 25% of the vote it in last year’s inconclusive general election, looked in store for a defeat of sorts.

Grillo had forecast that the movement, whose stated aim is to destroy the current party system, would come first and cause Renzi to suffer a political “lupara bianca” — a term used to refer to a mafia hit that leaves no trace of evidence.

Grillo had also threatened to lead hordes of M5S supporters in Rome next week to demand new national elections and the resignation of President Giorgio Napolitano, who he says is not a fair arbiter of Italian politics, if his movement came first.

Some commentators suggested that FI’s poor showing, meanwhile, could finally mark the end for Berlusconi, Italy’s dominant political figure for two decades. Berlusconi was unable to stand or even vote in the election after being ejected from parliament following a definitive tax-fraud conviction last year.

The three-time premier and his supporters say that conviction is the result of a persecution by leftwing elements in the judiciary who are trying to eliminate him from Italy’s public life.

“Forza Italia is paying a big price for a decision by the judiciary that I consider seriously unfair and denied Italian moderates of a figure they look to,” said Giovanni Toti, a senior FI official and former executive at Berlusconi’s media empire. Projections said the Eurosceptic, anti-immigrant Northern League would get around 6% of the vote.

Interior Minister Angelino Alfano’s New Centre Right and its allies in the centrist UCD — both of which support Renzi’s executive — were set to collect around 4.3%, just over the 4% entry threshold.

The leftist Tsipras group, which is deeply critical of EU policy, was also projected to just make the 4% bar.

A projection by the SWG institute for SKY predicted that the PD would have 31 seats in the new European Parliament, which could take it above Germany’s SPD and make it the biggest party in the Socialist bloc.

It forecast that M5S would have 17 MEPs, FI 13, the Northern League five, and NCD-UCD and Tsipras would get three each.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Italy: Clini Graft Probe Deals With Iraqi Clean-Up Project

Padua businessman also under house arrest

(see previous) (ANSA) — Ferrara, May 26 — Graft charges filed Monday against former environment minister Corrado Clini concern a water clean-up project in the Tigris and Euphrates basin in Iraq, sources said. A partner in the firm overseeing the project, an engineer from the Padua area, has been placed under house arrest along with Clini, who served under former premier Mario Monti from November 2011 to April 2013.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Italy Will Forge ‘More Consistent’ EU Policy, Says Mogherini

Vote is mandate for Rome to rewrite EU agenda, minister says

(ANSA) Rome, May 26- Italy will spearhead new, “more consistent” policies for the European Union following the stunning victory by Premier Matteo Renzi’s Democratic Party in European elections, Foreign Minister Federica Mogherini said Monday.

“Now Italy is no longer in a condition where it has to ask Europe for help but can instead, as a full player, construct new policies for Europe, not just economic policies but also a more consistent European foreign policy concentrated on our strategic priorities and interests,” she told Skytg24 television.

“We are the real hope for the European continent,” she added,”we are the government of hope in Europe as well. We have to try to contribute to the good of our whole continent together”.

Mogherini underlined that “Italy doesn’t have to go and speak with Europe, Italy is Europe.” With the results obtained in the European elections last week-end “the Italian government is called to the responsibility of re-writing the European agenda”. The electoral result is a sign “to pursue and accelerate on the road of reforms in Italy and in a European key,” she continued.

Voters had delivered a message meaning that “the only way to save the European dream is to change, also in Europe,” the foreign minister told Skytg24.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Italy’s Center-Left PD Wins Most Seats in S&D

Renzi’s party followed by Germany’s SPD

(see related) (ANSA) — Brussels, May 26 — Italy’s Democratic Party (PD) will make up the largest delegation within the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats (S&D) after winning over 40% in European Parliament elections, polls showed Monday. The PD of Premier Matteo Renzi will have 31 seats, followed by the German SPD’s 27. The S&D is the second largest party in the EP after the centre-right European People’s Party (EPP).

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Italy: Trial Requested for Professors in Sicily Nepotism Case

Cardiologist, academics accused of rigging hiring of daughter

(ANSA) — Palermo, May 26 — A Sicilian prosecutor has recommended the indictment of the head of Palermo university’s cardiology school, Salvatore Novo, and the university’s assistant head, Giacomo de Leo, on charges of rigging the appointment of Novo’s daughter as a cardiology researcher.

Professor Novo and de Leo, who was formerly head of the university’s medicine faculty, are under investigation on charges including fraud in connection with the alleged rigging of a public competition for the job given to Novo’s daughter Giuseppina in 2005, judicial sources said.

Also requested for indictment in the case is Alberto Balbarini, a lecturer in cardiovascular diseases at Pisa University who was on the selection board for the appointment.

The inquiry was opened by magistrates in Bari as part of a probe into rigged job competitions in faculties at several universities around Italy.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Italy: European Elections: In the Med: Each Country Goes Its Own Way

Big wins for French far-right, Greek left, Italian Democrats

(by Patrizio Nissirio) (ANSAmed) — ROME, MAY 26 — Voters in every country rocked the establishment boat, albeit in different ways, as political blowback from the economic crisis affected most entrenched parties in Sunday’s European Parliament elections. Results on Europe’s southern shore show three general tendencies: those who wanted to overturn the establishment; those who chose to punish their leaders, but only to a certain extent; and those who gave their government a vote of confidence.

The latter was the case in Italy, where the triumph of the ruling Democratic Party and the flop of the anti-establishment, anti-euro 5-Star Movement has bequeathed a great popular mandate, but also a great responsibility, on Premier Matteo Renzi.

The same happened in Cyprus, where voters rewarded the ruling conservative party.

On the Mediterranean front, French voters flocked to the extreme right, Spaniards punished traditional parties and brought to the fore a party born of the ‘indignados’ movement, while in Greece, the anti-austerity left led by Alexis Tsipras scored a victory but not a death blow to the Antonis Samaras government. In the Balkans, low voter turnout saw the center-right prevail.

The most striking upset is surely the victory of France’s far-right National Front, whose leader Marine Le Pen skillfully took advantage of voter discontent over the economic crisis, rising anti-immigrant sentiment, and the lackluster administration of socialist President Francois Hollande. While the French euroskeptic contingent (26%, 24 seats) won’t have much leverage in the European Parliament, even through alliances with like-minded parties from other countries, the political signal, both domestically and for the rest of Europe, has sounded loud and clear as the socialists, who fell to historic lows in the polls, face an uncertain future.

In Spain, which paid one of the highest prices for the economic downturn, voters penalized the traditional two-party system alternating between the People’s Party and the Socialist Party, both of which lost substantial slices of the electorate, while launching what could reveal itself to be a serious contender: Podemos (We Can), the movement born of the ‘indignados’ anti-austerity protests, made its debut with a respectable 6.46% of the vote.

And while the government of Mariano Rajoy maintained its hold on power, the lost of eight out of Spain’s 54 seats on the EP is a signal not to be ignored.

A somewhat similar situation occurred in Greece, where Tsipras’ leftist Syriza coalition scored a victory but not a total upset with 26.42% of the vote, becoming the number one party: conservative Prime Minister Antonis Samaras, who governs the country in an alliance with the socialists (who also were penalized in the voting booth) can breathe a sigh of relief, but Tsipras on Monday nevertheless called for early elections. In Croatia, which is the youngest EU member, the center-right obtained 41.5% of the vote and five out of the country’s 11 EP seats.

The ruling center-left coalition trailed with 29% of the vote, with social-democratic Prime Minister Zoran Milanovic calling it “an important lesson for us”. Conservatives also triumphed in neighboring Slovenia, where former premier Janez Jansa’s Slovenian Democratic Party (SDS) won 24.8% of the vote and three out of eight MEPs. A conservative coalition between the Christian democratic New Slovenia Party and the Slovenian People’s Party garnered 16.4% of the vote and two seats in Strasbourg.

Malta stuck to tradition, with 53% of voters liking the Labour Party and 40% favoring the Nationalist Party.

In the year of the Mediterranean, with the Greek EU presidency to be followed by that of Italy, Mediterranean European voters have sent a miscellaneous set of representatives to the European Parliament: a southern front remains difficult to imagine.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Le Pen Sparks Earthquake in France, Eurosceptics Grow

EPP poised to be top group in European parliament

(ANSA) — Paris, May 26 — Marine Le Pen’s far-right Front National (FN) was poised to come first in France, as Euroskeptic parties posted strong showings in many countries in Sunday’s European elections.

Eurosceptics also came first in Denmark, the UKIP was contending for first place in Britain and in Greece the left-wing Syriza party, who are staunchly critical of European Union austerity, were the most popular party.

“The inevitability of European integration ends tonight,” said UKIP leader Nigel Farage.

French President Francois Hollande called an emergency meeting for Monday at 8.30 with Prime Minister Manuel Valls and other ministers after preliminary results suggested his Socialist party was set to come third with under 14% of the vote, compared to around 26% for the FN.

The opposition centre-right UMP looked set to come second with around 20% of the vote.

Valls admitted the result was a political “earthquake”, while Le Pen called on the beleaguered Hollande to dissolve parliament so that new national elections could be held in the light of the outcome. “What else can the president do after such a rejection?” she said. “It is unacceptable that the national assembly should be so unrepresentative of the French people”.

The centre-right European People’s Party (EPP) is set to be the biggest group in the new European Parliament, according to projections based on provisional results released by the parliament itself. The EPP is projected to have 212 seats in the parliament, compared to 185 for the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats (S&D), with the Liberal Democrat ALDE party set to come third with around 71 seats. Jean-Claude Juncker, the EPP’s candidate to be the next European Commission President, said the projected outcome showed he should replace José Manuel Barroso, although his group will probably not have an absolute majority in the parliament.

“I want to the president of the next Commission because the EPP won,” Juncker said.

“I won’t go on my knees to the Socialists because we are the number-one party. “But we have to make comprises. I’d like to extend the majority to the Greens and the Liberals, but I won’t ever go with the Far Right”. Socialist candidate Martin Schulz, however, said he had not abandoned his ambitions of taking the helm of the EC.

“If Juncker’s party comes first, he’ll have the right to try to form a majority,” said Schulz, the current speaker of the European Parliament. “If he wants to talk to us, he’s welcome to. I’ll take the initiative too to try to form a majority.

“I say enough of strategy based on mathematical calculations. It’s time to start with political calculations”. Turnout in the election was 43.1%, according to provisional European Parliament figures — up on last time.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Merkel Deplores Populist Rise, Praises PD Successes

(AGI) Berlin, May 26 — Germany’s Chancellor Angela Merkel said in a press conference that the victory of populist and extreme right-wing parties in Europe is “deplorable,” but she praised the “solid result” of forces linked to the centre-left Italian PD and called for talks to choose the next president of the European Commission. Merkel emphasized that Europe needs “competition, work and growth.” .

           — Hat tip: C. Cantoni [Return to headlines]

Netherlands: EU Elections: D66 Dominates in the Cities But PVV Takes Rotterdam

In the European elections, D66 won most votes in Amsterdam, The Hague and Utrecht, while the PVV became the biggest party in Rotterdam.

In Amsterdam, where there is still no new coalition following the March local elections, D66 took almost 25% of the vote. GroenLinks were second with 16.3%. The PVV took 7.9% of the votes in the Dutch capital, down from 12.7% a year ago.

D66 also dominated in The Hague with 22.2% of the votes. The PVV were second with 16.4% and the VVD third with just under 13%.

In Utrecht, D66 won over 26% of the vote, followed by GroenLinks on 18.5%. Turnout in Utrecht was 41.4%.

In Rotterdam, the PVV won 18.8% of the votes, with D66 in second place on 17.7%. The Socialists were third with 11.3%.

           — Hat tip: C. Cantoni [Return to headlines]

Netherlands: European Elections: What the Dutch Papers Say

The Netherlands voted for its 26 new MEPs last week but did not find out the results until Sunday evening. The Dutch papers note that euro-scepticism is on the rise everywhere, despite the losses for the PVV.

Voters have rejected Wilders’ radicalism but to conclude they ‘voted for Europe’, as D66’s Alexander Pechtold had it, has to be an exaggeration, writes the Volkskrant in its editorial.

The Dutch don’t want to get rid of the euro, nor do they want to leave the EU, the paper writes. But the fact that so few people bothered to vote means the European Parliament still ‘lacks authority’. The paper doubts whether the Dutch delegation, spread out over ten parties will do anything to change that.


How far will European integration go after these elections?, news magazine Elsevier wonders.

‘Most people in the Netherlands — including the highly educated — haven’t a clue about the European Union in spite of five years of European crisis when we found out that we are truly in the same boat’, writes the magazine’s Brussels correspondent Carla Joosten.

‘Dutch politicians have shown themselves to be incapable of integrating European politics into national politics,’ she writes. Instead they came up with opportunistic election campaigns and empty ‘bleating’ about job creation, another issue on which European politicians are ‘totally incompetent’.


Meanwhile, victorious Euro MPs will be returning to Brussels to advocate the right to abortion and gay rights in the whole union, she writes.

This, Joosten says, is ‘dangerous’, because of the risk that conservative countries will ‘drag us back in time if a majority of them feel those crazy Dutch and their progressive ideas are going too far.’

The NRC also deflates Pechtold’s ‘vote for Europe’. The Dutch didn’t vote at all, the NRC writes.

Local politics

Why not? the paper asked. ‘Anti-European feeling isn’t the whole story,’ the NRC quotes political commentator Caroline de Gruyter as saying. ‘Politics happens locally. The Netherlands has 26 Euro MPs and 150 members of parliament.’

‘A Euro MP represents 645,000 citizens and an MP 112,000. The Euro MP is in Brussels or Strasbourg, is less approachable and is involved with spending which represents a fraction of the national budget,’ she writes.

According to economist Ben Burger voters stayed at home deliberately, not to show they are against Europe but because not voting was the only way of making clear that they are not satisfied with the way things are going.

‘Voting would legitimise what is happening. If lots of people had voted, government leaders would meet in Brussels and say to each other: we can continue as before,’ he told the NRC.

Voting is useless

The NRC also quotes journalist and non-EP voter Paul Witteman, who said candidates for the European parliament had admitted to him, ‘freely and off the record’ that ‘voting is useless’…

           — Hat tip: C. Cantoni [Return to headlines]

Netherlands: Real Dutch EU Election Results Put CDA on 5 Seats, PVV and D66 on 4

The real Dutch results from Thursday’s European election show a slightly different picture than three different exit polls, with an improved performance from both the Christian Democrats and Geert Wilders’ anti-immigration PVV.

The final results, with turnout of 43%, are as follows

  • CDA 5 ( was 5) (15%)
  • D66 4 (was 3) (15.4%)
  • PVV 4 (was 5) (13.2%)
  • VVD 3 (unchanged) (11.9%)
  • PvdA 3 (unchanged) (9.4%)
  • SP 2 (unchanged) 9.6%
  • CU/SGP 2 (was 2) 7.6%
  • GroenLinks 2 (unchanged) 7%
  • PvdD 1 (was 0) 4.2%

The polls had indicated the PVV would lose two of their five seats. Nevertheless, the PVV vote is down from 17% to 13.2%, which means PVV support has gone down by around 20%.

CDA leader Sybrand Buma said he was ‘delighted’ his party remains the biggest Dutch group within the European parliament. The CDA have their ‘extra’ MEP because of their link with the orthodox religious parties and 50Plus. That means any excess CU, SGP and 50PLus votes are transferred to the CDA.

The same vote transfer applies to the Labour party’s link with GroenLinks, which means it has three MEPs — more than the Socialists, despite polling fewer votes.

Wilders used Twitter to describe the actual results as ‘great’. ‘Four seats after all,’ he said. ‘Here’s to forming a big euro-critical grouping within the European parliament with the next president of France, Marine le Pen. The PVV and Front National are hoping to link up with other anti-European parties to form a block within the parliament, which will entitle them to extra funding and support.

           — Hat tip: C. Cantoni [Return to headlines]

Renzi Vows to Change Italy and EU After Huge Win

Premier says no more ‘alibis’ over reforms

(ANSA) — Rome, May 26 — Premier Matteo Renzi vowed to continue his reform drive in Italy and work to change the EU after his centre-left Democratic Party’s (PD) historic win in Sunday’s European elections. The election was expected to be a close battle between the PD and the anti-establishment, Euroskeptic 5-Star Movement of comedian-cum-politician Beppe Grillo.

Instead the PD claimed its biggest-ever election victory, winning 40.8% of the vote, almost twice as much as M5S’s 21.2%, while Silvio Berlusconi’s opposition centre-right Forza Italia (FI) party came third with a disappointing 16.8%. “Now Italy has all the conditions necessary to be able to change and to invite the European Union to change,” Renzi told a press conference.

Renzi wants to use Italy’s six-month presidency of the EU, which starts in July, to take the union in a new direction so that it is no longer seen as the champion of austerity and pointless rules, but fights to boost growth and combat unemployment. But he also stressed that to change Europe, “we have to first to change ourselves”. He added that the result meant there were no more “alibis” to stop progress with the ambitious programme of institutional and economic reforms he has embarked after unseating his party colleague Enrico Letta in February to become Italy’s youngest premier at 39.

“In the derby match between hope and anger, hope won,” Renzi said referring to the angry campaigning of Grillo, who wants to destroy the current political system and had predicted the M5S would win the European elections, triggering the end of Renzi’s political career. The premier stressed, however, that he did not consider the result to have endowed him a popular mandate he had previously, given that he is Italy’s third consecutive premier to come to power though backroom maneuvering rather than as a direct result of elections. “It wasn’t a referendum on me or the government,” he said. “It’s a vote that expresses extraordinary hope. I don’t consider the result to be a personal legitimization”. He also dismissed speculation he could be tempted to call early national elections to try to ride the wave of the European vote, saying his executive would run until the end of the current parliamentary term in 2018.

“The executive will last until 2018 because the Italian people want to see results, not vote again,” he said.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

South Stream Gas Project ‘Strategic’ Says Guidi

Italy ‘ideal hub’ for energy from North Africa, says minister

(ANSA) — Brussels, May 26 — The South Stream natural gas project carrying energy from Russia to Europe is of “strategic” importance, Industry Minister Federica Guidi said Monday.

“I still think South Stream is a strategic…interesting project,” Guidi said, adding she will press for its approval as it moves through various stages of compliance with the European Union.

During meetings with the European Competitiveness Council, Guidi said the project must be viewed in the context of diversifying energy sources for Europe and should be adopted “quickly”.

She added that North Africa could also become a significant source of energy for Europe, and Italy would be “an ideal hub” for future imports to the continent. Russian energy giant Gazprom is the majority shareholder in the South Stream natural gas pipeline project, which it is building along with Italian state-controlled energy conglomerate Eni.

The South Stream pipeline is designed to begin to carry Russian gas to southern Europe by 2015 and reaching full capacity in 2018.

The pipeline will bypass Ukraine, a country which is at the centre of a major dispute with Russia and which has recurrent disagreements over energy with Moscow.

Italy’s Saipem, Europe’s largest oil-service provider and an Eni subsidiary, recently reached a two-billion-euro contract with Gazprom to extend the South Stream pipeline under the Black Sea. But there have been concerns that, with political tensions between Europe and the United States with Russia over the crisis in Ukraine, economic sanctions could hit energy exporters including Gazprom.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

UK: An Open Invitation to Visit City’s Mosques

Curious visitors were invited into Bradford Central Mosque this weekend as a direct result of the controversial visit by Britain First members who arrived unannounced to distribute Bibles.

The mosque has made it clear that visitors who do not share the Muslim faith are very welcome to visit the Westgate building for a tour and to meet officials…

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

UK: BBC in New Mumbling Row Over Crime Drama Quirke

Complaints about sound quality in Quirke follow controversy over Jamaica Inn

The BBC has been forced to defend another of its flagship dramas after viewers complained they had no idea what the actors were saying. Earlier this month, the Corporation was caught up in a ‘mumbling row’ when viewers said they could not understand the dialogue in period drama Jamaica Inn…

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

UK: Fury Over ‘Offensive’ ‘Pakistani Only’ To Let Sign in Nelson

A ‘TO LET’ sign advertising for a Pakistani family only has shocked a community. Both police and Pendle MP Andrew Stephenson received a dozen complaints from residents after the sign appeared in a window at a house in Nelson.

The handwritten advert posted in the window of a property in Railway Street read ‘For Rent, 3 Bedrooms, Just Pakistani Family’ with an attached mobile number. Police officers tracked down the landlord following complaints about the ‘distasteful’ sign and it was removed…

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

UK: Michael Gove Attacks ‘Ficticious’ Claims He Has Banned US Books From Schools

Education Secretary attacks the “culture warriors” he says have falsely claimed he wants to bad American novels like To Kill A Mockingbird from being taught in UK schools to GCSE students

Michael Gove has hit out at the “culture warriors” he says have falsely accused him of banning American novels including To Kill a Mockingbird from English literature GCSE courses. It was reported that classic US texts such as Of Mice And Men by John Steinbeck and The Crucible by Arthur Miller will be excluded from the UK syllabus in favour of works by British writers…

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

UKIP is on Its Way to Westminster, Claims Farage

Nigel Farage eyes Newark by-election following European elections victory

Ukip leader Nigel Farage said his “people’s army” was on its way to Westminster after securing first place in historic elections for the European Parliament.

Mr Farage said that the eurosceptic party will “give it our best shot” in next week’s by-election in Newark — an area where it finished top last night despite trailing the Tories by 25,000 votes in the 2010 general election — and was hoping to secure “a good number” of MPs when the country goes to the polls in May 2015…

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

Former Libyan Premier Supports Anti-Islamist Operation

(AGI) Tunis, May 26 — Former Libyan prime minister, Mahmoud Jibril, said on Monday that he was joining General Khalifa Haftar’s Operation Karama (Dignity) against Islamist militants.

“The country is now held hostage by fundamentalist gangs and groups. I call on all Libyans to support Operation Karama. I’m glad that the Libyan army has returned actively to the field because it means that sovereignty is returning to the Libyan people. The only law that we must respect is that of the Libyan people,” he told Al Arabiya television.

           — Hat tip: C. Cantoni [Return to headlines]

Islamists Kill Libyan Journalist

(AGI) Tunis, May 26 — Islamic militants in Benghazi have killed a Libyan journalist, Meftah Bouzid, who was known for his criticism of Islamic extremists and Jihadists operating in Cyrenaica. Bouzid, who had received death threats, was editor of the weekly magazine Burniq and appeared frequently on TV. He supported the March attack by General Khalifa Haftar on militants in Benghazi.

           — Hat tip: C. Cantoni [Return to headlines]

Netanyahu Tells Pope Barrier ‘Prevented Palestinian Terror’

Prime minister takes Francis to monument honoring victims

(see related) (ANSA) — Jerusalem, May 26 — Israeli Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu said in a tweet Monday that he “explained to the Pope that building the security fence prevented many more victims that Palestinian terror planned to harm”. Earlier Netanyahu took Pope Francis to a monument honoring terror victims.

On Sunday the pope prayed at a barrier between Bethlehem and Jerusalem.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Pope Visits Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem

Pope Francis of Vatican visited Muslims’ holy al-Aqsa mosque within the scope of his Middle East tour. Pope Francis started the third and final day of his pilgrimage to the Holy Land Monday at the Al-Aqsa mosque complex where he met with the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, and urged Muslims, Christians and Jews to “work together for justice and peace.”…

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

6 People Killed in Attacks Across Iraq

BAGHDAD, May 26 (Xinhua) — Six people were killed and 18 others injured on Monday in separate bombings and shootings across Iraq, police said.

In northern Iraq, a roadside bomb struck a police patrol in the western part of the city of Mosul, some 400 km north of the Iraqi capital of Baghdad, leaving a civilian killed and five people wounded, a local police source told Xinhua on condition of anonymity…

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

British Jihadists in Syria ‘Responsible for Beheadings and Crucifixions’

JIHADISTS from Britain are among the most violent and bloodthirsty in Syria, a rebel leader from the war-torn country has claimed.

Brigadier-General Abdulellah al-Basheer of the Free Syrian Army claims British fighters frequently engage in beheadings, crucifixions and bad treatment of women.

He claims that rather than engaging President Bashar al-Assad’s regime, a group of fighters known as the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) are attacking fellow opposition forces. The group is thought to make up 60 per cent of the fighters in Syria and is so extreme it has even been denounced by Al-Qaeda…

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

Syria: NGO: Witness Claims Father Dall’Oglio Killed

Ex-al-Qaeda militant, he was ‘executed’ right after abduction

(ANSAmed) — BEIRUT, MAY 26 — Italian Jesuit priest Paolo Dall’Oglio was killed right after al-Qaeda-linked militants abducted him in July last year in Raqqa, northern Libya, an alleged former member of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIS) was quoted as saying by the NGO Syrian Human Rights League on Monday. No evidence has been provided so far to support this claim.

A number of contrasting reports have been provided by several sources with the Syrian uprising on the fate of the Jesuit priest who disappeared from Raqqa on July 29, 2013. Many claimed he was still alive while others said he was dead.

In this instance, the source was quoted by a platform of exiled activists with a network of informers on the ground.

The NGO identified its source as Abu Mohammad Assuri, who was presented as a defector of ISIS. Assuri claimed that the Roman priest was killed with 14 gunshots fired by a 9 MM handgun at the headquarters of ISIS in Raqqa, a city held by the al Qaeda-inspired organization.

The ‘execution’, Assuri also claimed, took place just two hours after the priest was captured and was carried out by two Saudi brothers: Kassab and Khilad Al Jazrawwi.

The information cannot be verified and has not been confirmed by any further reports or images. The alleged defector also did not provide any information on what militants did with the priest’s body.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

President-Elect Continues Army Push in East Ukraine

(AGI) Kiev, May 26 — The military offensive in the breakaway territories of east Ukraine will continue and become more efficient, said millionaire president-elect, Petro Poroshenko, on Monday. “I am in favour of continuing the operation, but I demand a change in format,” he told a press conference. “It must be more efficient and concentrated in a shorter period of time.” He said he would give his troops better weapons and equipment.

           — Hat tip: C. Cantoni [Return to headlines]

Thailand’s King Endorses Military Junta

(AGI) Bangkok, May 26 — The leader of the military junta that has taken power in Thailand has been formally endorsed by King Bhmibol Adulyadej. General Prayuth Chan-ocha, head of the National Council of Peace and Order , dressed in a white uniform and surrounded by generals, received the royal endorsement in a formal ceremony on Monday morning. The military took power in a coup last week.

           — Hat tip: C. Cantoni [Return to headlines]

Gillard Sounds the Alarm on Social Justice

Julia Gillard has delivered a rallying call to the community and charity sector to take up the fight of social justice and inclusion after conceding that much of what she sought to achieve in government is under threat.

The former prime minister has also declared that progressive values and fairness across the globe are under challenge and committed her post-political life to education…

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

3 thoughts on “Gates of Vienna News Feed 5/26/2014

  1. Gillard has been advised that her presence will be required as a ‘witness’ at the ongoing Royal Commission into union malfeasance. Her historical links to the Australian Workers Union (legal representative) along with her much reported wrongdoing while acting as legal representative for that union will be much questioned at the commission.

    I once had a conversation with a Barrister who represented me in court (non-criminal matter) a few years back. He left me in no doubt that if Gillard’s past occupational shenanigans could be exposed she would end up in jail.

    Having made myself aware of her past – she deserves a long stretch at one of Her Majesty’s penal establishments.

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