Western European News Digest
Travails of the House of Windsor: The Queen Is Not Amused
Britain's Queen Elizabeth is said to be furious with Prime Minister Tony Blair over the staging of Prince Charles wedding to Camilla Parker-Bowles, a well-informed observer of British affairs told EIR. The latest revelations about the implications of the wedding make clear why. The Queen, who does not like Blair, is outraged, because media focus on the wedding, set for April 8, will keep the Opposition parties' campaigns off the front pages, thus helping Labour's election efforts.
The Queen thinks Prince Charles complied with Blair's wishes to have the wedding at that time, and is furious that her family affairs are taking second place to Blair's political needs.
There are more reasons for the Queen's outrage. On March 21 it was revealed that Camilla will automatically become queen under British law, when Charles inherits the throne, despite earlier reports that Camilla would rise only to the status of "princess consort."
The plot thickens, however. To prevent Camilla from becoming queen, not only the British parliament, but also 17 parliaments of Commonwealth nations where the British monarch is head of state, would have to pass laws which would change the constitution. But this would open up multiple cans of worms, including for republicans in Canada, New Zealand, and Australia who might get the idea of chucking the monarchy altogether.
The last time the issue of a "morganatic" marriage one where the king's wife is not queenarose in Britain was in 1936, with the marriage of Hitler-supporter Edward VIII to Wallis Simpson, which led to Edward's abdication.
There is every indication that Queen Elizabeth is doing everything to keep Camilla at arm's length. Charles's fiancée has not appeared with him at official royal functions for weeks, and may not even be invited to the Queen's official birthday ceremony on June 11, which would be a total snub.
Friction in Germany's 'Red-Green' Coalition
Germany's Social Democrats (SPD) and their coalition Green partners (the "Red-Green" coalition) are experiencing increasing friction, while pressure is building internally for a Grand Coalition with the Christian Democratic Union (CDU).
The failure of the red-green minority government project in the state of Schleswig-Holstein, the beginning of SPD-CDU talks for a Grand Coalition there, and numerous endorsements by SPD and CDU prominents, add to the many conflicts contributing toward a rupture between the SPD and Greens.
There are signs of the SPD blaming the Greens for the SPD's recent election losses, as SPD Chairman Franz Muentefering accused the Green minority partner, over the March 18-19 weekend, of blocking crucial decisions. He said there is too much talking, and no real dynamic in the coalition, and there is too much profiling of the Greens at the expense of the SPD, on anti-discrimination issues, on energy laws, and on military projects.
Muentefering is reflecting a recent, broader shift among the Social Democrats' base, suggesting that the coalition with the Greens is no good for the SPD: not in the states of Schleswig-Holstein, nor in North Rhine-Westphalia (NRW), and not at the national level. The initiative, two weeks ago, by factory council members of leading industrial firms in NRW, is just one of many signs that larger sections of the SPD base have become alienated from the Greens.
Another sign involves warnings from leading Social Democrats in the traditionally, pro-left/pro-ecology South Hessen district, who are enraged that the Hessen Greens have teamed up with the Christian Democrats (CDU) neo-cons to cut the social-welfare and health-care budgets. The SPD and the Greens are also at odds on Hartz IV: The Greens want to keep it, while the Social Democrats want certain modifications. The SPD threatened to end the cooperation with the Greens in Hessenwhich is interesting, as that was the state where the red-green project began, more than 20 years ago.
The Greens have teamed up with the U.S. neo-cons on other issues, including against Russia and China, whereas Chancellor Gerhardt Schroeder and his SPD profoundly disagree with this confrontationism. The media are paying increasing attention to the new conflict, and this week's issue of Spiegel dedicates a cover story to the red-green frictions.
Renewed 'Atoms for Peace' Featured in Paris Conference
A several-day conference of the OECD and the IAEA began in Paris March 21, the first such conference on the level of the European energy ministers since the late 1950s, and a renewed ferment for reviving the "Atoms for Peace" optimism of that era has been observed internationally. For example, plans have been announced for 127 nuclear-fission reactors of about 1,000 megawatts each, with China and Russia planning to build most of them.
China will increase its nuclear-power output from 6.5 gigawatts to 36.5 gigawatts by 2020, while Russia wants to increase from 40 to 45 gigawatts.
A special aspect of the nuclear renaissance are plans of South Africa to build 40 of their high-temperature reactor types, based on an original German design, which would fulfill 10% of the country's energy needs, by 2020.
Whereas many countries, including Turkey, Finland, Czechia, Slovakia, Bulgaria, Romania, and Iran, are planning nuclear-power projects, Germany, formerly a leading world nuclear-technology producer, is still caught in the nuclear exit trap, imposed by the ecologists. Not least because of the drastic oil price increases, however, public pressure in Germany has grown to reconsider nuclear power.
French Voters May Reject New European Constitution
Fifty-two percent of French voters would vote "no" for the European Union Constitution. A first poll published March 17 by the CSAthe official institute of control of the French electronic mediaalready indicated that the "no" vote had already crossed the halfway point at 51%. Over the weekend of March 18-19, that result was confirmed by an IPSOS/Le Figaro poll which found that 52% of the population will vote down the constitutional treaty. If a single country rejects the Constitution, that will put an end to it. Only France is holding a national referendum.
The results are particularly dramatic among members of the left-wing parties in the French National Assembly: 55% will be voting "no," as opposed to 46% two weeks ago. Among the right wing, the percentage for "yes" is quite high, even though it is also falling : 67%, down from 72% two weeks ago.
Fear of Poverty, Unemployment May Sink EU Constitution
Worsening economic conditions are turning most Frenchmen against the European Constitution, triggering the soaring of "no" sentiment in the polls. Evidence to that effect is seen in: 1) the hasty resignation of Economics and Finance Minister Herve Gaymard, after Le Canard Enchainé revealed that the Gaymards were living in a huge luxury flat in the richest area of Paris, state-financed at 14,000 euros a month, while calling on the French population to adopt austerity measures; 2) Publicity around the European Union's Bolkestein directive, which defines the conditions in which citizens of the new EU member countries can work in Western Europe. Even though the Bolkestein directive is only slightly less bad than the original Maastricht Treaty, both allow workers from EU countries working outside their home countries, to work under the social/fiscal conditions of their home country, which ends up encouraging employers to hire foreign workerssort of like outsourcing without leaving home. Obviously, this aggravates unemployment, for example among French workers, which is already well above the 10% official unemployment rate.
French Socialist Party Deeply Divided on EU Constitution
On March 20, a special meeting of the national leadership of the French Socialist Party (PS), which was convened to examine their new "Platform for 2007" for the Presidential elections, went totally sour when the IPSOS/Le Figaro poll came out showing 52% of French voters would vote against the European Constitutional treaty. Last December, the Socialist Party had held an internal referendum, which those in favor of the Constitution won, but only after a heated fight from the opposition, partly fueled by the LaRouche Youth Movement (LYM) in France. At that time, thinking he had won, Socialist Party Chairman François Hollande brought back into the leadership all the elephants of the Jospin era, and asked the same men and women who had brought about the nation's economic recession, to come up with a Socialist Party Presidential platform for the 2007 elections. In the meantime, the PS opposition to the European constitution continued, to the great displeasure of the leadership who are threatening to impose sanctions.
The other issue of intense gossip among PS leaders at the March 20 meeting, was the cover of this week's right-wing magazine Paris Match, showing François Hollande posing next to Nicolas Sarkozy for an interview with the two major French figures in favor of the EU Constitution. Both look exactly alikethe same Colgate smile, dark blue suit, light blue shirt, and small polka-dot tie. Those in the "yes" camp were wondering if this was "aimed at getting the 'yes' camp to lose."