Avoiding hate figures

March 17th, 2011 § 0 comments § permalink

It’s common to talk about dictators’ personality cults, but maybe that’s just because they don’t work?

The second [reason China won’t follow Egypt] is the lack of personality cults, and of criticism of the top leadership. China’s done a very, very good job of keeping the foibles of the top leaders out of the public eye, for the most part; gossip about the central leadership and their families is extremely restricted. Without a clear dictator, there’s a lack of focus for rage.

This is tedium as insulation against protest. China’s got it, Europe’s got it, so does the world business elite if you want to count that as a regime.

weakness of EU response to Tunisia

January 16th, 2011 § 0 comments § permalink


Left-wing, liberal and Green MEPs however have expressed their dismay at a “delayed” and “weak” response to the killings by foreign affairs chief Catherine Ashton.

Emelie Doromzee, of the Euro-Mediterranean Human Rights Network, told EUobserver that the EU should suspend its talks with the government and more strongly condemn the regime’s actions: “Until now, the language has been so far from what one would expect and sees elsewhere. The EU has put out a very weak statement. It’s past the stage of written statements. It’s almost a month now that these protests have been going on. We need concrete actions from the EU.”

Catherine Ashton’s attendance record

January 15th, 2011 § 0 comments § permalink

I never liked the idea of Baroness Ashton running EU foreign policy.

Now blogger and Telegraph journalist Bruno Waterfield is gunning for over her invisibility during her first year in place:

Lady Ashton does not possess the political nous or commitment of an elected politician. Apart from one or two months last year, she has shown herself to be unwilling to travel or work over weekends. Working Monday to Friday might be fine for a jobsworth public official or serial quango/Lords appointee but it’s not good enough for an EU foreign minister. People who want to change the world have to give up prosaic ideas like the work/life balance.

And here’s Ronny Patz:

when you are in Brussels, a lot of people complain about the way EU “foreign minister” Ashton works….
I doubt that with her limited amount of involvement into the core Commission work (represented through her participation record) she really was having her voice heard


March 19th, 2010 § 0 comments § permalink

The EU parliament are something like the House of Lords — you don’t tend to pay them much attention, or really trust them, but every now and again they come through and Do The Right Thing when the rest of the Powers That Be are in thrall to some ridiculous lobbyist-enhanced monstrosity.

Last week is one of those cases: the European Parliament has passed a resolution thoroughly condemning the secrecy of the ACTA negotiation process, in terms that are, compared to the normal EU bureacratese, pretty fierce:

2. Expresses its concern over the lack of a transparent process in the conduct of the ACTA
negotiations, a state of affairs at odds with the letter and spirit of the TFEU; is deeply concerned
that no legal base was established before the start of the ACTA negotiations and that
parliamentary approval for the negotiating mandate was not sought;

The second president

October 10th, 2009 § 0 comments § permalink

Forget who will be the first EU president. The more interesting question is, who will be the second? After 2+ years under the new constitution, what kind of figure would make a plausible president? Will interest groups trampled by the first president push for a low-key successor? Would the position — having, as it does, few formal powers — turn out to be of minor importance? Will the first president be re-elected again and again? (is that possible under the Treaty of Lisbon?) Will politicians start openly campaigning for the office, rather than putting up a public face of being surprised and honoured to be considered?

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