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György Odze director and the team of the TCPA
Poland’s opposition Civic Platform party was on Saturday expected to pick its candidate to run in the country’s presidential election next year.
The Civic Platform, which is Poland’s biggest opposition grouping, has been holding a primary election within its own ranks to select a contender.
Many commentators have said that the favourite within the party is deputy parliamentary Speaker Małgorzata Kidawa-Błońska, who has presented herself as a moderate, conciliatory figure able to reach out to voters from across Poland’s bitterly divided political landscape.
Kidawa-Błońska is being challenged for the nomination by the mayor of the western city of Poznań, Jacek Jaśkowiak.
The Civic Platform is expected to select its candidate at a national convention in Warsaw on Saturday attended by some 700 delegates, including deputies, senators, members of the European Parliament and local activists.
Meanwhile, Poland’s ruling conservatives last month reaffirmed their support for incumbent President Andrzej Duda, who is expected to seek re-election in May.
Ex-European Council President Donald Tusk, a former Polish prime minister, has previously declared he would not run for president next year.
(14. 12. 2019 via thenews.pl)
Boris Johnson has redrawn the map and Labour and the Lib Dems are in disarray. Brexit will pass and Scottish independence will move to the centre of the stage
Facts are sacred. So any response to the 2019 general election must start with the fact that Boris Johnson’s Conservative party is its undisputed victor. With 365 seats, up 48 on the last parliament, the Tories have a majority of 80. This allows Mr Johnson to govern for a full term with a working majority, something the Conservatives have not achieved for 32 years. It is a party triumph, because the Tories have recovered their claim to be Britain’s most enduring governing force. It is also a personal triumph for Mr Johnson, who sensed the opportunity and seized it with enormous effect.
Other facts also matter. The first-past-the-post electoral system means Mr Johnson polled 44% of the votes and took 56% of the seats. In a Brexit-dominated contest, parties that want to leave the European Union polled only 47%, while parties supporting a second referendum polled 51%. Britain is a very divided country. Mr Johnson would be wise to take account of these facts too. He should remember the words of Edmund Burke: that magnanimity is often the truest political wisdom.
Yet Mr Johnson now has a mandate to complete the business of the 2016 referendum and to take Britain out of the EU. He has fought and won that battle. But he has not yet won the battle on the terms under which the UK will trade with the EU. On this, he has neither defined his goal nor negotiated a deal to reach it. It is hard to believe he will do so, as promised, within 12 months. This is too important an issue to be imprisoned by a timetable. Mr Johnson should accept a delay if necessary. He now has the authority to defy any objectors within his party.
The biggest loser of 2019 is Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour. The party’s 203 seats is its lowest total since 1935. In 18 years, Labour has lost more than 50% of the seats it won in 2001. The Tories swept through constituencies in the Midlands and the north of England that Labour has rarely lost in its history: seats like Bishop Auckland, Great Grimsby and Workington. But the losses were nationwide. In Wales, Wrexham now has its first Conservative MP since the first world war. In Scotland, Labour lost six of its seven seats. In the south, it lost Ipswich and Stroud. After nine years of divisive and troubled Tory rule, Labour could manage only one solitary gain anywhere in the UK.
This abject performance reflects mistrust in Mr Corbyn, lack of belief in some of Labour’s manifesto pledges, and divisions over Brexit. But the election was not lost during the campaign. At its roots lie what has become an increasingly unstable alliance of Labour’s left and centre, its remain and leave electorates, and its middle-class and working-class bases. In the 1980s, 80% of Labour voters were manual workers and their families. Today, that figure is around 40%. Mr Corbyn has shown himself unwilling and incapable of unifying that volatile coalition. He is right to go. Labour must face up to its failings and choose a different sort of leader now.
This is all the more important because the Liberal Democrats will not lead an alternative. Jo Swinson’s party had its chance and blew it. Its share of the vote went up more than the other UK-wide parties. But Ms Swinson fought a flawed campaign and lost her seat. The question facing all those to the left of the Tory party is whether they can or wish to find common ground and cooperate. If they do not, and especially if Mr Johnson changes the voting rules and boundaries, this 2019 result could be the shape of things to come.
After and because of Brexit, the biggest challenge facing Mr Johnson is in Scotland. The SNP took 45% of the vote, up eight points. The Tories and Labour fell back. Nicola Sturgeon has now demanded the right to call an independence referendum. Mr Johnson intends to refuse. He would be foolish to let himself be cast as the hammer of the Scots. He needs to reach out to Scotland too, with money and powers. If he does not, his era will be dominated by threats to the union, especially as Northern Ireland has now elected more nationalists than unionists for the first time.
The prime minister implied on Friday that he understands the transformed political landscape. Reiterated commitments on NHS investment, on more teachers and police, and on carbon emissions, may mean he grasps that the Tory electorate changed radically this week, and that public spending is key to retaining it. The one-nation and healing rhetoric may herald a new kind of Toryism. Yet such populism also opens the way for attacks on judges, human rights and the BBC. Where migrants fit in the one nation of which Mr Johnson spoke remains to be seen. Strikingly, the nation he invoked was one that stretched from Woking to Workington, not from Woking to Wick or Warrenpoint. Mr Johnson has won a great victory. But his problems are only just beginning.
(13. 12. 2019 via theguardian.com)
The UN Climate Summit (COP25) ended this Sunday in Madrid with a modest agreement, postponing until next year a key decision on global carbon markets.
Delegates from almost 200 nations endorsed a declaration to help poor countries suffering the effects of climate change but didn’t allocate any new funds to do so.
The final agreement highlighted the ”urgent need” to cut greenhouse gases in line with the goals of the landmark 2015 Paris climate change accord.
But despite holding the longest climate talks ever in 25 annual editions, many delegates resisted calls to enhance pledges to cut greenhouse gases next year.
The Paris accord established the common goal of avoiding a temperature increase of more than 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 degrees Fahrenheit) by the end of the century. So far, the world is on course for a 3- to 4-degree Celsius rise, with potentially dramatic consequences for many countries, including rising sea levels and fiercer storms.
The thorniest issues, including carbon markets, were left for the next summit in Glasgow in a year’s time.
Environmental groups and activists accused the world’s richer countries of showing little commitment to seriously tackling climate change.
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said he was “disappointed” by the meeting’s outcome.
The international community lost an important opportunity to show increased ambition on mitigation, adaptation and finance to tackle the climate crisis,” he said.
“”We must not give up and I will not give up.”
350, an environmental NGO, issued a statement slamming the results of the summit.
“As COP25 comes to an end, national delegates failed once more to step up to the existential challenge of the climate crisis,” the non-profit said.
“These talks reflect how disconnected country leaders are from the urgency of the science and the demands of their citizens in the streets,” said Helen Mountford, Vice President for Climate and Economics, at the World Resources Institute think-tank. “They need to wake up in 2020.”
Two-day extension, sleepless nights
Officials from almost 200 countries had extended their stay in Madrid for a second extra day after failing to reach a deal.
Talks were scheduled to conclude on Friday but lurched into Sunday as major economies and smaller states struggled to resolve outstanding issues under the 2015 Paris Agreement.
Some of the most vulnerable nations said their voices were not being heard.
“Over the last 24 hours, 90% of the participants have not been involved in this process,” said Kevin Conrad, Papua New Guinea’s climate envoy, echoing concerns expressed by some other developing countries.
Earlier, Chile faced fierce criticism after it drafted a version of the summit text that campaigners complained was so weak it betrayed the spirit of the Paris deal.
Carbon markets disagreements
“It’s sad that we couldn’t reach a final agreement on carbon markets, admitted the climate summit’s chair, Carolina Schmidt, Chile’s environment minister.
But European Union countries and others have said they prefer not to finalise rules on international carbon markets rather than to approve ones that could undermine efforts to cut greenhouse gas emissions.
“We are all looking for a compromise,” Frans Timmermans, the European Commission’s top official in charge of climate issues, said earlier on Friday. “But there is no way, no way, we could accept a compromise that jeopardises environmental integrity. Just no way.”
Economists say allowing companies and rich countries to invest in carbon-cutting measures such as forest protection in poor countries could become a vital tool for lowering emissions, provided the markets are transparent and there is no double counting.
Countries agreed to designate funds for the most vulnerable countries to compensate them for the effects of extreme weather, one of the most pressing issues for small island states.
Yet the delegates didn’t clarify how to mobilize a $100 billion per year in climate financing by 2020, as it had been agreed to in Paris.
In 2013, countries agreed on a tentative system to channel such aid, known as the Warsaw International Mechanism.
But some rich countries, particularly the United States, have resisted attempts to hold them formally accountable for the impact their greenhouse gas emissions have on the climate, prompting criticism from developing nations.
“The US government is the largest humanitarian donor in the world,” a State Department official said Friday. “The WIM should be a constructive space to catalyze action on the wide range of loss and damage issues.”
“A divisive conversation on blame and liability helps no one,” said the US official, who spoke on condition of anonymity due to the sensitivity of the ongoing negotiations.
President Donald Trump has formally triggered the United States’ withdrawal from the 2015 Paris climate accord, a process that will be completed 4 November 2020, a day after the next US presidential election.
However dozens of countries have already said they will submit more ambitious emissions targets next year, though analysts say the commitments made so far aren’t enough.
Scientists have calculated that global emissions have to drop 7.6 per cent annually, starting next year, if the Paris accord’s goal of keeping global warming at 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 degrees Fahrenheit) by the end of the century is to be achieved.
(16. 12. 2019 via euronews.com)
Journalist and television show host Szymon Hołownia has announced a bid to run for Poland’s presidency next year.
“At the beginning of next year presidential elections will be announced; I want to run in this race,” Hołownia, a celebrity journalist with private broadcaster TVN, declared on Sunday.
He told a gathering in the northern city of Gdańsk that Poland’s political system of two warring tribes has reached its limits and that an unaffiliated president was needed “to remedy the situation.”
An author of books on religious topics and a humanitarian activist, Hołownia argued that his charitable foundations have taught him that “the impossible becomes possible” when “people come to stand shoulder to shoulder with each other rather than just next to one another.”
“Let’s make the world a better place an inch at a time,” he appealed.
Positioning himself as a nonpartisan candidate, Hołownia told the crowd: “I humbly ask you to let me be a guardian of our national community.”
His words were met with a storm of applause, state news agency PAP reported.
Hołownia, who has no prior political experience, announced his presidential bid a day after two opposition hopefuls faced off in a debate ahead of primaries.
Poland’s ruling conservatives last month reaffirmed their support for incumbent President Andrzej Duda, who is expected to seek re-election in May.
Donald Tusk, a former Polish prime minister, has previously put an end to speculation that he might join the race for president next year.
(9. 12. 2019 via thenews.pl)
Hungary and Japan have a mutual interest in each other’s success, Prime Minister Viktor Orbán said in Tokyo on Friday.
At a joint news conference with his Japanese counterpart Shinzo Abe, Orbán said Japan’s success was important to Hungary since the country is its largest Asian investor. Japan, too, has an interest in Hungary’s success and has brought cutting-edge technology investments to the country.
Orbán said their talks covered the world’s defence, security and economic changes.
Hungarian-Japanese ties, he said, were “special”. Whereas many countries doubted Hungary’s ability to succeed in the initial stages of its post-communist transformation, Japan had never wavered in its belief in the country, bringing improvements to Hungary and helping it to ride out a tough period, he said. Hungarians, he added, had not forgotten this and were grateful.
Orbán welcomed the fact that 600 Japanese young people are studying at Hungarian universities, 400 of them medical students. The state, he noted, provides 100 related scholarships.
On the topic of North Korea, he said that Hungary understood the nuclear threat and its impact on Japan’s security. Hungary is insistent that North Korea should disarm its nuclear capability and act as a reliable partner for Japan in preserving peace in the region, he said.
The prime minister said there was one area in which Japan and Hungary competed fiercely, albeit peacefully. “This is in the race for Olympic gold medals,” he said, adding that Hungary also wishes Japan all the best for the Tokyo Olympics.
Meanwhile, Orbán invited Abe to visit Budapest. A Japanese premier has not visited Hungary since 1990, he noted, adding it would be fitting to celebrate the friendship of the two nations together.
Abe said Japan wants to further broaden its economic ties with Hungary and backs the Asian country’s efforts to encourage industries with advanced technologies and high value-added.
Hungary and Japan, he said, traditionally have maintained a good friendship since the 1990 change in political system, largely through cultural and scientific activities, and economic ties have developed apace.
He said Orbán had headed a long-standing and stable government and they agreed to work even closer together. Japan is keen to boost cooperation in science and technology and strengthen ties with the Visegrad Group, he said, adding cooperation in education, culture and sport would be on the agenda. He said Hungary should act as a bridge between Europe and Asia.
Orbán is in Tokyo to mark the 150th anniversary of the establishment of Hungarian-Japanese diplomatic relations. Before their news conference, an agreement was signed on extending the Stipendium Hungaricum Agreement and establishing a Hungarian guest lectureship at Josai International University, as well as an agreement on export credit insurance.
(6. 12. 2019 via hungarytoday.hu)
German Chancellor Angela Merkel said in Poland on Friday while visiting the former Nazi death camp of Auschwitz that she was “deeply ashamed of the barbaric crimes committed here by the Germans.”
Merkel, who came to the camp for the first time in her 14 years as chancellor, added: “These were atrocities which are beyond all imagination.”
“The suffering in Auschwitz, death in gas chambers, cold, famine, pseudo-medical experiments, forced labour until full exhaustion, what happened here is incomprehensible to the human mind,” the German chancellor was quoted as saying by Polish state news agency PAP.
Merkel was taking part in ceremonies marking the 10th anniversary of the Auschwitz-Birkenau Foundation.
She brought a EUR 60 million donation to the foundation, which maintains and protects the camp, now a memorial site in southern Poland, public broadcaster Polish Radio’s IAR news agency reported.
“Auschwitz is a German death camp operated by Germans. It is important to highlight this and make it clear who the perpetrators were,” Merkel said.
The use of historically inaccurate terms by some international media and organisations has sparked numerous complaints from Poland in recent years, prompting some news agencies to change their style guidelines and eliminate misnomers such as “Polish” death camps.
Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki, who along with Merkel laid wreaths at Auschwitz on Friday, said that anybody who was passive in the face of historical lies was a “co-author of those lies.”
“That is why today all of us have to nourish the truth about those times with utmost care,” he added.
More than 1.1 million people were killed by the Germans at the Auschwitz-Birkenau camp in Nazi-occupied southern Poland during World War II.
The victims were mostly European Jews, but also Poles, Roma, Soviet POWs and prisoners of other nationalities.
The German Auschwitz-Birkenau camp operated from 1940 until its liberation by the Soviet Red Army on January 27, 1945.
Over six million Jews were killed in the Holocaust, the German Nazi campaign to eradicate Europe’s Jewish population.
During a visit to Poland in September, German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier asked for forgiveness for the destruction his country unleashed during World War II.
(6. 12. 2019 via thenews.pl)
Outgoing chief Gauland gets his preferred successor.
The far-right Alternative for Germany party on Saturday chose a lawmaker from the east of the country to replace controversial departing co-leader Alexander Gauland.
Tino Chrupalla, who comes from the state of Saxony and is a house painter by profession, won the contest to succeed Gauland with nearly 55 percent of votes at a party congress in the city of Braunschweig.
Germany’s mainstream political parties refuse to cooperate with the AfD, branding it xenophobic and questioning its attachment to democratic norms.
Gauland, who is retiring from frontline politics at the age of 78, drew widespread criticism last year when he played down the Nazi era, describing it as ” just bird shit in more than 1,000 years of successful German history.”
Gauland is nevertheless regarded as a relative moderate within the AfD and he had made clear that Chrupalla was his preferred successor. Chrupalla, 44, defeated Gottfried Curio, seen as more of a hardliner, in a run-off vote.
Chrupalla’s co-leader will be Jörg Meuthen, a member of the European Parliament who was re-elected to his party post with 69 percent of votes at the congress.
The AfD experienced a surge in popularity in the wake of the 2015 migration crisis and forms the third-largest group in the German parliament. The party is also represented in all of Germany’s 16 regional parliaments and is particularly strong in the east of the country.
(1. 12. 2019 via politico.eu)
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s Conservatives smashed the record for the amount of money raised in the first fortnight of an election campaign on Thursday, while the unions turned on the taps to keep the opposition Labour Party in touch.
Official spending data from the Electoral Commission showed that in the first two weeks of a campaign that will determine Britain’s EU future, the Conservatives raised 8.6 million pounds compared with Labour’s 3.7 million pounds.
This is the second time this year Johnson has broken a record for political donations. Over the summer, he raised the most money by a British politician campaigning to lead their political party, underlining his popularity with donors.
Johnson, 55, hopes to win a majority on Dec. 12 to push through the last-minute Brexit deal he struck with the EU last month after the bloc granted a third delay to the divorce that was originally supposed to have taken place on March 29.
Following the first week of the campaign when the Conservatives raised 26 times more in political donations than Labour, the main opposition party narrowed the funding gap by raising 3.5 million pounds, nearly all from unions.
The biggest came from the Unite union, which donated more than 3 million pounds, while the Communication Workers Union donated 425,000 pounds. The support means Labour has also broken its own record for fundraising in the early stages of an election.
The Conservative money came from 61 different donors, including from hedge fund managers and the steel magnate Lakshmi Mittal.
Nigel Farage’s Brexit Party raised 2.25 million pounds, with a 2 million pound donation coming from businessman Christopher Harborne.
Despite the strong financial performance for the ruling party, Labour and the Liberal Democrats are currently outspending the Conservatives on Facebook adverts ahead of the election.
The pro-EU Liberal Democrats are currently spending the most on Facebook, with more than 212,302 pounds in the last week, according to Facebook data.
Labour spent more than 175,000 pounds in the same period, while the Conservatives spent just over a tenth of that with an outlay of 18,298 pounds.
Before the vote, all political parties must submit weekly reports setting out the donations they have received over 7,500 pounds. Labour say they raise more in small donations, which are not recorded in the Electoral Commission’s figures.
In total, the political parties contesting the election raised 15.6 million pounds in the first two weeks, compared with 9.6 million pounds in the same period ahead of the last general election in 2017.
(28. 11. 2019 via uk.reuters.com)