This is a historic election, the most important choice voters have faced in decades. The result will determine whether Britain as we know it exists in a generation or whether the union will have splintered beyond repair. It will shape the nation’s economic wellbeing: whether we make countless lives harder by cutting ourselves off from our biggest trading partner or maintain our close relationship with the EU. It will influence the type of society we are: whether the number of children who grow up in abject poverty and the number of people sleeping rough – stains on our collective conscience– will continue to rise. It will decide the sustainability of the world we bequeath to our children and grandchildren. Yet there is no disguising that this is an election of last resort, the product of an unedifying journey through months of parliamentary gridlock. None of the options inspires enthusiasm; the campaign has been underwhelming and uninspiring. But the gloomy sense it … [Read more...] about The Observer view on who to vote for in the general election
Why vote is important in democracy
From this evening, British democracy has a new HQ. Modestly placed part way between the Palace of Westminster and the Magna Carta memorial at Runnymede, Putney parish church is now a living monument to the story of English liberty. And it is all thanks to Guardian readers. In summer 2006, G2 ran a competition to unearth Britain's radical past. We argued that despite major advances over the past 10 years in opening up popular understandings of "heritage", the radical inheritance was still not nearly as well represented as it could and should be. For the most part, it was the cathedrals and castles that continued to dominate the national memory. The stories, monuments and myths that traditionally linked progressive people with their heroic past had steadily retreated from public consciousness. As Nick Mansfield of the People's History Museum, Manchester, put it, "In the past, conservation planners and architectural historians have concentrated on protecting buildings of artistic value or … [Read more...] about A jewel of democracy
Last week, President Jair Bolsonaro was ready with the punchlines in Brazil. Many of the national media outlets he dislikes were mocking his controversial plan to nominate Eduardo, his third-oldest son, as ambassador to the US. "If he's getting criticized like that," Bolsonaro said of his son, "then he must be the right person for the job." Jair Bolsonaro (right), president of Brazil, would like to nominate his third-oldest son, Eduardo (left), for the position of Brazil's ambassador to the US Last year, Eduardo Bolsonaro was reelected to the Chamber of Deputies, Brazil's lower house, with a national record of nearly 2 million votes. He considers himself qualified for the ambassadorship. "I'm president of the [congressional] foreign affairs commission. I did a foreign exchange program, and I fried hamburgers in the US," he said. Brazil's US Embassy has historically been staffed by long-serving top diplomats. The possibility that a lawyer and career … [Read more...] about Could Brazil’s new ambassador to the US be a Bolsonaro?
On the wall in the new presidential campaign offices of France’s Front National leader Marine Le Pen hangs a portrait of Hollywood tough guy Clint Eastwood. He might seem an odd choice of pinup for Europe’s biggest far-right, nationalist, anti-immigration party, but Le Pen admires Eastwood’s “bravery” in voting for Donald Trump in the US election last month. Dirty Harry, like Trump himself, has become something of a feel-good mascot for the French far-right’s battle for the leadership of the country. Instead of a gun, the ageing but still snarling Eastwood is pointing a blue rose, Le Pen’s new campaign symbol. Trump’s US victory blew apart any notion of foregone electoral conclusions, leading Paris’s mainstream politicians to warn that the world’s next political earthquake could happen in France. Le Pen winning the French presidential election in five months’ time – something that had always been seen as impossible … [Read more...] about The fear of Marine Le Pen – will the next political earthquake happen in France?
Sunday was the first time in 2016 that I was happy to be wrong about an important election. While I had predicted both the UK referendum and the US presidential elections to be close, I had not expected Brexit or Donald Trump to win. I did expect Norbert Hofer to win the re-run of the Austrian presidential elections, however, and was happily surprised at Alexander Van der Bellen’s quite comfortable victory. Whatever the reasons for Hofer’s defeat – his speculation about an Öxit or Nigel Farage’s support of him – the results give us a chance to put the rise of rightwing populism into perspective and, more importantly, to try to change the increasingly self-defeating narrative surrounding it. It’s important first to acknowledge that Hofer achieved the best result of any populist radical right candidate in an established European democracy. His 46.2% of the national vote is significantly above the best electoral result of his own party, the … [Read more...] about Liberalism need not be on the retreat – rightwing populism is beatable