Euroskeptic win in EU polls shakes up UK politics

LONDON (AP) -- Britain's upstart Euroskeptic party vowed Monday to build on its historic victory in the European Parliament polls, expressing confidence that it is on course to break into Britain's Parliament for the first time during next year's national elections.

The U.K. Independence Party, which has rode to prominence on a wave of anti-immigration sentiment, scored a sweeping win in the European polls, picking up almost 28 percent of votes to beat Cameron's Conservatives and the opposition Labour Party.

It was the first time in over a century that a national vote has not been won by either the Conservatives or Labour, as voters spurned mainstream parties across Europe to embrace Euroskeptics and nationalist politicians.

The Daily Telegraph paper called the results the "biggest shock to the British political system in a generation."In a victory speech, UKIP leader Nigel Farage disparaged the main parties as "like goldfish that have just been tipped out of the bowl onto the floor."

The win is a milestone for UKIP, which wants to pull Britain out of the 28-nation bloc but currently has no role in Britain's Parliament. Farage said he now plans to get "a good number of UKIP MPs (lawmakers) elected next year."

Cameron's Conservatives came in third place, narrowly beaten by Labour. But the results were most disastrous for the Liberal Democrats, the left-leaning junior partner in the coalition government. The Lib Dems' leader and Britain's deputy prime minister, Nick Clegg, said he would not capitulate to strong pressure for him to resign.

Cameron said he has drawn lessons from UKIP's win and understood that Britons are "deeply disillusioned" with the EU.

He said his Conservatives will stick to their pledge to offer a referendum on Britain's EU membership if elected at the next general elections.

May 27, 2014 (Mainichi Japan)

Germany's Merkel regrets populist rise in Europe

BERLIN (AP) -- German Chancellor Angela Merkel says the rise of right-wing populists in the weekend's European elections is "remarkable and regrettable." She says the best answer is to focus on policies that create jobs and improve competitiveness.

In one of the most prominent upsets, the far-right National Front topped polling in neighboring France. Merkel said in Berlin on Monday that it's important to win back voters and "that goes for France too."

She added: "a course directed toward competitiveness, growth and jobs is the best response to those who are disappointed and have now voted the way we all didn't want."

Merkel's conservatives were the strongest force in Germany but Alternative for Germany, a year-old party that calls for southern European countries to leave the euro, took 7 percent of the vote.

May 27, 2014 (Mainichi Japan)

French president reels after far right victory

PARIS (AP) -- France's Socialist president, reeling from a record electoral victory by the far right, pledged Monday to press ahead with tax and spending cuts and urged a more streamlined European Union in hopes of calming voter anger.

The anti-EU, anti-immigration National Front party shook France's political landscape by coming out on top in France's voting for European Parliament elections, beating the mainstream conservatives and the governing Socialists.

Hollande, in a televised speech to the nation Monday night, said the result was "painful" and an embarrassment for France, the "founding nation of the European Union, homeland of human rights, country of freedom."

France's next presidential and legislative elections won't take place until 2017.

But the showing gives new momentum to National Front leader Marine Le Pen - who has projected a kinder, gentler face of her party - just as the Socialist government is flailing and former President Nicolas Sarkozy's conservative party is wobbling amid a finance scandal.

Hollande held an urgent meeting of government ministers Monday morning and then pledged to push ahead with reforms of France's stagnant, indebted economy.

In recent years, Le Pen has softened her party's image and won over disillusioned voters from right and left with a populist message that blames European bureaucracy and immigration for high prices and France's declining global influence.

"The French suffer from austerity, unemployment and social difficulties. But our governments are deaf to the cry of the people," she said, calling the election result an "incredible disavowal" of "the entire, so-called traditional political class."

Hollande responded to Le Pen's big win by suggesting Monday night that EU should curb some of its powers, saying "Europe must be simple, clear, to be effective where it is needed and to pull back where it is not needed."

He provided no details but said ahead of his attendance at an EU summit in Brussels Tuesday that he still firmly supports deep European cooperation on a host of issues and that France must not risk isolating itself within the bloc.

France "cannot pursue its destiny by turning in on itself, closing itself off, rejecting the other," he said.

Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier of EU powerhouse Germany called the National Front's success "a bad signal."

German Chancellor Angela Merkel said the rise of right-wing populists in the weekend's European elections was "remarkable and regrettable," and called for policies that could create jobs and improve competitiveness."That goes for France too," she said in Berlin.

Beneath Le Pen's broad smile and persuasive rhetoric, her party has hard edges.

Her father Jean-Marie Le Pen, who is a European Parliament member, reportedly suggested this month that an outbreak of the Ebola virus could help keep France from being "submerged" in immigration.

He is the party's founder, and has been repeatedly convicted for racist or anti-Semitism remarks that are crimes in France. He also caused a commotion in French politics when he made the runoff in the 2002 presidential race against then-President Jacques Chirac.

The party increasingly targets France's large Muslim minority. One National Front mayor elected in March sought to block the construction of a new mosque. Another new National Front mayor wants to bar Middle Eastern sandwich shops.

At the European level, the party wants to withdraw France from the euro and eventually dismantle the EU.

The European Parliament's website said Monday that the National Front captured 25.4 percent of the vote, giving it 22 of France's 74 allotted seats. The conservative party of former President Nicolas Sarkozy won 21 percent, and the Socialists came in third at 14.5 percent.

May 27, 2014 (Mainichi Japan)



Ukraine Presidential Frontrunner Petro Poroshenko and His Secret Jewish Roots

'Chocolate King's' Father Was Jew Who Took Wife's Name

By Cnaan Lipshiz, Jewish Daily Forward, May 23, 2014

Mezuzah in the Closet? Confectionary mogul Petro Poroshenko is leading the polls in Ukraine’s presidential race. Does he have a secret Jewish family history?


Marina Lysak, a Jewish activist who participated in the protest movement known as Maidan, after the central Kiev square where they took place, told JTA that the tent people are there to send a message to whomever prevails in the election.“The statement is: ‘We are watching you. If you betray us again, we will not remain silent,’ ” Lysak said.


Jewish community leaders have remained officially neutral about the candidates, but many Ukrainian Jews support Poroshenko, a former foreign minister rumored to have Jewish roots.

“He has a unique set of skills that absolutely make him the man for the job,” said Igor Schupak, a Jewish historian and director of the Dnepropetrovsk-based Jewish Memory and Holocaust in Ukraine Museum. Business know-how and foreign relations experience “give Poroshenko a toolbox that places him in a league of his own in comparison to the other candidates.”

The sense that Poroshenko is the preferred candidate only when compared to other lesser options isn’t an uncommon one, even among those working to put the oligarch in office.

”He’s no saint — none of them are,” said Svetlana Golnik, who volunteers with the Poroshenko headquarters twice a week in downtown Kiev. “But he is cleaner than most other oligarchs and he delivers on his promises. Anyway, right now he’s what we have to work with.”

James Temerty, a non-Jewish Canadian business magnate who founded the Ukrainian Jewish Encounter to promote interethnic dialogue, said it would be very difficult for Poroshenko to make significant changes without further destabilizing the economy.“

”The best hope here is to move toward Europe, and that will stop the corruption gradually,” Temerty said. “He said he’d do it.”

According to the popular Russian television channel Russia-1, Poroshenko’s father was a Jew named Alexei Valtsman from the Odessa region who in 1956 took on the last name of his wife, Yevgenya Poroshenko.

Poroshenko’s media team did not reply to JTA requests for comment, but they are not indifferent about the subject.Last year, Poroshenko’s spokeswoman asked Forbes Israel to remove her boss’ name from a list of the world’s richest Jews, a magazine source confirmed.

Moshe Azman, a chief rabbi of Ukraine, said he asked Poroshenko directly about the rumors.“He told me he wasn’t Jewish,” Azman said.

Even if the rumors were true, Poroshenko wouldn’t be the only candidate for president with Jewish roots. Vadim Rabinovich, a billionaire media mogul and founder of the All-Ukrainian Jewish Congress, is running on a platform combining a tolerant attitude toward Ukrainian minorities with plans to dispense with Ukraine’s quasi-federal political system and reduce taxes.

Although he barely registers in the polls — current figures show him taking just over half-a-percent of the vote — his candidacy has at least one high-profile supporter: Rostislav Melnyk, who became famous in Ukraine after surviving a savage beating by Yanukovych forces.

“I support Rabinovich’s platform and I will vote for him,” Melnyk said, “also because he is good for the future of the Jewish community.”

Candidate #2: Kikess Yulya T.

Candidate #3: Mykhailo Markovych Dobkin (born 26 January 1970) is a Ukrainian politician, former governor of Kharkiv Oblast, former mayor of Kharkiv, and former deputy of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine. Dobkin was born into a Jewish family in Kharkiv. [Wikipedia] 



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