The decline of the Arabian Peninsula. Time for a party?

The Middle East is going up in flames but the Arabian Peninsula has for years been the prosperous exception. This is now changing. The countries of the GCC are experiencing decreasing demand for oil which is putting pressure on prices worldwide. Oil economies that stop selling oil will at some moment collapse. Its a scenario that the international community has to prepare for. The question that remains is if we should fear this development, or celebrate it.

There are many reasons why the demand for oil is decreasing. The main one is the lower-than-expected growth of industrialized economies. Especially the disappointing growth in Asia has negatively impacted the demand for oil and gas. But also other factors have played a role. The United States for example, although recovering from a financial crisis, has increased domestic oil production to become more self-supporting. The oil producing countries of the GCC however, had prepared for better times. They are now stuck with a surplus in oil and in no strategical position to increase their prices. Continue reading “The decline of the Arabian Peninsula. Time for a party?”

Lithuanian Parliamentary election: what to expect

Lithuania has just elected its new Parliament. On Sunday, 9 October, Lithuanian people gathered to elect 71 members of Seimas (Lithuanian Parliament) in single member constituencies, while 2 weeks later, 23 October, the rest 70 were elected in nationwide constituencies. That is why it is only after the night of October 23 that we could discuss the final results. In fact, many politicians and journalists would expect the new ruling coalition to be announced even by next evening, as it is usually clear, taking into account traditional Conservative-Social democratic dualism in Lithuanian politics. However, with the results being much more unexpected than having previously thought, we can only guess what kind of coalition is possible and what it can bring to Lithuania. Continue reading “Lithuanian Parliamentary election: what to expect”

Remember the Heroes – The 60th anniversary of the Hungarian Revolution of 1956

During the last week I had a chance to spend a few days in Brussels between 17th and 20th of October as a part of the Graduates of Democracy delegation to a series of meetings. I was happy to see the preparations to an event and exhibition for the 60th anniversary of the Hungarian Revolution of 1956. It showed the appreciation of very important event in our history, not for just Hungary but for our common European heritage. The revolution lasting for only 18 days (between October 23 and November 10) gave an important lesson about our democratic and social values. Continue reading “Remember the Heroes – The 60th anniversary of the Hungarian Revolution of 1956”

Are we finally seeing the beginning of the end of neoliberalism

A few 14794146_1292354237473853_2113523768_nweeks ago, a prime minister walked up to the podium at her party conference. She looked nervous, but then notably more assured when she started delivering her long awaited first major speech.

In it, she hailed former British prime minister Clement Attlee, responsible for the post war social democratic settlement. She launched an attack on predatory capitalism, calling it “Unsustainable”. She declared the beginning of a “New age” where governments would intervene to fix broken markets and act in the Continue reading “Are we finally seeing the beginning of the end of neoliberalism”

A Civil Society Struggle: Sending Food Waste to Waste

Unemployment. High deficit. Public debt. Bankruptcy. Recession. Troika.

I am sure at least one of these small, yet, very serious words come to mind when you ask any European about Portugal. The financial crisis turned the spotlight into this 10 million inhabitant’s country, which led to the request of financial aid in 2011. In terms of social justice, Portugal’s performance is rather fable, raking 20th out of the 28 EU member states. The average month income of Portuguese families downgraded from 948,58 euros in 2009 to 833, in 2014. In the same year about 10,9% of the Portuguese population was living on severe material deprivation. In terms of the long-term unemployment rate, the country ranks 5th and 6th when it comes to youth unemployment. One of the many consequences of adopting austerity measures is the creation of a wider gap of inequality as those who earn less are more affected. In 2013, Portugal’s poverty rate was 19,5% and it was the 9th most unequal country in the EU. One year later, 2 million people were living in poverty, which means one in every 5 Portuguese live with an average income lower than 422 euros and half a million people need alimentary help.[1]

Continue reading “A Civil Society Struggle: Sending Food Waste to Waste”

Together Convention

On 19 October 2016 the Graduates of Democracy proudly present the following policy proposals for the S&D Together Convention in the European Parliament: graduates-of-democracy-together-october-2016

Also the #ChooseYoung policy paper was presented on the same date. Please download it at: graduates-of-democracy-choose-young-october-2016 

In-depth versions of all proposals will be published on our website in the days following the Together Convention.

NATO: An Expensive Self-Fulfilling Prophecy

The North Atlantic Treaty Organisation, created in 1949 to insure Europe’s security by making sure Germany’s might wasn’t going to rise in an unchecked way whilst countering Russia’s growing and ominous stranglehold over the East, has changed a lot throughout history. In order to adapt itself to the evolution of its rivals – the USSR being the main one – the Alliance decided, for instance, to rearm Germany. The idea of having entire columns of Leopard main battle tanks within reach to face soviet ones in case a full invasion of Europe was to happen was actually one of the first symbol of the disagreements that were yet to rise between the Allies. As long as the West had a common foe, the Allies would be willing to compromise with each other: The French Republic, which was viscerally opposed to Germany having an army again, tried to establish a European Army composed of national battalions ([1]), but then, got into reverse; The Red Army storming Prague was an unfriendly reminder of what could happen on a larger scale if the Allies were not to act in a commonly agreed way. France, therefore, learnt how forgetting about its national obsessions – though understandable at that time – could pay off on the long run, even if it meant giving up on strategic interests first. Yet, the soviet threat, that was very real between 1949 and 1989, is now rightly or wrongly seen as an exaggerated one. But by whom? And to achieve what? Continue reading “NATO: An Expensive Self-Fulfilling Prophecy”

VÄINÖ TANNER: A Remarkable Finnish Left-Wing Statesman

Väinö Tanner (1881-1966) was one of the most important figures of the Finnish Social Democratic movement. Indeed, he should be recognised as one of the most Social Democrats of all Europe, but despite his achievements, he remains largely unknown outside of Finland. This should not be the case, however, for even now, decades after his death, the ideas and goals of this iconic statesman are widely discussed among Finnish Social Democrats, political scientists, and historians, and his influence is still felt in the Party’s work. Hated by many, and admired by countless others, he was one of the most central figures of Finnish politics for decades. Tanner shaped the Social Democratic movement perhaps more than any other Finn, and he made a number of controversial decisions. Continue reading “VÄINÖ TANNER: A Remarkable Finnish Left-Wing Statesman”

Quod Abundat Definitely Vitiat: How Our Society Got High on News

As a teacher, I often see my pupils firmly claiming that their sources are Google or Wikipedia. My reply to that is to try and explain why Google is not a valuable source and why Wikipedia is not a reliable one. Nevertheless, the Swedish curriculum which was released in 2011 includes a clear focus on source criticism. Youngsters and children need tools to understand and comprehend all the news coming their way. That said they have an advantage in comparison to adults because they are used to it whereas older generations were not and for some, are still not.

Continue reading “Quod Abundat Definitely Vitiat: How Our Society Got High on News”

Together

14542545_1669002600095170_8422693156632540884_oWhen I first came into contact with history and philosophy, I fell in love with an ideology that is ahead of its time; an ideology that across Europe has lead the biggest achievements, combining our democracy and social justice. An ideology which has been called “utopia” until our people organized themselves in political parties and together fought for those rights that give dignity and prosperity to every human being, all together contributing to creating our welfare state. I fell in love with the sufragettes and the workers that fought for the labour rights my generation often takes for granted. I fell in love with a European Union that, though fractured, is the beacon of the longest period of peace and prosperity our continental history has seen. Continue reading “Together”