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Photo: Kyoko Escamilla (Flickr); Licence: CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

What happens next is anyone’s guess, frankly, but one thing that has become increasingly clear in the 48 hours or so since the UK General Election is that Prime Minister Theresa May will be very lucky to still be in that job in six months’ time.

By losing 12 seats from her benches, the Conservative party leader’s big gamble has backfired spectacularly.

Right now, she remains PM, but she will be relying on the Northern Irish Democratic Unionist Party, and their toxic brand of social conservatism to govern and members of her own party have already expressed misgivings.

Published in Sixth Sense

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Photo: Paul; Licence: CC BY 2.0

Italian vespa in Durham, UK

 

Immigration is a hot topic in the UK and the current political campaign is no exception. In the run-up to the general election, scheduled for 7 May 2015, politicians from different wings are getting tougher on EU migrants. Focusing mainly on migrants coming from Southern Europe and, especially, on the Italian community living in the UK, E&M's author Nicoletta Enria takes us through some of the scenarios about how this election could affect EU migrants and their lives in a country where they don't have the right to vote.

 

From the time of the Roman Empire to Ellis Island and now taking to the streets of London, Italians have always been known to migrate and make their presence known throughout the world. As youth unemployment in Italy soars, hitting a staggering 43.9% in November 2014, young Italians cannot help but feel anger, disappointment and resentment towards a system that offers them no hope and begin to look for a brighter future abroad. This swarm of educated youngsters, the "escaping brains" as they are known in Italy due to the fact that many of them have university degrees, are now predominantly settling in the UK. Officially, there are said to be 600 thousand Italians today in the UK, of which 60% are under the age of 35. What is life like for all these hopeful young Italians in the UK and how will the potential outcomes of the UK General Elections in May affect them?

 

In Italy, partially due to the role of the press in glorifying the UK and Germany, young Italians are brought up believing that all hope lies in migrating there. More and more hopeful Italians are travelling to the UK and finding themselves living in squalid, cheap hostels to avoid transport costs and expensive rent. Paid minimum wage, sometimes even less, they are ideal for low-income jobs as they provide big companies with cheap labour. In their dream for a better life not just Italian migrants, but also Portuguese, Spanish and Greek youngsters are facing this similar unexpected economic hardship, in an attempt to escape the financial crisis in their home countries. There is also a large community of young Italians studying at British boarding schools and universities in an attempt to profit from one of the best education systems in Europe and broaden their opportunities to obtain jobs in more places around the world. With a growing anti-immigration discourse in the UK, seen in articles such as this one by the Sun referring to Portuguese, Italian, Greek and Spanish migrants as "PIGS [that] are here to stay", integration is a privilege that not all of these young migrants have. Despite this, plenty of Italian migrants I have spoken to, myself included, thoroughly enjoy living the UK and feel fully integrated in their home away from home.

Published in Contentious Europe

For some 20 days straight, tens of thousands of Bulgarians have taken to the streets, protesting against the newly-elected government, in office for only a month. Riots brought down the previous government in February – what has happened to make tensions mount once more?

Published in Contentious Europe
Thursday, 31 May 2012 07:26

No austerity without representation!

In 1760, British citizens from the Thirteen Colonies coined the slogan: "No taxation without representation." They were unhappy with the economic measures implemented by their Parliament without having a political voice in return. Are European citizens echoing this message today?

Brussels seems to have interpreted the latest election results in Greece, France and Northern Westphalia as a rejection of austerity. But even if the economy remains the main concern, I believe the main message to be heard is political.

After all, if the economy was the only electoral key and we took votes as a referendum for or against austerity, would the massive voting of conservatives in Spain have meant that citizens supported the austerity measures later implemented? Hardly believable considering that one of PP's main campaign videos (and promises) claimed: "jobs are the priority."

This being the case, is there any common message being sent by these voters in Greece, France, Germany, Spain and other countries? It is general discontent. On the one hand, for fake promises on the national level, and on the other, because EU officials have failed to make citizens understand the need for austerity. The result? A quasi revival of the years of enlightened despotism, where "everything is for the people, but without the people." 

Published in Brussels Bubble
Wednesday, 30 May 2012 06:33

Under Russian eyes Part 2

Vladimir Putin has been officially inaugurated as the new President of Russia, again. But is the country he is about to lead the same as it was when he stepped away from power in 2008? How do young people in Russia perceive Putin now and what does his re-election mean for the perspectives of their country? I asked two young students from St. Petersburg to give us their opinions. Here is part two:

Konstantin Tarasov is a Phd student at the European University at St. Petersburg. His major is Russian History with particular focus on the Russian Revolution of 1917.

E&M: What do you think about the election results?

KT: I think everybody knew the results before the election. For me, the actual percentage doesn't matter. Only Putin could win. That's why the opposition wanted to demonstrate even before the announcement of the results.

E&M: Can you understand people who are upset about Putin's re-election and who raise the issue of fraud?

Published in Under Eastern Eyes
Sunday, 27 May 2012 06:27

Under Russian Eyes Part 1

Vladimir Putin has been officially inaugurated as the new President of Russia, again. But is the country he is about to lead the same as it was when he stepped away from power in 2008? How do young people in Russia perceive Putin now and what does his re-election mean for the perspectives of their country? E&M asked two young students from St. Petersburg to give us their opinions in a two part series of interviews:

Oleysa Fedorenko was born in St. Petersburg in 1991. She studies both Tourism and Hotel Management and Conflict Resolution at Saint Petersburg University of Humanities and Social Sciences. She has spent time in Germany during an exchange semester at Fachhochschule Ludwigshafen.

E&M: Before and after the elections, tens of thousands of people took to the streets to show their frustration. Why do you think that was?

OF: People were angry because everyone knew they didn't vote for United Russia, they saw the fraud and it was horrible for them. In general, Russian people can be patient for some time, but when something like that happens they get a kick start and then they go to demonstrations. I think their most important demand was a re-run of the elections, but I can't say precisely.

E&M: Did you participate yourself?

Published in Under Eastern Eyes
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