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A guardare il dibattito elettorale italiano in controluce rispetto a quello francese dello scorso anno, o a quello di queste settimane per la formazione del Governo in Germania, c’è da rabbrividire.

Da un lato un elettorato, quello italiano, che sempre più esprimerà in maniera massiccia il proprio voto scegliendo “il meno peggio” (chiunque ritenga che sia) o votando invece proprio “il peggio” (ancora una volta indipendentemente da chi ritiene che lo incarni), nella speranza che almeno un ultimo tragico atto di espressione della volontà dei cittadini possa indurre il sistema a cambiare, ad evolversi, che trasformi in un paese finalmente adulto un teatrino delle marionette in cui viene solo messo in scena uno spettacolo (peraltro desolante) volto a consentire agli attori principali di ripresentarsi sulla scena a fingere di prendersi a colpi. Una politica spettacolo, senza alcuna serietà e rispetto per i cittadini; fatta di promesse elettorali impossibili, di slogan ai limiti del reato penale, di ribaltoni giornalieri tra una posizione e il suo opposto. Senza comunicare un’idea del paese, dell’Europa, del mondo in cui viviamo. Né su come pensiamo di muoverci in questo complesso sistema di interdipendenze che non possono essere semplicemente cancellate per decreto, o innalzando un muro. Una campagna in cui le poche persone pensanti sono costrette a nascondersi, a tenersi in disparte, o lasciate ai margini dai media e dai leader; costruita, al massimo, sull’acquisto di qualche personalità nota e magari dotata di qualche idea che (per motivi più o meno onorevoli) decide di immolarsi a questo squallore generale, per cercare di raccogliere consensi anche da segmenti più attenti (ma non meno irrequieti) della popolazione.

Dall’altro la consapevolezza, dolorosamente piena e resa angosciosamente esplicita ma anche accompagnata da dignità, responsabilità, coraggio e visione strategica, che la civiltà europea non sia più compatibile con la forma di Stato a sovranità assoluta ed esclusiva; ma che la sovranità debba essere condivisa (almeno in certi ambiti), per poter essere esercitata appieno. Questa la sostanza dei discorsi di Emmanuel Macron, sulla quale ha deciso di giocare il suo presente e futuro politico. Questo il nocciolo dell’accordo col quale Angela Merkel e Martin Schulz cercheranno di dar vita ad un’ennesima ‘große Koalition’ che nessuno dei due vorrebbe. Ma che nessuno dei due può evitare per assicurare un futuro al paese, per evitare il declino secolare dell’Europa, per garantire un modello meno suicida rispetto a quelli oggi dominante (si pensi a Trump, alla Corea del Nord) per la convivenza umana.

Non sappiamo ancora se questo governo tedesco si farà. Il percorso è ancora in salita. Né conosciamo i termini del nuovo Trattato dell’Eliseo, che 55 anni fa consolidò i rapporti di collaborazione tra Francia e Germania e che Macron e Merkel renderanno il cuore del rilancio del processo d’integrazione europea, che verrà sottoposto congiuntamente all’ approvazione dell’Assemblea Nazionale Francese e del Bundestag tedesco il prossimo 22 gennaio. Ma sappiamo che quel documento presenterà anche (e forse in primis) un piano di riforma dell’eurozona. Un’eurozona nella quale siamo anche noi parte integrante. E senza la quale il caos finanziario, economico e sociale prevarrebbe nel nostro paese.

Più che per qualsiasi altro Stato, sarebbe strategico che l’Italia entrasse nelle trattative di accordi che sembrano delineare una direzione di marcia aperta ma non negoziabile. Cercando compromessi, intavolando trattative, facendo controproposte credibili. Temi come la ridefinizione del Fiscal Compact, la creazione del Fondo Monetario Europeo e la sua governance (se intergovernativa o democratica), le politiche di coesione sociale, la ridefinizione dell’ammontare e della composizione del bilancio europeo, le risorse proprie, la piena realizzazione dell’Unione Bancaria: tutti elementi che cambiano in profondità la qualità della nostra quotidianità ed i margini di manovra sulla nostra economia. Ma che sembrano invece elementi eterei che non vale nemmeno la pena nominare, se non per formulare critiche generiche e di solito disinformate.

Complimenti vivissimi alla nostra classe politica, per aver continuato e continuare a mandare in onda lo spettacolo grottesco delle finte lotte politiche, degli slogan, delle boutade, allontanandoci da quell’asse franco-tedesco che è ancora oggi (e forse più oggi rispetto a qualche decennio fa) anni luce avanti (o altrove) rispetto alle fittizie beghe politiche del Bel Paese.

Mi viene da sorridere pensando alle normative sulla par condicio in questo periodo pre-elettorale. Un sorriso amaro. Perché viene così facile e spontaneo indirizzare accuse infamanti, con piena par condicio, ai politici di tutto l’arco parlamentare italiano…

Posted by Fabio Masini

available also here

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The highly unanticipated Brexit vote of June 2016 led to numerous explanations being put forward as to why the UK took such a dramatic decision, with a fear of globalisation and immigration being constantly identified as the main reason. However, little attention was given to one of the most prominent factors in shaping voters’ opinion, namely political leaders’ rhetoric.

Various studies had previously stated that given citizens’ lack of direct experience of the EU, politicians’ comments in favour or against the EU influence voting behaviour (Garry, 2013; Atickan, 2017). If we also consider UK citizens’ traditionally low levels of knowledge about the EU, then the centrality of rhetoric in explaining the outcome of the 2016 referendum is even clearer. So how then did Leave win?

Aristotle’s tripartite structure consisting of pathos, logos and ethos provides a framework for analysing the persuasive appeal of the referendum campaign speeches.

In terms of pathos or appeal to emotions, leaders from the Leave camp managed to convey negative emotions by defining the EU from a political angle as an organisation whose ultimate objective is –in the words of Johnson- creating ‘a country called Europe’. Given the UK’s role in the world wars in defeating Nazism, federalism and supranationalism have traditionally been rejected in the country (Holmes, 2014: 565), which explains the effectiveness of this argument in fostering a negative opinion about the EU. Cameron tried to counterbalance this by pointing out the ‘close culture of intergovernmental cooperation’ of the EU including a veto, but to no avail as Gove soon highlighted that Britain cannot veto EU legislation agreed by Qualified Majority Voting –the process whereby unanimity is not needed for decisions to be made at the Council of the EU and European Parliament and which was extended by the Treaty of Lisbon-. Gove and Johnson’s portrayal of the UK as a ‘hostage’ of the EU’s agenda is then rather successful. Leave further managed to establish this negative characterisation of the EU by attacking Remain’s main argument, being that the UK should stay in the EU because it gives access to ‘the largest single market, trading zone in the world’, thus also being a source of economic prosperity, job creation and security. Not only did Leavers refute the sentiment of economic dependence on the EU (as Johnson put it: ‘Would the Germans discriminate our bicycles if they thought we would discriminate against their BMWs? Of course, they wouldn’t’), but also the three most prominent anti-EU leaders strongly appealed to emotions in regards to the economy by bringing in the NHS –to which the public is very attached- and advising that the EU membership fee should be spent on this service instead, and emotionally referring to youth unemployment in southern European countries to present the EU as a ‘job destroying machine’ in Gove’s words. Crucially, Corbyn also delegitimised the economic argument from within the pro-EU camp by affirming that TTIP could ‘open up public services to further privatisation’ or lead to a ‘watering down’ of consumer and workers’ rights as well as environmental protections. Leave skilfully attacked Remain’s most powerful arguments while Remainers failed to attack Leave, most notably Farage’s social definition of the EU as a burden to tackle crime and terrorism, since he said that it forces the UK to accept ‘uncontrolled immigration’. This issue, which was the top concern of British citizens at the time of the referendum according to polling data, was largely ignored by Remain, thus making Leave’s appeals to fear of immigration –such as Johnson’s claim that Britain adds ‘a population the size of Newcastle every year’- all the more effective.

Regarding the logical structure of the argument (logos), it is evident that both camps used opposing logics: Leave relied on an ‘us vs. them’ logic contrarily to Remain (’us with them). However, whereas Leave’s case was coherent with their attacks to the different aspects of the EU pointed out above, Remain’s logic was not as coherent; since Cameron, Osborne and Corbyn advocated for ‘staying in a reformed EU’, but without giving details about the overarching reforms to be undertaken (except for Corbyn’s isolated calls to improve social and workers’ rights at EU level) while the then PM also affirmed that the most positive aspect of the EU, namely the single market, was in place thanks to UK leadership, which affects the reasoning for voting in. Although Crines (2016) argues that Remain was stronger in logos because they used more logical economic arguments, it is pertinent to remind that logos refers to the logic of the structure of the argument, which -as we have just explained- in the case of Remain presents some problems. Even if logos was understood as the use of arguments that appear reasonable, it could be argued that, although not always legitimate, Leave’s arguments were also plausible: e.g. saving £350m a week as a result of not having to pay the EU membership fee.

As we shall see in our next post, the final element that all leaders need to work on for their arguments to be effectively persuasive is the construction of a persona that is trustworthy (ethos) so that the public feels that they can rely on the narratives analysed above when casting the ballot.

Posted by Sara Aguilar-Suárez, student at CEU San Pablo

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• Introduction

On April 16th Turkish citizens went to the polls, for one of the most contested referendums in the country’s history. The participation was very high, 85.43 per cent – as usual in elections in Turkey – which could be perceived as a demonstration of the democratic culture. According to the official results of this highly contested referendum, 51.4 percent voted for a “Yes” to a new presidential system compared to 48.6 percent voting “No”. As it has been stated previously1, this referendum led to most important constitutional changes since the establishment of the Turkish Republic. Once it is implemented, it will be the end of the parliamentarian system as we know, leading to a very powerful Presidentialism, with the lack of necessary mechanisms of checks and balances. In addition, such a historical referendum has been done after a very unfair campaigning period, according to international observers of the OSCE 2. All this together with the emergency state since the attempted coup of July 2016, the standards of the human rights, rule of law and functioning democracy in Turkey became open to question, according to the reports of Venice Commission 3, that is highlighting the downgrading in separation of powers and checks and balances after the constitutional changes are implemented. All these have been said, Turkey and the European Union mostly went back to its usual status-quo of unofficially frozen negotiations and realpolitikafter a period of open critics, even if both parties are very disappointed with each other. Taking all this into consideration, this article aims to put Turkey’s relations with the West in general, European Union in particular, into perspective while underlining the necessity of a new framework for a functioning relationship in the near future.

• Turkey and its relations with the liberal West

After the Second World War, Turkey’s political elites decided to put country’s name together with the Western countries, with the aim of sole democracy, rule of law and basic freedoms for its citizens. Membership to Western institutions has been taken as a state policy. Following this decision, Turkey became a member of the Council of Europe in 1950 and a member of the NATO in 1952. In those years, Turkey was an important ally also for the United States, as a neighbouring country to the Soviet Union. Its European future, the existence of liberal order and free market economy have been supported by the US as well. Following this track, Turkey applied for European Union membership. In 1999 the country was given the candidacy status and in 2005 accession negotiations have started. Today 16 (out of 35) chapters are opened and only one chapter is provisionally closed. This has been a very long process with its ups and downs thanks to the situation both in the EU and in Turkey. The issue of a divided Cyprus, European leaders’ strong criticism towards Turkey, naming the negotiations “open-ended” and blockage of chapters by various actors have been leading to frustration. Taking this as the main framework of relations with the European Union, Turkey experienced various disappointments since then. The country also followed its military cooperation with the US, not only inside the framework of the NATO but also bilaterally, especially in the Middle East. So in short, candidacy in case of the European Union and advanced military cooperation in case of United States draw the lines as the main framework of Turkey’s relations with the West. 4 Today, these relationships are not fully functioning.

• Current state of affairs and the future of the relations

Even if the road to membership has been troubled, Turkey and the EU managed to sign Ankara Agreement for implementation of the Customs Union and it has entered into force in 1995. Today it is the most important tool to keep the relationship alive and -somewhat- functioning. The European Commission has asked for authorization to modernise the deal and to further extend the bilateral trade relations to areas such as services, public procurement and sustainable development from the European Council. However, the political environment in the EU, and especially the current tension between Turkey and Germany is making it very difficult to move on with the modernisation scenario. Another point to underline here is the division between EU institutions. To give an example, European Parliament already recommended a “temporary freeze on EU accession talks with Turkey” in November 2016, which was mainly declined by the Council in December, since even technically it is a hard to reverse process. In the meantime, the European Commission has been on hold, working on Customs Union modernisations. The values versus interests paradox is shaping the responses of European institutions. Finally, the High Representative Mogherini stated that the framework will not be challenged, at least for now. It is clear that removing the accession framework, and suspending the accession talks, without replacing it with a credible alternative is also dangerous. However, looking for a better framework which would bring Turkey to European standards on rule of law and fundamental rights, beyond the opening of accession chapters 23 and 24, is also very much needed.

• Conclusion

According to various official’s declarations no sharp and dramatic move is expected for redefining relations now. In the meantime, Commission officials are working for an alternative success story that is mainly focused on the modernization of the Customs Union. The reactions coming from the European Parliament and Germany will draw the roadmap in modernization. Still the question remains: Is the EU membership providing a normative anchor that encourages Turkey to follow the rule of law and basic principles of democracy? I don’t think so. For this reason, search for a better framework is still needed. As a final remark, it is not only Turkey-EU relations that require a redefinition. The argument is also valid for Turkey – US relations. After the end of the Cold War, the main determinants of this relationship is not clear either. In this changing, challenging, globalised world, Turkey needs a redefinition of its relations with the West.

By Ilke Toygur, Analyst, Real Istituto Elcano


note1 For “Turkey’s critical constitutional referendum: an introduction” please see: http://www.realinstitutoelcano.org/wps/wcm/connect/8eae9e52-80b2-42dd-ae27-153403ddbb04/Commentary-Toygur-Turkey-critical-constitutional-referendum-introduction.pdf?MOD=AJPERES&CACHEID=8eae9e52-80b2-42dd-ae27-153403ddbb04 For “From Istanbul to Madrid: five things to know before the Turkish constitutional referendum” please see: http://www.realinstitutoelcano.org/wps/portal/rielcano_en/contenido?WCM_GLOBAL_CONTEXT=/elcano/elcano_in/zonas_in/commentary-toygur-istambul-madrid-turkey-constitutional-referendum .

note2 For more information, please see OSCE’s report: http://www.osce.org/odihr/elections/turkey/324806.

note3 For more information, please see Venice Commission’s report: http://www.venice.coe.int/webforms/documents/?pdf=CDL-AD(2017)005-e

note4 For a more detailed analysis of Turkey-EU-US triangle please read Nicholas Danforth and Ilke Toygür en Foreign Affairs: https://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/turkey/2017-09-19/how-dull-turkeys-autocratic-edge.

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Le 21 décembre 2017, la Commission européenne s’est résolue à activer l’article 7 du Traité de l’UE contre la Pologne. Alain Dauvergne, conseiller à l'Institut Jacques Delors, analyse la situation ainsi que les dispositions prévues par l'article 7 du traité européen, qui peut priver un État de ses droits de vote dans l’UE, mais qui reste tellement impraticable qu’il est sans effets dissuasifs.

L’exécutif européen s'interrogeait depuis quelques temps sur l’opportunité de cette activation. Avec la Pologne, comme avec la Hongrie, les institutions européennes se retrouvent confrontées à des atteintes aux principes encadrant le fonctionnement de la démocratie inhérents à l’appartenance à l’Union européenne. Devant cette défiance, qui pourrait être commise par d’autres États de l’Union, la Commission reste démunie. Si l’article 7 n’a jamais encore été mis en œuvre, c’est qu’il comporte deux inconvénients – d’ailleurs liés. Prévoyant des sanctions pouvant aller jusqu’à la suspension des droits de vote de l’État fautif, il est parfois comparé à une « bombe nucléaire institutionnelle » … que l’on craint d’utiliser. D’autre part, en raison même de sa sévérité, les rédacteurs de l’article 7 ont prévu, comme on va le voir, qu’il ne peut être déclenché qu’au terme d’une procédure complexe exigeant notamment l’unanimité des États membres de l’UE. Autrement dit, si l’État incriminé – qui ne prend pas part au vote et qui n’est pas pris en compte dans le calcul de la majorité des voix – dispose d’un seul soutien, la procédure ne peut aboutir et l’article 7 reste stérile.

Pour cette raison, dans plusieurs capitales et à Bruxelles, l’idée de frapper les mauvais élèves au portefeuille commence à circuler. Reste à savoir si cette sanction-là peut être autre chose qu’une menace verbale et comment elle serait comprise par la population.

Pour lire l’intégralité de la Tribune en français ou en anglais, rendez-vous sur le site de l’Institut Jacques Delors.

par Claire Versini

Responsable des Événements; Responsable des actions citoyennes & pédagogiques de Jacques Delors Institut

 

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