Eurovision 2016 – Grand Final Preview

Its Eurovision week!!! Its just two days to the First Semi-Final on Tuesday followed by the Second Semi-Final on Thursday. So I am a tad excited! (That may be an understatement). Check out my previews of Semi-Final 1 and Semi-Final 2

So its time to look at the automatic qualifiers for the Grand Final which takes place on Saturday 14th of May. They will be joined by 10 acts from each of the Semi Finals. So who are the automatic finalists? They are our Host’s Sweden and the Big Five contributors to the European Broadcasting Union, Germany, France, Italy, Spain and the United Kingdom. Only Sweden’s place in the show is known and it will be Friday before the running order for the Final will be known. Sweden will perform 9th on the night.

So lets take a look at the songs we will definitely be seeing next Saturday.

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Some interesting German polling

Logo of the German Pirate Party Deutsch: Logo ...
Logo of the German Pirate Party Deutsch: Logo der Piratenpartei Deutschland (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

There has been some interesting polls done in Germany in the last few days. With important state elections coming up in Schleswig-Holstein and North Rhine-Westphalia and the Federal Elections next year. The first poll released on the 8th April by TNS Emnid show the following:

  • CDU/CSU 36%
  • SPD 26%
  • Green 13%
  • FDP 4%
  • Die Linke 7%
  • Pirate 10%
  • Others 4%

The second poll is by Forsa for RTL and had the following

  • CDU/CSU 36%
  • SPD 24%
  • Green 11%
  • FDP 5%
  • Die Linke 8%
  • Pirate 13%
  • Others 3%

The polls show that the Pirate Party are seriously challenging for the largest third party in Germany. After strong results in recent elections, the Pirate Party could be the king makers in the next Parliament as they will clearly breach the 5% vote threshold. The Greens look set to be pushed back to 4th while the FDP look set to survive into the next Parliament as they seem to be just around the 5% threshold.

While most commentators expect the next German Government to be a grand coalition of the CDU/CSU and SPD, this could change things if the trend continues this way.

#EUDay: Schuman Declaration

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On the 9th of May each year we mark the Anniversay of the Schuman Declaration. This declaration made by French Minister for Foreign Affairs Robert Schuman in 1950, set the basis for what would has become the European Union.

61 years later and with the EU at a crossroad due to the financial crisis and the lessening impact it has around the world, it its only right we look back at the declation which started it all and remind us of why we are here.

World peace cannot be safeguarded without the making of creative efforts proportionate to the dangers which threaten it.
The contribution which an organized and living Europe can bring to civilization is indispensable to the maintenance of peaceful relations. In taking upon herself for more than 20 years the role of champion of a united Europe, France has always had as her essential aim the service of peace. A united Europe was not achieved and we had war.

Europe will not be made all at once, or according to a single plan. It will be built through concrete achievements which first create a de facto solidarity. The coming together of the nations of Europe requires the elimination of the age-old opposition of France and Germany. Any action taken must in the first place concern these two countries.
With this aim in view, the French Government proposes that action be taken immediately on one limited but decisive point.

It proposes that Franco-German production of coal and steel as a whole be placed under a common High Authority, within the framework of an organization open to the participation of the other countries of Europe.  The pooling of coal and steel production should immediately provide for the setting up of common foundations for economic development as a first step in the federation of Europe, and will change the destinies of those regions which have long been devoted to the manufacture of munitions of war, of which they have been the most constant victims.

The solidarity in production thus established will make it plain that any war between France and Germany becomes not merely unthinkable, but materially impossible. The setting up of this powerful productive unit, open to all countries willing to take part and bound ultimately to provide all the member countries with the basic elements of industrial production on the same terms, will lay a true foundation for their economic unification.

This production will be offered to the world as a whole without distinction or exception, with the aim of contributing to raising living standards and to promoting peaceful achievements. With increased resources Europe will be able to pursue the achievement of one of its essential tasks, namely, the development of the African continent. In this way, there will be realised simply and speedily that fusion of interest which is indispensable to the establishment of a common economic system; it may be the leaven from which may grow a wider and deeper community between countries long opposed to one another by sanguinary divisions.

By pooling basic production and by instituting a new High Authority, whose decisions will bind France, Germany and other member countries, this proposal will lead to the realization of the first concrete foundation of a European federation indispensable to the preservation of peace.
To promote the realization of the objectives defined, the French Government is ready to open negotiations on the following bases.

The task with which this common High Authority will be charged will be that of securing in the shortest possible time the modernization of production and the improvement of its quality; the supply of coal and steel on identical terms to the French and German markets, as well as to the markets of other member countries; the development in common of exports to other countries; the equalization and improvement of the living conditions of workers in these industries.

To achieve these objectives, starting from the very different conditions in which the production of member countries is at present situated, it is proposed that certain transitional measures should be instituted, such as the application of a production and investment plan, the establishment of compensating machinery for equating prices, and the creation of a restructuring fund to facilitate the rationalization of production. The movement of coal and steel between member countries will immediately be freed from all customs duty, and will not be affected by differential transport rates. Conditions will gradually be created which will spontaneously provide for the more rational distribution of production at the highest level of productivity.

In contrast to international cartels, which tend to impose restrictive practices on distribution and the exploitation of national markets, and to maintain high profits, the organization will ensure the fusion of markets and the expansion of production.

The essential principles and undertakings defined above will be the subject of a treaty signed between the States and submitted for the ratification of their parliaments. The negotiations required to settle details of applications will be undertaken with the help of an arbitrator appointed by common agreement. He will be entrusted with the task of seeing that the agreements reached conform with the principles laid down, and, in the event of a deadlock, he will decide what solution is to be adopted.

The common High Authority entrusted with the management of the scheme will be composed of independent persons appointed by the governments, giving equal representation. A chairman will be chosen by common agreement between the governments. The Authority’s decisions will be enforceable in France, Germany and other member countries. Appropriate measures will be provided for means of appeal against the decisions of the Authority.
A representative of the United Nations will be accredited to the Authority, and will be instructed to make a public report to the United Nations twice yearly, giving an account of the working of the new organization, particularly as concerns the safeguarding of its objectives.

The institution of the High Authority will in no way prejudge the methods of ownership of enterprises. In the exercise of its functions, the common High Authority will take into account the powers conferred upon the International Ruhr Authority and the obligations of all kinds imposed upon Germany, so long as these remain in force.

 

Belarus Shuts Down OSCE Office

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Radio Free Europe is reporting that the Government of Belarus has ordered the shut down of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe‘s (OSCE) office in Minsk.

This was because it had fulfilled its mandate according to Foreign Ministry spokesman Andrei Savinykh.

This is on top of the multiple arrests of activists and opponents of the Lukashenka administration.

The OSCE has stated that Belarus is still “a considerable way” from holding a democratic vote. The OSCE representative on freedom of the media, Dunja Mijatovic, also condemned detentions and assaults of journalists in Minsk following the election as “unacceptable.”

On Thursday Lukashenka issued a statement on the arrests saying “Don’t you demand [their release] from me. We are doing the way they do things in France and Germany”. Then he added, “If anyone pushes me and demands [the release], it will only make matters worse”. (As quoted by Interfax-Belarus & translated by Denis Baranov of Free Belarus. Original quotes in Russian: http://www.interfax.by/news/belarus/85687)

Worrying times for those opposed to the regime in Belarus.

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Ireland ‘in talks’ with EFSF

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The BBC are reporting that Irish officials are in preliminary talks with EU officials about accessing the European Financial Stability Fund (EFSF) for a bailout.

The talk is of a loan between €60-€80 billion to keep Ireland going.

The government has yet to deny that it is talks and officials have stated “it makes no sense” according to the BBC.

One Eurozone official told Reuters, “Talks are ongoing and European Financial Stability Facility (EFSF) money will be used; there will be no haircuts or restructuring or anything of the kind,”.

Next week is going to be an interesting week in Irish Politics.

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United Nations Security Council Election Voting Results

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As promised here are the results from today’s elections at the UN General Assembly to fill 5 non-permanent seats at the UN Security Council. The quota in all elections was 127 based on the fact that 182 members were present and voting.

African Group:

  • South Africa 182

Asian Group

  • India 187

Latin America

  • Columbia 186

Western Europe and Other States

Round 1 Result:

  • Germany 128
  • Portugal 122
  • Canada 114

Round 2 Result:

  • Portugal 113
  • Canada 78

Round 3 Result:

  • Portugal 150
  • Canada 32
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Security Council Election Results

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A follow on from this mornings post on the Elections to the five non-permament seats on the UN Security Council.

The following countries have been elected:

  • African Group: South Africa
  • Asian Group: India
  • Latin America: Columbia
  • Western European and Other States: Germany and Portugal

While the African, Asian and Latin American seats were uncontested, the candidates still needed a two-third majority to be elected.Canada, Germany and Portugal were contesting the Western European and Other States Seat.

Germany attained the required votes on the first round of voting. On the second round Portugal finished higher then Canada. Following that announcement and before the third round of voting, Canada withdrew from the election. The General Assembly is currently voting on Portugal membership of the council.

The full voting results are here

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Elections to the Security Council

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Today 5 new members of the of United Nations Security Council will be elected. They will replace Uganda, Japan, Mexico, Turkey and Austria.

They will be elected for two years. The African seat is not being contested as South Africa as been endorsed by the African Union and is therefore unopposed. For the Asian seat, India is running unopposed and it is the same in Latin America where Columbia is running unopposed. The only election will be for the Western Europe and Others Group. Portugal, Germany and Canada are all vying for a place on the council.There are two seats available for this group so only one will lose out. Many do hope to see Canada win one of the seats.

Germany and India want reform of the UN to allow them (plus Brazil and Japan) to have permanent seats at the UN Security Council. This is of course opposed by many other UN member states especially Italy and Mexico. Russia and China also don’t like the idea.

I will post the results as soon as they are out.

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IMF says we are screwed

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The Telegraph have an excellent article on the latest IMF report – “Will It Hurt? Macroeconomic Effects of Fiscal Consolidation” – and what it means for countries trying to make cuts.

In Ireland we cut to quickly. We forgot to bring in a stimulus like other countries. Cuts in budgets mean growth cuts, which will lead to a longer depression.

According to the report Southern Europe (Spain, Portugal, Italy and Greece) and Ireland could be in for an extended recession. With bug cuts coming in Germany and France, they could be joining them, as well as making it less likely for Southern Europe to recover as no demand for goods.

Has the article states:

We are seeing a pattern – first in Ireland, now in Greece and Portugal – where cuts are failing to close the deficit as fast as hoped. Austerity itself is eroding tax revenues. Countries are chasing their own tail.

So what are Governments doing? Cutting more. It doesn’t bode well for the future. We need something to encourage spending, we need something to get other countries to buy our goods. How will we do that? I am not sure, but by leaving out the stimulus we cut too hard and fast. We could be stuck for awhile. This is not good for our government as,

The lesson of the 1930s is that politics can turn ugly as slumps drag into a third year, and voters lose faith in the promised recovery.

Most of the country has already lost faith in the Government and the other political parties are having varying support levels, (see here).

We have no choice but to cut. The deficit is too high. Its that or leave Anglo fall. Maybe that would mean the cuts would not have to be so deep and therefore we would have a fighting chance of recovery. I some how doubt our government will take that chance.

a tip of the hat to Peebles for the link

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Germany 2011

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On Saturday night, European Televoters and Juries voted Germany the winner of the Eurovision Song Contest 2010. This is the second time in the History of Eurovision that German of won the contest, see a history on escireland.com.

It now falls to the German broadcaster ARD to host the contest next year.

Throughout the voting on Saturday night many comments were passed about the fact that Europe was rewarding Germany for bailing them out and to the fact that Germany was probably the only country able to afford the Eurovision Song Contest!

In my own view, I loved the German entry from the first time I heard it. Satellite is an amazing song and Lena is an excellent singer with raw talent! So we are off to Germany next year! Hopefully I will be there!

On the Irish entry, I agree with Diarmy.

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