he sound of National Front supporters singing the strains of the Marseillaise as Jean-Marie Le Pen announces his candidacy for next year's presidential elections, taking the French Revolution for backdrop.
In a half-hour long speech, the founder and leader of the French far right party used the consensual and patriotic associations of the Revolution to forward his familiar but ever popular themes.
I have come to announce that a new Valmy is before us...with new threats, new challenges and new hopes, so that French history, forged by the likes of Vercingetorix, Saint Louis and De Gaulle can continue... or else she will disappear, annihilated, swallowed up by the Euro-Atlanticist magma.
Le Pen has a history of associating himself with French national symbols, and this raises many hackles. On the day of his visit to Valmy the Socialists, Communists, Greens and a number of unions, staged a protest against the National Front's appropriation of the Revolution...
According to Jacques Meyer, the Socialist general Secretary for the Marne, where Valmy is situated, Le Pen's ideas are diametrically opposed to those of the Republic. He says the Revolutionaries held that all men are equal, regardless of their race and religion... to which Le Pen replies:
Our choice of Valmy is justified by the desire to prove that we are really a Republican force... not only for the defense of national interest, but also for the defense of the French Republic. We take the whole history of France, not only one part or another, we take all the history for us.
His appearance at Valmy was the return to the public stage of a man who has been waiting in the wings, keeping a low profile and rubbing his hands, as one after the other, the country's politicians adopt positions on immigration and security that were traditionally associated with his party.
Whether it will be him or one of his adversaries who will benefit from this turn of events, will be revealed in the spring.Listen to the report:
The Hungarian capital was the scene of repeated overnight violence and demonstrations this week. These were prompted by what will probably go down in history, as one of the worst gaffes made by a ruling politician. Socialist Prime Minister Ferenc Gyurcsany, admitted in a behind-doors meeting that his government “messed up and lied”. The problem is that all of this was leaked to the press, and led to demonstrations and riots. Network Europe’s EU insider reports from the Hungarian capital, Budapest.
What did Hungary’s socialist Prime Minister say exactly ? His leaked comments have sparked off the Budapest riots, but are there other reasons for discontent in Hungary? Radio Romania International has the answers.
In Sweden, voters have sent the Social Democrats into opposition in last week-end’s general elections. Swedes normally refuse to go right, the Social Democrats have been in the driving seat for most of the last eighty years. But this time apparently, they thought it was time for a change. Frederik Reinfeldt, the leader of the centre right coalition and next prime minister, is working to form a new government which is due to take power on the fifth of October. Radio Sweden tells what people in Sweden can expect from the new team in power.
The Polish authorities have declared they will send a thousand soldiers to Afghanistan, as part of a NATO multinational force. The decision is to some extent a logical consequence of the country's support for American-led operations in the war on terror. But for the first time, the national consensus on Poland's role in such missions, seems to have been broken, with the opposition accusing the government of sending Polish troops into combat, rather than a peacekeeping mission.
Romania and its neighbour Bulgaria, will most probably join the European Union on January the 1st , 2007. Many Romanians support membership because it will allow them to work and gain experience abroad, preferably in the UK. But Radio Romania International explains that the UK may curtail its open doors policy.
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