Amelia Andersdotter was elected to European Parliament in 2009. More than 6 months since the elections, she finds herself living in Brussels but still not allowed to do her job. How can an elected member of paliament be kept from taking her seat? In this podcast this dynamic young representative from the Swedish Pirate Party explains how it happened. She also tells the story of the campaign that got her into office, and the issues and concerns she has once she is finally allowed to get to work.
The following is an excerpt from a piece I wrote this past week for the Guardian CiF, to read the full text, click the link below:
The media have recycled the same headlines following Dutch elections for about a decade now, and similar observations are regularly trumpeted in international newspapers. Part of me thinks they actually just run the same articles, updating the picture, changing a few names, and maybe touching up a few percentage points. The political landscape is changing in the Netherlands, it is true. “How could this happen in this bastion of a liberal democracy?” commentators ask in an accusing tone.
I shall go against the international headlines and some of the Dutch media when I say to you, please remain calm. This sudden explosion of intolerance and fragmented politics is nothing new; we have been reading about it for decades. The myth maintained by international media outlets and perhaps the Dutch bureau of tourism, which parrots the Netherlands as an open-minded leftwing paradise, has long kept a smoke screen over the well-established and not always tolerant tradition of smaller parties, extremist or moderate, left or right, which rise up suddenly, gain power and occasionally disappear into obscurity as fast as they came.
The international press summed up the results of yesterday’s Dutch legislative elections as a major victory for the far-right, anti-Islam and ironically named Freedom Party (PVV). They are also quick to point to the two cities (out of the entire country!) where the PVV managed to top the polls in local elections. But while The Hague, where the PVV is now the second-largest party, is certainly a city of international and national importance, gaining control of it, along with the little-known city of Almere, does not equal an electoral sweep.
The PVV’s sporadic success is significant not so much because of the small number of votes they won, but because of the xenophobic, nationalist rhetoric that has managed to get them votes. While this development grabs the headlines, several Dutch political parties on both the centre and the left have made just as many – if not more – gains. In the cities of Utrecht and Nijmegen, the Green-Left party (GroenLinks) gained enough to become the largest party. The more moderate D66 party made the biggest gains nationwide, becoming the largest party in Leiden, Haarlem, and Hilversum. The socially progressive and fiscally conservative party’s success was far greater than that of the PVV, but since they don’t say controversial things about the Muslim faith or try to convince people that the country is being taken over, they’re just not as fun for the front page.
John Aravosis is annoyed. For him and millions of Obama supporters who believed in the campaign that swept the current president into office, there is a great feeling of disgust with what has happened over the past year. What happened? On issue after issue, causes that were very clearly indentified as goals once Obama got into office, the white house has backed down. As John breaks it down, they don’t even back down, they simply do not fight, despite having said they would.
I spent several days with John as I manage to do almost once a year for the last few years and he is always one of my most favorite interviews. In this recording we get into why those that most supported Obama are now very upset with his actions. From DOMA, to Health Care, to Foreign Policy, the list of issues that they’ve done an about-face on continues to grow. And with each of these broken promises, the anger and the speaking out gets louder.
People around the world admire, hate, or giggle at what they think they know about drug policies in the Netherlands. But how much do they really know? To get beyond the tall tales and the half-baked explanation you’ll get from enthusiasts on both sides of the drug issue, it is important to not only look at the facts, but to hear real experience and analysis. Not to mention to learn the details of just what the political and social climate aims to do with the future of Dutch drug policy.
As part of a running series of podcasts on the Reality of Drug Policy in the Netherlands, I begin with this program featuring a conversation with Freek Polak of the Netherlands Drug Policy Foundation.
During the program Freek mentions this video of his face-off with the Executive Director of the UN Office of Drugs and Crime.