Elections bring chaos to UK, unity to France

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Two European nations, the United Kingdom and France, held parliamentary elections, with radically different results.  The United Kingdom has a real political mess on its hands.  Whereas France has come together in a nearly unprecedented vote of national unity.

In the UK, the Conservative Party under the leadership of Prime Minister Theresa May was riding high in the polls.  So she called for a new election to increase her party’s majority as she negotiated the Brexit breakaway from the European Union.

But that was before England was attacked three times in three months by Islamic terrorists, and many voters wondered why the government had failed to stop them, especially since the perpetrators were known to authorities as potential terrorists.  Also May’s government put forward some unpopular proposals to save money, such as making the elderly and their families pay more for nursing home care, the so called “dementia tax.”

So in the new election that she called, May’s Tories were trounced, to the point of losing their majority, which is necessary to choose the prime minister!  They were 7 votes short, but a deal with the 10 delegates of Ian Paisley’s Northern Ireland party, the closest thing the UK has to a Christian right, keeps her in office.

But her party is furious with her and many Conservatives want a leadership change.  At her party’s insistence, May fired her two main advisors who came up with the bright idea of the dementia tax.  But she still may not last.

Meanwhile, France, which just elected the novice centrist Emmanuel Macron as president, voted for parliamentary representatives.  Macron didn’t run as a representative of any party, but he started a new one, the “Republic on the Move.”

It appears that his party, after the multiple rounds of voting are completed, may win as many as 400 of the 577 seats in Parliament!

Though he ran on a pro-European Union platform, Macron has appointed many conservatives to positions in his government.  And he has demolished the Left, long a fixture of French politics.  The Socialist Party of the recent President Hollande got only 10% of the vote, dropping its representation from 300 seats to 30.  Marine Le Pen’s anti-immigrant party, which some thought would defeat Macron just a few weeks ago, has dropped from 23% to 13%.

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The French set-back for global Trumpism

2014.11.17_Emmanuel_Macron_Ministre_de_l_economie_de_lindustrie_et_du_numerique_at_Bercy_for_Global_Entrepreneurship_Week_(7eme_CAE_conference_annuelle_des_entrepreneurs)Many observers thought that the ascendancy of Donald Trump and Great Britain’s vote to leave the European Union heralded a new movement in global politics, with nationalism and anti-immigration sentiment casting out establishment governments.

But in the French presidential election on Sunday, the anti-immigrant, pro-nationalistic Marine LePen was defeated in a landslide by centrist Emmanuel Macron, who won on a pro-immigrant, pro-European Union platform.

And yet there still may be something to the notion that Trump heralds a new anti-establishment political movement.  Macron won as an independent, without the support of any of the established political parties.  Both the leftwing and the rightwing parties that have dominated French politics for decades were shut out of the election.

Maybe the real contribution of the Trump phenomenon is the repudiation of conventional party politics.

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Criminalizing pro-lifers

brutality-152819_640In France, it is illegal to attempt to disuade anyone from getting an abortion.  It is also illegal to demonstrate against abortion, to give information about alternatives to abortion, and to espouse the belief that abortion is immoral.  Pro-life expressions could result in a fine of 30,000 euros and two years in jail.

So says Denise Burke, who makes the point that those who once claimed to be “pro-choice” are now “pro-coercion” in seeking to silence and criminalize advocates for life. [Read more…]

Terrorist attack in France kills 84

As Bastille Day celebrants packed the streets watching fireworks in Nice, France, a large truck broke through barriers and accelerated into the crowd, driving for over a mile until he jumped out of the cab and started shooting.  He was killed by police.  The death count stands at 75, with over 100 injured.

Authorities are calling this a terrorist attack.

UPDATE:  The death toll has risen to 84, with many more in critical condition.  Two Americans are among the dead.  The killer has been identified as Mohamed Lahouaiej Bouhlel.   See this.

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One of the heroes on that French train is a Lutheran

You know those three unarmed Americans who took out the armed-to-the-teeth terrorist on that French train?  One of them was a Missouri Synod Lutheran.  What difference does that make?  Not much on one level.

But surely when you heard about this, if you are from the USA, you felt a surge of connectedness that these guys were fellow Americans.  When a fellow Christian does something, the tie is even stronger, because of what the Apostle’s Creed calls “the Communion of the Saints.”  According to 1 Corinthians 12, we are all different organs of the same body, so that what happens to one member happens to all of us.  So, for me, a part of the body that writes and blogs in safety, I rejoiced at the part that had the courage to tackle a terrorist with an AK-47 who was shooting a pistol, saving who knows how many lives.  And that he shares my confession and that we commune with each other makes for a particularly close kind of unity.

So my fellow Lutherans who read this blog, as well as my fellow Christians and my fellow Americans, can all claim a connection to what happened on that train, though the heroism of those young men is all their own.

Details about Army National Guardsman Aleksander Skarlatos of St. Paul Lutheran, Roseburg, Oregon, after the jump. [Read more…]

Social conservatives rising in France

There is talk of a “French tea party,” as citizens alarmed at abortion, gay marriage, and other social issues are mobilizing politically and taking to the streets.  Something similar is happening in other European countries.  The movement is one of  social conservatism, not necessarily other kinds of conservatism, with the protesters often being fine with big government and controlled economics.  But still. . . [Read more…]