Author: Maksim Chikin

Author: Maksim Chikin

When parliament fails to agree

The French government pushed through pension reform without a vote in the National Assembly. What's next? Article 49.3 of the French Constitution is now known even to primary school children, it has been mentioned so often lately. It allows the government to consider a bill approved, even if the parliament has not voted for it. It is supposed to be used only in extreme cases, but the case of the pension reform is exactly the one. Now the French will retire at 64 instead of 62. Just for the record, the pension in France is calculated this way. The best 10 years of your career are chosen, the arithmetic average is derived, and 70 percent of this figure is taken - this is your pension. If you are lazy to count: you had 5 thousand euros - your pension will be 3,500. This, for example, is more than the salary of a public school principal at the end of his career. Virtually all presidents have been approaching retirement age reform. For example, Sarkozy was indignant, why do, for instance, train drivers retire early at the age of 55? Because their work is considered "especially hard"? But pardon me, this decision was made almost in the days of the Popular Front, in the mid-30s. Then there were steam locomotives and really had to throw coal in the furnace, but now the driver of the high-speed train sits in the cabin with air conditioning, using a joystick controls fully computerized train and retires at 55? What kind of ooh-la-la-la? The government did not have a majority in parliament. There were long counts of parliamentary seats, but - no, no way. On the last day, Prime Minister Elizabeth Borne decided to get the proverbial 49.3 out of her joker's pocket. French observers considered this trick as a sign of the regime's weakness. Since no absolute presidential majority can be assembled, a serious political crisis looms ahead. Because the application of Article 49.3 demonstrates in itself that the government does not have support. Not to mention the fact that the reaction of the street was expected. Burning cars, smashing storefronts, and other French fun. "Popular and union outrage could, in the worst case, lead to a total blockade of the country," says political scientist Christophe Lusset. And if this does not happen now, this accumulated protest potential will spill over in other circumstances. How can you not remember the "Yellow Jackets," which raged for more than a year, starting with demands to stop the rise in gasoline prices and ending with a list of demands of more than 100 items, and gasoline was not even included in the first half. The opposition has three options for further action: a vote of no confidence in the government, a challenge to the Constitutional Council, and the calling of a referendum. Everything has its own nuances, in particular the promulgation of the law by the president. A vote of no confidence is the traditional procedure when applying Article 49.3. The signatures of a tenth of deputies, i.e. 58 people, are enough to pass a vote of no confidence. In principle, the text of the vote of no confidence, even several variants, were written a few days before, when it was not even completely clear that Borne would use this trick. However, in order to pass the vote, it is necessary to obtain an absolute number of votes, i.e., 287. If you add up all the opponents - Nupes, RN, Liot, and non-party people - you get 268. In other words, to bring down the government, it is necessary to find 25 people, most likely defectors from Sarkozy's Republicans. In order to challenge the law in the Constitutional Council, it is necessary to find any contradictions in it. Naturally, such contradictions were found a long time ago. First and foremost is the inconsistency between the pension reform and the law on the financing of the social security system. And it is the latter which will pay pensions. But this can be fixed, and the social security system will be taken care of as well. The Constitutional Council needs the signatures of 60 deputies or senators, and the opposition has them. The President has no right to sign the law until he receives the "permission" from the Constitutional Council. If he does not get it, the government will start redrafting the law. Calling a referendum is the most difficult event of all. It is not so difficult to introduce the initiative, the consent of 185 deputies is enough, and as we can see, there are even more than enough of them. The difficulties begin later. After the initiative is approved by the Constitutional Council - there will be no problem, as it concerns the social and economic reform of the country - it is necessary for the idea to be supported by a tenth of the electorate. Within nine months, 4.87 million signatures must be collected. It must be said that this procedure has never been successful in the history of the country. At one time they tried to submit a decision to privatize the Paris airports to a referendum, and they managed to collect only 1.1 million signatures. And then a coronavirus broke out and all signature collection was curtailed. Joël Aviragnet, a deputy from the Socialist Party, believes: "If we manage to gather 60-70 percent of the French who are dissatisfied with the reform, we will have already bought time. We'll block the reform for nine months, and then maybe it won't pass at all." The time factor plays into the hands of the government. If Macron does not have time to sign the law before all the legal formalities of calling a referendum are fulfilled, the expression of will could be simply too late. The Constitution of the Republic states that a referendum on the repeal of the law is not possible one year after its promulgation. Meanwhile, the unions set new dates for the protests. It does not end so quickly and experience shows that everything will burn on weekends. Marine Tondelier, a deputy from the Greens, rightly noted: "49.3 does not work on the street."

So who are these people and where did they come from?

The situation in Tunisia is paradoxical. A country from which thousands of people migrate to Europe is itself struggling with migrants. "Do not go outside before March 6 until things calm down. This horror existed before, and now it's scary in general. All of you heard the president's speech. Now our past problems are nothing compared to our present ones," this is from the message of Christian Kwongang, chairman of the Sub-Saharan African Black (that's what they have written) Student Association in Tunisia. The notorious speech made by Tunisian President Kais Saied on February 21 was not Churchill's Fulton speech, but it was just as frightening and perplexing. It specifically said that against the Tunisian state "as a result of a criminal conspiracy, hordes of migrants are coming, whose task is to change the demographics of Tunisia." All this will be done by migrants from the South Sahara. In principle, even without this speech, there was no special friendship between Tunisians and blacks - well, let's call them that, as long as they call themselves that. It was all in plain sight, observed, stated, recorded in protocols and called by the European or UN clerks as "latent xenophobia". And no more than that. And then the real riots began. After the president formally called things as he saw them, everything happened. People picked up knives - that's how it works over there - and started kicking out the newcomers. The LGBTQ community and other letters in the north of the capital were the first to suffer at once. There they had a night of long knives and the guys and girls had to run away and hide in the UN office. And they got it, of course. There is always no one to stand up for them. Later, a couple more community dormitories were hit, right in the center of the city. The arrests of migrants, even those with legal status in Tunisia, took place. Representatives of all kinds of associations published proclamations, which of course can be understood, but they are naturally the same: "Without any logic, without any evidence, the president in his speech told Tunisians that migrants from Africa threaten them directly. This is a lie," says Gayada Thabet of the Tunisian Minority Support Association. "There are only 21,000 of us migrants from all of Sub-Saharan Africa for your 12 million population. That's 0.2 percent. There are students among them. And illegals, of course." It's hard for them, anyway, but it's worth figuring out who Kais Saied is. He's a lawyer by training. Not a military man, that's a good thing. He was elected in 2019. Three years later, he dissolved the country's parliament and initiated a referendum on a new constitution, which significantly limited the rights of the People's Assembly. As a result, in December 2022, during the parliamentary elections, the number of abstentions was 92 percent. Abstentions! Louis Martinez, dean of the Institut de Sciences Politiques de Paris, believes: "At one time Saied went into a kind of political-populist, even authoritarian spiral, and the backbone of his party responded to it. He was elected because he was going against the elite, the supporters of a politicized, political Islam, and at the same time his beacon was Muammar Gaddafi, the classic authoritarian leader. He believes that Tunisia needs a strong leader who will stand up to corrupt deputies and politicians."  When Tunisia's revolutionaries toppled the Ben Ali regime in 2011 and democratic changes began, not everyone appreciated them and not all profited. Tunisian farmers, for example, contrary to expectations, were not allowed to enter the European market - they had enough of their own. Tourism has failed - because of terrorism, Europeans will not go. The country's debt is 80 percent of GDP. There is no international partner support. But suddenly the World Bank decided to help in the amount of $2 billion. This is a loan that the country is supposed to get through the IMF system. It is supposed to. "The World Bank has suspended its support program for the Tunisian economy until further decisions are made. Projects that are in the decision-making process are ongoing. The partnership with Tunisia has been suspended until the country's position on African migrants is clarified. We are suspending the work of our office in Tunisia," said World Bank President David Malpass. When the jokes ended and the knives came out, Côte d'Ivoire and Guinea sent planes to Tunisia to pick up their citizens. The president of Guinea-Bissau, acting president of the Economic Community of West Africa, rushed to Tunisia: "We are all Africans, you, me... It doesn't matter what color you and we have. We are brothers." The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Senegal has set up a crisis unit. "All our citizens who are affected by any kind of repression can go there." Senegal and Tunisia are almost sister countries. The father of the Tunisian nation, Habib Bourguiba, after a series of declarations of African countries finally free, has become the best friend of Senegal, and there is even an avenue named after him in Dakar. "Saied is a trickster, he's playing the migration card," says Brahim Oumansour, head of the department of Maghreb at the Institute of International Relations in Paris. - He's just pulling an old migration story out of the coffers. Tunisia has always been a transshipment point for migrants from Black Africa through North Africa to Europe. But his country is quite bad now, and he just makes a fuss with his declarations in order to improve his affairs.

No brakes in neutral

Traditionally neutral countries seem to be reconsidering their concept of non-interference. The situation in Ukraine has sharply shuffled the cards of European geopolitics. Countries that since the mid-nineteenth century abstracted from any kind of military action, joined Holy Alliances and accepted oppressed people, can no longer stand idly by. It seems that allegiance to new geopolitical alliances will be stronger than historical commitments. Max Bergman, director of the Europe Program at the Washington-based Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), says: "The concept of neutrality and even the ways of maintaining it in the present circumstances are being reconsidered." Finland and Sweden. The Finns share 1,340 kilometers of border with Russia, and Suomi has long decided to remain neutral in order "not to contradict or provoke" its powerful neighbor. This is how Andrew Cottey of the University College of Cork, Ireland, defined the Finnish position. The USSR had a peace treaty with Finland back in 1948, the preamble of which stated its "desire to remain outside the conflicts of interest of the great powers." After the collapse of the Soviet Union, Finland withdrew from this treaty and is now free to enter into military alliances and attack Russia from its territory. During the Cold War, "Finland tried to weigh its every step and assess its consequences in relations with the Soviet Union," says Professor Jacob Westberg of the Swedish Defence University. Sweden's neutrality was declared in 1815, it went through both the World Wars and the Cold War. Suddenly, almost 200 years later, in 2007, Sweden signs the Lisbon Treaty. And there, Article 42.7 states that members of the European Union must help each other in case of attack. Two years later, Sweden signs a treaty with NATO that henceforth defines its security policy. It states that Sweden "will not remain passive in case another EU or Nordic country comes under attack or suffers a catastrophe. We expect these countries to take similar measures towards Sweden." In 2011, Sweden signed an agreement with the Nordic countries - Norway, Finland, Denmark and Iceland - on mutual assistance in case of an attack. The beginning of Finland and Sweden's real rapprochement with NATO began in 2014, immediately after the return of Crimea. Then another agreement was signed with the Atlantic Alliance, which, according to Jacob Westberg, "was the first stage of rapprochement with NATO in the field of defense." Both countries immediately increased their defense budgets, in particular, articles related to combating disinformation. Well, after the outbreak of hostilities in Ukraine, as early as May 2022, Sweden and Finland asked to join NATO, although, according to Max Bergmann, public opinion did not fully support the "ambiguous idea of a potential Russian invasion." Nevertheless, both countries now want to join NATO in order to be able to take advantage of that very fifth article. Of course, the fact that Sweden and Finland were literally pushed to this decision lies on the surface, because they will not be alone under the treaties that already existed in recent years, starting in 2007. Well, over the year, Sweden has sent $475 million to Ukraine, and recently, on February 8, they confirmed another $406 million in aid. Finland has sent $590 million in aid. Switzerland. Here it is more complicated, because the principle of neutrality is written in the country's constitution and it is the country with the longest history of neutrality. The last time Swiss troops were seen on the battlefield, I think, in 1814, during the siege of Paris as part of the anti-Napoleonic coalition. Then, who else did not rush here. First, the same Napoleonic (!) generals, then the Russian anarchists Bakunin and Kropotkin (the latter, by the way, was asked to leave the country by the Swiss). There were African leaders escaping the wrath and crooks with world-famous names. Even the author of the phrase "It is impossible to live in society and be free from society" V.I. Lenin was hiding here. Are the Swiss faithful to his precepts? Almost with the first shot in European territory, Switzerland increased its military budget from 0.67 percent of GDP to 1 percent. According to recent polls, 55 percent of the Swiss are ready to support the re-export of their weapons to Ukraine. This is now forbidden by local laws. The leader of the Liberal Radical Party recently submitted a petition to the government to reconsider the country's neutral policy. The Swiss parliament is also interested in this topic. Austria. Since 1955, neutrality has been written into its constitution: the country cannot join or form military alliances or place bases of other countries on its territory. Nevertheless, Vienna promised to send 580 million euros in humanitarian aid to Ukraine and hosted 50,000 refugees. Austrian Defense Minister Klaudia Tanner explained it this way: "If militarily we remain neutral, as it is written in our constitution, politically we cannot remain neutral with regard to the situation in Ukraine. That's why we have supported all European Union sanctions from the very beginning." Meanwhile, Austria has always sought to maintain the best possible relations with Russia. Already a week after the start of the operation, the Austrian chancellor offered to hold talks on their territory. Recently, the Austrians allowed sanctioned Duma deputies to come to the OSCE meeting. Ireland. As much as the U.S. and Britain dragged Ireland in, the country chose to remain neutral. In 1949 it refused to join NATO, although for other reasons. "Ireland's neutrality is based on a struggle for independence from the United Kingdom. That's why the (neutrality) declaration contains a lot of anti-imperialist and anti-militarist provisions," says Andrew Cottey of University College Cork. Then-Prime Minister of Ireland, following the Austrians, explained that "we remain neutral militarily, but politically we cannot avoid joining our allies." Ireland has sent 55 million euros of non-lethal military aid to Ukraine - body armor, first-aid kits, and so on. But Max Bergman of the Washington-based CSIS notes that the country is preparing for the biggest military budget increase in its history. It is indicative that Ireland hosted 62,000 refugees. At the same time, the population of the entire country is like a third of the population of Moscow: 5 million

Macron goes to Africa to save France's reputation

The French leadership concluded that it is urgent to go to Africa and save the situation. More precisely, it was necessary the day before yesterday. Now the presence - political and economic - of Russia and China is becoming quite evident. And that means the loss of France's traditional spheres of influence. The President of the Republic decided not only to follow the route Gabon - Angola - Congo - Democratic Republic of Congo, but also announced that from now on African high-level tours will take place every six months. "What is happening on the African continent must simply be humbly accepted," Macron said at a press conference before the tour. - This is an unprecedented historical situation, with staggering challenges concerning security, climate, and demography. That implies "a new approach to Africa."  This approach primarily involves the dynamic development of relations with countries throughout the continent. It would seem convenient to return to cooperation with former French colonies, but this is not the case. We should note that one of Macron's stops is Angola, which was not a French colony, but very much a Portuguese one. And the DRC was Belgian. The geographical expansion of interests is also due to the fact that, according to Chrysoula Zaharopoulou, French Secretary of State for Development and Francophonie, "today African countries freely choose their partners, and the anti-French sentiment in former colonies only complicates our situation." Moreover, during his first tour, in 2017, Macron still insisted on a kind of "soft power" with which France was present in Africa. The result was exactly the opposite. Anti-French demonstrations took place in Mali, Burkina Faso, Niger, and Senegal, and as a result, the French contingent withdrew from Mali and Burkina Faso. At a press conference, the president called to abandon the proverbial pré carré principle. This is an invention of the ingenious military engineer of the 17th century de Vauban. He imagined a certain geometric figure, most often a square, surrounded by two fortification moats. Everything inside is ours. Everything outside is not worth noticing. Now, according to the logic of the French authorities, everything is ours. For this purpose, France developed a new economic program, for some reason called in English style "Choose Africa 2," with a budget of 3 billion euros. Its essence is to promote as much as possible the spread of French investment in African startups, which are multiplying at a staggering rate and you can not have enough time. But the loss of positions began even before Macron. In 20 years, the market share of French companies in Africa has fallen from 10.6 to 4.4 percent. By comparison, the share of Chinese companies rose from 3.8 to about 18 percent. France will invest in African agriculture, automobiles, rail transport, pharmaceuticals, telecommunications, and a new energy structure called the "energy transition." In addition, France intends to promote the development of public administration, education, and health care. The very important dossier of this tour is military. It has been decided that France will leave in Africa only bases of dual command, jointly with local militaries, similar to the Franco-German ones. For this purpose, a "tangible", in Macron's words, reduction of the French contingent will begin in the coming months and, of course, it will require serious training of African military specialists and supplies of modern weapons and technical equipment. Now the French have three thousand troops left on the African continent out of five and a half thousand. Most of them are stationed in Niger and Chad, and they are transferred to Guinea, so as to be less of a nuisance to the rampant jihadist groups. "The Russian bear has awakened the Gallic rooster," believes Antoine Glaser, an expert on Africa. He is the author of the book "Macron's African Trap," which describes how Russia, in particular the Wagner PMC, has taken significant positions in Africa. "At the beginning of his second mandate," he writes, "Macron finally realized that he had to cooperate with countries he had bypassed or ignored before, and now, to truly protect France's interests, he has to move on to Realpolitik." On his first trip to the continent, Macron first visited Cameroon, which is strategically located between the Atlantic and Chad, and had a French contingent there. Three months earlier, Cameroon had signed a military cooperation agreement with Russia, and this greatly undermined the French position in the country. During his entire visit, the French president referred to Russia as "one of the last colonial powers." Incidentally, three of the four countries on the African tour - Gabon, Congo and Angola - abstained during the recent UN vote on the resolution concerning the situation in Ukraine. Speaking to ambassadors of the Republic last fall, Macron urged diplomats to "respond instantly to anti-French propaganda outbursts on social media and fight back against the Russian, Chinese and Turkish narratives. Another dossier of Macron's African visit is the return of cultural treasures that have ended up in France and which the countries of the continent have been demanding for a long time. It is announced that the French Ministry of Culture will soon begin to work out the criteria by which it will be decided what to transfer and whether the Paris Branly Museum, the main repository of African history and art that Chirac has been collecting for so long, will not be emptied.

The USA remembered about Africa

Note: this is a machine translation from the original Russian text Washington suddenly called an African summit. The last Africa-USA summit was organized by President Obama. But he just knew a lot about the question. It was already in 2014. Trump did not hide his indifference to the Black continent, but Biden seized on the idea of reviving ties with African countries and even decided to make this direction one of the central ones for American diplomacy.  "This decade will be decisive," says Judd Devermont, executive director for African Affairs of the US National Security Council, "we will see how the structure of the world order will change in the coming years. And the Biden administration believes that Africa will play one of the decisive roles here." Everyone was invited to the summit in Washington. Well, of course, except for Burkina Faso, Guinea, Mali and Sudan. The President of the Congo arrived, whose rebels from the March 23 Movement are mowing down hundreds of people, the Prime Minister of Ethiopia, who has just signed a rather shaky agreement with the troubled Tigray state, and even the President of Equatorial Guinea, Teodoro Mbasogo, a man who has not held on to power at all since 1979 – this is a record among living heads of state. And what if people vote? In the last election, he collected 94.9 percent of the vote. The states, of course, grumbled, called the elections a simulacrum, but they were invited to the summit. Molly Fee, an employee of the African Department of the State Department, believes that if those with whom relations are not very good were invited, it means that the president has an understanding that "it is finally necessary, as a result of a serious discussion, to bring to mind the legislative act AGOA "Development of Africa", adopted in the United States in 2000. It should stimulate trade, give Africans expanded opportunities for development, and in exchange, by 2025, generally lead to the removal of customs barriers." Last summer, the United States unveiled a new concept of regional policy called "Africa". Its task is to fundamentally reconsider the meaning of the US presence on the continent, namely in Sub-Sugar, "black" Africa and to resist the growing influence of China and Russia there. China, the world's first investor in developing (and not so) countries and in Africa, is present everywhere, especially where something lies in the bowels. In recent years, Russia has strengthened its presence – both military and political – by strengthening ties primarily with those countries that in early March decided not to cast their votes to the UN in support of a resolution condemning Russia. When Washington realized that "we are losing them," a whole Blinken was sent to the continent this summer, who concluded that it was really worth establishing "real partnerships" with Africa, otherwise in some countries they already go there with Russian tricolors. After that, the American establishment began reshuffling and appointments, which in diplomacy are commonly called "signals". Namely, the signals of a change of tone in relation to Africa. Biden called many experts on the continent to the front line. Samantha Powers headed the Agency for International Development, the highest US body dealing, in addition to the State Department, with relations with other countries. Dana Banks, a diplomat who worked in South Africa, joined the National Security Council. And most importantly, Linda Thomas-Greenfield became the US representative to the UN. She worked at U.S. embassies in many African countries, was Ambassador to Liberia and under Obama became Undersecretary of State for African Affairs. Then Trump sent her backstage, and her talents came in handy under Biden. The American president decided to play on the protection of fundamental values: fair governance, democracy, protection of human rights, "especially women and girls, representatives of sexual minorities, disabled people, all kinds of non-traditional ethnic and religious communities." Not all African leaders were happy to respond to such initiatives, especially with regard to representatives of sexual minorities. But Biden does not insist, keeps his distance and demonstrates that he does not interfere in the interpretation of folk traditions. The main idea of the American president, which was voiced at this summit, is the admission of Africa – represented by the African Union – to the "twenty" and granting it a permanent seat in the UN Security Council. As for the G20, in the coming weeks, the United States will begin negotiations with India, which will become the chairman of the organization in 2023. "We need the voices of African countries in all international discussions, be it the global economy, democracy, governance, climate, health or security," says Judd Devermont, "For this it is necessary that representatives of Africa occupy permanent chairs in all international organizations and conferences." And then the question arises: how much will Africa itself pull all this, where are its interests here? Political scientist Serigne Bamba Gaye, professor at the Laval Institute in Quebec, believes that "the historical reference points of Africans, especially from sub-Saharan countries, are different from Western ones. For the West, everything depends on the outcome of the Second World War, and for Africans – on the end of the Cold War. Many countries received support from the USSR, which helped them to free themselves from Western influence. And these relations with the post-Soviet space are still preserved. Today, in no case should they accept the tough position of one side or the other." But now it is generally difficult to understand how Africa can act from a single position in the same "twenty" or in the UN. Contradictions between countries have arisen even in approaches to combating the pandemic. And the development of a common position, for example, on Ukraine will easily lead to a situation in which countries will officially stand on different sides of the conflict.

No agreements were reached

Note: this is a machine translation from the original Russian text The European Union could not accept the mechanism of the gas purchase price limit. A lot was expected from this meeting of EU energy ministers, but the heads of departments could not come to an agreement. A month ago, the leaders of the 27 EU countries demanded that the European Commission come up with a "temporary" mechanism that sets a ceiling on gas prices, but make sure that, firstly, the energy supply is not interrupted, and secondly, the market situation would not force the burning of existing stocks in the absence of new ones. Such a thing was invented and put forward for discussion by ministers. In addition, there were two other documents on the table. The first is about joint purchases of gas and fuel exchange technology in emergency cases, and the second is about simplifying the procedures for issuing licenses for the production of "green" energy components, for example, heat pumps and solar panels. There are no questions about these two proposals, but the package will be adopted together with the third and main document – just about the upper price limit. The Commission proposed from January 1, 2023 to introduce a mechanism that sets a ceiling on gas prices, if suddenly they soar to this ceiling. Monthly contracts are frozen for a year if prices at the gas hub in Rotterdam, which is where gas for the EU is traded, reach 275 euros per MW-hour and stay at this level for 10 consecutive days for two weeks. Explanation. In Europe, it is customary to consider the volume of gas in Megawatts per hour. For understanding, 1000 cubic meters is 10.49 MW-hour, or 1 MW-hour is 95.31 cubic meters. In Russia, everything is counted in cubes. By simple steps, we calculate that the proposed price ceiling is 2,885. 32 euros per 1,000 cubic meters. For example: now the price for 1,000 cubic meters is 1,154 euros. And no one will remember such ceilings to be 2.5 times higher than the current price. What started here! Belgian Energy Minister Tinne Van der Straten said: "We actually need a mechanism that would have a positive effect. Especially on the bills of our citizens for electricity, but it is unlikely that such a mechanism will have such an effect. Imagine if such a system existed in August, during the period of the maximum jump in prices, it would not even work." Her colleague from Spain called the commission's proposal a "stupid joke." The Polish minister with the speaking surname Anna Moscow complained: "We have minus 10, and we don't want to discuss fuel solidarity and renewable energy here. The EU Executive body should submit a new text within a few days." Even at the project stage, Germany, Austria, Luxembourg and the Netherlands opposed the idea itself. The last three are the main virtual participants in gas purchases for the EU. Germany is very sensitive about its industry and everything connected with it. "We cannot allow our gas storage facilities to start emptying," said Sven Gigold, state Secretary of the German Ministry of Economic Affairs and Climate Protection. "If the threshold is raised too high, there will be no help from this system." Germany generally does not like interference in the gas market and, in principle, no regulatory mechanisms will suit it. The main concern of the Germans is that when prices are limited, its main suppliers do not leave the market, since Asian buyers are now ready to pay them such a high price. At the same time, the German industry will remain without gas. And although now its storages are filled to the brim, it will be necessary to burn stocks in case of a supply stoppage. The proposal of the European Commission, however, provides that in case of withdrawal from the market of the main suppliers, the mechanism of ceiling prices stops. This will be one of the main areas of discussion of the new EC draft, which is to be presented at a new meeting in Brussels in mid-December. Without a clear study of the topic of how to retain suppliers, it will not be realistic to agree. Another fuse in the European Commission's proposal is that the gas price should be 58 euros higher than the price of liquefied natural gas for two consecutive weeks. Only then does the notorious mechanism turn on. But it is clear that as soon as this happens, American and Saudi gas tankers will give a "full turn" from European ports. By the way, American liquefied gas production is not growing as fast as expected. Now, in order for the decision to pass, such EU heavyweights as France should put pressure on Germany to agree to accept conditions that are strange for her, based on purely political considerations. Just so that such a system exists. Moreover, its establishment is required by the countries of "Young Europe". By the way, it is on their proposal that all three projects should be adopted only as a single package in order to spur the "old people" to adopt, among other things, the mechanism of gas regulation. The Czech Republic currently holds the presidency of the European Union. Its Minister of Industry and Trade, Josef Sikela, said: "In any case, we must continue discussions so that the economies of our countries work. Otherwise we will not be able to support Ukrainians." In reality, as the expert of the European Commission explained, this mechanism of gas regulation is rather a deterrent. "Ideally, it should not turn on at all, because the market will understand that Europe is not ready to pay any price at any time." And suppliers will turn in the other direction. And then it will turn off. Then why all this?

Who said: "We will replace Macron"?

Note: this is a machine translation from the original Russian text The French extreme right have a new leader. Where did he come from and why? The party career of the new leader of the National Association, Jordan Bardell, is dizzying. At the age of 27, he led a party with a 50-year history that is known all over the world. It should be noted that he also received a party card as a schoolboy after watching the debates of Marine Le Pen and Jean-Luc Melenchon on TV in 2011, when he was 16 years old. Le Pen's leaflets were distributed only in a suit and tie. Mom was against it. Not against the content of the leaflets and not against the costume. It just happened mostly in Saint-Denis, a suburb where, let's say, it's better for whites not to go in the dark, and even more so with such ideas. It took several days to persuade my mother. By the way, Bardell likes to talk about how his mother is a kindergarten teacher, sometimes he had to count the days until his salary. At the same time, as a rule, he omits some nuances – such as, for example, that the lyceum where he studied was private, that is, paid, dad ran the company, and on his next birthday he received a Smart car as a gift. The career really developed at lightning speed. After distributing leaflets, he quickly became the head of the youth movement of the then National Front, and at the age of 21, Marin invited him to become the head of the party list in the elections to the European Parliament, and the "national front" then showed an impressive result. After the internal party elections, which Bardell won with a "Caucasian indicator" of 85 percent, many were surprised: the party seems to be a family one, the father founded it, the daughter continued, and Bardell, it turns out, is not the first Le Pen. Not really. Jordan is seriously courting Marine Le Pen's niece, and her dad, Philippe Olivier, is one of Marine's closest advisers. Well, the competitor in the pre-election battle was the mayor of Perpignan, Louis Alliot, a former companion of the hostess of the party. So the keys to the apartment would not have gone anywhere anyway. This is the end of the gossip column review. Why is all this done? Formally, Le Pen, who is 54 years old – not the retirement age at all – announced that she would like to focus on leading the National Unification faction (BUT) in parliament. After the historic victory – and now we have 89 deputies – this is one of the most serious factions in the National Assembly, and it is really logical to take advantage of the situation and squeeze maximum benefits out of it. But this is the first version. But others seem no less logical. The second is to continue the work on changing the image of the party. At any cost to get away from the image of the fascist and everything connected with it. Marin herself has already managed to fix a lot of things that Dad did in his time, who did not get out of the courts. As a result, she reached the second round of the presidential election and won a major victory in the parliamentary elections. Now, in order to get as far away from the cliche as possible, a new young face appears. In addition, Bardella loves to go on TV channels, where he is invited with pleasure, and in social networks he is generally his own person. The third version is that Marin decided to play the mise en scene of "good and bad policemen". Her doctrine is neither with the left nor with the right, we are on our own, we are above the fray. Therefore, Le Pen herself is always cautious when it comes to alliances, coalitions or agreements. Bardella is known for his views "to the right of the right". He was once friends with Frederic Chatillon, the leader of the far-right, almost racist student movement GUD, which was even dissolved. In his speeches, Bardell does not hesitate to talk about "the demographic bias that is observed everywhere in France," meaning that non-indigenous French are in the majority here and there. It is worth noting here that the ideology of National Unification is based on two main themes: immigration and national identity. The latter means that a French passport in your pocket does not mean anything yet, but roots mean everything. And if Marin is considered more of a defender of the first theory, then Jordan is inclined to defend identity. That is, he intends to fight the problem of the influx of foreigners who not only want to, but are already in France. In his first speech, he noted that the party needs a program "Patriotic Suburbs", which will cover education, entrepreneurship, culture, transport, housing and everything in general. Since 2023, he has been launching a new platform for training party cadres. Hence the fourth version. All these slogans, only in a more radical interpretation, were voiced during the presidential campaign by Eric Zemmur, a scandalous publicist who adheres to extreme right-wing views. He finished the fight for the Elysee Palace in fourth place, gaining 7 percent of the vote. It is unlikely that he will go to the next election, but two and a half million voters should not be missed. And here is just a new young and extreme right. However, more mature party colleagues believe that "if we become radicalized, we are finished. We will find ourselves back in the 80s, when we talked only about national identity." The main question that arises after the change of the party leadership is: "Who will now go to the presidential elections in 2027"? Bardell reassured the audience as follows: "Marine Le Pen has stated that she will run only in exceptional circumstances. But to lead a faction with 89 deputies is exceptional circumstances." What is it? Experienced party members also believe that Jordan needs to gain weight by winning some local elections, because now he is little known to anyone. The whole south of France is voting for National Unification, so there will be no big problems, and let the presidential ambitions ripen for now. "80 percent came to the party because of Marine Le Pen, so he doesn't even have his own team in the NO," say seasoned party members. "We will replace Macron," Bardell said nevertheless. But he did not specify who "we" were. It's a little early yet.

Truss is gone

Note: this is a machine translation from the original Russian text Britain has crossed the threshold of a government crisis. Elizabeth Truss has been on duty for less than 45 days. The neoliberal mini-budget that she proposed on September 23 turned out to be impossible. Its essence was to reduce taxes to the super-rich, enterprises and provide enormous support to almost everyone against the background of the energy crisis. This is, in principle, the same "helicopter money", and in rare cases they saved the situation. It was assumed that tax cuts would spur purchasing power, consumption would increase, production would come in time for it and the machine would spin. "The problem is that she planned to finance these measures with loans and the expected increase in production," says Rainbow Murray, a professor of political science at Queen Mary University of London, "but the markets reacted instantly and panicked." Inflation has exceeded an unprecedented 10 percent. The pound went into a protracted jump without a parachute. Domestic debt and interest rates on loans have conquered the peaks. "It seems to me that the level of arrogance and blindness of the Prime Minister reached such a level that she really thought that all this would be without consequences," Murray believes. "This economic crisis is just created artificially," says Will Jennings, a political scientist at the University of Southampton. – She even refused to listen to the advice of analytical institutes, such as the Bureau of Budget Responsibility. It got to the point that the IMF and even the heads of state – traditional allies - began to criticize Truss, which is generally rare in international relations. Joe Biden called the course of the British prime minister a "mistake", and the American magazine Atlantic qualified this fact as a "humiliation of Great Britain". Truss, in a panic, sacrificed a rook. On October 14, Finance Minister Kwasi Kwarteng resigned, just to calm the Conservative party, which has already begun calling for its leader to resign. The new Chancellor of the Exchequer, Jeremy Hunt, has already called a press conference on October 17, where he announced the funeral of the mini-budget. New taxes are being introduced – as much as 38 billion pounds, budget bills will be very serious. The markets immediately rebounded and the pound went up. It seemed like it was possible to exhale, but that same evening Truss gave an interview to the BBC, where she said that, of course, she was "very sorry", but was ready to "lead the Conservative party to the next general election." Three days later, she resigned. Who will replace him? The Conservatives will vote next week. At all costs, they need to avoid early general elections, which they will definitely lose at the moment. According to the latest polls, the Labor Party is going into a serious gap. They have 55 percent versus 23 percent for the Tories. And this is not mid term blues at all, but a real chasm that poses an edge question to the conservatives. "A few months ago, the Conservative Party seemed to have full control of the economic situation in the country," says Clemence Furton, professor at the French Institute of Political Sciences, "but now they have simply lost all their credibility." It is logical that the leader of the Labour Party, Keir Starmer, called for organizing and holding a general election immediately. But all this did not happen out of the blue, and not with the arrival of the Trails. "The party has been in power for 12 years," says Rainbow Murray. – They have exhausted themselves, they have no ideas. The same thing happened to Labour in the last years of Tony Blair's rule. Our economy is at a standstill and primarily because of the consequences associated with leaving the European Union. And so it was bad, and after Brexit it got even worse. The level of poverty is off the scale, and the country is shaking from strikes." "All our recent prime ministers have resigned because of Brexit," says Will Jennings. "Cameron lost the referendum. May could not bring the matter to mind, Johnson played with criticism of Brussels, Truss could not stand economic problems – she wanted to create an ultra-liberal "Singapore on the Thames", but the reality turned out to be more complicated." The British press noticed that Truss served in office for less than 45 days, but managed to become prime minister already under two monarchs. In fact, Winston Churchill served under two, and Stanley Baldwin served under three. Even the Conservatives themselves have no idea now who will lead their party. According to polls by the YouGov Institute of Public Opinion, 32 percent of party members are not against the return of Boris Johnson. 23 percent see Rishi Sunak as their leader. Among others, the familiar characters Penny Mordaunt and Ben Wallace appear – they did not have time to forget. The Conservatives simply do not have an undisputed leader now. If they start looking for him, the process may drag on for several months, and in no case should they now allow premature general elections, which will turn into a disaster for the Tories. The chairman of the organizing committee for the elections of the Conservative Party, Graham Brady, commenting on the situation, could not do without English humor: "According to the rules of our party, two candidates should be represented in the elections. Well, or one."

Referendum never ends

Note: this is a machine translation from the original Russian text Scotland wants to return to the issue of independence again. There is already a date – October 19, 2023. Although, it would seem, the referendum on the separation of Scotland was held in 2014 and ended with a disappointing result for supporters of independence: 55 percent against separation, 45 in favor. But the Scots are not giving up. Ayatollah Khamenei said: "The revolution never ends." Kim Il Sung, by the way, too. It's not that they study their works with a pencil in Scotland, but the idea of a referendum before victory is hovering here. Experts, in fact, see two ways out: 1. Independence wins. 2. The public once gets tired of political parties that endlessly promote this idea. After the lost referendum, it was decided to wait until the vote on leaving the EU was held in the UK and then go on the attack again. The fact is that if the majority of Britons voted for Brexit in 2016, then the Scots, with a majority of 62 percent, were just in favor of staying in a United Europe. Their votes were smeared in the general mass, but these figures became another reason to initiate a new referendum on independence. The ruling coalition – the Scottish National Party (SNP) and the Scottish Greens –, which emerged as a result of local elections, considered that their success, plus the Brexit figures, give them, as they say here, a "cast-iron mandate" to hold a new expression of will and have already called it "Indiref2". But this requires the consent of Westminster. The First Minister of Scotland, she is also the head of the SNP, Nicola Sergen, wrote a letter to the then Prime Minister Johnson. "Neither you nor I," it said, "will ever come to a common opinion on Scottish independence. But I expect that a Democrat will find it unacceptable that the people of Scotland are not given the right to choose, given that a clear majority wants this referendum." Johnson answered in his usual manner. They say the referendum took place, but you yourself said that such an opportunity is given once in a generation, so wait for, say, 40 years, and every 8-10 years we will not return to this issue. Liz Truss, who replaced him, confirmed this decision. The claims of the British government to the referendum are mainly reduced to the fact that it did not receive clear and clear concepts: how an independent Scotland is going to solve issues with the currency or, for example, the pension provision of citizens who have worked for the Crown all their lives, how health care and education will be built, the system of combating the pandemic. In addition, if there is a sudden desire – and it will arise – to return to the EU, then the English-Scottish border will be as "rigid" as possible, London warned. It is clear that it will not be possible to approach the referendum directly, without the permission of the British government, so Scotland filed a lawsuit with the Supreme Court of the country. It met on October 11 and 12 to decide whether Scotland could hold its "Indyref2" without government permission. On one side of the scales lay the argument that Holyrood (the castle in Edinburgh, which is considered the seat of the local parliament) nothing stops inviting the people to express their will, while the vote for independence will not be binding. On the other hand, if the Scots vote "yes" in the referendum, that is, Scotland will hypothetically be able to gain independence, it will mean that the unwritten constitution of Britain will need to be amended. It will turn out that the issues that have hitherto been in the exclusive competence of Westminster will have to be given up. Now the Scottish Parliament, created only in 1999, has no special leverage over Westminster. He has at his disposal only the "30th section" of the Scotland Act, which is built on the principle of "everything that is not prohibited is allowed". But Holyrood cannot interfere with the competence of the UK government. Throughout its existence, it has applied the "30th section" 16 times - when issues related to the construction of railways or the reduction of the voting age in local elections. Nicola Sergen said that if the Supreme Court does not allow a new referendum, the coalition government will go the other way. The "30th section" will be forgotten and they will go to the next UK general election in 2024 only under the slogan: "Should Scotland become an independent state"? Thus, the vote will become a "de facto referendum". Approximately in the Catalan style. A representative of Westminster before the hearing in the Supreme Court said: "It would be better for the Scottish and British governments to work on solving joint tasks, rather than be puzzled by the issues of a new referendum." That is, it is clear that the Scottish approach to the issue is not acceptable for London, at least for today. Not only are the contours of a possible future compromise unclear, but even the circumstances under which such a bargain will be possible at all. By the way, the British election expert Professor John Curtis, after analyzing a dozen recent polls, revealed that if you remove the abstainers, then 49 percent are for independence now, and 51 percent are against. The hearing is over and the court has retired for a meeting that may take several weeks. "It is unlikely," says Akash Paun of the analytical group of the government Institute of Public Administration, "that the court will satisfy the claim of the SNP, but those who want Scotland to remain part of the Kingdom should not consider this a final victory." So it's natural. After all, the referendum never ends.

France has enough weapons for five days

Note: this is a machine translation from the original Russian text The arsenals of the seventh army of the world are not designed for war. This was shown by NATO exercises and expert assessments. Five years ago, the French army ranked second in Europe after Russia. Military power was determined by the specialized American Internet portal Global Firepower, which, by the way, took as its slogan a quote from the British philosopher Bertrand Russell: "War does not determine who was right. And the one who lost it." The conclusions of American researchers suggest that even in the 30s France will be among the five world military powers. Now it is the seventh in the global top and is located between South Korea and the UK. The conflict in Ukraine has exposed amazing ulcers. "Yes, we do not supply so many weapons to the conflict zone. Just because we don't have enough ourselves. We cannot remain unarmed." This conclusion was reached by the head of the budget committee on defense of the French Parliament, Francois Cornu-Gentil. "The country has found itself with almost empty arsenals since the beginning of hostilities. What should we send there if we have nothing to supply our own army with?" It is difficult to understand what exactly and how much France is sending to Ukraine. Everything is open in the USA, but here all information on this issue is classified. Emmanuel Macaron announced that France had sent 18 Caesar artillery units with a range of up to 40 kilometers to Ukraine. And for small things – armor, helmets, medical preparations… And according to the calculations of the Secretary of the Defense Commission of the French Senate, Helene Conway-Mouret, the total price of the issue, including humanitarian aid, is 4 billion euros. The problem is that 18 Caesars are a quarter of all long–range guns in France. "Our country, of course, holds a high bar for equipping the land, air and naval forces," said Elie Tentelbaum, director of the Center for the Study of Strategic Issues at the French Institute of International Relations. – But we have been noting since the 90s that our defense power does not meet modern requirements at all. Since the end of the cold war, we have begun to disarm so actively that now we do not even have time to replenish our stocks. As our former Prime Minister Laurent Fabius used to say: "And now we are receiving dividends from the world." In 1991, we had 1,350 tanks. Now it is 220. From 700 aircraft, 250 remained. The defense budget during the Cold War was 4 percent of GDP, and already under Sarkozy it was less than 1 percent. And this is despite the fact that the strength of the French army has been reduced by a third, not four times." At the same time, parliamentarian Francois Cornu-Gentil believes: "France missed the stage when all countries started developing drones. For some reason, neither the Ministry of Defense nor industrialists were interested in this topic. Everyone thought it was some kind of toy, and drones changed the whole physiognomy of the modern battlefield." The former commander-in-chief of NATO forces, Jean-Paul Palameros, a Frenchman, by the way, has always insisted that the Europeans bring their defense budgets to at least 2 percent of their GDP. It didn't pass. Because no one seriously imagined the emergence of global conflicts. Regional – yes, as many as you want. But not to rearm the whole thing because of this. "Of course, we are modernizing our army," says Eli Tentelbaum, "we have replaced one nuclear submarine, the ground forces have received new infantry fighting vehicles under the Scorpion program, the air force has purchased several new Rafale aircraft, but all these are cosmetic operations, nothing more." "In our understanding of the war and in our concept of the armed forces, there has never even been a term of global military operations, we have considered only interstate clashes," said MEP Arnaud Danjan. "The risk of some global conflicts was considered quite remote, although Russia was considered as a possible participant." Then, of course, there was a lot of talk about increasing the defense budget, which ended in nothing. The French Parliament, having taken care of this problem, instructed the relevant committee to prepare a report. The speaker Jean-Louis Thieriot did not hide anything: "In the case of long-term hostilities, we will not last. We will be idle for a few weeks at best, then problems will begin." Last year, two NATO exercises were held, the meaning of which is to find out how much it is possible to resist anyone at all. The first exercise, Warfighter, was organized by the United States and Great Britain to test the combat capability of the ground forces. The second, Polaris 21, was supposed to cheer up aviation and the Navy. The results of Warfighter showed that during the first hypothetical week of clashes, France loses from 800 to 1,000 fighters and all ammunition in general. The analyses of the Polaris 21 exercises, as Jean-Louis Theriot says, are generally terrible: "400 of our sailors die at once. During the first 15 minutes of the clash, two of our frigates sink and two more turn out to be incapacitated. French aviation ceases to exist on the fifth day of the conflict." Conflict. And in France it does not exist, and the French defense industry does not keep up with the regulations for the supply of equipment and ammunition at all. "From ordering, say, a 155 mm projectile to receiving it in the troops, we have to wait a year. The rocket is three years old, the Rafale plane is four years old," says the report by Jean-Louis Thieriot. It is clear, of course, that behind all these terrible stories there is a lobby that wants more, and even better – much more money. But all these reports do not cancel the main thing. People who are responsible for replenishing the budget know one mantra: "We have one button."

Four Jokers of Liz Truss

Note: this is a machine translation from the original Russian text The new Prime Minister of Great Britain announced the composition of the Government. Liz Truss officially became Prime Minister with the Queen's consent on September 6. For the blessing, I had to fly in the morning to Scotland, where Elizabeth II is spending her vacation, and in the afternoon, returning to London, I had to start forming a new government. However, for sure, even before the announcement of the results, the applicants knew who would be "hu". Truss decided to make the structure of her government easier, not in the "presidential" style. That is, ministers will get more initiative and more freedom of action. Consequently, the Downing Street apparatus will be more compact and lightweight, as was Thatcher's. Johnson, for example, preferred to recruit bulky, expensive teams and Routes, even as Foreign Minister, always believed that "there are too many of us here." In any case, her colleagues from the election campaign noted: "Liz wants to do maybe less, but better." "Liz always fights to the end, never rests on her laurels, does not believe that something will fall for nothing from above. She will control everything from above, giving ministers more freedom, let them go about their business. That is, she will try to do away with outdated groupthink," her colleagues from her team believe. Suella Braverman, who served as the country's Attorney General, was appointed Interior Minister. She also put up her candidacy for the post of prime minister, but was defeated in the second round of voting. She is a popular figure on the Tory right wing and a member of the so–called "Spartan" group, which voted three times against Theresa May's Brexit option, which led to her resignation and the victory of the tougher option proposed by Johnson. One of the tasks assigned to the Minister is, first of all, to end illegal migration from across the English Channel. It should be recalled here that Britain has accepted and is trying to implement the idea of sending all migrants to Rwanda before their case is considered, and they agree there. This hard line was invented by Braverman's predecessor as minister, and Truss hopes that Britain will not turn away from it, despite vigorous opposition. Braverman took a tough position on the issue of teaching schoolchildren the theory of the possibility of gender reassignment, saying that in junior and middle grades it is generally unacceptable, and what to tell the elders – it should be decided by the Ministry of Education. During the referendum on leaving the EU, Truss voted "against". And then she not only defected to the camp of the Brexiteers, but also advocated the abolition of the Protocol on Northern Ireland. It assumed an accelerated procedure for customs inspection of goods between the EU, which includes the Republic of Ireland, and Northerners entering the United Kingdom. Now Northern Irish customs officers will be able to determine for themselves whether to apply British duties or not. Here the Prime Minister and the new Interior Minister have complete unanimity. James Cleverley has been appointed Minister of Foreign Affairs. He worked at the Foreign Ministry for two years with Truss, until Johnson transferred him to the Ministry of Education. For the last few months, before the almost universal resignation of ministers, he worked as Minister for European Affairs and his competence included issues of Ukraine. Therefore, Truss felt that this experience would be more useful in the near future than ever. But not only for this. Cleverley led the Conservative Party itself for a while. And Truss expects that her colleague will help her prepare for the general elections, which will be held in early 2025. This is a serious task, since Truss won the party elections, relying on the right wing of the right. And universal is a completely different matter. All Britons will choose there and the Labour Party will have to resist, not just their party colleagues. Quasi Kvarteng went for a promotion. He became the Minister of Finance, and in the Ministry of Finance he worked as a business secretary. Here, for the first time in many years, there is a complete coincidence of ideas between the Prime Minister and the Chancellor of the Treasury. He is a convinced marketeer. Just like Truss, he is skeptical about the idea of imposing unexpected fees on energy firms instead of hard ones, and also believes that tax cuts for everyone will stimulate the economy and, as a result, increase living standards. The defense will be led by Ben Wallace. Actually, he remains at his post. He is very popular in the party, even to the point that he was considered the favorite in the fight for the prime minister's seat. But almost immediately he refused this mission. In principle, if the need arises, he can also be appointed deputy Truss, since Wallace is one of the most powerful ministers in the cabinet. He is known for taking a very tough anti-Russian position, as, indeed, Liz Truss. Both before and after February 24, Wallace pushed the idea of arming Ukraine, and even together with Truss, they had a conflict with the then Finance Minister Sunak. They asked to increase defense spending by 3 percent. During Truss' first speech as prime minister, rain poured down. Unexpected for London. But she was not at a loss: "Britain will withstand any storm. It will build, work and grow."

Far-right may take power in Italy

Note: this is a machine translation from the original Russian text Early parliamentary elections in Italy are scheduled for September 25. After Mario Draghi's resignation, the chair of the Chairman of the Council of Ministers remains vacant and will be occupied – this is how the system works – by the head of the party who wins the parliamentary elections. Now, at the very beginning of the race, the leader, judging by the polls, is the party "Brothers of Italy". And their sister, George Meloni, will lead them to victory. "I am a woman, a mother, an Italian and a Christian, and no one will take that away from me," she repeats such a political mantra at her rallies. It would seem that if 70 offices have been replaced in Italy over the past 75 years, then it would be possible to skip this event. But, firstly, Meloni heads a party of the extreme right, which is considered post-fascist, and secondly, the Italian government has never been led by a woman. So about the post-fascists. They are everywhere in Europe. In France, their leader has already been in the second round of presidential elections for the umpteenth time, in Austria they have already been in power, in Greece, Golden Dawn felt comfortable in parliament. And nothing, only the name and an unpleasant train remained. Therefore, like Marine Le Pen at the time, Meloni began by ridding her party of the stereotypical image of people in breeches and boots. It is possible to call the "Brothers of Italy" fascists in principle, but even the European press prefers the term post-fascists. This movement was born on the ruins of the "Italian Social Movement", which in turn was created by Mussolini's followers. In addition, the movement's coat of arms – a torch of the colors of the Italian flag – resembles fascist logos. However, almost all of the extreme right in Europe have such. There is also a party newspaper that allows itself ambiguous statements. There are also fans of the Duce. But no one goes with torches. The Brothers are the only party not included in Draghi's coalition and have been in opposition since February 2021. Therefore, "whatever happened in Italy, any troubles and discontent, everything went to the benefit of the Brothers of Italy," says Marc Lazard, a historian and analyst at the French Institute of Syans Po. "That is why they have achieved significant success in local elections and now it is one of the leading political forces in the country." And that's true. Meloni managed to surround herself with highly respected politicians from the right flank, emphasized her roots – from the proletariat – plus a serious attitude to business, and she is also a strong-willed woman. The whole mix worked perfectly. The "brothers" won more in the local elections than they expected, and they counted on the southern regions. They also dealt a serious blow to the north, where the "League of the North" traditionally dominates, and took Palermo, which has been permanently left for 40 years, with battles. The sister herself "was an activist of the post-fascist party in her youth," says Piero Ignazzi, an honorary professor at the University of Bologna and a specialist in the right–wing movement. – But she built her program in such a way that there was a place for these ideas in it. Moreover, she managed to link them with conservative and neoliberal elements, for example, freedom of entrepreneurship or the ability to dismiss employees without conditions that are enslaving for the enterprise."  Meloni does not hide the coincidence of views with Viktor Orban, the Spanish nationalist movement Vox or the French National Association. She is even willingly compared to Marion Marechal-Le Pen, the granddaughter of the founder of the party. Relations with the American right are also established. That is, the basis of the program is economic liberalism, social conservatism, natalist policy: encouraging fertility, anti–Muslim, anti-Gypsy, anti-immigration orientation of domestic policy. Support for traditional right-wing values. The party wants to position itself as a guarantor of the traditions and national identity of Italians. They promise to open a free nursery, return a family allowance of 400 euros, not recognize same-sex marriages and the rights of the LGBT community. And the main thing is to finally stop letting Libyans into the country. This is a separate item. The "Brothers of Italy" have left the positions of Eurosceptics and do not demand an exit from the European Union and the eurozone, claiming that they are more inclined to the principle of "Europe of Nations". Of course, Draghi once bargained 200 billion euros from the European Union to restart Italy's economic engine. This manna is needed in order to avoid a recession, which can lead to an increase in inflation and in order to overcome the consequences of strong energy dependence on Russia. But Draghi knocked out this money for certain reforms. The European diplomat who handled this dossier believes that "if 70 percent of the promised reforms are not implemented by the end of 2022, Italy will lose tens of billions of euros." "Besides, it is not clear how things will be with the supply of weapons to Ukraine," continues French political analyst Marc Lazar. "The Brothers of Italy fully accepted the position of the West and condemned Russia. Berlusconi had a special relationship with Putin, Draghi nevertheless decided to participate in the supply of weapons. How will the "Brothers" behave? And the main thing is a right–centrist coalition." Truly. Italy's electoral system is built in such a way that the country can be governed by a coalition. "Now we are talking about a right-centrist coalition," says Mark Lazar, "these are Forza Italia, the Northern League and the Brothers of Italy. Together, they have the most chances to bypass the Democratic Party and the 5-Star Movement, which will undoubtedly advance independently. The current right–wing coalition is a powerful electoral machine. But their differences will begin as soon as it comes to the specific leadership of the country." Meloni and her entourage believe that the elections are practically in their pocket. Now they have 24 percent, the Democrats have 22, the League is in third place with 14 percent. The "brothers" are counting on the disillusioned followers of Berlusconi and Salvini to join them, and a coalition with two right-wing parties is obvious, especially since Forza and the League have been finding a common language for a long time, and a strong new leader will only benefit them. At the same time, we recall that Meloni was not included in the coalition of the Draghi government. And there was already another nationalist party, Matteo Salvini's League. Will there be a "response" now? There are really strained competitive relations between them and so far neither one nor the other is ready for compromises. But now, specifically at the beginning of August, the advantage in the Meloni–Salvini battle is clearly on Meloni's side. The headlines of Italian newspapers are something like this: "A patriot who fights every day for what she believes in...". There is also an element of luck. The campaign turns out to be short – 2 months, and even then half will have to be on vacation, so it will be difficult to "smear public opinion in time" and then change it.