All’s Well That Ends Well or The Art of Talking Much and Saying Little

13 12 2009

A photo essay of a political show.  Photographs: Matthias Wurz

Austria’s Social democratic Chancellor Werner Faymann felt the need to celebrate on Dec 2, 2009 at the imperial Hofburg. Österreich.Gemeinsam (Austria Together) was the title of  Faymann’s speech, the occasion was the first anniversary of the current Austrian government, led by Faymann since December 2008 at the time of economic crisis. The message was simple: all is well at home. Faymann’s skill as public speaker was impressive, evidently inspired by U.S. President Barack Obama in its delivery. But Faymann’s speech – unlike those of the current U.S. President – had only one fault: Staging a political show that demonstrates the art of talking a lot but saying very little.

All’s Well That Ends Well is one of William Shakespeare characteristic plays, first published in 1623; its title refers to a proverb whatever the troubles, as long as the outcome is a good one. It seems that the Austrian Social democrats have adapted the theme of Shakespeare’s comedy, signalling that the international economic and financial crises are well in hand. Business as usual, made in Austria.
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New Labour on its Way Out?

28 05 2008

REUTERS/Toby MelvillePhoto: The new London Mayor, Boris Johnson (right) with Tory Party Leader David Cameron (left)

When the polls closed for the Local and London Authority elections in the UK at 10.00 pm GMT on May 1, it was clear that the governing Labour Party of Prime Minister Gordon Brown would suffer a heavy defeat. David Cameron was radiant: His Conservative Tory opposition would soon yet celebrate yet another success at the ballot box.

Soon it was confirmed: Labour had secured only 24% of the electorate of the 137 Local Authorities and reached only third place after the Liberal Democrats (25%), while the Tories clearly led with 40%.

But none of the parties was prepared for what unfolded in the early hours, when the votes were still counted for London Mayor and the London Assembly. The controversial Conservative candidate Boris Johnson was chosen as London’s new mayor, succeeding after two terms the city’s first-ever elected mayor, Ken Livingstone.

Although the race was close, it was expected that Livingstone – former left-wing Labour rebel who was elected in 2000 as an independent, and readmitted to the Labour Party in January 2004 – would still get his third term in office. But with only 29.5% of the popular vote, he dropped well behind his Conservative challenger who carried the victory with 33.5%.

While David Cameron, Tory Party Leader since 2005, had seen the signs of change coming in national politics as soon as May 2010 – the latest possible time for the Prime Minister to call general elections – Gordon Brown admitted that the result had indeed been worse than he expected.

“Today’s polls suggest, though, that Brown may be in fact in the same position as John Major in 1995 – headed for defeat,” concluded Nick Robinson, the Political Editor of the BBC, in his Newslog.

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