Jonathan Fryer

Writer, Lecturer, Broadcaster and Liberal Democrat Politician

Posts Tagged ‘LI’

Liberal International Congress in Cairo

Posted by jonathanfryer on Saturday, 31st October, 2009

Democratic Front PartyThe core theme of the 56th Liberal International Congress in Cairo is education and its relationship to democracy, which has enabled participants from around the world to cover a wide range of issues from communications technology to religion. This is the first time that the Congress has  been held in Egypt, which is a tribute to our hosts, the Democratic Front Party (DFP), which was only formally launched two years ago. When I first discussed the possibility of a new, genuinely liberal, modern party in Egypt with Dr Osama Al Ghazali Harb a few years ago, it was far from certain that it would be allowed to exist (new parties need permission from a commission which is effectively run by the ruling party of President Hosni Mubarak, the National Democratic Party or NDP). Moreover, at the time another small liberal party, El Ghad, had been seriously undermined by the fact that its leader and former presidential candidate, Ayman Nour, was in prison. Perhaps partly because of pressure from Washington, however, the Egyptian government has allowed a certain amount of democratic openness, though within definite strict limits. And the harrassment of some opposition groups continues.

Anyway, the DFP was set up and has managed to attract some high profile members and supporters. Despite an attempt by somebody with a hidden agenda wrongfully to smear the Democratic Front as anti-semitic on the eve of the Congress, the party was welcomed into full membership of Liberal International yesterday. El Ghad (already a member) is also represented here. Ayman Nour, who was released from prison earlier this year, put in an appearance yesterday, though he could not say anything, as he is forbidden by the terms of his release from participating in the political process. Of course, many of the concepts of political liberalism (especially social liberalism) are unknown to the mass of the Egyptian population. But as the country develops and the political landscape changes in the post-Mubarak era (not even he is immortal), it will be fascionating to monitor what evolves.

Link (in Arabic): www.democraticfront.org

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Germany’s Clear Election Result

Posted by jonathanfryer on Sunday, 27th September, 2009

Angela Merkel 2I was at the German Embassy in London this evening for an election night (or maybe one should more accurately say ‘election afternoon’) party; with typical Teutonic efficiency, the basic results were out in a matter of minutes after polls closed at 5pm London time. There had earlier been a sweepstake among guests about what the result would be; in my own prediction, I got the Conservative  Christian Democrat (CDU) and Liberal (FDP) tallies pretty close, but like most people I under-estimated the scale of the Socialist Social Democrats’ (SPD) collapse. The ‘grand coalition’ of CDU-SPD that has run Europe’s largest ecoomy for the past four years will cease and in its place a much more traditional Conservative-Liberal (CDU/CSU-FDP) formation will take over.

Guido WesterwelleFrau Merkel had every reason to be beaming on the instantaneous TV election analysis programme German leaders are obliged to take part in. But this was also very much Guido Westerwelle and the Liberals’ day. Only a few years ago, the FDP seemed to be on its last legs and it was not represented in the European Parliament for a while, as it failed to scale the five-per cent German election threshold. But its support has surged over the past 12 months and the party registered nearly 15 per cent today. Even though the FDP is well to the right of the British Liberal Democrats on economic matters (British newspaper journalists almost invariably refer to it as the ‘pro-business’ party), this is a good result for the European and global Liberal families, the ELDR and the Liberal International (LI), as well as yet another headache for Gordon Brown and the Socialist (‘Sad’) group to which the Labour Party belongs in Europe.

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