Greek debt talks hit stalemate; Old politics and a new generation; Why Delhi’s common man won

1 Greek debt talks hit stalemate (San Francisco Chronicle) Talks between Greece and its creditors in the 19-country eurozone broke down Thursday without agreement or even a plan of action on how to move forward on the country’s debts and bailout. Following an emergency meeting of the eurogroup in Brussels, the two sides failed to even issue a statement, a sign that a compromise deal over Greece’s debts at next Monday’s follow-up meeting will be a struggle.

Europe has been embroiled in another Greek crisis following the election of the radical-left Syriza government last month. The new government was elected on a mandate to drastically reduce the burden of the country’s bailout and the associated budget austerity measures, which it blames in large part for the country’s economic woes.

Greece’s finance minister, Yanis Varoufakis, laid out the hope that progress could be made at Monday’s meeting. Popular support for a change of course is strong in Greece, with thousands taking to the streets across the country Wednesday to give their backing to the government.

Despite the divisions, the prevailing view in the markets is that some sort of compromise deal will be thrashed out in time for Greece to avoid defaulting on its debts and leaving the euro. Still, markets have been volatile over the past two weeks amid the uncertainty. The higher rate Greece had to pay Wednesday — 2.5 percent against 2.15 percent last time — indicates investors are more worried about Greece not repaying its debts.

2 Old politics and a young generation (Suzanne Moore in The Guardian) As UK’s two-party system shatters, we ought to be seeing more individuality, not less, but the opposite is happening. Who can blame the young for their lack of interest? The mythical youth vote cannot be Snapchatted into existence. An interest in party politics already marks you out as prematurely aged.

Coming up to an election, though, we are suddenly to be addressed by gender and generation. Where do they all live? As they can’t afford to buy anywhere, because rents are so high; as they have been hammered by tuition fees and their wages have declined significantly compared with everyone else’s, a lot of them actually live with their parents. The generational conflict is about towels left on the bathroom floor, not about tribes of jobseekers declaring all-out war on the baby-boomers for stealing their future.

Yet they are patronised at every turn. I read that they are a generation that cares deeply “about a whole range of issues”. What does this mean? Some are upset that, apart from rioting over trainers, they have not formed a revolutionary vanguard as they were too busy sexting. Half of 18- to 24-year-olds did not bother to vote at the last election. This is bad for Labour and apparently bad for democracy itself, as voting is a habit that has to be acquired young.

I don’t blame them for their lack of engagement. If you give people real alternatives, you get new levels of youth engagement. Look at Scotland. But there are much larger forces, and when people are asked bigger questions, they do engage – as in Greece. Nonetheless, the fact remains that there are a lot more older people than younger: over 11 million over-65s, to just under 6 million 18- to 24-year-olds.

This may well be a country for old people, with old politics to match. But that’s crumbling. To make it youthful we don’t need just the young. We need to play with something new.

3 Why Delhi’s common man won (Syed Nazakat in Khaleej Times/The Christian Science Monitor) He’s known as India’s corruption buster. And now Arvind Kejriwal, a youthful-looking former tax inspector and winner of Asia’s equivalent of the Nobel Prize, has pulled off a stunning near-sweep in New Delhi’s local elections.

The Aam Aadmi, or “Common Man,” party won 67 of 70 seats in New Delhi, the largest single victory ever in India’s capital. The party’s victory also marks the first major loss for the nationalist BJP party since its own sweep of India last spring, which brought Prime Minister Narendra Modi to power.

The Common Man party’s popular majority of 54 per cent shows that Kejriwal’s support appears to transcend class and religious categories, though whether he can transcend Delhi politics and exercise power outside the capital remains unclear. Tuesday’s election marked the first time that Congress, the vulnerable party associated with the liberation movement of Mohandas Gandhi, failed to win a single seat in Delhi.

The success of the Common Man party stems from its sustained campaign against corruption combined with a dedicated army of volunteers. Analysts say Kejriwal also benefited from the perceived arrogance or overconfidence of the BJP, with Modi often deriding Kejriwal as no match for his own persona and political intelligence.

Kejriwal entered politics in 2012 and championed transparency and anti-corruption. He launched a party that brought together activists, youth, and poor people, and his anti-graft ideas caused a stir nationwide. His party’s symbol is a broom, a reference to its origins as an anti-graft campaign group.


About joesnewspicks

This blog captures interesting news items from around the world for those strained by information overload and yet need to stay updated on global events of significance. The news items displayed are not in order of merit. (The blog takes a weekly off — normally on Sundays — and does not appear when I am on vacation or busy.) I am a journalist for nearly three decades.
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