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Sunday, March 25, 2007

Europe: All Change ?

This summer sees major changes in the governments of the United Kingdom and France.

In the United Kingdom, Gordon Brown is expected by many to be elected the next leader of the Labour Party replacing Blair and to become Prime Minister, before the Labour Party Conference in September 2007. The new leader is likely to be declared on June 25.

His father, John, was a Church of Scotland minister.

Speaking at a Fabian Society conference on 'The Next Decade' in January 2007. enabled Brown to signal the most significant priorities for his agenda as Prime Minister - stressing education, international development, narrowing inequalities (to pursue 'equality of opportunity and fairness of outcome'), renewing Britishness, restoring trust in politics, and winning hearts and minds in the war on terror as key priorities.

What changes to the Blair agenda there will be is anybody`s guess. In the short run, probably very little as Brown will be Prime Minister without having first secured a General Election victory.


More interestingly, are the forthcoming changes in France. Chirac retires as President of France before the summer.

The front runner to succeed is Nicolas Sarkozy of the centre Right. Sarkozy, a Roman Catholic, has caused controversy because of his views on the relationship between religion and state. In 2004, he published a book called La République, les religions, l'espérance (“The Republic, Religions, and Hope”), in which he argued that the young should not be brought up solely on secular or republican values. He also advocated reducing the separation of church and state, including the government subsidy of mosques in order to encourage Islamic integration into French society. He flatly opposes financing of religious institutions with funds from outside France.

The first round of voting will take place on Sunday, 22 April 2007, with a second round, if no candidate wins 50% or more of the vote, on Sunday, 6 May 2007.

For more about Sarkozy and his religious views, see In a Very Secular France, Nicolas Sarkozy Is Breaking a Taboo at Sandro Magister: http://chiesa.espresso.repubblica.it/dettaglio.jsp?id=55661&eng=y