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October 01, 2019

AfD now going for the climate change deniers

We think this is a potentially important story. The AfD has discovered the electric car as its next big policy area. We are not surprised. Germany is unprepared for the shifts in policy needed to meet its climate targets, and there are millions of people in the country whose jobs depend on the fuel-powered car, directly or indirectly. 

We think this could prove to be a more fruitful policy area for the AfD than either the euro or immigration, because climate change directly threatens the livelihoods of millions of German workers. This is a cultural war, with the Greens and the AfD occupying opposite ends of the spectrum. Your average German is very defensive about diesel technology, and sceptical about the benefits of electric cars. We have previously noted a widespread, but nowadays outdated, statistic that is frequent cited in Germany: that the electric car had a higher carbon footprint than the diesel car. 

The AfD is in a better position to lead a very aggressive pro-diesel strategy than other parties, except the FDP, as they all at least pretend to agree with the climate targets. But the FDP is not well equipped to capture working-class voters worried about technological change. 

As a start of its campaign the AfD has produced three youtube film documentaries criticising what it considers excessively ambitious climate targets. The first of the documents concerns the diesel car - or, as the AfD put it, the murder of diesel. The party’s official strategy on climate change is not to deny it outright, but to deny its causes, especially the role of CO2 emissions. 

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October 01, 2019

Tancos - a game changer in Portugal's election?

Next Sunday the Portuguese will vote to elect their next government. So far all polls showed Antonio Costa and his Socialist party winning, and the only question was by what margin. But events intrude, and the ongoing Tancos case might well be a game changer. 

A poll of polls shows the Socialists already trending downwards from 40% at the end of August to 38% corrently. The latest poll by Pythagorean even has the Socialists down to 35.3%. The conservative PSD, on the other hand, is rising in the polls and was at 28.9% according to Jornal de Negocios.

What is Tancos about? At the end of June 2017, thieves broke into a military arms depot in Tancos, in central Portugal, where security cameras had been out of order for two years. They got away with 44 anti-tank rockets, 150 hand grenades, 18 tear gas grenades, and 1,450 nine-millimetre cartridges worth an estimated €35,000.

The Socialist defence minister Jose Alberto Azeredo Lopes had to resign in October, and is now to stand trial over his role in the alleged cover-up of the arms theft. In total there will be 23 defendants, including the nine alleged perpetrators who face charges of arms and narcotics trafficking, organised crime and terrorism. 

Security is a natural stronghold of the conservative party, and the fact that the theft happened under the nose of a socialist government makes this stand out even more.

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