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MP Expenses Scandal in the UK

18. August 2009 – 08:44 by Interns at 21c

Since April 2009, the government attempts to reform the MPs Expenses witch illustrates a problem inherent in democracy: the salaries of officials. Indeed the expenses of MPs finally became public after 3 years of blocking the House of Commons.

After such of information discloses, the court ruled that MPs demanded too much money to meet their personal needs (entertainment, passion, housing…).

No wonder members want to avoid the claims of their expenditures, with are on average £ 118.000 per year, and the government imposes cuts on the wages in the public sector. For example MPs claim their subscription to Sky TV and Television licensing services, consulting fees and services fess, insurance and sale on their property.

How are MPs supposed to reassure the thousands of working poor who have lost their personal property, such as their home because they could not meet the higher repayments of credits? In fact, we can see that these low-paid workers are seeking second jobs in order to pay their bills, but they take particular risks with regard to their health.

So that the public expressed, we can see that there are many blog such as MySpace, Facebook and Google. However there are not particular many forums.

To illustrate this, we took the example of a forum* witch raises the question of MPs Expenses. On this forum, users can express their views freely on the fact that they are for or against this system. For instance, people write their stories to illustrate their argument with the situation.In contrast, others believe that spending money and requests from to payers is unfair, since the salaries of MPs are already very high.

We took also an example on Facebook, where we can see that groups are freely formed, without influences on this subject. Here we have the case of a petition on the MPs Expenses so people, young and old, can speak freely and say whether they support or not the system.

During the last weeks, the government has been upset because of the spending scandal. This change can be illustrated by the post article on BBC**, and we can see that the Prime Minister and David Cameron have clashed over government spending. Code of conduct will be imposes on all members new rules on have to better regulate government spending and avoid committing injustices. Great Britain can not continue on the path, this level of spending and taxation but must react very quickly.

by French Interns at 21c

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EU Elections 2009

18. August 2009 – 08:43 by Interns at 21c

The 2009 European elections were held from the 4th to 7th June, in the 27 Member States of the European Union. These elections are designed to elect the new Parliament by which over 500 million Europeans are represented. During these European elections, political campaigns were hardly recognized in traditional Medias such as print and television but have beaten the record on Internet. In recent years, the European Parliament started a process of raising political awareness amongst young people and has been encouraging them to vote by using Web 2.0 media. However, the initiative is in its origins and may take several years before we see the change.

In Britain, the defeat of the Labour Party was expected. But its magnitude was surprising. In fact, the British National Party (BNP), from British extreme right, will for the first time enter the Parliament after winning two seats in the European elections. The success of the BNP is a new blow for Gordon Brown, increasingly challenged within his own party. The Labour Party, weakened by the MP expenses scandal, was relegated to third place with only 15.3% of the vote, behind the anti-UKIP (United Kingdom Independence Party) with 17.4%, and the Conservative Party, which wins the elections (28.6%).

This tendency for the extreme right is reflected in the resurgence of distrust in politics that has been prompted by the scandal of excessive repayment of personal expenses of many MPs and some ministers.  The enemies of British Nationalism continue to parrot the claim that the BNP is a “racist party.” This claim is most often repeated because the BNP unashamedly addresses itself to the issues and concerns of the indigenous British population, and because it seeks to ensure that British people remain the majority population in this country.

Opponents point to the fact that the BNP has an all-white membership policy, and that they address issues concerning only white people while the UK is a multiethnic place. The European elections are not without consequences on the future of the United-Kingdom. Indeed, the future relations between Europe and the Great-Britain can be serious damaged. Therefore, we think that the EU parliament should continue with their online campaigning to increase turnout.

by French Interns at 21c

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Political Participation Through Social Media

29. June 2009 – 11:30 by Interns at 21c

While many traditional newspaper publishing companies are loosing their clients to the internet, social websites such as Facebook or MySpace are capturing new members every second.  It appears that such websites are becoming the most effective means of distributing private or public information. 

 Indeed, citizens can express their political opinions by being supporters of different political parties or presidents on Facebook pages. As for instance, the pages of the French president Nicolas Sarkozy have 95 724 members. His pages provide access to all relevant news from the government. Members can read about the laws and re-forms that the government intends to implement, speeches that have been delivered on different occasions or official visits made by the president. By leaving positive or negative comments, people can create pressure on the decision makers to revisit certain legislation proposals or they can influence political views of other readers.

 This system permits people to identify with different political believes. There are however a few drawbacks. Some individuals do not want to join these groups on principle of discretion as their membership is visible to all. Some people think that joining a specific political group could lead to a conflict at their workplace or community.

 If we take the example of Barak Obama, who built his political campaign on the Internet by using means such as Facebook and YouTube, we can see how the new technology can directly change voters participation and election turnouts. Through internet, Obama established connection with otherwise inaccessible groups and become the most popular president in the world.

On his Facebook pages, we can find videos of his speeches, his agenda, projects he is planning to organize and various newspaper articles about his presidency. Moreover, his pages include some personal photos. This particularity made Barack Obama known as the “human” or “family” president.

 The power of social networking is even greater in France where people are known for their political activity. There are thousands of groups and blogs discussing, opposing or supporting the French laws. We take an example of one group against the Law “DARCOS” created and named after the minister of education in December 2008. The group has already 21 664 members with a total of 541 comments. Law Darcos plans to re-form the French high school diploma (Baccalaureate). Prepared in four years at present, the Minister plans to reduce this time to one year. The Facebook group represent the discontent students and the many political slaps that France has suffered this year.

 The Internet opened a new wave of political participation reaching more people than ever before.  Youngsters use groups on social networking websites to read and comment on certain laws but also to organize public gatherings and protests. This social networking trend may lead to a greater political transparency and public inclusion. As a result, one may wonder if Facebook and blogs are good ways to etablish sustainable relationship between the government and citizens. That is a question that only time can answer.

by Emmanuelle Cloarec and Charlene Bouiller

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Use of Social Media – French Perspective

29. June 2009 – 11:17 by Interns at 21c

Replacing the old means of communication, internet has allowed people to stay in touch for a fraction of the cost and without any time delay. E-mail, social websites, forums, blogs and various chats facilitate an accessible and interactive conversation between individuals of any age. However, if we were to select the one champion of modern social communication, it would have to be Facebook, or at least in France…

 In France, Facebook is mainly used by the 15-25 year olds. It is a social network that helps to find lost classmates, consolidates existing friendships, helps with day to day interactions, allows exchanging photos and ideas, provides place for sharing information and allows people to organize events. In France, we consider Facebook to be the “Rende-Vouz du Soir”.  After class, we come home to our computer and chat about the passed school day and share opinions and problems or discuss our homework. 

Moreover, the boundless evolution of Facebook allows us to express what we feel by intergrading into certain groups. This helps us to distinguish ourselves from others. Facebook is a great way to eliminate the constant influence of media. It permits us to express our ideas and our personality in a more liberal way.

 As an example, we can cite a support group called “1 membre dans ce group = 1 pour la recherché contre le Sida”.  This group, created on the 17th of January 2009, is reserved for people interested in the research of AIDS. By joining this group, 1 euro is donated by the Facebook Company to the SIDA Foundation.  This group also educates people about the disease, current treatments and provides space for posting comments and reactions. This group has currently 645 607 members

 The Group “Freedom for Ingrid Betancourt” created in May 2007 brought together 22,515 members and raised a total of 1 743 comments. Along with other associations and blogs, this group has put pressure on the French government to accelerate the process of Ingrid Betancourt liberation who was retained by the FARC in Colombia for 7 years.  Thanks to the growing number of adherents, Ingrid Betancourt was freed on 2 July 2008.


by Charlene Boullier and Emmanuelle Cloarec