How to get tech right in Europe?

As our societies navigate challenging times and undergo widespread digital transformation, fostering growth in our homegrown tech businesses has never been more critical to achieving the wider goals of the European project.

Via EUTA. Kristin Skogen Lund, president, European Tech Alliance; CEO, Schibsted

The European Tech Alliance (EUTA) represents leading tech companies born and bred in Europe. We believe that with the right conditions, EU tech companies can enhance Europe’s resilience, boost our technological autonomy, protect and empower consumers, and promote European values such as transparency, the rule of law and innovation to the rest of the world.

The European Commission’s ambitious targets for 2030 in the Digital Decade program represent a vision for a sustainable and more prosperous digital future. However, more is needed if we are to achieve our goals.

Europe must boost its tech competitiveness over the next five years. To unlock European tech leadership both at home and beyond, we need to have an ambitious EU tech strategy to overcome growth obstacles, to make a political commitment to clear, targeted and risk-based rules, and to pursue consistent enforcement to match the globalized market we are in.

An EU strategy for European tech

We need a strategy for European tech that empowers digital companies to grow and use new innovation tools to deliver the best services and products, including personalized experiences, to their users. European tech companies are valuable assets for Europe. They deserve to be nurtured and supported.

Europe must boost its tech competitiveness over the next five years.

In practice, this could take on several forms. For instance, we need to unlock the power of data as a key lever for innovation while respecting consumer privacy. Privacy-enhancing technologies and pseudonymization should be further promoted by lawmakers and regulators to empower European companies to use data, grow and remain competitive.

A European strategy for talent to enhance European companies’ attractiveness could also be pursued. Developers should be pushing the limits of innovation, using their imaginations to improve the services and products from European companies, rather than focusing their unique talents on compliance tasks.

Lastly, EU tech companies should have a seat at the table when proposed rules affect their ability to invest in Europe and to provide good services, products and experiences. Bringing in expertise from the ground up would facilitate the growth of European champions at global, national and regional level.

Smart rules for a stronger Europe

The digital world is a fully-regulated sector with a wide range of new and updated rules. It is essential to give these rules time to play out before assessing their efficiency and impact on EU tech companies.

For instance, the EU’s consumer protection framework was recently updated with the ‘Omnibus Directive’. These new rules started applying from May 2022 onward only, yet they were up for another partial revision less than a year later. Businesses need time to put rules into practice, and lawmakers need time to analyze their effects in the real world, before amending the rulebook once again.

European, national and regional measures should complement each other, not clash or duplicate efforts. The ink of the Digital Services Act (DSA) was not even dry when some EU countries added extra layers of regulation at national level, such as the French law for online influencers and the proposed bill to secure and regulate the digital space. There must be a strong focus on avoiding national fragmentation where EU laws exist. Otherwise we are moving further away from a truly single market that is the cornerstone of European competitiveness.      

Where EU rules are needed, lawmakers should focus on concrete problems and be mindful of different tech business models, for example, retailers vs. marketplaces; new vs. second-hand goods, streaming vs. social media. Rules should address problems with specific business models instead of a one-size-fits-all approach or dictating specific product designs. Any proposed solution should also be proportionate to the problem identified.

Better enforcement for fairer competition

One of the big problems we face in Europe is ensuring a level playing field for all businesses, to achieve fair competition. The EU has enshrined these values in the Digital Markets Act (DMA). We must not lose sight of this ambition as we turn to the all-important task of enforcement of the DMA.

European, national and regional measures should complement each other, not clash or duplicate efforts.

Better cooperation should be encouraged between regulatory authorities at national level (for example, consumer, competition and data protection) but also among European countries and with the EU to ensure coherent application.

Now that the European Commission takes on the new role of rule enforcer, it’s of paramount importance to place a strong focus on independence, separate from political interests. This will ensure a robust and impartial enforcement mechanism that upholds the integrity of the regulatory framework.

What’s next?

European tech companies in the EUTA believe the EU can take two crucial steps for our competitiveness, so we can continue to invest in Europe’s technological innovation and European consumers.

First, the EU digital single market is incomplete, we need to avoid 27 different interpretations of the same EU rules. A strong harmonization push is needed for EU companies to grow faster across the Continent.

Second, we look toward the EU, national governments and authorities to bring economic competitiveness and innovation to the core of regulation, and then to enforce these rules fairly and equally.

EUTA members are companies born and bred in Europe. The EU is a crucial market and we are deeply committed to European citizens and European values. With our EUTA manifesto, we propose a vision so Europe can succeed, and our own European champions can grow and become global leaders.

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To protect our rights, the AI Act must include rule of law safeguards

By Eva Simon, Advocacy Lead for Tech & Rights, and Jonathan Day, Communications Manager, Civil Liberties Union For Europe

The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not represent in any way the editorial position of Euronews.

AI is a part of everyday life in countless ways, and how we choose to regulate it will shape our societies. EU lawmakers must use this opportunity to craft a law that harnesses the opportunities without undermining the protection of our rights or the rule of law, Eva Simon and Jonathan Day write.


The EU’s Artificial Intelligence Act — the world’s first comprehensive legal framework for AI — is in the final stages of negotiations before becoming law. 

Now, as the last details are being agreed, European lawmakers must seize the opportunity to safeguard human rights and firmly regulate the use of artificial intelligence.

Crucially, however, the debate around the AI Act has given insufficient attention to a key feature: the act must establish a clearly defined link between artificial intelligence and the rule of law. 

While the inclusion of human rights safeguards in the act has been discussed extensively, establishing a link to the rule of law is equally important. 

Democracy, human rights, and the rule of law are interconnected but still individual concepts that are dependent on each other and cannot be separated without inflicting damage to society.

An opportunity to strengthen the rule of law in Europe

The principle of the rule of law is fundamental to the EU. It is a precondition for the realisation of other fundamental values and for the enjoyment of human rights.

Notoriously hard to define, the rule of law nevertheless encompasses a set of values that are indispensable to a democratic society: a transparent and pluralistic lawmaking process; the separation of powers and checks and balances; independent, impartial courts and the ability to access them; and non-discrimination and equality before the law.

Given AI’s increasing integration into both the private and public sectors, we need robust safeguards to protect the very foundation our Union stands on: the misuse of AI systems poses a significant threat to the rule of law and democracy. 

In member states where these are teetering, regulatory loopholes could be exploited to weaken democratic institutions and processes and the rule of law. 

The AI Act is an opportunity to create a robust, secure regulatory environment founded upon fundamental rights — and rule of law-based standards and safeguards.

Proper oversight for AI used in justice systems

Central to these safeguards is the inclusion of mandatory fundamental rights impact assessments. 

They are included in the European Parliament’s version of the AI Act, and it is imperative that they make it into the final text of the act. 

These fundamental rights impact assessments are vital to ensure that AI technologies and their deployment uphold the principles of justice, accountability, and fairness. 

But going beyond, rule of law standards should be added to the impact assessments, with a structured framework to evaluate the potential risks, biases, and unintended consequences of AI deployment. 

Beyond the mere identification of potential risks, they can encompass mitigation strategies, periodic reviews, and updates.

This also allows for rule of law violations stemming from the use of AI to be addressed using all the means available to the EU — for example, when they occur in criminal justice systems, many of which use AI for automated decision-making processes to limit the burden and the time pressure on judges. 

But to ensure judicial independence, the right to a fair trial, and transparency, the AI used in justice systems must be subject to proper oversight and in line with the rule of law.

Risks of profiling and unlawful surveillance

Importantly, lawmakers should lay the foundation for proper rule of law protection in the AI Act by leaving out a blanket exemption for national security. 


AI systems developed or used for national security purposes must fall within the scope of the act; otherwise, a member state could readily use them — such as for public surveillance or analysing human behaviour — simply by invoking the national security carve-out.

The Pegasus spyware scandal, in which journalists, human rights activists and politicians were surveilled by their own governments, demonstrates the clear need to ensure that systems developed or used for national security purposes are not exempted from the scope of the AI Act. 

Furthermore, national security can mean different things across the EU depending on the laws of the member states. 

Profiling citizens based on national governments’ interests would create inequality across the EU, posing an equal threat to both the rule of law and fundamental rights.

No blanket exceptions

With Polish and European Parliament elections upcoming, there is no question that AI can and will be used to target individuals with personalised messages, including to spread disinformation, with the potential of distorting otherwise fair elections. 


On the other hand, AI tools will be deployed for fact-checking, blocking bots and content, and identifying troll farms as well. These techniques must be transparent to prevent misuse or abuse of power.

The need to explicitly link the rule of law within the AI Act is clear, as is the importance of mandating impact assessments that consider both fundamental rights and the rule of law — without a blanket exemption for national security uses. 

Artificial intelligence is a part of everyday life in countless ways, and how we choose to regulate it will shape our societies. 

EU lawmakers must use this opportunity to craft a law that harnesses the opportunities of AI without undermining the protection of our rights or the rule of law. 

Eva Simon serves as Advocacy Lead for Tech & Rights, and Jonathan Day is Communications Manager at the Civil Liberties Union For Europe, a Berlin-based campaign network to strengthen the rule of law in the European Union.


At Euronews, we believe all views matter. Contact us at [email protected] to send pitches or submissions and be part of the conversation.

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Are Polish elections taking place on a (grossly) uneven playing field?

By Wojciech Sadurski, Professor, University of Sydney Law School, University of Warsaw

The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not represent in any way the editorial position of Euronews.

The ruling authoritarians have fundamentally subverted democracy, including the electoral process. For the democratic opposition to win, it will almost take a miracle, Wojciech Sadurski writes.


While it is impossible to predict today who will win the parliamentary elections in Poland in a few weeks, one thing is sure: these will not be fair elections. 

Free, perhaps, but not fair. The right-wing populist incumbents have tilted the playing field so that the opposition is denied an equal opportunity in the electoral contest. And it’s not even close.

The elections to be held on 15 October will determine the future of Poland — and, in the process, of the European Union and Europe more broadly — for many years, perhaps decades to come. 

If the incumbent Law and Justice or PiS party is re-elected, the populist-authoritarian regime in Poland since 2015 will enter into a stage of comfortable consolidation. 

After two consecutive parliamentary and presidential elections over the last eight years, PiS leader Jarosław Kaczyński will be on a safe road to emulate his role model, Viktor Orbán of Hungary.

Can Pis skew the dead heat race to its own advantage?

As Kaczyński and his closest collaborators have made abundantly clear, his party needs a third consecutive mandate in order to complete its “reforms” — read: capture or disable the last remaining traces of pluralism and institutional independence, such as some recalcitrant judges or private media and NGOs critical of the ruling elite. 

Poland will radically loosen ties with the EU, perhaps all the way down to “Polexit”. 

If one wants to see a blueprint for Kaczyński’s program for the third term, today’s Hungary offers a good insight into — in Kaczyński’s own words — the “Budapest in Warsaw”  scenario. It is not a pretty picture.

The election results cannot be foreseen today: it’s too close to call. PiS, together with its likely government coalition partner, the extreme right-wing Konfederacja or Confederation, scores in opinion polls about the same as the three democratic opposition parties combined: the centrist Civic Coalition, the Left, and the centre-right Trzecia Droga or Third Way.

But the democratic opposition’s marginal lead may be easily wiped out by the peculiarities of the electoral system, which penalises fragmented oppositions — as the democrats in Poland, unfortunately, are. 

More importantly, it is likely to be eviscerated by how PiS has skewed the playing field to its advantage, in a big way.

A referendum amid elections?

The main dirty trick is combining parliamentary elections with a “referendum”: a propaganda hoax and a shameless money grab. 

The referendum, held at the same time and in the same locations as the elections, will have four questions — all loaded, and all based on false factual premises. 

For instance, there is a question about accepting thousands of illegal migrants as a result of “the forced relocation mechanism imposed by the European bureaucracy”. The other three referendum questions are similarly disingenuous.

None of the questions is asked in good faith, and none seek a popular response about legislation contemplated by either the government or the opposition. 

They are no one’s policies, but the referendum insinuates a stark choice between the government which condemns them and the opposition to which PiS attributes them, falsely. 

In this sense, an intimate connection exists between the electoral campaign and the referendum questions. 

The referendum serves to amplify all the fears that PiS is exploiting in its campaign. It is not distinguishable from that campaign but is part and parcel of it.


Last-minute changes to electoral rules and overburdened diaspora ballot commissions

Yet, here’s the thing: the referendum opens up virtually unlimited campaign finances. PiS has access to greater financial assets than the opposition, having captured all the key state-owned industries. 

But there are some campaign limits, policed by the Election Committee, which apply to elections but not to referenda. 

So, under the disguise of the referendum campaign, virtually unlimited funds will go to the PiS election campaign.

That is not all. In the eleventh hour before the elections, PiS pushed through a change in electoral district rules, creating many new districts in villages and small towns. 

This is nothing short of gerrymandering: the countryside and small towns are the main reservoir of PiS political support. 


At the same time, PiS makes it more difficult for the Polish diaspora, especially in the UK and Western Europe, where the greatest numbers of émigré Poles live, to vote and have their votes counted. 

Ballot commissions in places such as London or Dublin will be overburdened with voters, but under the new rules, the commissions will have to proceed in a more time-consuming way — all members of the commission must look at every single ballot, one at a time — and must complete all their paperwork within 24 hours. 

Simulations prove this will be virtually impossible in some districts, especially with the added effort needed to serve the referendum. 

And yes, you guessed it: the Polish diaspora in the UK and other EU member states have voted predominantly for anti-PiS parties in recent years.

‘No one will give you as much as PiS can promise’

Good old-fashioned pork-barrel policies are in full swing: PiS has been throwing gifts at its usual clients since late spring this year, and over time, the speed and the size of those presents have grown exponentially. 


Upgrading of family subsidies, an extra monthly pension to retirees (aka the 14th pension), a ludicrous cut in interest rates by the subservient central bank, an artificially low level of petrol prices maintained against the worldwide trends by the state-controlled oil company Orlen — you name it, they’ll give it. 

The long-term disastrous effects of these policies don’t count; what matters is instant gratification by the electorate. 

As the saying in Poland goes: “No one will give you as much as PiS will promise”.

The central imbalance, though, is in the media scene. Public media in Poland are “public” only in name and the source of their financing — through taxpayers’ money. 

In their contents, they are one-sided, aggressive governmental propaganda outfits addressed against the opposition.


The vulgarity and partisanship of TVP — the state-controlled broadcaster, which has a monopoly in some areas of the country — is difficult to describe; especially in pre-election times, it becomes a non-stop electoral propaganda machine. 

‘The Law to Take Out Tusk’

It airs all the PiS official events, including Kaczyński’s speeches, but never goes live for an opposition rally with the leader of the main opposition party, Donald Tusk. 

The Polish newspaper Gazeta Wyborcza reports that on a randomly chosen recent date, Tusk was shown five times in the main evening news on TVP, always in a negative light (including a historic photo with Russia’s Vladimir Putin), while Kaczyński appeared eight times, always positively portrayed.

This is a long list, but “The Law to Take Out Tusk” also merits a mention: setting up a kangaroo court tasked with demonstrating that the leader of the main opposition party has been acting under the influence of Russians. 

The venerable Venice Commission has already warned that the new body may become a tool to eliminate political opponents. 


This is a tool Kaczyński may well activate any time now if the polls look bad to him. Nor have I mentioned the new chamber of the Supreme Court peopled only with judges handpicked by the ruling party, which will have the last word on the legality of election results. 

On top of that, there is also the issue of illegal use by the secret services of surveillance devices, such as Pegasus spyware, against the opposition.

Would opposition victory be a miracle?

So, whatever the outcome of the elections in Poland that you hear about on or just after 15 October, remember that the field will have been badly skewed in favour of the current rulers. 

The ruling authoritarians have fundamentally subverted democracy, including the electoral process. 

For the democratic opposition to win, it will almost take a miracle. But perhaps it’s not hopeless. 


Miracles happen, especially in Poland.

Wojciech Sadurski is a Professor at the University of Sydney Law School and the  University of Warsaw’s Center for Europe. He is the author of “A Pandemic of Populists”(Cambridge 2022).

At Euronews, we believe all views matter. Contact us at [email protected] to send pitches or submissions and be part of the conversation.

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Decline, fear and the AfD in Germany

Mathias Döpfner is chairman and CEO of Axel Springer, POLITICO’s parent company.

In Germany today, the right-wing populist Alternative for Germany (AfD) is maintaining a stable 20 percent in opinion polls — coming in two to four points ahead of the ruling center-left Social Democratic Party (SPD) and running hard on the heels of the center-right Christian Democratic Union (CDU).

In some federal states, the AfD is already the strongest party. In Thuringia, for example, it has reached 34 percent, meaning the party has three times as many supporters there as the SPD. And in some administrative districts, around half of those eligible to vote are leaning toward the AfD. According to one Forsa survey in June, the AfD is currently the strongest party in the east of Germany — a worrying trend with elections due this year in Bavaria and Hesse, and next year in Thuringia, Saxony and Brandenburg. And, of course, there are also the European Union elections in 2024.

However, this rapid rise should come as no surprise. The writing has been on the wall for a long time. And more than anything else, the party’s recent advances are a result of an increasing sense among broad swathes of the population that they aren’t being represented by traditional political and media elites.

This disconnect was first accelerated by the refugee crisis of 2015, then increased during the pandemic, and has since escalated in response to the increasing high-handedness of the “woke movement” and climate politics. Just a few weeks ago, a survey by the German Civil Service Association revealed trust in the government’s ability to do its job is at an all-time low, with 69 percent saying it is deeply out of its depth.

Meanwhile, opinion polls show the government fares particularly badly in Germany’s east. A rising number of people — including the otherwise stable but also staid middle classes — now feel enough is enough, and no other party is as good at exploiting this feeling as the AfD.

The problem, however, is the AfD isn’t a normal democratic party.

The regional offices of Germany’s domestic intelligence services in the federal states of Brandenburg, Saxony-Anhalt, Saxony, Lower Saxony and Baden-Württemberg have all classified their local AfD associations as “organizations of interest.”

And the same applies at the federal level. The national office of the domestic intelligence service, the remit of which includes protecting the German constitution, has also classified the national party of the AfD as “of interest.”

These concerns about the party’s commitment to the constitution aren’t unjustified. In a 2018 speech at the national conference of the party’s youth section, Junge Alternative, former AfD chairman Alexander Gauland said that “Hitler and the Nazis are just a speck of bird shit in a thousand years of successful German history.”

When speaking about the Holocaust Memorial in Berlin, Björn Höcke, group chairman of the AfD in Thuringia, said on 2017 that “We Germans — and I’m not talking about you patriots who have gathered here today. We Germans, our people, are the only people in the world to place a monument of shame in the heart of our capital city.”

And in a speech in the Bundestag in 2018, party boss Alice Weidel bandied about terms like “headscarf girls” and “knife-wielding men,” while her co-chairman Tino Chrupalla speaks of an “Umvolkung” — that is, an “ethnicity inversion” — which comes straight out of Nazi ideology.

This small sample of public statements leaves no doubt that such utterings aren’t slips of the tongue — they reflect these leaders’ core beliefs.

And while many vote for the AfD out of protest, more than anything else, the party feeds off resentment and fear, exploiting and fueling anger, hate and envy, pushing conspiracy theories to hit out at “those at the top,” as well as foreigners, Jews, the LGTBQ+ community or just about anyone who might be deemed different. And the party leaders’ blatant admiration for Russian President Vladimir Putin exposes their reverence for autocracy.

Failure to prevent the AfD’s rise could potentially first corrode, then shatter democracy and rule of law in Germany.

But how can a party like this, which is getting stronger in the polls, be dealt with? Is a ban the right way to go? They are always difficult to deal with, and it isn’t even an option at this stage. What about joining the AfD to form a coalition and temper the party? That is even more difficult, as it is unreasonable to argue that the AfD should be treated like other parties. The Nazis and Adolf Hitler had also been democratically elected when they seized power in 1933.

So, what options remain? Many politicians and journalists say we need to confront the AfD with critical arguments. Sounds good on the face of it. But people have already been doing that for a decade — with scant success.

This is why the only remaining option is to attempt what neither the AfD nor many politicians from established parties have been able to do: Start taking voters’ most important concerns and issues seriously, and seek to find solutions.

The fears that have allowed the AfD to become as big as it is today are clearly identifiable. When a recent survey by Infratest Dimap asked “What topics most influence your decision to vote for the AfD at the moment?” 65 percent said immigration, 47 percent said energy policies and 43 percent named the economy.

And in their handling of all three of these key issues, the older parties have demonstrated moral cowardice and a lack of honesty.

This is especially apparent when it comes to immigration.

Why is it so hard for centrist politicians to just come out and say a few simple truths? Germany is a land of immigration, and it must remain so if it wants to be economically successful. And modern migration policy needs a healthy balance between altruism and self-interest.

According to economists’ most recent estimations, Germany needs to bring in 1 to 1.5 million skilled individuals per year from abroad. What we need is an immigration of excellence and qualified workers. People from war zones and crisis regions should obviously be taken in. But beyond that, we can only take the migrants we need, the ones who will benefit us.

This means the social welfare benefits for immigrants require critical rethinking, with the goal of creating a situation where every immigrant would be able to and would have to actually start working immediately. Then add to this factors that are a matter of course in countries with a successful history of integration: learning the local language and respecting the constitution and the laws. And anyone who doesn’t must leave — and fast.

Germany’s current immigration policy is dysfunctional. Most politicians and journalists are fully aware of this, but they just won’t say it out loud. And all this does is strengthen the AfD, as well as other groups on the left and right that have no true respect for democracy.

Not speaking out about the problem is the biggest problem. Indeed, when issues are taboo, it doesn’t make the issues any smaller, just the demagogues stronger.

We’re seeing the same with energy policy. Everyone knows that in the short term, our energy needs can’t be met by wind and solar power alone. Anyone interested in reality knows decarbonization without nuclear power isn’t going to be feasible any time soon. And they know heat pumps and cutting vacation flights won’t solve the global carbon challenge — it will, however, weaken the German economy.

We need only look at one example: While just over 2 percent of global carbon emissions come from aviation, almost a third are caused by China — an increasing amount of which comes from coal-fired power stations. Ordinary Germans are very much aware the sacrifices they’re being asked to make, and the costs being piled on them, make no sense in the broader scheme of things, and they’re understandably upset.

In some cases, this makes them more likely to vote for the AfD.

This brings us to the third and final reason why people are so agitated. The EU, and above all Germany, has broken its promise about advancing prosperity and growth. Fewer young people now see a future for themselves in Germany; more and more service providers and companies are leaving; and the increasing number of immigrants without means is reducing the average GNP per capita. Germans aren’t becoming more prosperous — they’re becoming poorer.

Traditional politicians and political parties unable to offer change are thus on very shaky ground. They have disconnected themselves from their voters, and they are paving the way for populists who use bogeyman tactics and offer simplistic solutions that solve nothing.

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In Zimbabwe, Zanu-PF are trying to steal the election again

It is imperative that the EU, UK, US and other democratic voices help Zimbabwe stand tall and show the rest of Africa that the retreat of democracy is not inevitable, Lord Oates writes.

Long-time observers of Zimbabwe will feel a strong sense of déjà vu ahead of Wednesday’s parliamentary and presidential elections. 


An ageing leader is boxed in by an economic crisis. He clings to power in the face of deep unpopularity by clamping down on opposition activists and stifling media freedom. 

Fears mount that the president will refuse to leave office even if he is defeated, and will try to steal the election through spreading misinformation and intimidating his political enemies.

When Emmerson Mnangagwa succeeded Robert Mugabe in a palace coup backed by the army six years ago, those who did not know — or chose to ignore — Mnangagwa’s blood-soaked history had high hopes that he would bring political reform. 

Instead, democratic space has been further shut down as the president’s repressive rule deepens the suffering of ordinary Zimbabweans.

It’s not the first time this is happening

Faced with triple-digit inflation, a sinking currency, and billions of external debt, Mnangagwa can barely pay teachers or nurses, or provide food to almost half of the population living in rural areas who are at risk of hunger. 

He has responded to his growing unpopularity by harassing and detaining opposition activists, trade unionists and journalists.

The opposition, Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC), fears a rerun of the last presidential elections, in 2018, when a widely predicted opposition victory crumbled to dust.

Zimbabwe’s politicised electoral commission mysteriously delayed the announcement of the official results for five days. 

 In this fog of confusion, Zanu-PF were awarded hundreds of thousands more votes than election observers had seen being cast at polling stations. 

When voters took to the streets to protest, Mnangagwa’s security forces opened fire on civilians at random, killing six.

This time around, the EU has sent 150 election observers, and the Carter Center in the US has deployed 30 observers to observe polling, counting, and tabulation on election day. 


This presence, together with a nationwide system in which volunteers will count the number of votes cast, should make attempts to steal the elections harder.

‘Patriotic Law’, intimidation and violence

But the opposition have formidable obstacles in their way. Mnangagwa recently imposed the “Patriotic Law”, which threatens anyone who is deemed to be “wilfully injuring the sovereignty and national interest of Zimbabwe” with the death penalty. 

This has had a dampening effect on free speech, making opposition politicians and activists fearful of engaging with international media. 

Under another new law, NGOs can also be summarily banned, or their leadership replaced, with no recourse to the courts.

The election campaign has been marked by widespread intimidation and violence against opposition supporters, the banning and obstruction of political rallies, and candidates burnt out of their homes. 


Recently, an opposition campaigner, Tinashe Chitsunge, was brutally murdered.

The greatest barrier to the election of an alternative government is the capture of the Electoral Commission by Zanu-PF. 

 It is currently packed with party supporters, run by a retired army general, who has been accused of passing on voter data to Zanu-PF, which they have used to send campaign text messages to voters. 

Such information, needless to say, is not available to the opposition. This has been combined with attempts to deregister opposition candidates, fewer polling stations in districts where the opposition are strong, and a state-controlled media that barely offers airtime to the opposition.

The question may be asked: if democracy is under such sustained attack, how can the rest of the world support the Zimbabwean people?


Ignoring the issues won’t win friends in Africa

Firstly, we must pressure Western governments not to cave in and legitimise an election that has been stolen. 

 China is buying up lithium mines in Zimbabwe — the continent’s largest producer of the mineral — to provide components for batteries in electric cars. 

 It, and other authoritarian states, do so with the advantage that they avoid accusations that they are lecturing Africans on human rights. 

The West, which also wants access to these resources, may be tempted to mirror this behaviour.

But this would set a terrible precedent. Zimbabwe and its people cannot live better lives until the rule of law is restored, and free and fair elections can legitimately take place. 

Ignoring democratic shortcomings will not win friends for the West in Africa or secure a brighter future for Zimbabweans.

Western countries are understandably nervous about standing in judgement on African politics, given their history of colonialism. 

However, ignoring extrajudicial killings, torture, arbitrary arrests, summary trials, censorship, bans on assembly, and obvious vote-rigging by Zanu PF, will not atone for past oppression inflicted under colonial rule.

Democratic voices need to step in

The elections offer hope to millions of Zimbabweans that there might be a brighter future. And there is reason for some optimism. 

In neighbouring Zambia, the political opposition recently managed to win and secure a democratic transition.

Such a path exists for Zimbabwe, in the event of a free and fair election bringing about democratic change. 

But to help this come about, it is imperative that the EU, UK, US and other democratic voices, offer a swift plan to ease some of the country’s international debt burdens and help with the democratic transition. 

By doing so, they can help Zimbabwe stand tall and show the rest of Africa that the retreat of democracy is not inevitable.

Lord Oates is a member of the UK House of Lords and Co-Chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Zimbabwe. He taught in rural Zimbabwe in the late 1980s.

At Euronews, we believe all views matter. Contact us at [email protected] to send pitches or submissions and be part of the conversation.

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Oh Sure Kamala And Old Joe LOOOOVE Insurrection When It’s … Nah We Can’t Keep This Up

We’re pretty sure the Republican supermajority in the Tennessee House of Representatives had no idea that Thursday’s semi-successful effort to expel three Democratic lawmakers would get anything like the national attention it did. When they hold power, the comfortably bigoted have a hard time imagining anyone could possibly disagree with them, or pay attention to a little old score-settling against some pipsqueak liberals. The hasty, slapdash proceedings, with only a homeopathic trace of due process, made pretty clear the Republicans planned to quickly give the three a fast show trial and be done with them.

Instead, they ended up with a national media spectacle, and came out looking like arrogant, out of touch racists, expelling Reps. Justin Pearson and Justin Jones — two young, charismatic Black members — while falling one vote shy of expelling Rep. Gloria Johnson, the white, 60-year-old retired teacher whom they seemed to feel more kinship with. As we’ll note again and again, Johnson knew exactly what was up, telling reporters, “It might have to do with the color of our skin.”

Following the Republican lynching of democracy, Vice President Kamala Harris flew to Nashville Friday to call for gun control and to meet with all three Democrats — the ones targeted for expulsion, not all three Democrats in Tennessee. Heck, the Tennessee House has an entire Democratic caucus, and Harris met with them Friday, too.

Harris tweeted Thursday to call out the Republicans’ swift action on precisely the wrong thing:

Six people, including three children, were killed last week in a school shooting in Nashville.

How did Republican lawmakers in Tennessee respond?

By expelling their colleagues who stood with Tennesseans and said enough is enough.

This is undemocratic and dangerous.

Here’s her speech at Fisk University:

President Biden also issued a statement Thursday condemning the expulsions, noting that more than 7,000 students had gone to the Tennessee Capitol on March 30 to peacefully “call on their lawmakers to take action and keep them safe.”

Instead, state Republican lawmakers called votes today to expel three Democratic legislators who stood in solidarity with students and families and helped lift their voices. Today’s expulsion of lawmakers who engaged in peaceful protest is shocking, undemocratic, and without precedent. Rather than debating the merits of the issue, these Republican lawmakers have chosen to punish, silence, and expel duly-elected representatives of the people of Tennessee.

On Friday, before Harris met with Jones, Pearson, and Johnson, Biden also spoke with them on a conference call, and invited them to come to the White House sometime soon. As far as we know, none of the Republicans who engineered the expulsion effort have been invited anywhere nice. That statement will hold even if Donald Trump invites them to one of his trash palaces.

We also found this slightly encouraging news McNugget: Only one Republican in the Tennessee House, Rep. Charlie Baum, voted “Nay” on all three expulsions. Baum has a 92 percent rating from the NRA (and a 100 percent score from National Right to Life), but we want to to encourage Republicans when they do the right thing — positive reinforcement can lead to improvements. So an imaginary chocolate chip cookie to Rep. Baum, in hopes that he’ll stop selling death sticks and go home to rethink his life.

In Washington DC, the Congressional Black Caucus issued a statement condemning the expulsions, saying that the treatment of Reps. Pearson and Jones

makes clear that racism is alive and well in Tennessee. The GOP-led House chose to silence dissent from not only the Black representatives in the chamber, but the voices of their constituents as well. This move is not only racist and anti-democratic, it is morally bankrupt and out of step with the overwhelming majority of Americans who believe that we need common sense gun control reforms to save lives.

Not everyone found fault with the Tennessee Republicans, starting with the Tennessee Republican Party, which sent out a fundraising email praising the brave House Republicans who “upheld the rule of law” — or at least the iron rule of rules — by voting to “remove 2 Democrat State Representative that [it should be “who” — Dok] disrupted and protested the legislative process on March 30th,” which doesn’t make any sense at all since they were definitely not protesting the legislative process, they were protesting the GOP’s chronic firearms priapism disorder.

Fox News, not surprisingly, ran a ton of stories on its website, including one ripping Johnson for saying that “North Korea has more democracy” than Tennessee (the subhed said she “faced expulsion after storming the state Capitol with gun control protesters,” which would have been quite a feat since she was already inside the building, and the protesters had all gone through security like any visitor. The story repeated the claim that all three Democrats were charged with “rushing the state Capitol,” too. Another story Thursday claimed that “Chaos erupts again” at the Capitol because crowds came to protest the vote — or rather, “stormed the Capitol” and “chanted” like some kind of insurrectionists.

On Fox News proper, the Fox & Friends crowd Friday morning explained that the expulsions were justified, because rules are rules and they have to be followed unless you think Donald Trump’s election was stolen. Host Ainsley Earhardt said the expulsions sent an important message “not to storm our government buildings. Right?”

Wrong, as we keep noting, because nobody stormed anything, no matter how much the Right insists this was just like January 6. Earhart also straight up lied that the three Democrats “were leading those protesters onto the balcony in the House chamber last week,” a difficult trick to accomplish from the floor of the House, with people who went through security (but also shouted once inside!) And also, what is “gallery”?

Cohost Will Cain kept the bullshit comparison going, calling Joe Biden a hypocrite while he was at it.

So during January 6th, people condemnably rioted and stormed the Capitol and it is described as undemocratic. In Tennessee, people stormed the Capitol, interrupted the democratic process, and used bullhorns. And if you punish them, that’s undemocratic. So it’s undemocratic as long as it is in disfavor with Joe Biden.

Brian Kilmeade chimed in with a witty observation that would be funny to viewers who know nothing about what Fox staff were actually saying about January 6:

Here’s the big difference. It’s okay to storm the Capitol if you are against assault, against gun control laws, or if you’re for gun control, it is. Okay. Here’s the difference. It’s a statehouse as opposed to the Capitol. I get it. Number two is lawmakers were leaning toward this. They were just like, “Hey, guys, I agree with you, but get out.”

OK, scratch what I said before. That made no sense at all, the end.

[White House / USA Today / The Hill / Mediaite]

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Heads roll in Ukraine graft purge, but defense chief Reznikov rejects rumors he’s out

KYIV — Heads are rolling in President Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s expanding purge against corruption in Ukraine, but Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov is denying rumors that he’s destined for the exit — a move that would be viewed as a considerable setback for Kyiv in the middle of its war with Russia.

Two weeks ago, Ukraine was shaken by two major corruption scandals centered on government procurement of military catering services and electrical generators. Rather than sweeping the suspect deals under the carpet, Zelenskyy launched a major crackdown, in a bid to show allies in the U.S. and EU that Ukraine is making a clean break from the past.

Tetiana Shevchuk, a lawyer with the Anti-Corruption Action Center, a watchdog, said Zelenskyy needed to draw a line in the sand: “Because even when the war is going on, people saw that officials are conducting ‘business as usual’. They saw that corrupt schemes have not disappeared, and it made people really angry. Therefore, the president had to show he is on the side of fighting against corruption.”

Since the initial revelations, the graft investigations have snowballed, with enforcers uncovering further possible profiteering in the defense ministry. Two former deputy defense ministers have been placed in pre-trial detention.

Given the focus on his ministry in the scandal, speculation by journalists and politicians has swirled that Reznikov — one of the best-known faces of Ukraine’s war against the Russian invaders — is set to be fired or at least transferred to another ministry.

But losing such a top name would be a big blow. At a press conference on Sunday, Reznikov dismissed the claims about his imminent departure as rumors and said that only Zelenskyy was in a position to remove him. Although Reznikov admits the anti-corruption department at his ministry failed and needs reform, he said he was still focused on ensuring that Ukraine’s soldiers were properly equipped.

“Our key priority now is the stable supply of Ukrainian soldiers with all they need,” Reznikov said during the press conference.

Despite his insistence that any decision on his removal could only come from Zelenskyy, Reznikov did still caution that he was ready to depart — and that no officials would serve in their posts forever.

The speculation about Reznikov’s fate picked up on Sunday when David Arakhamia, head of Zelenskyy’s affiliated Servant of the People party faction in the parliament, published a statement saying Reznikov would soon be transferred to the position of minister for strategic industries to strengthen military-industrial cooperation. Major General Kyrylo Budanov, current head of the Military Intelligence Directorate, would head the Ministry of Defense, Arakhamia said.

However, on Monday, Arakhamia seemed to row back somewhat, and claimed no reshuffle in the defense ministry was planned for this week. Mariana Bezuhla, deputy head of the national security and defense committee in the Ukrainian parliament, also said that the parliament had decided to postpone any staff decisions in the defense ministry as they consider the broader risks for national defense ahead of another meeting of defense officials at the U.S. Ramstein air base in Germany and before an expected upcoming Russian offensive.  

Zelenskyy steps in

The defense ministry is not the only department to be swept up in the investigations. Over the first days of February, the Security Service of Ukraine, State Investigation Bureau, and Economic Security Bureau conducted dozens of searches at the customs service, the tax service and in local administrations. Officials of several different levels were dismissed en masse for sabotaging their service during war and hurting the state.     

“Unfortunately, in some areas, the only way to guarantee legitimacy is by changing leaders along with the implementation of institutional changes,” Zelenskyy said in a video address on February 1. “I see from the reaction in society that people support the actions of law enforcement officers. So, the movement towards justice can be felt. And justice will be ensured.” 

Yuriy Nikolov, founder of the Nashi Groshi (Our Money) investigative website, who broke the story about the defense ministry’s alleged profiteering on food and catering services for soldiers in January, said the dismissals and continued searches were first steps in the right direction.

“Now let’s wait for the court sentences. It all looked like a well-coordinated show,” Nikolov told POLITICO.  “At the same time, it is good that the government prefers this kind of demonstrative fight against corruption, instead of covering up corrupt officials.”

Still, even though Reznikov declared zero tolerance for corruption and admitted that defense procurement during war needs reform, he has still refused to publish army price contract data on food and non-secret equipment, Nikolov said.

During his press conference, Reznikov insisted he could not reveal sensitive military information during a period of martial law as it could be used by the enemy. “We have to maintain the balance of public control and keep certain procurement procedures secret,” he said.

Two deputies down

Alleged corruption in secret procurement deals has, however, already cost him two of his deputies.  

Deputy Defense Minister Vyacheslav Shapovalov, who oversaw logistical support for the army, tendered his resignation in January following a scandal involving the purchase of military rations at inflated prices. In his resignation letter, Shapovalov asked to be dismissed in order “not to pose a threat to the stable supply of the Armed Forces of Ukraine as a result of a campaign of accusations related to the purchase of food services.”

Another of Reznikov’s former deputies, Bohdan Khmelnytsky, who managed defense procurement in the ministry until December, was also arrested over accusations he lobbied for a purchase of 3,000 poor-quality bulletproof vests for the army worth more than 100 million hryvnias (€2.5 million), the Security Service of Ukraine reported.  If found guilty he faces up to eight years in prison. The director of the company that supplied the bulletproof vests under the illicit contract has been identified as a suspect by the authorities and now faces up to 12 years in prison if found guilty.

Both ex-officials can be released on bail.  

Another unnamed defense ministry official, a non-staff adviser to the deputy defense minister of Ukraine, was also identified as a suspect in relation to the alleged embezzlement of 1.7 billion hryvnias (€43 million) from the defense budget, the General Prosecutors Office of Ukraine reported.  

When asked about corruption cases against former staffers, Reznikov stressed people had to be considered innocent until proven guilty.

Reputational risk

At the press conference on Sunday, Reznikov claimed that during his time in the defense ministry, he managed to reorganize it, introduced competition into food supplies and filled empty stocks.

However, the anti-corruption department of the ministry completely failed, he admitted. He argued the situation in the department was so unsatisfactory that the National Agency for the Prevention of Corruption gave him an order to conduct an official audit of employees. And it showed the department had to be reorganized.

“At a closed meeting with the watchdogs and investigative journalists I offered them to delegate people to the reloaded anti-corruption department. We also agreed to create a public anti-corruption council within the defense ministry,” Reznikov said.

Nikolov was one of the watchdogs attending the closed meeting. He said the minister did not bring any invoices or receipts for food products for the army, or any corrected contract prices to the meeting. Moreover, the minister called the demand to reveal the price of an egg or a potato “an idiocy” and said prices should not be published at all, Nikolov said in a statement. Overpriced eggs were one of the features of the inflated catering contracts that received particular public attention.

Reznikov instead suggested creating an advisory body with the public. He would also hold meetings, and working groups, and promised to provide invoices upon request, the journalist added.

“So far, it looks like the head of state, Zelenskyy, has lost patience with the antics of his staff, but some of his staff do not want to leave their comfort zone and are trying to leave some corruption options for themselves for the future,” Nikolov said.

Reznikov was not personally accused of any wrongdoing by law enforcement agencies.

But the minister acknowledged that there was reputational damage in relation to his team and communications. “This is a loss of reputation today, it must be recognized and learned from,” he said. At the same time, he believed he had nothing to be ashamed of: “My conscience is absolutely clear,” he said.

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