Protests worked in Ireland
Ireland will hold a referendum on abortion in May, in which the people will be asked whether they want to repeal or retain the the ban on abortions. In the case of repeal, the people will be asked to submit suggestions for better legislation. “I wasn’t prepared for the unabashed feminism of Varadkar’s rhetoric,” writes Emer O’Toole in the Guardian, referring to Leo Varadkar’s shift from his earlier anti-abortion stance.
“This is an extraordinary departure from Varadkar’s previous stated positions. Long on public record as anti-abortion, as recently as November 2015 he called for a provision on the right to life of the unborn to remain in the constitution, and said that he did not want “abortion on demand” introduced in Ireland. He says his position evolved in concert with his life experiences. He listened to the views of others. He listened to medical experts, the public, his party colleagues. Above all, he says, he listened to women.”
O’Toole’s opinion is victorious. She writes of how hard Irish feminists worked to encourage the right to choose, and how in this rare scenario, politicians listened to their protests.
“I can be cynical and declare that the boys are just playing politics. But I would rather believe that when presented with sound evidence and women’s testimony, our political leaders evolved. Because if we can convince Varadkar and Martin, then we can convince our families and friends.”
The real life Godfather
Silvio Berlusconi, a political stalwart and a convicted criminal, seems to be the only sure bet in Italy’s upcoming elections,writes Jason Horowitz in the New York Times. “Even if he will not be prime minister immediately (he is barred until next year following a fraud conviction), he is likely to be the kingmaker,” he writes.
While he only has 17 per cent support in the polls, Berlusconi is apparently on a winning streak.
“His resurrection is both astonishing and entirely unsurprising when one considers that Mr. Berlusconi has over the decades conditioned and desensitized an electorate that has picked him as prime minister three times despite, well, everything.”
“In uncertain times, Italians may be choosing the devil they knew,” writes Horowitz.
In the US, Iran is the “new” Norway
Trump made headlines a few weeks ago by lamenting over America’s immigrants and wishing that more people from countries like Norway would enter the US, as opposed to people from “sh*thole countries”.
However, according to Reuel Marc Gerecht in the Washington Post, “Iranians are the Norwegians he’s been looking for.”
“To borrow the president’s invidious language, Iranians are the “Norwegians” he’s been searching for. Those who have immigrated to the United States have had stunning success here, sterling exemplars of the American dream who enthusiastically embrace our secular, liberal society. The emphasis that Iranian families, even from peasant backgrounds, have placed on education has paid off handsomely in the West.”
“A sensible administration — one that realizes that the clerical dictatorship must fall before normality can return to U.S.-Iranian relations — would proudly advertise an open door to Persian curiosity about the United States. The mullahs dread America’s insidious appeal. Let’s give them more cause to do so. The administration so far hasn’t developed a soft-power approach to Tehran, using both open and clandestine means. It can partly correct this mistake by announcing that American consulates are again open to the citizens of the Islamic republic,” writes Gerecht.