Daily Archives: May 22, 2012

By Tony Barber, Europe Editor

Greece, teetering on the precipice of the eurozone, is to hold a parliamentary election on June 17. This will be its second such vote in 43 days. A depressing insight into the country’s political paralysis was provided by transcripts of discussions that President Karolos Papoulias, Greece’s head of state, held with party political leaders on May 13 in an attempt to resolve the impasse.

These transcripts (made public by the president’s office) would make you roar with laughter – if you weren’t weeping in despair at the petty-mindedness, stupidity and shamelessness of some of Greece’s politicians. 

Esther Bintliff

John Moore/Getty Images

Supporters of Muslim Brotherhood candidate Mohamed Morsi at an election rally. John Moore/Getty Images

On Wednesday and Thursday, Egyptians will go to the polls to vote in the first democratic presidential election in their country’s history.

Coming some 15 months after the ousting of Hosni Mubarak, the vote is a pivotal step for Egypt; a moment that the demonstrators in Cairo’s iconic Tahrir square could only have dreamed of when they first called for the overthrow of Mubarak in early 2011.

The result remains impossible to predict. There are twelve candidates, of whom five are considered the main contenders, but polls vary wildly as to their chances, and many voters are undecided. Unless one candidate gets more than 50% of the vote – which seems unlikely – a second round between the top two candidates will be held on June 16 and 17. Meanwhile the actual role and powers of the President have yet to be spelled out. Here’s your background reading: 

Anders Behring Breivik in court, May 21, 2012. REUTERS

By Martin Sandbu

The terror trial against Anders Behring Breivik – now in its sixth week – may have slipped away from the attention of the world press.

But in Norway, there is little respite from proceedings that have now passed the halfway mark. While the court took a two-day recess for the national holiday – ‘Constitution day’ – on May 17, it will now keep working until the trial concludes on June 22. 

By Gideon Rachman

As I read the umpteenth article on the “Grexit”, a phrase from the film ‘Marathon Man’ ran around my head. In this cult-thriller, Laurence Olivier plays a war criminal turned dentist who tortures Dustin Hoffman by drilling through his dental nerves without anaesthetic. As he does so, he asks repeatedly “Is it safe?”