Eurofile: Socialist meeting of bodies

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The Independent Online
THE SPLIT within Spain's Socialist Workers' Party (PSOE) is no secret, but the weekend shenanigans at a local party assembly in the Costa Blanca resort of Cartagena took it a bit too far. Several delegates were wounded, one was said to have pulled out a pistol, and windows and furniture were smashed before the local party leader suspended the session, 'before somebody gets killed'.

The trouble began when members of the so-called 'renewal' sector of the party - moderate supporters of the Prime Minister, Felipe Gonzalez - claimed that the rival sector, known locally as 'the dwarfs' and loyal to the party's deputy leader, a radical left winger, Alfonso Guerra, had prevented them from getting into the assembly for a key vote on party posts.

One of the moderates, former Senator Jose Ramon Perez, denied pulling a pistol but conceded: 'We made a shameful fool of ourselves. I think it's quite right that society no longer believes in the Socialists. This party deserves to spend a few years in opposition.'

THE intellectuals who jolted the French political scene by demanding intervention in Bosnia have broadened the group to include prominent writers from across Europe. Their aim is to mobilise European public opinion whenever basic freedoms and human rights are under threat.

The Sarajevo Party shook the political establishment to its foundations by attracting widespread public support, before pulling out of the European elections for tactical reasons. Now called the Comite de reflexion et d'intervention (CRI), the intellectuals have widened their focus from Bosnia to call for action on Algeria and Rwanda. 'Fundamentalism is the real enemy,' according to the group's founder, philosopher Bernard-Henri Levy. 'You see it in the ethnic cleansing in Bosnia, brutal Nazism in Rwanda and Algerian intolerence, all new phenomena rather than a revival of old Nazi phantoms.'

BELGIUM is trying to shake off a run of scandals that threaten to bring down senior government ministers and are seriously weakening the Belgian franc.

The government was temporarily reprieved from weeks of political barracking and a hostile press last week after the high court announced it had decided not to call the Foreign Minister, Willy Claes, as a witness in the so-called Inusop affair. The government's leading opinion pollsters are accused of channelling taxpayers' money into party funds. The Prime Minister, Jean Luc Dehaene, went so far as to break his habit of 'no comment' and publicly defend Mr Claes, (who has always denied any involvement), complaining the press had made him a scapegoat.

Guy Coeme may not be so lucky. The court has found that there is sufficient evidence to call in the former deputy prime minister who resigned earlier in the year over the Agusta scandal - another case of political bribery.

THE European Union institutions are a lucrative and irritating fact of life for many Belgians. Some 54,000 jobs or 8 per cent of all employment are EU-related. Only 16,000 are Eurocrats; the rest are journalists, lawyers, and diplomats (about 11,400) and associated hangers-on such as business services (25,900). Nato, the Western European Union (another defence body) add another 3,000 or so, all contributing pounds 2.5bn to the local economy. But there are also costs. Local inhabitants are in flight from Brussels, leaving some older quartiers empty, and the infrastructure increasingly cannot cope.

WALES is raising its profile in Brussels, with a strong team forming up in the European institutions. Wayne David, who has made his name on regional policy, is the new leader of the British Labour contingent in the European parliament. Neil Kinnock, former Labour Party leader, is expected to be the next Labour Commissioner. Glenys Kinnock was elected to the Parliament at the last election, and the Kinnocks' son, Stephen, is currently a researcher in the European Parliament.

The Welsh ascendancy is part of the continuing rise of the Celtic fringe. The English seem under- represented, apparently reaffirming that it is not the UK that is sniffy about Europe - only one of its component parts.

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