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Round-up of news stories from across the EU
23.5.16
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Austria election: far-right candidate and rival tied at 50% in exit poll (The Guardian, link): "Austria’s political future is on a knife-edge, with the candidate bidding to be the European Union’s first far-right president holding a wafer-thin lead over his rival.

According to the public broadcaster ORF, Norbert Hofer of the rightwing populist Freedom party (FPÖ) was neck and neck on 50% with his rival Alexander Van der Bellen, a former Green party leader who is running as an independent.

Postal ballots, accounting for 14% of eligible voters and expected to favour the left-leaning candidate, are being tallied on Monday, and a full result is not expected until Monday afternoon. Fifty per cent and one vote would suffice to hand the presidency to one of the two candidates. Data from Austria’s interior ministry, which does not take into account the projected postal vote, put Hofer on 51.9% and Van der Bellen on 48.1%."

See: Far-right candidate narrowly defeated in Austrian presidential election (The Guardian, link)

CYPRUS: Cyprus right-centre DISY wins elections, Golden Dawn affiliate enters parliament (New Europe, link): "The Cypriot ruling right-centre Democratic Rally (DISY) won the parliamentary elections in Cyprus, gathering 30.69 percent of the popular vote.

The win of the DISY was expected but the two most striking news after Sunday’s elections was the entering of the National Popular Front (ELAM) in the parliament and the high level of abstention.

(...)

ELAM is considered the affiliate party of the Greek Golden Dawn in Cyprus, and it managed to enter the parliament, gathering 3.71 percent of the vote. ELAM disagrees with the unification of Cyprus and it wants to increase the power of the Cypriot military. “For the first time, Cyprus will get nationalists in its parliament,” Golden Dawn leader Nikos Mihaloliakos told Greece’s parliament minutes after the first exit poll results were released.

Political analyst, Huber Faustmann told Reuters about ELAM that “It’s sort of a kindergarten version of Golden Dawn,” and he stressed that the elections results show that “all the big parties lost.”"

FRANCE: Paris attacks suspect refuses to speak at hearing (Al Jazeera, link): "The last known survivor of the team that carried out last November's Paris attacks, Salah Abdeslam, refused to talk during questioning by judges amid frustration at 24-hour video surveillance of his cell, his lawyer said.

The hearing ended abruptly on Friday, dashing French authorities' hopes that Abdeslam would provide more details about the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant group's strategies and individuals behind the November 13 attacks.

Abdeslam's lawyer, Frank Berton, said his client invoked his right to silence. While Abdeslam did not give a direct reason, Berton said he was "disturbed" by 24-hour video surveillance in his maximum-security cell in the Fleury-Merogis prison outside Paris."

UK trains soldiers for majority of regimes on its own human rights abuse watchlist (The Independent, link): "Britain is providing military training and support to the majority of the countries named on its own human rights abusers watchlist, The Independent can reveal.

The Foreign & Commonwealth Office (FCO) designated 30 nations as “human rights priority” countries last year, warning of their conduct on a range of issues from internal repression to the use of sexual violence in armed conflict.

But information released by ministers shows that British armed forces trained “either security or armed forces personnel” in 16 of the listed countries since 2014."

UK: Equal before the law? Government proposes huge court fees increase (Right to Remain, link): "The UK government has proposed increasing the fees that need to be paid to appeal an asylum or immigration decision in the First-tier and Upper Tribunal in England and Wales"

UK: Thousands of court cases adjourned due to failures in interpreting services (The Guardian, link): "More than 2,600 court cases have been adjourned over the past five years because of failures in the interpreting service, according to figures released by the Ministry of Justice.

The extent of the problem was confirmed as doubts emerged about the viability of the troubled contract for interpreting services after the outsourcing firm Capita declined to bid for its renewal in October."

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