tv Focus on Europe PBS December 28, 2015 6:30pm-7:01pm PST
christopher: a very warm welcome to "focus on europe," the magazine that puts a fresh perspective on the continent, and brings you the human stories behind the headlines. my nameis christopher springate, and these are our top stories this week. why europe's young voters are flocking to the far-right. why russia's so-called mono-cities are slowly dying. why migrants face months of waiting before they can build a new life. wherever you look in europe, the far-right is winning support. hungary's populist fidesh party for instance, the radical people's party in denmark, and most recently, the front national in france.
now, the f.n. may have failed to win a single region in sunday's regional polls but its , underlying trend is positive. compared to the previous election, the front national has tripled its support. like other far-right parties, it's benefitting from widespread fear over the effects of mass immigration. but it's also benefitting from the failure of successive french governments to address the country's economic woes. young people in particular complain they have no perspectives. so for the lack of a better alternative, many are turning to the radical right. >> marseille has the highest unemployment rate in france. over one-third of young people here are without work. enzo is fed up. he wants change, and is convinced the far-right front national can bring it about. he's a great admirer of marion marechal le pen, granddaughter of jean-marie le pen, the party's original founder. just 26, she's the rising star
of the french far-right and already a member of the french national assembly. she recently stood for election in the provence alpes cote d'azur constituency, which includes marseille and nice. marion is young. >> she represents a new era. she's the ideal face of the front national. she performs well in debates and upholds the party line. her achievements are impressive. we're also young, and seeing a young woman reach such heights at such a young age is inspiring. >> the front national wants to see france leave the eu and a return to the french franc. the party is convinced that the only way france can overcome the debt crisis is to go it alone. >> when we have political parties ignoring french homeless people and showing immigrants preferential treatment, where is the fraternity in that? we're proud of our identity.
we're taking the french flag that other parties have cast into the gutter and are holding it high again. >> her insistence on france as "la grande nation" goes down well with the younger generation, even if it's a term most of them only know from history books. >> we're taught in school that we're a great people. there was the french revolution in 1789, we had napoleon, we had the kings. but now france has relinquished its souvereignty to europe, but we don't care about europe at all. >> many young people are proud of french history. over a third of them voted for the front national in the first round of regional elections. in the south, the figure was even higher. in recent years, the established parties have veered from one corruption scandal to the next. observers say they failed to address the crisis besetting
domestic politics. >> france is the poor man of europe. not because the french are the worst off but because problems aren't being solved. there are 5 million people unemployed and no solution whatsoever in sight. and now, we have an identity problem. all parties, including the front national, like to cite the illustrious history of the french republic. the trouble is that france doesn't know how to find its place in today's globalised world. >> enzo and his friends are working round the clock, campaigning for marion marechal le pen. he agrees with her avowal that immigrants are responsible for the problems in france. marseille is traditionally catholic, but the city is now home to some 130,000 muslims. no party has managed to find ways that could boost their integration.
the reality is that, rival gangs of drug dealers dominate the city's muslim neighbourhoods. >> former president sarkozy didn't follow his own words. he promised to clean up the immigrant neighbourhoods, but he didn't do anything. in cities all over france, there are neighbourhoods that even police dare not enter. >> for enzo, the front national is the only party that can help. it has no remedy for the high unemployment rate, but that doesn't seem to bother him. he thinks the problem will be solved once the party's in government. he has blind faith in the front national. but not all of its leaders are as charming as marion marechal le pen. stephane ravier, member of the french senate and a local mayor in marseille, orders enzo to stop talking to us, in no uncertain terms. >> you know what you can do with
that camera. you like th press, do you? you've been with us eight days and you're already chatting away. you need to learn some discipline or you're out of here. >> i'll give you the mike back. >> so speaking to the press is a no-go. the front national's leaders are determined to control the party's lower echelons at any price. on the eve of the second round of regional elections, we can't find enzo at the party headquarters. he obviously hasn't been allowed in. marion marechal le pen gives a victory speech, even though she didn't win the seat. despite her defeat, she won't be softening her stance on immigrants, the press, the other parties. >> these cynical profiteers who think they can scare us off our path, to them i say, you're wrong.
we will double our efforts and our fighting spirit is undampened. our love for france has never been greater. >> the far-right in the south of france has the wind in its sails. the front national now has three times more support than it did six years ago, mainly thanks to a younger generation that fears for the future, and is easy prey for populists and rabble-rousers. [laughter] so, young french voters there, clearly impressed by the populist recipes of the far-right. and the same can be said of young people across the continent. faced with mass unemployment, they are turning to radical parties. so the question is, what are the established parties going to do about it? and this is something we also want your opinions on, is europe doing enough to provide perspectives for its young people? send us your comments, via email or via facebook. and you'll find me on twitter @springontheroad.
we turn our focus to russia now, whose economy remains in recession as it struggles with low oil prices and western sanctions. a less publicised problem, but an equally serious one, are russia's so-called mono-cities. these are urban centres often built around a single factory that provides all the jobs and even social services. once the backbone of the soviet union's planned economy, many of these mono-cities are now in a desperate state. chusovoy, for instance, one and a half thousand kilometres eas of moscow. once a growing city with flourishing steel works. today, it's fighting for survival. >> the miserable state of the roads in the russian town of chusovoy is a sign that the local government doesn't have the money to fix the streets. the steel works the town depends upon is operating at a fraction of its capacity. this is a dying city. the factory is not much more than a quaint reminder of the days when the soviet union was
an industrial powerhouse. older folks who don't have much money struggle to survive here. most of the young people have moved away, and it's easy to see why. the local cinema shut down long ago. the entrance is overgrown. an air of despair hangs over the city. in the mid-1990s, when the privatization of the russian economy was in full swing, a wealthy businessman bought the factory, and made good money with it. some 10,000 people had jobs in the mines, the blast furnaces, and rolling mills. today, much of the factory stands idle. the director shows us equipment he calls new. it dates back to 1954. >> and this is 41-years old. >> this is the leaf-spring
works. it uses modern robot technology. some of the output is exported to automakers in europe. the director says that this 136-year-old rolling mill plant will be up and running again in a couple of weeks. the director is reluctant to show us other parts of the factory. there are vacant lots where a dozen different production facilities used to be. a pipeline manufacturing project planned on this location never took off. >> oil prices have fallen, and the big oil companies aren't developing any new fields. furthermore, the construction costs for new processing facilities have doubled. >> one big reason for that is the steep decline in the value
of the ruble. president putin visited the region three years ago, and later included chusovoy in a financial-assistance program. putin promised that the federal government would provide credit guarantees for people who invested here. the agreement was signed by regional officals and oligarchs. >> i would personally like to thank president vladimir putin. he made a personal decision to build this factory. >> the process of tearing down the old facilities went as planned, to make room for the new factory. but it was never built, the promised new jobs never materialised. thousands of people were thrown out of work when the old factory closed. but today, only few local residents turn up at a protest rally where local politicians call on moscow to take action.
>> when putin came to power, he promised to create 20 million new jobs, but, with all due respect, i don't see any new jobs. in fact, the opposite is true. the old labor structures are being torn down. >> when president putin's "unity" party promised to build a new factory, many voted for it, but the reality now is sobering. >> we've had a lot of suicides here. >> how many? >> there are no official statistics. the politicians try to keep it quiet. the public doesn't know anything about it. >> amir sells a newspaper that he writes and publishes himself. he used to work as a reporter, but he was fired when he started investigating allegations of local corruption. he's not afraid of powerful politicians.
>> he even sent a petition to putin. >> amir's work is well-known here. >> i print the paper myself. i'm retired now, and i cover the printing costs out ofmy pension, after my living expenses. >> he tries to put out an edition every other week. >> there's no free press here. i'm the only person in chusovoy who speaks out. >> amir says two new factories were supposed to be built here. one was supposed to produce pre-fabricated wooden homes. the state subsidized the project with a lumber concession. a cubic meter of wood cost just one-tenth of the normal market price. but the concession was not awarded to local lumber firms, but to a person who had close
ties to the politicians. he turned around and sold the concession rights to someone else, at 14 times their original value. >> a real scandal. some big politician's idea. >> the two factories were never built. the banks refused the necessary loans. the lumber companies are paying more than ever for the trees. but no one wants to talk to us about all this. >> they're all afraid, but they don't know why. >> is that typical? >> yes, typical. >> and then it starts to rain. the city of chusovoy looks even more depressing now. most people here have given up hope that the new factories will ever be built, or that the streets will be repaired. [laughter] germany has taken in one million refugees this year, by far the
largest number here in europe. chancellor angela merkel has faced strong criticism for the open-border policy responsible for that influx. she continues to insist however, "wir schaffen das," "we germans will manage." but what about the refugees themselves, will they manage? building a new life in a foreign country is no easy task. take ahmad shehabi, for instance, a young syrian refugee we accompanied five months ago, as he took the dangerous balkan route all the way to germany. we caught up with him again this week, and found out that immigration is first and foremost, a waiting game. >> ahmad shehabi is in safety, in germany. since he fled syria five months ago, he's lived in a small asylum-seekers hostel in the town of greiz in central germany. he had hoped to study and work in germany, but he doesn't have the necessary papers to do that. >> this is the most important place for all of us, this is the postbox.
every day we look for it, if we have a post or not. our post here is for acceptance about residence or something like this. >> ahmad is waiting for the recognition of his refugee status. at the moment, he only has a temporary residence permit, and can't bring his wife to germany. the two fled from syria to turkey. ahmad left his wife there, and set off alone on the dangerous journey across the mediterranean. his wife was afraid she'd never see him again. >> i send her a message, that i am alive. she said, no, you are lying, you are not ahmad. if you are ahmad, just let me hear your voice. and when i called her, she started to cry. >> since then, ahmad has called his wife every day. >> hello.
how are you? i miss you so much. >> ahmad's wife is living illegally in istanbul. >> this is hard. if we are lucky and she gets a visa in june, that it will be, we will complete one year without touch, without seeing ourselves, but we have to wait. >> ahmad is going to the city of suhl in thuringen. he wants to visit the reception center where he first arrived, and see what's changed since the summer, when thousands of refugees like him arrived. >> here, this is the camp. this fence is new. >> suhl has become mass housing for 1,800 refugees, three times as many as in summer. overcrowding makes some residents aggressive, and
occasionally fighting break out. >> you can find a lot of problems here. but i like it here, because here you can find a lot of persons, different nationalities, different nations and different culture. and you can also make your experience with them. >> right after arriving in june, ahmad started working with the social services as an interpreter, and as an arbitrator between other refugees. he's still well-known here. >> wie geht's dir? alles gut? >> he was always there, always. you were there whenever we needed you. we rarely had to call him, he helped with everything, whether it was translating, or with the doctor, or with the reception process. he was always there. >> now ahmad is looking for
something to do in greiz, but he feels very much like an outsider. refugees are not always welcome, and there have been attacks by neonazis. >> i heard some about their problems with the neonazis and also not just here in this heim, but also in other heims. >> but after his experiences in syria, ahmad is less afraid of neonazis than of religious fanatics. his wife is christian, and he's muslim. that kind of mixed marriage makes them a target for killing by the terrorists of is, which is why they fled their home. >> i am afraid of they bring these problems from the middle east or from other, here to germany. >> but ahmad is putting his faith in the german state, and hopes to make a fresh start here. rene petzold is helping him. he's asked ahmad to copy edit the arabic translation of the
local bus timetable. >> we've met a few times now. it's been a good experience, and we've been able to get to know each other a little bit. >> ahmad is now at least able to travel and work in germany. but the uncertainty about his asylum status, and the slowly turning wheels of german bureaucracy cause him sleepless nights. >> we have hope, still hope about that, but it is terrible. >> ahmad wants very much to make a new life for himself and his wife in germany. [laughter] for europe's roma minority, discrimination is an almost daily phenomenon. in eastern europe, the situationis particularly bad, especially for roma women. the tiny ex-soviet republic of moldova is a case in point. in male-dominated families there, women have practically no say in how they live their lives.
but now, a united nations programme called women in politics is helping them raise their voices and even run for office. we caught up with one roma woman who's been elected to the city council of rishkani. >> laura bosnea would like to turn this house into a daycare center for roma children. they don't have the same opportunities as other children in moldova. but bosnea keeps facing hurdles placed by both moldovans and roma. >> in our city, roma children and children from poor families, who aren't bathed properly or wear dirty clothes, are not allowed into the kindergarten. that is unfortunately the reality. children who have no money don't get into the advanced classes, even if they're intelligent and talented. if we could open a daycare center here that offers that, that would be wonderful. >> laura bosnea wants to do
something new. she's what's known as a romni, a woman roma. in moldova, the roma are the poorest of the poor, and laura wants to change that. quite a challenge for the newly-elected city councillor in the male-dominated roma community. >> have you seen any woman going to a job here? they're only at home, taking care of the children. that's all. in our tradition, women don't work. they're supposed to raise the children and cook. >> among the majority of roma in the republic of moldova, women haven't played a role in public life. laura was able to go into politics thanks to a united nations project that trained her and financed her campaign. her parents supported her, which is not a matter of course. >> if your father decides, because you're a girl, you don't need any further education, then that's it. you get married off and become a
housewife, and not even your mother can change that. >> but laura bosnea wants to change exactly that, which is why she devotes special attention to roma families with many children. here she's visiting eugeniu in riscani's poor neighborhood. he lives in this half-finished house with his wife and their seven children, without electricity or running water. eugeniu works as a day laborer, and he and his wife collect nuts that they painstakingly shell and try to sell, a meager income. their hands are discolored from the nuts, but they don't want their children to help. they want them to go to school, with clean hands. >> things were better before. much better. we had a car, he always had work, there was something to do. we had a better life. but since i no longer get welfare, it's very hard for me, for me and the children.
>> moldova only grants welfare to people who register their residence, and that's expensive for roma families, often too exensive. laura wants to support this family so they can submit the claims they are entitled to. >> they are so poor they don't have proper flooring, and with small children. i'll be glad when they finally get welfare again, and the children will have something to eat and to wear. >> the young city councillor will the young city councillor can't stay long. she has a meeting with the baron, the highest representative of the roma community, in the capital chisinau. , that's a great honor for laura bosnea, and an opportunity for some important lobbying. she hopes the baron will support her work in politics. wil>> we have to cooperate with
the entire roma community. if we don't do that, who else will? >> laura bosnea's vision is for everyone to pull together. she hopes that more roma women will go into politics, even though the city doesn't have much money, and she has to fight hard for everything, even basic things. she's the only councillor who doesn't have a computer. [laughter] that's all for this week from "focus on europe." we'll be back next week, of course. in the meantime, do send us your views and comments, on facebook, for instance or on twitter. for now, though, thanks for watching, and see you soon. óxñx