Europe's Troublemakers

Episodes

EpisodeTitleFirst
Broadcast
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01Hungary's Crusading Conductor20140217

In Hungary, she meets Ivan Fischer - the conductor and composer who is holding up a mirror to Hungarian society and using culture to expose growing racial intolerance. The success of the extreme right wing party Jobbik in the 2010 elections prompted him to write an opera denouncing anti-Semitism. Fischer's opera, The Red Heifer draws on an incident 130 years ago when a young girl went missing in a village in North East Hungary. Local Jews were accused of murdering the 14 year old and were eventually acquitted but blood libel stories such as these still resonate more than a century later. But some have accused Fischer of cultural politicking and say he is in danger of besmirching the country's image abroad. Lucy catches up with the composer as he rehearses for his next performance.

02Spain's Anti-eviction Activist20140218

Lucy Ash profiles five people who are making waves across Europe, with individual stories which expose the continent's cultural, political and economic fault lines.

Ada Colau made the headlines when she called a banker a 'criminal' at a parliamentary hearing into Spain's mortgage crisis. According to Spanish media she is "the best-known representative of popular indignation" in the country. After the hearing, her Twitter following shot up from 8,000 to 100,000. The group she founded, known as the PAH or Platform for People Affected by Mortgages, has blocked hundreds of evictions of families unable to keep up with their mortgage payments. Supporters are encouraged to embarrass government officials by haranguing them outside their own homes. Ada was driven to set up the organisation and challenge Spain's draconian mortgage laws after a number of indebted homeowners committed suicide. But the governing party has accused the PAH of extremism and was outraged when it got a prize last year from the European Parliament. A few months later the government drafted strict new laws against unauthorized protests. Ada Colau is not deterred. "Either we disobey," she wrote on her Twitter account, "or we accept slavery." Lucy travels to Barcelona to meet Ada and some of the distressed homeowners she has helped. They also visit a bank, which was invaded by members of PAH and is now home to families evicted from their former homes.

Producer: Mark Savage.

03Italy's Prankster Artists20140219

Lucy Ash profiles people who are making waves across Europe, with individual stories which expose the continent's cultural, political and economic fault lines.

Wu Ming - an Italian writers' collective rather than one person - is turning literary conventions on their head and questioning the political establishment. They started out as pranksters, hoodwinking the media, cooking up stories about a missing British cyclist and an artistic chimpanzee. Now their exploits are mainly confined to the page following the unexpected success of their first novel Q which has been translated into more than 20 languages. They are prolific bloggers and writers of non-fiction on issues they care about such as Italy's colonial record in Africa and the threat of fascism in Europe.Lucy Ash samples their brand of art and activism, first at a reading in Turin and then with Italy's most famous social protest movement, which is fighting a high-speed rail link under the Alps.

Producer: Mark Savage.

04France's Red Hat Mayor20140220

Lucy Ash profiles five people who are making waves across Europe, with individual stories which expose the continent's cultural, political and economic fault lines.

Christian Troadec is the gruff Breton mayor who has struck a blow for independence from a revenue-hungry French state. Carhaix, his town of 15,000 people, has been called ground zero in the revolt of the red caps - named after Breton bonnets rouges who led a protest in the 17th century. In those days the revolt was against the levies imposed by Louis XIV, the Sun King, to finance his war against the Dutch. Nearly 340 years later, people in Brittany have donned their bonnets rouges once more to fight taxes imposed, not by a king, but by President Francois Hollande and his socialist government. They joke it is the new 'guerre de Hollande' and the red caps include farmers, fishermen, traders, shopkeepers and workers. The last straw for many was the hated "ecotax" on lorries. Trucking is essential for the transport of agricultural products in this agricultural region. The government hopes it has bought off dissent with a new Chinese-owned dairy factory but Troadec says the bonnet rouges will not be so easily placated. Lucy Ash visits the mayor in his stronghold to hear about his next move - a congress in March designed to air Brittany's many grievances with Paris.

Producer: Mark Savage.

05 LASTUkraine: Tetiana Chornovol20140221

Lucy Ash profiles five people who are making waves across Europe, with individual stories which expose the continent's cultural, political and economic faultlines.

Tetiana Chornovol, a Ukrainian opposition journalist, was brutally attacked after her car was forced off the side of the road on Christmas Day. The beating took place just hours after the publication of an article she wrote on the assets of top government officials. Chornovol believes she was targeted for exposing government corruption and for writing about two of the lavish residences she claims belong to President Viktor Yanukovych. She had played a leading role in the ongoing pro-EU protests in Maidan Square, climbing on trucks and urging crowds to occupy the city council building in Kiev. Her critics claim she is more an activist with ties to nationalist parties than an objective observer of the Ukrainian political scene. Lucy Ash talks to her while she recovers from her injuries and finds out what she is planning to do next.

Producer: Mark Savage.