The National:

IRELAND will go to the polls on Friday with the uncertainty of Brexit hanging over the EU member state, which shares a land border with the UK.

Given the importance of agriculture to the Irish economy, virtually all of the 59 candidates competing in the three constituencies for the 13 Irish seats – Scotland, with a greater population, has just six but would have 12 or 13 if independent – have made pronouncements on subjects such as Brexit’s effect on the Common Agricultural Policy and the emergency aid provided by the EU for Ireland’s troubled beef sector.

There are also local elections which, together with the European Parliament elections, will give the Taoiseach Leo Varadkar’s Fine Gael minority government a serious headache – not least because the latest opinion poll shows the party down five points to 28%.

That poll, which was published in the Business Post on Sunday, led to reports that Varadkar would probably not proceed with a general election any time soon. He had been reported to be ready to dissolve the partnership with the conservative Fianna Fail party that has had a confidence-and-supply agreement with Fine Gael for three years – quite different from Theresa May’s deal with the DUP, who are able to hold her at ransom at will.

As in many other countries, climate change has been a growing issue during the Irish campaign and that will be the reason for the doubling of support for the Greens, though they are still at only around 7-8% nationally.

Sinn Fein is having problems, because of Brexit and other issues. Party leader Mary Lou McDonald told RTE news last week: “It is problematic for us that some would want Europe to be militarised and this would mean that our Irish neutrality would be threatened. We also want a Europe that serves its citizens, not just big corporate interests.”

Friday will be a busy day at the polls with votes also being cast in a referendum on loosening divorce laws.

The National:

CROATIAN national football hero Miroslav Blazevic (pictured above) has received a very unsubtle death threat following his support for a Serbian party in the European Parliament.

Extremist Croatian nationalists are thought to be behind the threat after Blacevic spoke out in support of the Serb Party in a country still riven by enmities dating from the times of Tito and Yugoslavia.

Known as Ciro, Blazevic is revered both for his long playing career in the former Yugoslavia and for his remarkable feat of managing the Croatian national team to third place in the 1998 World Cup in France.

Last week a fake death notice for Blazevic went viral. The anonymous troll wrote that Blazevic passed away on Wednesday, May 15, and that the funeral would be held on Saturday, May 18, at the Mirogoj Cemetery in Zagreb.

The notice lists the leader of Serbs in Croatia Milorad Pupovac and members of his Independent Democratic Serb Party (SDSS), Croatian Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic and the speaker of Croatian parliament Gordan Jandrokovic, as bereaved family members.

According to the Total Croatia News agency, the death notice was published on the day when the SDSS released a video for their election campaign in which Blazevic says: “People used to chant about me: ‘Ciro, you f****t!’ And now I hear you say this about Pupovac. You chanted it to me because you loved me, and I do not know why you are saying that to him. But I know I will support him. Listen to what your Ciro has to say. All people are equal.”

He told reporters: “Many people did not understand my message, which is, in the first place, well-intentioned and peaceful.

“I did it anyway to help the people I love the most – the young Croats for whom I hope this has opened their eyes a bit.”

The National:

MALTA’S ruling Labour Party is set to comfortably win the country’s European Parliament elections at the weekend.

With a population less than that of Edinburgh, Malta will have the same number of seats as Scotland in the Parliament, but unlike here it looks as though Labour (PL) will be the winners in a vote that is set to affirm the popularity of Prime Minister Joseph Muscat (pictured above).

A poll carried out for Malta Today showed that Labour have a 13-point lead over the Nationalist Party (PN), with the survey putting the PL at 41.3% and the PN at 27.9%.

It is very much in accordance with recent opinion polls which show public trust in Muscat at record levels.

The campaigns in Malta have been sabotaged by anarchists who have taken to defacing political party billboard advertisements.

Malta Today reported that a group calling itself Billboard Guerillas had taken action against the adverts across the country.

The respected online newspaper told how the Billboard Guerillas said that both PL and PN were trying to convince the public that they loved Malta and were willing to fight for it.

However, the group said, “tragically, their track record shows that they have consistently ignored the common good and turned Malta and its population into a material to be exploited by their rich and greedy friends”.

The group told reporters: “As another election approaches, our country has yet again been plastered with stupid and meaningless political messages of all shapes and sizes, calling the Billboard Guerrillas into action once again.”