Dutch Hope for Smooth Brexit, Russians Have Little Faith in Trump

Prime Ministers Theresa May of the United Kingdom, Mark Rutte of the Netherlands and Justin Trudeau of Canada pose for photographs outside NATO headquarters in Brussels, May 25, 2017
Prime Ministers Theresa May of the United Kingdom, Mark Rutte of the Netherlands and Justin Trudeau of Canada pose for photographs outside NATO headquarters in Brussels, May 25, 2017 (Flickr/Justin Trudeau)

Mehreen Khan reports for the Financial Times that the Dutch are lobbying both sides in the Brexit negotiations: They are pleading with the Brits to decide what they want and trying to ensure in Brussels that the United Kingdom is given plenty of room to reverse course or rethink red lines, whether it be on the customs union or anything else.

The reason: close relations across the North Sea.

Britain’s erstwhile continental ally has been a reliable partner on everything from EU budget contributions to the single market but is now uniquely exposed to the economic and emotional side-effects of Brexit.

In France, by contrast, attitudes have hardened. Since Emmanuel Macron’s election last summer, the share of French voters who wish Britain would change its mind has fallen. Tony Barber argues that Brexit is now seen not a loss but a potential gain to France. Read more

Everything You Need to Know About the Election in Italy

The facade of the Palazzo Montecitorio, the seat of the Italian parliament in Rome, October 23, 2010
The facade of the Palazzo Montecitorio, the seat of the Italian parliament in Rome, October 23, 2010 (Stefano Maffei)

Italians will elect a new parliament on March 4. Here is everything you need to know about the election.

Bottom lines

  • A “grand coalition” between the center-left and center-right may be the only way to form a government.
  • Whatever the outcome, Italy will almost certainly abandon fiscal discipline, and possibly rebel against EU fiscal rules, in order to make extra spending possible. Read more

New Political Party in Britain, Room for Party in Germany

View of the Palace of Westminster in London, England
View of the Palace of Westminster in London, England (Unsplash/Simon Mason)

Anti-Brexit campaigners have launched a new political party in the United Kingdom: Renew.

The party aims to be a “vehicle for people who feel politically homeless,” said James Clarke, one of the three co-leaders.

EurActiv reports that the party claims to have more than 450 applications from candidates to run for the 650-seat House of Commons.

Britain’s first-past-the-post system doesn’t make it easy for newcomers. The last time a major party broke through was in the 1920s, when Labour overtook the Liberals as the largest party on the left.

But the Conservatives and Labour have left the center wide open, the former by embracing the reactionary cause of Brexit, the latter by electing the far-left Jeremy Corbyn as leader. Somebody was bound to try to fill that hole. Read more

Gun and Immigration Debates Entrench Tribal Divisions in United States

View of the United States Capitol from the Washington Monument in Washington DC, March 18, 2011
View of the United States Capitol from the Washington Monument in Washington DC, March 18, 2011 (MudflapDC)

Ronald Brownstein writes in The Atlantic that Republicans in his country have become a “coalition of restoration”: older, blue-collar, evangelical and non-urban whites most uneasy about the tectonic cultural and economic forces reshaping American life. Republican lawmakers represent those areas with the most guns and the fewest immigrants.

Democrats, by contrast, rely on a heavily urbanized “coalition of transformation”: minorities, millennials and college-educated and secular white voters, especially women. Democratic voters have fewer guns and live in places with more immigrants.

We can see a similar divide in Europe. On the one hand, inward-looking, typically lower-educated voters living in small towns and the countryside; on the other, cosmopolitan college graduates living in the big cities. Read more

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Trump Lashes Out, Merkel Looks for Successor

German chancellor Angela Merkel speaks with American president Donald Trump in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington DC, March 17, 2017
German chancellor Angela Merkel speaks with American president Donald Trump in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington DC, March 17, 2017 (Bundesregierung)

An apt headline from Politico: Trump attacks everyone but Russia.

Since thirteen Russian nationals and three Russian entities were indicted on Friday for violating criminal laws to interfere in the 2016 election, the president has lashed out at CNN, the FBI, Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton and the top Democrat on the House intelligence committee — everyone but the people who tampered with American democracy.

The New York Times reports that Trump’s “conspicuous silence” on Russia’s actions, and his acceptance of Vladimir Putin’s denial, has startled experts and leaves the country leaderless as it fends off more cyberattacks.

Both left-wing blogger Heather Digby Parton and conservative author Max Boot can think of only two ways to explain Trump’s behavior:

  1. The best-case scenario: The president was an unwitting dupe and is actively covering up the scandal to assuage his fragile ego.
  2. The worst-case scenario: He conspired with a foreign power to win the election.

If there is a third option, I’d love to hear it. Read more

What We Know About the Midterm Elections in the United States

View of the United States Capitol in Washington DC, August 4, 2013
View of the United States Capitol in Washington DC, August 4, 2013 (Jeffrey Zeldman)

The map is biased against Democrats, but don’t overestimate the Republican turnout advantage. It wouldn’t take that much for a Democratic wave to turn into a tsunami. White women and college graduates are likely to decide the outcome.

Here is what we know about the upcoming congressional elections in the United States. Read more