Takeaways from the Bavaria State Election

The skyline of Nuremberg, Germany
The skyline of Nuremberg, Germany (Unsplash/Markus Spiske)

Readers of the Atlantic Sentinel will know by now that most English-language media have a tendency to sensationalize challenges to Angela Merkel’s leadership in Germany. That’s how the collapse of the Christian Social Union (CSU) in Bavaria is being reported as well.

Support for Merkel’s conservative allies, who have governed Bavaria uninterrupted since 1957, fell to an historic low of 37.2 percent in the state election on Sunday.

But it’s not all about the chancellor. Read more

Spain’s Sánchez Seals Spending Deal with Far Left

Spanish party leaders Pedro Sánchez and Pablo Iglesias meet in Madrid, February 5, 2016
Spanish party leaders Pedro Sánchez and Pablo Iglesias meet in Madrid, February 5, 2016 (PSOE)

Spanish prime minister Pedro Sánchez has negotiated a spending deal with the far-left Podemos party that could keep him in power for another year.

Sánchez’ Socialist Workers’ Party does not have a majority of its own. In addition to Podemos, it leans on the support of regionalist parties in the Spanish Congress.

Some of them have mounted a challenge, though: the Catalans have proposed trading their support for a legal and binding referendum on Catalan independence. Sánchez has ruled that out.

He may just get his budget through if one of the Catalan parties abstains and parties from other regions vote with him. But it will be tight. Read more

Northern Ireland’s Unionists Threaten to Rebel Over Brexit

The skyline of Belfast, Northern Ireland, April 13
The skyline of Belfast, Northern Ireland, April 13 (Allan Leonard)

Northern Ireland’s conservatives have threatened to withhold their support from Theresa May’s 2019 budget proposal if the prime minister crosses their “red lines” on Brexit.

May needs the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) of Northern Ireland for her majority in Westminster. Read more

The Remarkable Thing About Europe Is Not That It Has Problems

The European Parliament building in Strasbourg, France, March 8, 2016
The European Parliament building in Strasbourg, France, March 8, 2016 (European Parliament)

I’m used to American and British commentators dismissing the EU, but when even a Harvard professor misses the point it warrants a rebuttal.

Imagining a post-American world, Stephen M. Walt doesn’t see Europe playing much of a role. He argues in Foreign Policy that the EU project is deeply troubled.

  • The outcome of the Brexit process is uncertain.
  • Economic growth on the continent is uneven.
  • Extremist parties are flourishing in several countries.
  • The refugee issue, which has convulsed domestic politics throughout Europe, is not going away.

His bottom line:

The EU has become too large and heterogeneous to make rapid and bold decisions, and it faces opposition from illiberal and xenophobic elements within.

Read more

Trying to Turn Republicans into Liberals Is Now Hopeless

View of the United States Capitol in Washington DC, January 20, 2009
View of the United States Capitol in Washington DC, January 20, 2009 (Wikimedia Commons/Bgwwlm)

David Frum, a former speechwriter for George W. Bush, argues in The Atlantic that the Republican Party should become the party of liberalism in the United States.

As the Democrats move to left on economic policy, there is room for a party that defends free markets, free trade, limited government and personal liberty.

I agree, and before Donald Trump I was optimistic the Republican Party could move in this direction. I called it Republican Party 2.0.

On the eve of the 2016 election, when I was still confident Hillary Clinton would win, I even urged Republicans to purge Trump’s insurgents and return the party to its pre-Newt Gingrich center-right bearings.

But then Trump won and now Republicans have surrendered to him and his philosophy. Read more

Torra Gives Spain Ultimatum. His Position Is Weak

Quim Torra enters the parliament of Catalonia to be sworn in as the region's president, May 14
Quim Torra enters the parliament of Catalonia to be sworn in as the region’s president, May 14 (Miguel González de la Fuente)

Catalan president Quim Torra has given the Spanish government of Pedro Sánchez an ultimatum: allow the Catalans to exert their right to self-determination (which Spain doesn’t recognize) by November or lose the support of Catalan nationalist parties in Congress.

Sánchez needs the Catalans for his majority, but Torra’s position is weaker. Read more

Modest Gains for Trump in NAFTA Renegotiation

Canadian prime minister Justin Trudeau speaks with American president Donald Trump in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington DC, February 13, 2017
Canadian prime minister Justin Trudeau speaks with American president Donald Trump in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington DC, February 13, 2017 (Flickr/Justin Trudeau)

On the heels of an arbitrary — and, it turns out, unnecessary — deadline, Canada, Mexico and the United States have finalized a renegotiation the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). The new deal is called the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA):

What’s in it? Read more