Italy’s Small Left Rejects Pact, Making Defeat More Likely

Pier Luigi Bersani speaks at a Democratic Party event in Bologna, Italy, February 24, 2012
Pier Luigi Bersani speaks at a Democratic Party event in Bologna, Italy, February 24, 2012 (Partito Democratico Emilia Romagna/Vincenzo Menichella)

Italy’s smaller left-wing party has ruled out a pact with Matteo Renzi’s Democrats, making a populist or right-wing victory more likely in the upcoming election.

Pier Luigi Bersani, a former Democratic Party leader who now belongs to the dissident Democrats and Progressives, has rejected Renzi’s overtures as “theatrics”. Read more

Don’t Panic: Merkel Still Has Options

German chancellor Angela Merkel arrives in Paris, France, January 11, 2015
German chancellor Angela Merkel arrives in Paris, France, January 11, 2015 (Bundesregierung)

It’s only been twelve hours since the first round of coalition talks in Germany collapsed and some are already calling it the “worst political crisis” in the nation’s postwar history.

Let’s not panic yet. Read more

No Shock Therapy: Macri Takes Gradual Approach to Reform

Presidents Mauricio Macri of Argentina and Michel Temer of Brazil deliver a news conference in Brasília, February 7
Presidents Mauricio Macri of Argentina and Michel Temer of Brazil deliver a news conference in Brasília, February 7 (Carolina Antunes)

Argentina’s Mauricio Macri and his coalition have reasserted their position as the party of government following last month’s mid-term elections. The first conservative to win the presidency since democracy was restored in 1983, his supporters won majorities in thirteen out of 23 provinces. They have also taken charge of five of the most populous districts in the capital Buenos Aires.

Yet Macri’s party, Cambiemos (Let’s Change), still doesn’t have a majority in Congress, which helps explain his step-by-step approach to reforming the economy. Read more

Rajoy Walks Back Promise of Constitutional Reform

Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy of Spain gives a speech in Las Palmas, June 18, 2016
Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy of Spain gives a speech in Las Palmas, June 18, 2016 (PP)

Spanish prime minister Mariano Rajoy has walked back his promise of constitutional reform, saying in a radio interview, “I have never been a supporter of reforming the Constitution. I’m prepared to listen, but not to go against unity or sovereignty.”

His only concession was to agree the current model of autonomous communities needs to be “evaluated” — but that could mean different things:

  • Left-wing parties argue for something close to federation, perhaps even with a right to self-determination for the Basques and Catalans.
  • Nationalists on the right, who felt Rajoy didn’t intervene strongly enough to disrupt the October 1 independence referendum in Catalonia, argue for centralization. Read more

Italy’s Leftists Open Door to Necessary Alliance

Pier Luigi Bersani addresses a Democratic Party congress in Rome, January 17, 2013
Pier Luigi Bersani addresses a Democratic Party congress in Rome, January 17, 2013 (Ilaria Prili)

Pier Luigi Bersani, the leader of Italy’s dissident leftist party, has opened the door to a pact with the ruling Democrats, saying, “If they want to talk to us, they must know that they should come with proposals.”

Bersani’s nemesis, Matteo Renzi, who toppled the older man in 2013, called for left-wing unity on Monday.

“There is more harmony with people with whom we have been divided by arguments and controversies than with our traditional rivals,” he argued. Read more

Don’t Exaggerate Russian Meddling in the Catalan Independence Crisis

View of the Palau Nacional in Barcelona, Spain, March 17, 2011
View of the Palau Nacional in Barcelona, Spain, March 17, 2011 (Mark Turner)

Spanish media exaggerate Russia’s role in the Catalan independence crisis.

Russian state media, like RT and Sputnik, and Russia-friendly trolls, like WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, have predictably sought to exploit the crisis in a major European Union and NATO country, for three reasons:

  1. To encouraging Catalan separatism.
  2. To provoking an overreaction from the Spanish right.
  3. To legitimizing the self-determination referendum it organized in the Crimea in 2014.

But there is little evidence Russian propaganda has changed anyone’s mind. Read more

World Not Waiting for America: Pacific Nations Continue Trade Deal

Prime Ministers Shinzō Abe of Japan and Justin Trudeau of Canada speak in Washington DC, March 31, 2016
Prime Ministers Shinzō Abe of Japan and Justin Trudeau of Canada speak in Washington DC, March 31, 2016 (Flickr/Justin Trudeau)

In another sign that the world isn’t waiting for the United States, eleven countries in Asia and Latin America have announced their intention to keep the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) alive.

One of Donald Trump’s first acts as president was to withdraw from the trade pact.

Japan and Mexico stepped into America’s place to salvage it.

Both have also intensified their trade negotiations with the EU, which itself is rushing to defend globalization from a suddenly protectionist America. Read more