Liberal Free Democrats Would Keep Merkel Sharp

Christian Lindner, leader of Germany's Free Democratic Party, gives an interview in Berlin, June 26
Christian Lindner, leader of Germany’s Free Democratic Party, gives an interview in Berlin, June 26 (INSM)

There is little doubt Angela Merkel will win reelection in Germany on Sunday. Her Christian Democrats are projected to win up to 40 percent support against 25 percent for the second party, the Social Democrats.

The two could continue to share power in a “grand coalition”, but we’re hoping the liberal Free Democrats will win enough seats to help form a center-right government instead.

Polls suggest that the two parties might just fall short of a majority. Conservative and liberal voters who want to keep the left out of power ought to give the Free Democrats their support. Read more

Partisan Divide in German Views on Catalan Referendum

A bird sits on top of one of the spires of the German Reichstag building in Berlin, December 31, 2005
A bird sits on top of one of the spires of the German Reichstag building in Berlin, December 31, 2005 (Max Braun)

German views on Catalonia’s independence bid break down along partisan lines. Left-wing commentators sympathize with Catalan pleas for self-determination and blame Spain for the impasse. Conservatives focus on the illegality of the planned October 1 vote. Read more

Boris Johnson Makes One More Bid for Relevance

British foreign secretary Boris Johnson gives a speech at Chatham House in London, England, December 2, 2016
British foreign secretary Boris Johnson gives a speech at Chatham House in London, England, December 2, 2016 (Chatham House)

When Theresa May named Boris Johnson foreign secretary last year, she wisely took the Brexit and international-trade portfolios away from him. This way, she contained the damage the buffoonish Johnson could do to both British foreign policy and her premiership.

But the former mayor of London’s appetite for higher office and publicity is never satisfied.

This week, he rattled Conservatives with a long opinion piece in The Telegraph (a right-wing newspaper he used to work for) that can only be read as a challenge to May. Read more

Center-Right Voters Eager to Govern in Germany, Center-Left Unsure

German chancellor Angela Merkel addresses parliament in Berlin, September 6, 2016
German chancellor Angela Merkel addresses parliament in Berlin, September 6, 2016 (Bundesregierung)

Center-right voters in Germany hope Angela Merkel’s next coalition government will unite her Christian Democrats and the liberal Free Democrats. But if the Greens are needed for a majority, they could live with that, the latest Deutschlandtrend poll shows.

Green party voters are less interested in a three-party coalition but surprisingly supportive of a deal with the right: 68 percent would join a Merkel-led administration.

The Christian Democrats are almost certain to remain the largest party, but it’s unclear from the polls if the Free Democrats will win enough seats to form a two-party government.

The Social Democrats, the second largest party, aren’t desperate for another “grand coalition”. Half their voters would prefer to go into opposition rather than share power with Merkel for another four years. Read more

Spanish Far Left Takes Rajoy to Task for Catalan “Repression”

Spanish Podemos party leader Pablo Iglesias listens to a speech in Barcelona, September 11
Spanish Podemos party leader Pablo Iglesias listens to a speech in Barcelona, September 11 (Podemos)

Pablo Iglesias, the head of Spain’s far-left Podemos movement, has criticized Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy for his handling of the Catalan separatist challenge.

In a series of tweets, Iglesias takes Rajoy and his government to task for their “fear of democracy”.

Defending Spain requires providing political solutions to historical problems. Prison and repression will only compound the problems.

Iglesias accuses Rajoy of aggravating support for independence by refusing to negotiate with the Catalans and argues that the only way out of the crisis is to let them vote. Read more

Why Americans Can’t Have European-Style Health Care

Vermont senator Bernie Sanders takes part in a protest in Washington DC, November 17, 2016
Vermont senator Bernie Sanders takes part in a protest in Washington DC, November 17, 2016 (Lorie Shaull)

Sixteen Democratic senators, led by the 2016 presidential hopeful Bernie Sanders, have called for reforms that would make all Americans eligible for public health care.

Such a system — the Americans call it “single-payer” — would be uncontroversial in Europe, where most countries guarantee health care to their citizens.

But it seems impossible to get done in America. Why? Read more

Juncker Harkens Back to False More-or-Less Europe Dichotomy

European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker makes his annual State of the Union speech to the European Parliament in Strasbourg, September 13
European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker makes his annual State of the Union speech to the European Parliament in Strasbourg, September 13 (European Parliament)

European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker’s proposal for closer EU integration is a throwback to the false dichotomy of more or less Europe.

In his annual State of the Union address, the Luxembourger called for merging the presidencies of the European Commission and the European Council, completing the eurozone and shifting from unanimity to majority voting on important decisions.

His plans contradict the vision of a “multispeed Europe” that was endorsed by the governments of France, Germany, Italy and Spain earlier this year. Read more