Italy’s Renzi Has Failed on Two Counts

Italian prime minister Matteo Renzi answers a reporter's question in Berlin, Germany, July 1, 2015
Italian prime minister Matteo Renzi answers a reporter’s question in Berlin, Germany, July 1, 2015 (Palazzo Chigi)

When Matteo Renzi won back control of Italy’s Democratic Party a year ago, I argued he had two challenges:

  1. Uniting the left.
  2. Convincing voters who are desperate for reform that he could still deliver.

He has failed on both counts. Read more

Health Insurance Sticking Point in German Coalition Talks

Windows of a hospital in Erlangen, Germany, July 17, 2014
Windows of a hospital in Erlangen, Germany, July 17, 2014 (Reinhard Kuchenbäcker)

One of the sticking points in attempts to form another grand coalition government in Germany is the country’s mixed public-private health insurance system.

The Social Democrats campaigned on merging the two. Their argument is that the one in ten Germans with private insurance (mostly people with yearly incomes over €50,000) get better care: shorter waiting lists, more services. Read more

Liberals Take Rajoy’s Place in Spanish Polls

Jordi Cañas and Albert Rivera of the Spanish Citizens party talk in Madrid, August 6, 2013
Jordi Cañas and Albert Rivera of the Spanish Citizens party talk in Madrid, August 6, 2013 (Ciudadanos /Jordi Esteban)

The liberal Citizens party has risen to the top of the polls in Spain, receiving 26-27 percent support in two recent surveys against 23-25 percent for Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy’s conservative People’s Party.

Support for the mainstream Socialists is unchanged at 22 percent while the far-left Podemos has gone down from 21 to 15 percent since the last election. Read more

Renationalizing British Utilities and Rail Would Be a Mistake

A Heathrow Express train is seen at Paddington station, London, England, March 7, 2013
A Heathrow Express train is seen at Paddington station, London, England, March 7, 2013 (Renaud Chodkowski)

Rising energy rates and railway fares in the United Kingdom are lending credence to the argument that privatization was a mistake.

YouGov last year found majorities in favor of taking energy, water and railways back into state ownership.

Telecom is the exception. Only 30 percent believe it should be run by the state.

The reason may be that the benefits of telecom privatization have been obvious whereas those of other privatizations are harder to discern.

Compared to the 1970s, however, utilities and railways provide a far better service today. Read more

Netherlands Has Responsibility to Lead After Brexit: Rutte

Dutch prime minister Mark Rutte joins a debate in the European Parliament in Strasbourg, January 20, 2016
Dutch prime minister Mark Rutte joins a debate in the European Parliament in Strasbourg, January 20, 2016 (European Parliament)

The Netherlands has a responsibility to lead after Brexit and worries that Germany is putting too much faith in “more Europe”, Prime Minister Mark Rutte has said.

In an interview with the Sunday morning talk show Buitenhof, the liberal party leader pointed out that he had recently held summits with other Benelux nations, the Balts, Central Europeans and Nordics.

Unusually, he took a stab at Germany, where the next government is expected to be more integrationist.

“Of course, Germany can transfer more money to Europe,” Rutte said in jest. “I have no objection to that. We take a different view.” Read more

Reminder Not to Rely on American and British News About Europe

German chancellor Angela Merkel waits for other leaders to arrive at the G7 summit in Bavaria, June 8, 2015
German chancellor Angela Merkel waits for other leaders to arrive at the G7 summit in Bavaria, June 8, 2015 (Bundesregierung)

Remember when Germany faced its “biggest political crisis since the late 1940s,” as one BBC journalist put it?

Or when, according to National Review, Angela Merkel had been “marooned“?

Or CNN reported that the “Merkel myth” had “imploded“? Read more

Everything You Need to Know About the Coalition Breakthrough in Germany

German chancellor Angela Merkel answers questions from reporters in Brussels, June 28, 2012
German chancellor Angela Merkel answers questions from reporters in Brussels, June 28, 2012 (Bundesregierung)

Germany’s Christian Democrats and Social Democrats have agreed to form another “grand coalition” government.

Here is everything you need to know about the deal. Read more