Consolidation on the Italian Left

Italian Senate speaker Pietro Grasso arrives at the University of Pavia, November 13
Italian Senate speaker Pietro Grasso arrives at the University of Pavia, November 13 (Università di Pavia)

Both left-wing opponents and supporters of the former Italian prime minister, Matteo Renzi, are strengthening their ties ahead of parliamentary elections.

  • Dissidents from Renzi’s Democratic Party are due to join the far left in new party, led by Senate speaker Pietro Grasso.
  • Grasso has ruled out an alliance with the Democrats. He left the party in October.
  • The Progressive Camp, led by the former mayor of Milan, Giuliano Pisapia, is willing to do a deal with the Democrats provided they support a bill that would give citizenship to the children of immigrants who have spent at least five years in Italian schools. Read more

Brexiteers Come to Terms with Reality

David Davis and Michel Barnier, the Brexit negotiators for the United Kingdom and the European Union, deliver a news conference in Brussels, June 19, 2017
David Davis and Michel Barnier, the Brexit negotiators for the United Kingdom and the European Union, deliver a news conference in Brussels, June 19, 2017 (European Commission)

Euroskeptics in Britain’s ruling Conservative Party are finally coming to terms with the realities of Brexit.

  • They once rejected working out the terms of Britain’s exit before negotiating a trade deal. They have since accept Europe’s timetable.
  • They once suggested Britain could leave without a deal. Now they are willing to make the concessions necessary to avoid a “hard” Brexit.
  • They once ruled out paying an exit bill. Now they are prepared to cough up £50 billion for an amicable divorce.
  • They never during the 2016 referendum campaign mentioned a transition period, during which EU rules and regulations would continue to apply. That now looks inevitable. Read more

If Northern Ireland Gets Special Deal, London and Scotland Want One Too

View of the Balmoral Hotel in Edinburgh, Scotland, November 16, 2011
View of the Balmoral Hotel in Edinburgh, Scotland, November 16, 2011 (Wikimedia Commons/Ronnie Macdonald)

The leaders of London and Scotland have called for special status if Northern Ireland is somehow partially exempt from Brexit.

Sadiq Khan, the mayor of London, tweets:

Londoners overwhelmingly voted to remain in the EU and a similar deal here could protect tens of thousands of jobs.

Nicola Sturgeon, the first minister of Scotland, agrees:

If one part of UK can retain regulatory alignment with EU and effectively stay in the single market (which is the right solution for Northern Ireland) there is surely no good practical reason why others can’t.

A majority of Scots also to stay in the EU last year. Like Londoners, they were overruled by majorities in favor of Brexit in England and Wales. Read more

Bavarian Right Wonders How to Rebound with New Leader

Bavarian prime minister Horst Seehofer speaks with his counterpart from Baden-Württemberg, Winfried Kretschmann, in Berlin, October 10, 2014
Bavarian prime minister Horst Seehofer speaks with his counterpart from Baden-Württemberg, Winfried Kretschmann, in Berlin, October 10, 2014 (Bundesrat/Henning Schacht)

Bavaria’s ruling Christian Social Union (CSU) is gearing up for a change in leadership after Horst Seehofer, the state premier, announced his resignation on Monday.

Markus Söder, the state’s finance minister, will take Seehofer’s place at the head of the Bavarian government.

Seehofer remains party chief for now, at least until coalition talks for a national government are completed.

But it seems only a matter of time before he will have to give up that post as well. Read more

Brexit and Fear of Populism Inform Rutte’s Opposition to Macron

Dutch prime minister Mark Rutte is greeted by German chancellor Angela Merkel at the G20 summit in Hamburg, July 7
Dutch prime minister Mark Rutte is greeted by German chancellor Angela Merkel at the G20 summit in Hamburg, July 7 (Bundesregierung)

Dutch prime minister Mark Rutte is leading the opposition to Emmanuel Macron’s proposals for closer European integration, warning a liberal conference in Amsterdam this weekend that “integration for integration’s sake” will undermine public support for the EU.

“The EU needs to solve problems that we, as individual member states, cannot solve alone,” he said. “A federal Europe is not the answer to those problems and neither is a politics based on symbolism.”

There are two reasons Rutte is skeptical of Macron’s ideas, which range from creating a common eurozone budget to harmonizing tax rates and social security fees: fear of anti-EU populism and Brexit. Read more

Emmanuel Macron: Free Trader or Protectionist?

French president Emmanuel Macron greets Spanish prime minister Mariano Rajoy outside the Elysée Palace in Paris, France, June 16
French president Emmanuel Macron greets Spanish prime minister Mariano Rajoy outside the Elysée Palace in Paris, France, June 16 (La Moncloa)

Is Emmanuel Macron a free trader? Or a traditional French protectionist?

Probably somewhere in between: more liberal than his recent predecessors, but not the libertarian some of his admirers were hoping for.

Nicholas Vinocur lists the complaints against Macron, as well as the arguments in his favor, at Politico. Read more

Schulz In No Rush, Makes Demands on Europe, Health Insurance

German Social Democratic Party leader Martin Schulz, then president of the European Parliament, watches as Chancellor Angela Merkel signs a guestbook, November 7, 2012
German Social Democratic Party leader Martin Schulz, then president of the European Parliament, watches as Chancellor Angela Merkel signs a guestbook, November 7, 2012 (European Parliament)

German Social Democratic Party leader Martin Schulz has made clear he is in no rush to form another grand coalition with Angela Merkel’s conservatives, telling reporters in Berlin, “We are under no time pressure.”

This is partly theater. Schulz ruled out another left-right pact after losing the election in September, but now it may be the only way to form a majority government. His base is skeptical, so he must take it slow.

Schulz is also signaling to Merkel that she better give the Social Democrats enough concessions for them to justify four more years of coalition government. Read more