Grand Coalition Wins Vote in Germany. Next Problem: Italy
In the end, it wasn’t even close. Nearly twice as many German Social Democratic Party members voted in favor of another grand coalition with Angela Merkel’s conservatives as voted against it. The results of the internal poll were announced on Sunday.
Parliament is due to confirm Merkel for a fourth term as chancellor next week. If she sits this one out, she will be Germany’s longest-ruling leader since Helmut Kohl.
Neither of the two major parties is out of the woods yet. The Social Democrats have fallen in the polls, losing support to, well, everyone. Merkel’s Christian Democrats are facing competition from the Free Democrats on the right and the Alternative on the far right. The party will debate in the coming years whether to continue Merkel’s centrist line or lurch to the right.
For now, though, the center can still hold. Read more
Tyler Cowen argues in Politico that fascism cannot happen in America because its government is too large and too complex:
No matter who is elected, the fascists cannot control the bureaucracy, they cannot control all the branches of American government, they cannot control the judiciary, they cannot control semi-independent institutions such as the Federal Reserve and they cannot control what is sometimes called “the deep state.”
Cowen then bases his argument on the size of government relative to the economy, citing estimates that Weimar Germany taxed and spent about a third of GDP.
Merkel Wins Party’s Support, Berlusconi a Warning to Americans
Delegates (not party members) of Germany’s Christian Democratic Union (CDU) have voted overwhelmingly in favor of continuing the “grand coalition” with the Social Democrats. The waiting is now for the latter, who conclude a membership vote on Sunday.
The same CDU congress has named Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer, the moderate prime minister of Saarland, as party secretary and Jens Spahn, a right-wing critic of Angela Merkel’s immigration policy, as candidate for health minister.
Jeremy Cliffe argues in The Economist that the two appointments hint at a healthy ideological debate in the party:
In recent years, Mrs Merkel’s electorally successful, highly tactical and ideologically indistinct brand of centrism has smothered the contrasts between [the CDU’s] different ideological tendencies: liberal, Christian social and conservative. Now, however, a new period of cut-and-thrust in the party seems to be emerging.
New Political Party in Britain, Room for Party in Germany
Anti-Brexit campaigners have launched a new political party in the United Kingdom: Renew.
The party aims to be a “vehicle for people who feel politically homeless,” said James Clarke, one of its three co-leaders.
EurActiv reports that the party claims to have more than 450 applications from candidates to run for the 650-seat House of Commons.
Britain’s first-past-the-post system doesn’t make it easy for newcomers. The last time a major party broke through was in the 1920s, when Labour overtook the Liberals as the largest party on the left.
But the Conservatives and Labour have left the center wide open, the former by embracing the reactionary cause of Brexit, the latter by electing the far-left Jeremy Corbyn as leader. Somebody was bound to try to fill that hole. Read more
Since thirteen Russian nationals and three Russian entities were indicted on Friday for violating criminal laws to interfere in the 2016 election, the president has lashed out at CNN, the FBI, Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton and the top Democrat on the House intelligence committee — everyone but the people who tampered with American democracy.
The New York Times reports that Trump’s “conspicuous silence” on Russia’s actions, and his acceptance of Vladimir Putin’s denial, has startled experts and leaves the country leaderless as it fends off more cyberattacks.
American president Donald Trump has for the second time torpedoed a bipartisan immigration bill by threatening to veto it.
The reason, NBC News reports, is that he wants to keep immigration as a political issue to rally his base going into November’s congressional elections.
The cynicism is astounding. Chris Hayes points out on Twitter:
First the president unilaterally ended the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, creating uncertainty for hundreds of thousands of immigrants who were brought to the country illegally as minors.
He gave Congress six months to fix the problem (he had created), promising to sign whatever bill lawmakers would put in front of him.
He was promptly brought a bipartisan deal, which combined increased border security with a pathway to legal status for the so-called Dreamers. He rejected it.
He was then brought a second bipartisan deal with even more support. He rejected that.
Clearly the president isn’t interested a solution. He lied — as usual.
Also read David A. Hopkins, who argues Trump has pushed Republicans to the right on immigration, and Greg Sargent in The Washington Post, who points out that the Republican position on Dreamers is far to the right of Middle America’s. Read more
EU Defense Union Worries Americans, Social Democrats Rally the Troops
Americans continue to worry that closer defense cooperation in Europe might compromise NATO.
Echoing Madeleine Albright’s “three Ds” — no duplication, no decoupling, no discrimination against non-EU NATO states — Kay Bailey Hutchison, the United States ambassador to NATO, warned on Wednesday that European efforts shouldn’t be “protectionist, duplicative of NATO work or distracting from their alliance responsibilities.”
“In Texas we say, ‘If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it,'” the former senator added.
But transatlantic solidarity goes two ways. On the same day Hutchison cautioned European allies against weakening NATO, Defense Secretary James Mattis hectored them for failing to meet their defense spending targets.
Their boss, Donald Trump, has in the past declared NATO “obsolete”. Little wonder Europe is making its own plans.
Many of which complement NATO, from improving mobility by creating a “military Schengen” to developing a European infantry fighting vehicle.
Also read Tobias Buck in the Financial Times, who reports that Germany still has a long way to go before it can lead a European army. Read more