Republicans End Russia Probe, Italian Democrats Choose Opposition
Republicans in the House have wrapped up their Russia investigation and declared there was no collusion with the Donald Trump campaign.
Just like that.
I don’t suppose anyone was expecting House Intelligence Committee chairman Devin Nunes to release an unbiased report. He has been doing Trump’s bidding from the start. But to simply declare the investigation over, without Democratic consent, is particularly brazen.
This isn’t the first time Republicans have put party before country. When evidence of Russian meddling in the election emerged in late 2016, Senate leader Mitch McConnell warned President Barack Obama that he would consider it an act of partisan politics if his administration publicized the information.
When intelligence agencies finally did tell the public Russia was tampering with the election, on the same day (such a coincidence!) WikiLeaks published stolen emails of Hillary Clinton’s campaign chief, John Podesta. Read more
Democrats Should Keep Superdelegates, Salvini Calls for Anti-EU Budget
BuzzFeed reports that Democrats in the United States are considering eliminating superdelegates from their presidential nominating contest.
That would be a mistake.
Superdelegates — governors, members of Congress and party officials — are a failsafe, to prevent a Democratic Donald Trump.
Opponents consider them undemocratic, but this fetishizes democracy. The point of the primary process is — or should be — to find the best candidate possible who can then go on to win in a democratic contest. Read more
Democrats Have Early Advantages, Berlusconi Backs Hard Right
How good are Democrats’ chances for the midterm elections in November? Jonathan Bernstein argues in Bloomberg View that it’s too soon to tell, but that the party’s early advantages, in terms of candidates, money and volunteer commitments, could make the difference.
We like to think of voters as the key players in elections, write Bernstein. However, “voters are strongly influenced by the choices of others within the political system and by the general electoral context.”
This is where the “party decides” theory comes in: party elites (including activists who probably don’t think of themselves as “elite”) actively shape the choices voters get.
Voters may not consider themselves partisans, but they tend to vote for a party — and the same party — rather than the candidate.
The president’s job approval and the state of the economy play a huge role as well. There are political scientist who argue these factors alone determine the outcome.
Five Stars Eye Coalition, Dutch Form Anti-Macron Pact, Cohn Resigns
Italy’s Five Star Movement may go into coalition after all. Having placed first in the election on Sunday, the populist movement is reportedly eying an accord with the left.
The Five Stars, center-left Democrats and left-wing Free and Equal would have a majority in the new parliament.
The Five Stars and Free and Equal share views. Free and Equal was formed last year by Democrats critical of Matteo Renzi’s market reforms.
Renzi has come out against a deal, calling the Five Star Movement “anti-European”. But he is on his way out as leader. The rest of the party may be willing to reverse his signature labor reforms in return for staying in power.
For the rest of Europe, a Five Star pact with the left would be better than a Five Star pact with the right. The worst-case outcome would be a government of the Five Stars, (Northern) League and Brothers of Italy — parties that are anti-EU, anti-immigration and pro-Putin. Read more
Renzi Resigns, Italy Split Down the Middle, War on the Spanish Right
Italy’s center-left leader, Matteo Renzi, has stepped down after his Democratic Party fell from first to fourth place in the election on Sunday.
I argued here in January that Renzi had two challenges: uniting the left and convincing voters he could still deliver reforms.
He failed at both. He watered down labor reforms in an attempt to appease the left wing of his party, but they walked out anyway. He didn’t secure a supermajority for constitutional reforms, necessitating a referendum to which he then foolishly tied his own political career.
Renzi did get important things right, not in the least recognizing that the future of the Democratic Party lies not with old working-class voters but with the young and college graduates. Yet he failed to dissuade them from supporting the Five Star Movement. Read more
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