Middle-Aged Men More Right-Wing, Iran Hawk Pompeo Sworn In

A far-right demonstration in Leipzig, Germany, September 22, 2017
A far-right demonstration in Leipzig, Germany, September 22, 2017 (De Havilland)

Lyman Stone writes in The American Interest that in both Germany and the United States (and I imagine in other Western democracies too, but I only know for sure about the Netherlands), men are more likely to vote for the far right than women. Middle-aged men in particular.

Stone volunteers various explanations:

  • Changes in the global economy have systematically disfavored historically male-dominated industries.
  • Men are more likely to take a protective or defensive view of nationhood.
  • Men are pulled toward more radical politics of many varieties and just happen to be ticked off at their former political home.

Stone also finds that support for Germany’s Alternative was lower in those parts of the former East Germany that were Prussian before communism and highest in Saxony, a state with a long history of radical politics.

“Radicalism, the appeal of revolutionary protest politics, is less about coherent policy platforms,” he argues, “and more about the appeal of mob, tribe and movement.” Read more

Rutte Cornered on Tax Cut, Why France and Germany Treat Trump Differently

NATO secretary general Jens Stoltenberg and Dutch prime minister Mark Rutte answer questions from reporters in The Hague, April 19
NATO secretary general Jens Stoltenberg and Dutch prime minister Mark Rutte answer questions from reporters in The Hague, April 19 (NATO)

Dutch prime minister Mark Rutte is in trouble.

When his latest government, a coalition of Christian and liberal parties, came to power in October, he claimed there was no paperwork to support its contention that the Netherlands needed to eliminate dividend tax altogether in order to remain competitive. Now it turns out the Finance Ministry did write a series of memos on the topic — and doubted the tax played a major role in multinationals’ decisionmaking.

The Finance Ministry produces a lot of memos when political parties are negotiating to form a government, so it is possible that Rutte didn’t see this one.

Except this was by far the most controversial policy of the new government. None of the governing parties had promised to cut dividend tax in their manifestos. There had been no public debate about it.

The suspicion in The Hague is that Rutte’s former employer, Unilever, and Royal Dutch Shell lobbied to get the tax removed.

Opposition parties have already called on Rutte to step down. That is unlikely. Prime minister since 2010, Rutte has a knack for talking his way out of problems and the ruling parties have no incentive to force him out. Read more

Italy’s Democrats Split, EU Victory for Macron, Doubts About Syria Strikes

Italian culture minister Dario Franceschini answers questions from reporters in Rome, April 29, 2016
Italian culture minister Dario Franceschini answers questions from reporters in Rome, April 29, 2016 (Palazzo Chigi)

Italy’s Democrats are split on whether to negotiate with the anti-establishment Five Star Movement.

At a party meeting on Tuesday, former ministers Dario Franceschini and Andrea Orlando argued for coalition talks.

The alternative, a Five Star government with the xenophobic (Northern) League, would make Italy look “like Hungary,” Franceschini said.

However, centrists loyal to the outgoing leader, Matteo Renzi, reject a deal.

Five Star leader Luigi Di Maio has said it is time to “bury the hatchet”. His talks with the League have not been going well. But the Five Stars still call for overturning Renzi’s signature labor reforms, which made it easier for firms to fire and hire workers. Read more

Posted-Workers Reform a Largely Symbolic Victory for Macron

French president Emmanuel Macron, Greek prime minister Alexis Tsipras and German chancellor Angela Merkel speak at a NATO summit in Brussels, May 25
French president Emmanuel Macron, Greek prime minister Alexis Tsipras and German chancellor Angela Merkel speak at a NATO summit in Brussels, May 25 (NATO)

French president Emmanuel Macron has convinced other EU countries to rein in employers’ ability to hire low-wage “posted” workers from Eastern Europe.

A majority of countries agreed this week to reform the Posted Workers Directive, which allows companies to temporarily “post” workers to another member state without abiding by its labor laws.

In future, such contracts will be limited to twelve months with an option to extend it for another six months at most. Read more

Macron a Failure Already?

Emmanuel Macron arrives at the Elysée Palace in Paris for his inauguration as president of France, May 14
Emmanuel Macron arrives at the Elysée Palace in Paris for his inauguration as president of France, May 14 (Elysée/Nathalie Bauer)

Chris Bickerton makes a strong argument in The New York Times: Emmanuel Macron is on track to become yet another failed French president.

Bickerton, who teaches European politics at Cambridge University, knows France well. But here I think he misses the mark. Read more

Negotiations for Labor Reform Break Down in Netherlands

The port of Rotterdam in the early morning, March 14, 2014
The port of Rotterdam in the early morning, March 14, 2014 (Haaijk)

Labor negotiations between employers’ organizations and trade unions have broken down in the Netherlands.

Both sides blame the other, but employers had the bigger incentive to let the talks collapse.

Without a deal, it will be up to the next government to impose reforms and the four parties negotiating to form a government are center-right. They are expected to enact more employer- than worker-friendly changes. Read more

The End of the Working Class and What Comes Next

Detail of a New Deal-era mural in the Coit Tower of San Francisco, California, January 6, 2009
Detail of a New Deal-era mural in the Coit Tower of San Francisco, California, January 6, 2009 (Thomas Hawk)

Brexit, the election of Donald Trump and the rising popularity of the National Front in France have all been explained as working-class revolts against urban, liberal elites (including by me.)

The Niskanen Center’s Brink Lindsey argues in The American Interest that this isn’t quite right. These democratic expressions of discontent should rather be understood as the convulsions of a working class that is dying. Read more