Liberal Free Democrats Would Keep Merkel Sharp

Christian Lindner, leader of Germany's Free Democratic Party, gives an interview in Berlin, June 26
Christian Lindner, leader of Germany’s Free Democratic Party, gives an interview in Berlin, June 26 (INSM)

There is little doubt Angela Merkel will win reelection in Germany on Sunday. Her Christian Democrats are projected to win up to 40 percent support against 25 percent for the second party, the Social Democrats.

The two could continue to share power in a “grand coalition”, but we’re hoping the liberal Free Democrats will win enough seats to help form a center-right government instead.

Polls suggest that the two parties might just fall short of a majority. Conservative and liberal voters who want to keep the left out of power ought to give the Free Democrats their support. Read more

Macron’s Liberalization Has Made Travel More Affordable in France

View of the Champs-Élysées from the Arc de Triomphe in Paris, France, December 5, 2012
View of the Champs-Élysées from the Arc de Triomphe in Paris, France, December 5, 2012 (Chris Chabot)

Emmanuel Macron’s liberalization of intercity public transport in France is paying off.

Until 2015, railroads had a monopoly on domestic ground routes of 100 kilometers or more. Macron — then economy minister, now president — wrote legislation that allowed busses to compete.

Bloomberg reports that 6.2 million passengers took a long-distance bus in 2016 and bookings are up another 25 percent this year.

That’s still a fraction of the more than 100 million annual high-speed train passengers, but competition from busses is forcing the state-owned railway to cut rates. Read more

Liberal Democrats Are the Least Bad Option in Britain’s Election

British Liberal Democrat leader Tim Farron
British Liberal Democrat leader Tim Farron (Shutterstock/Finbarr Webster)

This British election is an impossible choice for liberals like us.

We can’t possibly support Jeremy Corbyn, whose policies of nationalization and unilateral nuclear disarmament would compound the disaster of Brexit — which he did far too little to prevent — many times over.

But we are not impressed with Theresa May either. She was the best possible candidate to succeed David Cameron last summer, but only because the alternatives were worse. Many British voters could make the same calculation this week. Read more

British Liberal Democrat Revival Starts to Look More Likely

British Liberal Democrat leader Tim Farron answers questions from reporters in Brussels, February 18, 2016
British Liberal Democrat leader Tim Farron answers questions from reporters in Brussels, February 18, 2016 (ALDE)

After they formed a coalition government with the Conservatives in 2010, Britain’s Liberal Democrats only lost elections — local, mayoral and national.

The low point came in May 2015, when the party lost 49 of its 57 seats in the House of Commons. Big names, like Danny Alexander and Vince Cable, were voted out. Liberal strongholds across South West England simply vanished.

Liberals have talked up a “LibDem revival” since that dismal election result and commentators have dismissed it as sheer optimism.

But could there be something to it after all? Read more

Dubai, Singapore and the Future of Neoliberalism

The skyline of Dubai, November 6, 2009
The skyline of Dubai, November 6, 2009 (Jason Rodman)

It is the little things, they say, that count. The small places can tell us big things.

There are no smaller places than city states. Holdovers of bygone eras, they are quite nearly the oldest form of political organization our species has. Only tribalism is older and city states arose from settled tribes that over generations grew into legendary places like Ur, Jericho, Athens, the Yellow River city of Cai and the Indus Valley site of Harappa.

We have no empires left; a few kingdoms, though they keep dropping off the map. Nobody much minds. Yet if we were to lose our city states or our microstates, it would represent a collapse of the international order as we know it. Despite their tiny size, city states are bellwethers of their time. Read more

New York Times Gets Rutte’s Aggressive Liberalism Wrong

Prime Minister Mark Rutte of the Netherlands answers questions from reporters in The Hague, March 18, 2011
Prime Minister Mark Rutte of the Netherlands answers questions from reporters in The Hague, March 18, 2011 (Rijksoverheid)

The New York Times reports that Dutch prime minister Mark Rutte has taken a “Trump-like turn” in the face of a “hard-right challenge”, siding with the “silent majority” in its prejudices against immigrants.

That gets it quite wrong. Read more

Sound Policies Not Enough to Fend Off Populist Challenge

American president Barack Obama speaks with German chancellor Angela Merkel during a NATO summit in Wales, September 9, 2014
American president Barack Obama speaks with German chancellor Angela Merkel during a NATO summit in Wales, September 9, 2014 (Bundesregierung)

After Donald Trump’s unexpected election victory in the United States, liberal-minded commentators (this one included) looked to Germany’s Angela Merkel to keep the barbarians at bay.

The centrist German leader gave some indications that she’s up to the task of defending liberal democracy and the liberal world order from the nationalist-populist challenge. She conditioned the future of the American-German alliance on shared Western values and urged Germans, after announcing she would seek a fourth term as chancellor next year, to unite and shape globalization “together with others” rather than fight it.

“Openness will bring us more security than isolation,” she said.

Did we read too much into this? Read more