- Italians elected a new parliament on Sunday.
- The populist Five Star Movement and Northern League made gains at the expense of mainstream parties. Read more
Dutch prime minister Mark Rutte called for pragmatism in a speech in Berlin in Friday. The best way to take the wind out of the sails of Euroskeptic parties, he said, is to show results:
Lofty visions do not create jobs or security. Nor does shouting from the ends of the political spectrum. Only hard work […] produces results that benefit people in their daily lives.
The Merkelian rhetoric is a reality check for French president Emmanuel Macron, who has proposed far-reaching reforms in Europe.
With Britain, traditionally an ally, leaving the bloc, the Netherlands is becoming more vocal in resisting what it — and the German right — fear would amount to transfer union: the permanent subsidization of poorer member states by the wealthy.
There was a discrepancy in coverage. Dutch media emphasized the many positive things Rutte said about the EU. Foreign outlets focused on his “red lines”. The reason is that Rutte is considered more of a Euroskeptic at home than he is abroad. Read more
“The party decides” theory — which argues that American party elites exert a strong behind-the-scenes influence on who gets nominated for political office — took a blow in 2016, when Donald Trump won the Republican presidential contest despite strong internal opposition.
One exception doesn’t discredit the whole theory, theory. Seth Masket argues at Mischiefs of Faction that this year’s nominating contests show activists and party leaders are still actively shaping the choices voters will get. Read more
There are two realistic outcomes to Italy’s election on Sunday: a right-wing government that includes the xenophobic Brothers of Italy and Northern League or a German-style grand coalition between Silvio Berlusconi’s Forza Italia and the Democrats.
The second would be better for Italy and for Europe. To make that outcome more likely, Italians should vote for the center-left. Read more
Against the advice of literally all but two of his advisors, American president Donald Trump has announced tariffs on aluminum and steel of 10 and 25 percent, respectively.
The tariffs are not in effect yet, but, citing national-security concerns, the president does have the authority to impose them unilaterally.
The European Commission, which is responsible for EU trade policy, quickly condemned the “blatant intervention to protect US domestic industry” and said it would present countermeasures in a matter of days.
Remember when we were talking about a Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership only a few years ago?
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.
I think this is misguided. Read more
The European Commission has set out its red lines for Brexit in a draft agreement:
- Northern Ireland: Would remain in the EU customs union, creating the need for an economic border in the Irish Sea.
- Free movement: Continued free movement of EU nationals during the post-Brexit transition period.
- Trade deals: Also during the transition, Britain would not be allowed to initiate or sign trade deals that are prejudicial to EU interests.
None of these red lines are acceptable to hardline Brexiteers and the Democratic Unionist Party of Northern Ireland, whose votes Theresa May needs for her majority in Westminster. Read more