Lessons for Democrats from Europe

German Social Democratic Party leader Martin Schulz and the French Socialist Party's Benoît Hamon deliver a news conference in Berlin, March 28
German Social Democratic Party leader Martin Schulz and the French Socialist Party’s Benoît Hamon deliver a news conference in Berlin, March 28 (Facebook)

How can Democrats win back working-class voters who have switched to the right?

The obvious solution is to become more populist. Less Hillary Clinton, more Bernie Sanders. Tax the rich, spend more on welfare, make health care universal and oppose new trade deals.

Except we have seen social democrats try this in Europe and it didn’t work.

When left-wing parties cling to a shrinking working-class electorate, they end up neglecting middle-income supporters — and satisfy neither. Parties that takes sides are more successful. Read more

Former Trump Campaign Officials Arrested in Russia Probe

Businessman Donald Trump makes a speech in Derry, New Hampshire, August 19, 2015
Businessman Donald Trump makes a speech in Derry, New Hampshire, August 19, 2015 (Michael Vadon)

Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russia’s attempts to sabotage the 2016 election has yielded charges against three veterans of Donald Trump’s presidential campaign:

  • Paul Manafort, Trump’s former campaign manager, and his business partner, Rick Gates, have been indicted by a federal grand jury on twelve counts, including conspiracy against the United States, conspiracy to launder money, failure to register as foreign agents, giving false and misleading statements and failure to report foreign bank accounts.
  • George Papadopoulos, a former Trump foreign-policy advisor, has pled guilty to lying to the FBI about his contacts with Russia during the campaign. Read more

Salvini Would Pick Populists Over Center-Left for Coalition

Matteo Salvini, the leader of Italy's Northern League, gives a speech in the European Parliament in Strasbourg, April 29, 2015
Matteo Salvini, the leader of Italy’s Northern League, gives a speech in the European Parliament in Strasbourg, April 29, 2015 (European Parliament)

Italy’s Northern League would rather go into coalition with the populist Five Star Movement than the mainstream center-left, its leader, Matteo Salvini, has said.

Speaking in Palermo on Monday, the conservative lamented that the Five Stars are “showing their incompetence where they govern.”

But, he added, “if I were to call someone, I wouldn’t call Renzi or Alfano” — referring to Democratic Party leader Matteo Renzi and Foreign Minister Angelino Alfano, the leader of the small center-right Popular Alternative.

Renzi’s Democrats are polling neck and neck with the Five Star Movement. Salvini’s Northern League is vying with former prime minister Silvio Berlusconi’s Forza Italia to become the largest party on the right. Support for the Popular Alternative is in the single digits. Read more

Old-School Leftists Break with Democratic Party in Italy

Pietro Grasso, the president of the Italian Senate, attends an international conference in Rome, October 5, 2015
Pietro Grasso, the president of the Italian Senate, attends an international conference in Rome, October 5, 2015 (Camera dei deputati)

The likelihood of elections being called soon is escalating tensions in Italy’s ruling center-left Democratic Party.

  • Senate speaker Pietro Grasso has left the party after criticizing the way it enacted electoral reforms. (By tying them to confidence votes, the government ensured they would pass without amendments.)
  • The Democrats and Progressives — left-wing critics of former prime minister and Democratic Party leader Matteo Renzi — applauded Grasso’s move.
  • Former prime minister Massimo D’Alema, now a member of the Democrats and Progressives, said Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni “has become like Renzi.”
  • Four Renzi loyalists — Transportation Minister Graziano Delrio, Sports Minister Luca Lotti, Agricultural Minister Maurizio Martina and Cabinet Secretary Maria Elena Boschi — did not attend a cabinet meeting this week where Ignazio Visco was confirmed to serve another term as governor of the Bank of Italy. Renzi wanted him out. Read more

Rajoy Could Struggle to Implement Direct Rule in Catalonia

Spanish prime minister Mariano Rajoy makes a speech in parliament in Madrid, October 11
Spanish prime minister Mariano Rajoy makes a speech in parliament in Madrid, October 11 (La Moncloa)

Spain is due to revoke Catalonia’s autonomy after the regional parliament voted for independence. But it could struggle to implement direct rule.

Mariano Rajoy’s government is expected to:

  • Order the Catalan government to step down;
  • Curtail the powers of the Catalan parliament;
  • Put Catalan public media under Spanish supervision; and
  • Call regional elections within six months.

The question is if and how he will be able to enforce this. Read more

Independence Tests Catalonia’s Ruling Coalition

Catalan president Carles Puigdemont speaks with his predecessor, Artur Mas, in Barcelona, Spain, February 12, 2016
Catalan president Carles Puigdemont speaks with his predecessor, Artur Mas, in Barcelona, Spain, February 12, 2016 (Generalitat de Catalunya/Jordi Bedmar)

The prospect of breaking away from Spain has divided the ruling coalition in Catalonia.

Late on Thursday, Business Secretary Santi Vila, a member of President Carles Puigdemont’s center-right European Democratic Party (PDeCAT), stepped down from the government.

Catalan newspaper La Vanguardia reports that Vila was dismayed by his colleagues’ determination to secede from Spain after telling companies for weeks they had nothing to worry about. Read more

Catalonia’s Far Left Could Hold the Key to Independence

Mayor Ada Colau and members of the Barcelona city government attend a demonstration, October 13
Mayor Ada Colau and members of the Barcelona city government attend a demonstration, October 13 (Ajuntament Barcelona)

Catalonia’s far left could hold the key to independence after the next regional election.

Snap elections are likely in the next few months, whether called by the regional government to preempt the suspension of home rule or by the Spanish government once home rule is suspended

Polls suggest the ruling center-right European Democratic Party (PDeCAT) will trade places with its junior partner, the Republican Left.

But the balance between pro- and anti-independence parties could be unchanged — unless Catalonia in Common (Barcelona mayor Ada Colau’s party) and Podem (the Catalan branch of Podemos) change sides. Read more