European Fears of “Jamaica” Coalition Are Overblown

German chancellor Angela Merkel joins a cabinet meeting in Berlin, September 13
German chancellor Angela Merkel joins a cabinet meeting in Berlin, September 13 (Bundesregierung)

A three-party “Jamaica” coalition in Germany may not be so bad for Europe as observers fear, writes Guntram Wolff of the Bruegel think tank in the Financial Times.

He recognizes that the liberal Free Democrats are more Euroskeptic than Angela Merkel’s Christian Democrats and the Greens. They have opposed Greek debt relief, are wary of a common eurozone budget and argue for strict enforcement the bloc’s fiscal rules.

But that also applies to Wolfgang Schäuble, the outgoing finance minister. His likely Free Democratic successor could hardly be more hawkish.

A Jamaica coalition (named for the colors of the three parties, which match the Caribbean nation’s flag) would be open to some of the other EU reform proposals French president Emmanuel Macron made this week, from enhancing defense cooperation to creating a single European asylum policy. Read more

Trump Would Let Democratic Voters Pay for His Tax Cuts

American president Donald Trump listens to a speech outside the Elysée Palace in Paris, France, July 12
American president Donald Trump listens to a speech outside the Elysée Palace in Paris, France, July 12 (DoD/Dominique A. Pineiro)

It’s not hard to characterize American president Donald Trump’s tax plan as taking from the poor and giving to the rich. That’s what it does.

But it’s more insidious than that: the reforms would specifically hurt Democratic voters.

Megan McArdle writes for Bloomberg View that the plan (such as it is; many details have yet to be filled in) would punish two groups:

  1. The lowest-income Americans, who see their marginal tax rate go up from 10 to 12 percent and only get a small increase in the standard deduction in return; and
  2. Upper-middle-class professionals in high-taxed blue states, who get creamed by the loss of their deduction for state and local taxes. Read more

Catalonia Unlikely to Declare Independence After Referendum

Catalan officials demonstrate for independence in Barcelona, September 16
Catalan officials demonstrate for independence in Barcelona, September 16 (Generalitat de Catalunya)

Catalonia is unlikely to declare its independence from Spain even if a majority votes to break away on Sunday.

The law that made the referendum possible — and which has been suspended by Spain’s Constitutional Court — calls for a declaration of independence within two days of a “yes” vote.

But Carles Puigdemont, the regional president and separatist leader, has told French television he wants to open up a transitional period of talks after the plebiscite. Read more

German Election Shows Stabilizing Effect of Multiparty Democracy

Chancellor Angela Merkel gives a speech in the German parliament in Berlin, October 15, 2015
Chancellor Angela Merkel gives a speech in the German parliament in Berlin, October 15, 2015 (Bundesregierung)

The headline-grapping news from Germany this weekend was the return of the far right, which won back seats in the national parliament for the first time since 1961.

But the bigger — and more reassuring — story of the election was the fragmentation of the German political landscape.

The Christian Democrats and Social Democrats, once faraway the two largest parties, won only 56 percent of the seats combined. A record seven parties (counting the Bavarian Christian Social Union separately) crossed the 5-percent election threshold. Four parties will probably be needed to form a coalition government — another first in postwar German history.

This might look like instability at first, but it actually underscores the resilience of multiparty democracy. Read more

Rebutting Trump’s Arguments for Canceling the Iran Nuclear Deal

American president Donald Trump attends a ceremony at Arlington National Cemetery, Virginia, January 19
American president Donald Trump attends a ceremony at Arlington National Cemetery, Virginia, January 19 (US Army/Alicia Brand)

Fred Kaplan rebuts the arguments President Donald Trump and his underlings have made for repealing the Iran nuclear deal in Slate: Read more

Evaluating Macron’s Proposals for EU Reform

French president Emmanuel Macron gives a news conference in Brussels, June 23
French president Emmanuel Macron gives a news conference in Brussels, June 23 (Facebook)

French president Emmanuel Macron made various proposals for European Union reform in a speech at the Sorbonne university in Paris today. They can be divided into three categories: difficult, doable and low-hanging fruit. Read more

Emmanuel Macron Suffered Two Setbacks This Weekend

French president Emmanuel Macron and German chancellor Angela Merkel deliver a news conference in Berlin, May 15
French president Emmanuel Macron and German chancellor Angela Merkel deliver a news conference in Berlin, May 15 (Bundesregierung)

French president Emmanuel Macron suffered two setbacks this weekend:

  1. His centrist party, La République En Marche!, won only 29 seats in the Senate. 170 out of 348 seats were contested. The center-right Republicans remain the largest party in the upper chamber, followed by the mainstream Socialists.
  2. The outcome of the German election means the liberal Free Democrats are almost certain to be part of Angela Merkel’s next coalition government and they are skeptical of Macron’s proposals for deeper EU integration. Read more