Trump Cedes Initiative to China and Russia

Presidents Vladimir Putin of Russia and Xi Jinping of China observe a military ceremony in Shanghai, May 20, 2014
Presidents Vladimir Putin of Russia and Xi Jinping of China observe a military ceremony in Shanghai, May 20, 2014 (Presidential Press and Information Office)
  • Edward Luce argues in the Financial Times that Donald Trump is allowing China to take the lead in artificial intelligence and robotics. Whereas Trump is sabotaging his own country’s edge by proposing to cut investment spending, reduce visas for high-skilled migrants and pulling out of the Trans Pacific Partnership, China is spending generously, drawing in foreign talent and developing its “One Belt and One Road” trade initiative.
  • Michael Crowley reports for Politico that Trump is ceding postwar planning in Syria to Vladimir Putin, allowing not only Russia but Iran to maintain a foothold in the Eastern Mediterranean. The effect: Egypt and Turkey, once bulwarks of American influence in the Middle East, are eying an entente with Moscow.

Independence Sentiment Aroused in French Catalonia

View of Perpignan, formerly the capital of Languedoc-Roussilon, France, April 1, 2016
View of Perpignan, formerly the capital of Languedoc-Roussilon, France, April 1, 2016 (Jean-Pierre Dalbéra)

Catalonia’s independence referendum has aroused separatist sentiment north of the border, where a Catalan-speaking minority has long been content to live under French rule.

Northern Catalonia, or Roussillon, has been French since 1659.

Despite the presence of a small but vocal group of Catalan nationalists and a political party, the Unitat Catalana (UC), most of the region’s inhabitants have no desire to break away.

But recent events — not just those in Spain — have given French Catalans reason to question the status quo. Read more

Polls Vindicate Puigdemont’s Decision to Form Separatist List

Oriol Junqueras and Carles Puigdemont, the leaders of the Catalan ruling party, deliver a news conference in Barcelona, Spain, March 1
Oriol Junqueras and Carles Puigdemont, the leaders of the Catalan ruling party, deliver a news conference in Barcelona, Spain, March 1 (Generalitat de Catalunya/Rubén Moreno)

Carles Puigdemont appears to have made the right decision forming a new political entity, called Together for Catalonia, as opposed to leading his center-right European Democratic Party (PDeCAT) into next month’s election.

Two recent polls, one published in El Periódico, the other in ABC newspaper, give the deposed president’s list almost 17 percent support.

That puts it neck and neck with the liberal Ciudadanos and mainstream Socialist Party — both of which oppose Catalan independence — for second place.

Together for Catalonia uses PDeCAT’s infrastructure but has drawn candidates from civil society. Read more

Italy’s Small Left Rejects Pact, Making Defeat More Likely

Pier Luigi Bersani speaks at a Democratic Party event in Bologna, Italy, February 24, 2012
Pier Luigi Bersani speaks at a Democratic Party event in Bologna, Italy, February 24, 2012 (Partito Democratico Emilia Romagna/Vincenzo Menichella)

Italy’s smaller left-wing party has ruled out a pact with Matteo Renzi’s Democrats, making a populist or right-wing victory more likely in the upcoming election.

Pier Luigi Bersani, a former Democratic Party leader who now belongs to the dissident Democrats and Progressives, has rejected Renzi’s overtures as “theatrics”. Read more

Don’t Panic: Merkel Still Has Options

German chancellor Angela Merkel arrives in Paris, France, January 11, 2015
German chancellor Angela Merkel arrives in Paris, France, January 11, 2015 (Bundesregierung)

It’s only been twelve hours since the first round of coalition talks in Germany collapsed and some are already calling it the “worst political crisis” in the nation’s postwar history.

Let’s not panic yet. Read more

German Coalition Talks Collapse as Free Democrats Walk Out

German chancellor Angela Merkel delivers a news conference in Berlin, March 24, 2015
German chancellor Angela Merkel delivers a news conference in Berlin, March 24, 2015 (Bundesregierung)

Germany’s liberal Free Democrats have left talks to form a coalition government with Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Christian Democrats and the Greens, citing an absence of trust.

Christian Lindner, the liberal party leader, tweeted, “It is better not to govern than to govern in the wrong way.” Read more

New Author Bylines and Country Menu

You’ll notice there have been a few design changes. Most are small: the formatting of the meta data and widget titles is a little different; the author bio has been replaced with a simpler — and what I think is a more elegant — byline.

The biggest change is in the sidebar, where you can now find links to the latest articles about France, Germany, Italy, Spain, the United Kingdom and the United States. I hope that will let you more easily find the stories you are looking for.

As always, I welcome your feedback! If you have any criticisms or suggestions, please leave them in the comments.