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

Trump Is Taking Over Republican Party, Making Realignment More Likely

Republican presidential candidates Donald Trump and Marco Rubio talk during a commercial break in a debate televised by CBS News from Greenville, South Carolina, February 13, 2016
Republican presidential candidates Donald Trump and Marco Rubio talk during a commercial break in a debate televised by CBS News from Greenville, South Carolina, February 13, 2016 (Reuters/Jonathan Ernst)

Donald Trump is splitting America’s Republican Party in two — and his side is winning.

NBC News and The Wall Street Journal asked Republican voters if they consider themselves to be a supporter of the president first or a supporter of the Republican Party. 58 percent said Trump, 38 percent the party.

The Trump supporters are more likely to hail from rural areas and to be men while Republican Party supporters are more likely to be women and residents of the suburbs.

CNN found a similar divide: Trump’s support is strongest among old white voters without a college education. Republicans under the age of fifty with a degree are disappointed in him.

These trends portend a realignment of America’s two-party system in which the Democrats become the party of the affluent and the optimistic and the Republicans a coalition of the left behind.

Before such a realignment can happen, though, the Republicans need to break up. Read more

Germany’s Social Democrats Should Have Picked Side

German Social Democratic Party leader Martin Schulz makes a speech in Bavaria, March 1
German Social Democratic Party leader Martin Schulz makes a speech in Bavaria, March 1 (Bayern SPD/Joerg Koch)

Germany’s Social Democrats are going the way of the Dutch Labor Party.

Both parties tried to appeal to their working- and middle-class constituents in elections this year and both lost precisely because of this indecision.

Campaigning on liberal immigration laws, social justice and international engagement alienates blue-collar voters.

Campaigning on border controls and deemphasizing identity politics turns away college graduates.

Do both at the same time and you end up with with no supporters at all. Read more