Germany’s Social Democrats Need to Pick Side in Culture War

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)

Social democrats across Europe are caught in the middle of a culture war: they have middle-class voters, many university-educated, whose economic and social views range from liberal to progressive, as well as working-class voters, whose views range from the conservative to the nativist.

Germany’s are trying to bridge this divide, but a report by the Financial Times from the heart of the Ruhr industrial area does not suggest they are succeeding.

Guido Reil, a coalminer from Essen and former town councilor for the Social Democrats who switched to the anti-immigrant Alternative for Germany, says his old party has “lost its connection to real people.”

They don’t speak their language. They’re people who have never worked, they’re all careerists and professional politicians.

Blue-collar voters — a shrinking demographic — only make up 17 percent of the Social Democrats’ electorate anymore. Read more

Charlottesville and a Country Coming Apart

Minnesotans demonstrate against white supremacy in Minneapolis, August 13
Minnesotans demonstrate against white supremacy in Minneapolis, August 13 (Fibonacci Blue)

A lot of the news is focused on President Donald Trump’s failure to condemn this weekend’s racist violence in Charlottesville, Virginia and rightly so.

Given the opportunity to denounce white supremacists who carried Confederate flags and torches through the university town and chanted “Jews will not replace us” as well as the Nazi slogan “blood and soil”, Trump equivocated, saying he blamed “hatred, bigotry and violence that’s on many sides, on many sides” — suggesting that the people who came out to protest against the neo-Nazis were just as responsible for the altercations that occurred.

When asked if he considered the murder of one counterdemonstrator by a white man in his car an act of terrorism, Trump — to the delight of his alt-right fanboys — refused to say anything and walked off the stage.

Compare this with his insistence on using the phrase “radical Islamic terrorism” whenever a Muslim commits an act of violence — and his insinuation that anyone who doesn’t must be an appeaser or sympathizer of radical Islam. Read more

Question in Germany Is: Who Will Govern with Merkel Next?

German chancellor Angela Merkel listens during a meeting with other European conservative party leaders in Brussels, June 22
German chancellor Angela Merkel listens during a meeting with other European conservative party leaders in Brussels, June 22 (EPP)

Germany’s Christian Democrats are so far ahead in the opinion polls that the only question seems to be who will govern with them after the election?

Support for Angela Merkel’s party has been just short of 40 percent since May. The Social Democrats, who briefly polled neck and neck with the conservatives earlier in the year, are down to 25 percent.

The Greens, liberal Free Democrats, far-left Die Linke and far-right Alternative für Deutschland would split the remainder of the vote.

Unless the numbers change dramatically between now and September, Merkel would have three ways to stay in power:

  1. A continuation of her “grand coalition” with the Social Democrats;
  2. A center-right coalition with the Free Democrats; or
  3. A center-left coalition with the Greens.

A right-wing pact with the Alternative can be ruled out. Read more

European Fellow Travelers Refuse to Criticize Venezuelan Dictator

Venezuelan president Nicolás Maduro meets with officials in Caracas, February 19, 2015
Venezuelan president Nicolás Maduro meets with officials in Caracas, February 19, 2015 (Prensa Miraflores)

Seventeen Latin American nations, including those run by leftists, agree Venezuela is now a “dictatorship” under Nicolás Maduro.

For most of his presidency, Maduro has ruled by decree. When the opposition won a majority of the seats in parliament, he replaced it with a Constituent Assembly full of cronies. Critical lawmakers have been arrested. A “truth commission” is being established to investigate thoughtcrimes. Instead of seeing high crime and low growth rates as evidence of the failure of Venezuela’s socialist experiment, the crude and homophobic Maduro entertains anti-American and anticapitalist conspiracy theories.

Yet left-wing admirers of Hugo Chávez will not see his heirs for the thugs they have become. Read more

Immigration Could Be Macron’s Achilles’ Heel

French president Emmanuel Macron attends a military remembrance ceremony at the Arc de Triomphe in central Paris, May 15
French president Emmanuel Macron attends a military remembrance ceremony at the Arc de Triomphe in central Paris, May 15 (Facebook)

Patrick Chamorel makes another fine point in his essay about Emmanuel Macron in The American Interest.

He points out that the French president has barely talked about crime, immigration, integration and terrorism:

His emphasis on the necessary liberalization of the economy disproportionately reflects the preoccupations of the most urban, educated and prosperous sections of the population.

In smaller cities and the countryside, people worry about other things. Read more

Macron Takes Inspiration from California and Scandinavia

Former French economy minister Emmanuel Macron
Former French economy minister Emmanuel Macron (Facebook)

Patrick Chamorel, who specializes in comparing American and European politics, argues in The American Interest that French president Emmanuel Macron’s economic vision is a mix of the Californian and Scandinavian models:

On the one hand, an embrace of start-up culture, a preference for entrepreneurship over rent-seeking, outsiders over insiders and individual mobility over jobs-for-life; on the other, he evinces a belief in the positive role government can play to protect the weak and equalize access to opportunities.

Macron wants to free companies from excessive social costs and bureaucratic constraints, but he has also pledged €50 billion in public investments. Read more

Republicans Must Start to Wonder: What Has Trump Done for Them?

American president Donald Trump waves at a crowd in North Charleston, South Carolina, February 17
American president Donald Trump waves at a crowd in North Charleston, South Carolina, February 17 (North Charleston/Ryan Johnson)

Firing Reince Priebus as his chief of staff has allowed American president Donald Trump to put even more distance between himself and the party that elected him, argues Tim Alberta at Politico:

More and more, Trump talks as though there are Democrats and Republicans — and him, a party of one.

With the exception of his vice president, Mike Pence, none of Trump’s remaining confidants have a history in the party.

Many, including the president himself, weren’t even Republicans until one or two years ago.

Republicans must start to wonder what, other than winning the presidency and putting a conservative, Neil Gorsuch, on the Supreme Court, Trump has done for the party? Read more