Michael Meyer-Resende of Democracy Reporting International argues for Carnegie Europe that applying the term “illiberal democracy” or “majoritarianism” to the politics of Hungary and Poland is a misnomer. The ruling parties there are not undermining democracy — by taking control of the (state) media, stacking the courts and rewriting election laws — for the sake of the majority, but rather to maintain their own power. Read more
The appointment of a new president in Cuba, Miguel Díaz-Canel, sixty years after the island’s socialist revolution, feels like a turning point.
Once anointed by the 605-strong National Assembly as Cuba’s first non-Castro president in decades, Díaz-Canel vowed to modernize the economy and make government more responsive to its people.
What does the change mean in practice?
Not having a Castro, neither Fidel (1976-08) nor Raúl (2008-18), as leader carries with it great symbolism for sure. For the first time in many years, the powerful roles of president and head of the Communist Party are no longer combined. (Raúl remains party leader for three years.) But the Castro years weren’t quite as monolithic as they are sometimes portrayed and the next few years are unlikely to see a turnaround. Read more
Damon Linker wonders what’s worse: that Republicans believe the FBI was doing the bidding of the Democratic Party by using opposition research funded by the Hillary Clinton campaign to get a court order to approve surveillance of a Donald Trump campaign advisor, Carter Page — or that they are only pretending to believe it in order to whip the Republican electorate into a conspiracy-addled froth of indignation against the legitimacy of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation? Read more
The one-year anniversary of Donald Trump’s presidency has seen some relief. The republic still stands. NAFTA and NATO survive. There is no border wall, no war with Iran or North Korea. Trump’s biggest accomplishments so far — tax cuts, energy deregulation, repealing the Obamacare mandate — are pretty conventional right-wing stuff.
Ignore the rhetoric and norm-breaking, the argument goes, and Trump is just like any other Republican.
Except the rhetoric and norm-breaking are precisely the point. Read more
Because Russia promotes an agenda that is native to Europe, few seem to realize this Second Cold War is just as ideological as the first.
If anything, the fact that Vladimir Putin’s propaganda machine can tap into a homegrown Western reactionary movement that shares its beliefs makes the ideological challenge he poses more insidious. Read more
Donald Trump hasn’t ushered in a post-American world yet. But he is accelerating the demise of a benign hegemony that has made the world more peaceful and more prosperous with his policy of “America first”. Read more
I used to think that rise of far-right populism, the crisis of social democracy and growing divides along class and educational lines were creating a new political reality in the West.
In a 2016 report for the consultancy Wikistrat, I argued that the political spectrum was shifting from left-right to cosmopolitan-nationalist.
Others made similar observations:
- Andrew Sullivan argued in 2014 that America’s blue-red culture war had come to Europe: “Blue Europe is internationalist, globalized, metrosexual, secular, modern, multicultural. Red Europe is noninterventionist, patriotic, more traditional, more sympathetic to faith, more comfortable in a homogeneous society.”
- Stephan Shakespeare, a British pollsters, observed a year later that people were either “drawbridge up” or “drawbridge down”.
- The Economist characterized the divide as between open and closed: “Welcome immigrants or keep them out? Open up to foreign trade or protect domestic industries? Embrace cultural change or resist it?”
- David Goodhart divided people into “anywheres” — mobile and open-minded — and “somewheres” — attached to country, community, family.
I still think this is broadly correct, but now I wonder how new this split really is. Read more