Lithuania’s Presidential Election Is Boring — And That’s Fine

Lithuania's outgoing president, Dalia Grybauskaitė, speaks at an event celebrating the country's fifteen years in the EU, May 1
Lithuania’s outgoing president, Dalia Grybauskaitė, speaks at an event celebrating the country’s fifteen years in the EU, May 1 (Office of the President of the Republic of Lithuania/Robertas Dačkus)

Former finance minister Ingrida Šimonytė and economist Gitanas Nausėda have advanced to the second round of Lithuania’s presidential election. Prime Minister Saulius Skvernelis placed third and has announced he will step down in July.

The remaining candidates are both center-right, so the outcome of the runoff on May 26 should not affect Lithuania’s politics in a major way. Even so, the result is largely a happy one. Read more

Too Many Democrats Are Running for Vice President

The White House in Washington DC is seen from a helicopter, January 15, 2015
The White House in Washington DC is seen from a helicopter, January 15, 2015 (White House/Pete Souza)

Steve Bullock is the latest Democrat to put his personal ambitions before the interest of his party.

The governor of Montana is wildly popular at home. Donald Trump won Montana with 56 percent of the votes against 36 percent for Hillary Clinton in 2016. In 2020, the state’s first-term Republican senator, Steve Daines, is up for reelection. If Democrats want to beat Daines, and stand a better chance of winning a majority in the Senate — the odds are currently against them — Bullock should be running for that seat, not for president. Read more

Trump Supporters Don’t Care

Businessman Donald Trump speaks at the Conservative Political Action Conference in National Harbor, Maryland, February 27, 2015
Businessman Donald Trump speaks at the Conservative Political Action Conference in National Harbor, Maryland, February 27, 2015 (Gage Skidmore)

As a presidential candidate, Donald Trump joked he could shoot some on New York’s Fifth Avenue and not lose voters.

His racism, his ignorance of policy, his shambolic business career and two dozen allegations of sexual misconduct (which he denied in public but admitted to in what he thought was a private conversation) didn’t move voters.

Three years later, the transgressions have only become more serious, but most Republicans still don’t care. Read more

Republicans in the Senate Can’t Be Bothered to Legislate

View of Washington DC with the United States Capitol in the distance, September 28, 2017
View of Washington DC with the United States Capitol in the distance, September 28, 2017 (Ted Eytan)

Jonathan Bernstein of Bloomberg View argues that Republicans in the United States Senate have given up on legislating.

In the last two months, the upper chamber, which Republicans still control, has taken fifty votes, but all but one were on nominations, or the nomination process, of judges and executive-branch personnel.

It’s not that Republicans don’t believe there are laws that need to be passed, according to Bernstein.

As far as I know, all of them think disaster relief, for example, is needed, but they aren’t reaching a deal on it because Donald Trump doesn’t want Puerto Rico to get any money and Republican senators don’t know how to get around Trump’s rhetoric. Plenty of Republicans have campaigned on other laws they wanted passed. None of it is happening now. Read more

Joe Biden Is a Stronger Candidate Than You Might Think

Former American vice president Joe Biden campaigns in Iowa City, Iowa, May 1
Former American vice president Joe Biden campaigns in Iowa City, Iowa, May 1 (Biden for President)

Joe Biden might look out of sync with today’s Democratic Party. 76 years old, Biden is a Third Way-style liberal who used to be “tough on crime”, voted for the Iraq War and now faces his own #MeToo accusations.

Yet he is the frontrunner for the party’s presidential nomination.

RealClearPolitics has Biden’s support at 39 percent, 23 points ahead of the runner-up, Bernie Sanders.

We’re still almost a year away from the first primaries. Polls are usually not predictive at this point in the contest and say more about name recognition. But Biden is also ahead in the endorsement primary, as measured by FiveThirtyEight. The former vice president has already convinced eighty prominent Democrats to support him against 55 for California senator Kamala Harris. (Who I think is actually the second strongest candidate at this point. Read Frank Bruni’s column about her in The New York Times.)

What explains Biden’s popularity? Read more

Local Elections Highlight Political Fragmentation in United Kingdom

View of Bideford, England from the River Torridge
View of Bideford, England from the River Torridge (Shutterstock)

The outcome of local elections in the United Kingdom last week painted a stark picture for the country’s two major political parties.

The ruling Conservatives were expecting to lose around 800 of their 5,521 seats. They ended up losing 1,330 and with it control of 44 councils.

Labour, who were expecting gains, ended up losing 84 seats and control of six councils.

The clear winners were the Liberal Democrats, who more than doubled their seats, from 658 to 1,351, with 19 percent support. The Greens also won.

It is tempting to write up the result to those parties’ pro-EU message, but there is actually more at play. Read more

After Historic Defeat, Spain’s Center-Right U-Turns

Spanish People's Party leader Pablo Casado attends a meeting of European conservative party leaders in Brussels, October 17, 2018
Spanish People’s Party leader Pablo Casado attends a meeting of European conservative party leaders in Brussels, October 17, 2018 (EPP)

Spain’s conservative party leader, Pablo Casado, is belatedly appealing to the center after presiding over the worst parliamentary election result in his People’s Party’s history.

Support for the formerly dominant center-right party went down from 33 to 17 percent in the election last month. The People’s Party lost more than half its seats in Congress and now has only nine more than its biggest competitor, the liberal Citizens.

Casado’s lurch to the right on everything from abortion to Catalan separatism to immigration did not convince far-right voters, who preferred the nativist Vox, but it did scare away moderates, who voted for the Citizens or Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez’ Socialists instead. Read more