Different Player, Same Game

Presidents Andrzej Duda of Poland and Donald Trump of the United States answer questions from reporters at the White House in Washington DC, June 12
Presidents Andrzej Duda of Poland and Donald Trump of the United States answer questions from reporters at the White House in Washington DC, June 12 (White House/Shealah Craighead)

Donald Trump has not exactly shied away from advocating for better American relations with Russia. During his presidential campaign, he argued that “Russia and the United States should be able to work well with each other toward defeating terrorism and restoring world peace.” He has repeatedly praised Vladimir Putin and accepted his denials of Russian interference in the 2016 election.

But even Trump’s Russophilia is no match for geopolitical reality. Read more

What Can Danes Teach Europe’s Social Democrats?

Danish Social Democratic Party leader Mette Frederiksen gives a speech in Allinge-Sandvig on the island of Bornholm, June 16, 2017
Danish Social Democratic Party leader Mette Frederiksen gives a speech in Allinge-Sandvig on the island of Bornholm, June 16, 2017 (News Øresund/Sofie Paisley)

The victory of Denmark’s Social Democrats in the election on Wednesday would some seem to vindicate leader Mette Frederiksen’s lurch to the right. She hardened her party’s policy on immigration and supported such far-right proposals as a ban on prayer rooms in schools and universities.

A closer look at the campaign she ran, as well as the election result, reveals a more nuanced picture. Read more

The European Protests You’ve Probably Never Heard Of

Serbian president Aleksandar Vučić listens to German chancellor Angela Merkel during a news conference in Berlin, March 15, 2017
Serbian president Aleksandar Vučić listens to German chancellor Angela Merkel during a news conference in Berlin, March 15, 2017 (Bundesregierung)

Large demonstrations have been taking place in Serbia’s capital, Belgrade, every week since the end of November against the government of Aleksandar Vučić.

Vučić has been in power since 2014, first as prime minister and for the last two years as president. He leads the Serbian Progressive Party, which, despite its name, is right-wing. He started his career in the far-right Serbian Radical Party, which was founded by the convicted war criminal Vojislav Šešelj in 1991. Read more

It Will Be Hard for Catalans to Accept Supreme Court Verdict

Seat of the Spanish Supreme Court in Madrid, November 27, 2012
Seat of the Spanish Supreme Court in Madrid, November 27, 2012 (Wikimedia Commons)

Spain’s Supreme Court will soon decide on the fate of twelve Catalan independence leaders who stand accused of sedition and rebellion against the state. The verdict will be hard for Catalans to accept as fair, especially when the same court has sided with the family of Francisco Franco.

On Wednesday, the Supreme Court suspended the planned exhumation of the dictator’s remains from the monumental Valley of the Fallen in the mountains near Madrid, arguing it would not be in the “public interest”.

In its verdict, the court used the honorific “don” to refer to Franco and wrote that he was head of state from October 1, 1936. That is when Franco was proclaimed leader of the coup against the Republic, but his government wasn’t recognized as legitimate by most countries until after the Civil War.

To many Catalans, especially left-wing separatists who imagine themselves heirs to the Republic, it confirms that Spain hasn’t reckoned with the past. Read more

Spanish Center-Right Rethinks Appeasement of Far Right

Jordi Cañas and Albert Rivera of the Spanish Citizens party talk in Madrid, August 6, 2013
Jordi Cañas and Albert Rivera of the Spanish Citizens party talk in Madrid, August 6, 2013 (Ciudadanos/Jordi Esteban)

Spain’s center-right parties are having second thoughts about cozying up to the far right.

Before the general election in April, the liberal Citizens and the conservative People’s Party ruled out a deal with Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez’ Socialists. That meant the only alternative to his pact with the far-left Podemos was a right-wing coalition with the support of the nativist Vox. Voters preferred the former.

They once again gave the Socialists a plurality in European and local elections last month.

The Citizens now say they are willing to consider coalitions with the Socialists at the regional level under “exceptional” circumstances. They also reject more deals with Vox such as the one they struck in Andalusia last year.

The People’s Party, which as recently as eight years ago won 45 percent of the votes, has also repudiated its Vox-friendly strategy after falling to 17-20 percent support in the last two elections. Read more

Brexit Is Tearing Britain’s Conservative Party Apart

British prime minister Theresa May attends a NATO summit in Brussels, July 11, 2018
British prime minister Theresa May attends a NATO summit in Brussels, July 11, 2018 (Shutterstock/Alexandros Michailidis)

In last month’s European elections, Britain’s Conservative Party outdid expectations that it would perform poorly by performing terribly. It placed fifth with just 9 percent support, the party’s worst result since 1832.

This is a humiliation for a party that prides itself on being Britain’s “natural party of government”. Theresa May promptly announced she would step down as prime minister and party leader. Twelve candidates are vying to replace her, including the former mayor of London, Boris Johnson.

A fresh face won’t be enough avert the next electoral disaster, though. The Conservatives have lost their reputation for competence and prudence during the Brexit process and the issue of Europe — which has brought down every Conservative prime minister since Ted Heath — is unlikely to go away. Read more

French Center-Right Needs More Than New Leader

France's Laurent Wauquiez attends a meeting with other European conservative party leaders in Brussels, October 17, 2018
France’s Laurent Wauquiez attends a meeting with other European conservative party leaders in Brussels, October 17, 2018 (EPP)

France’s center-right Republicans will be looking for a new leader after Laurent Wauquiez stepped down in the wake of a disappointing European election result.

His party got just 8.5 percent support, placing fourth behind President Emmanuel Macron’s centrist alliance, Marine Le Pen’s National Rally and the Greens.

Wauquiez had been at 8 to 10 percent support in polls for the next presidential election, which is due in 2022.

But the party needs more than a fresh face. It needs a better strategy. Read more