Corbyn Could Learn Something About Coalition Politics from Spain

British Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn visits Telford, England, November 6
British Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn visits Telford, England, November 6 (Labour)

British Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn has ruled out forming a coalition after the election in December, daring smaller parties to back him or risk another Conservative government.

“We’re not doing deals with anybody,” Corbyn told the BBC’s Andrew Marr on Sunday.

Asked specifically about the Scottish National Party’s (SNP) demand for an independence referendum, Corbyn said:

The SNP will have a choice: do they want to put Boris Johnson back in with all the austerity economics that they claim to be against or are they going to say, well, a Labour government is going to deliver for Scotland.

This is the same mistake Spanish Socialist Party leader Pedro Sánchez made after the election in April and the reason we had another election here in Spain last week. Read more

Democratic Party Elites Worry Candidates Aren’t Up to the Task

Vice President Joe Biden and President Barack Obama meet in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington DC, August 27, 2014
Vice President Joe Biden and President Barack Obama meet in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington DC, August 27, 2014 (White House/Pete Souza)
  • Deval Patrick, the center-left former governor of Massachusetts, and a friend of former president Barack Obama, has entered the Democratic primary.
  • Obama himself has warned candidates to “pay some attention to where voters actually are.”

    The average American doesn’t think we have to completely tear down the system and remake it. They just don’t want to see crazy stuff.

  • Former New York mayor Michael Bloomberg, a centrist, has filed paperwork in Alabama, which has an early cut-off date, just in case he decides to run.
  • Even Hillary Clinton, who lost to Donald Trump in 2016, is not ruling out another bid, telling the BBC, “I’m under enormous pressure from many, many, many people to think about it.”
  • Democratic Party officials have been slow to endorse candidates this year. Read more

Dutch Parties Haven’t Lost Popularity in Pollution Crisis

Dutch prime minister Mark Rutte listens to questions from lawmakers in parliament in The Hague, September 22, 2011
Dutch prime minister Mark Rutte listens to questions from lawmakers in parliament in The Hague, September 22, 2011 (RIjksoverheid/Evert-Jan Daniels)

Dutch prime minister Mark Rutte appears to be weathering what he describes as the worst political crisis of his nine years in power.

Rutte’s four-party government has seen protests by builders and farmers against far-reaching plans to reduce nitrogen oxide pollution.

Now motorists are angry too. To cut emissions, the coalition has agreed to lower the daytime speed limit on Dutch highways from 130 to 100 kilometers per hour. The measure is hugely unpopular in Rutte’s car-friendly liberal party.

Yet it remains faraway the largest in the polls and hasn’t lost support since the pollution crisis began. Read more

Now the Hard Part: Convincing the Catalans

Spanish Socialist Party leader Pedro Sánchez listens during a meeting in Madrid, April 12, 2016
Spanish Socialist Party leader Pedro Sánchez listens during a meeting in Madrid, April 12, 2016 (PSOE)

21 seats short of a majority, Spain’s Pedro Sánchez still need either the support or acquiescence of smaller parties to serve a second term as prime minister.

So far, the signs are not encouraging. Read more

Balkans Propose Mini-Schengen

Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany and Prime Ministers Mateusz Morawiecki of Poland, Boyko Borissov of Bulgaria and Zoran Zaev of North Macedonia deliver a news conference at the Western Balkans Summit in Poznań, July 5
Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany and Prime Ministers Mateusz Morawiecki of Poland, Boyko Borissov of Bulgaria and Zoran Zaev of North Macedonia deliver a news conference at the Western Balkans Summit in Poznań, July 5 (Government of the Republic of Northern Macedonia)

Their EU accession blocked by France, Albania and North Macedonia are opting for a regional, if temporary, solution. Together with Serbia, the Balkan states are looking to create their own version of the EU’s passport-free Schengen Area.

  • Citizens of the three countries would no longer need a passport to cross the border, but only have to show an ID card.
  • Labor movement would be liberalized through the mutual recognition of diplomas and qualifications.
  • Students could go on exchange.
  • Capital flows would be smoothened.

The other non-EU countries in the region — Bosnia, Montenegro and Kosovo — have been given the green light to join. Read more

Republicans Won’t Allow Trump to Face Competition

American president Donald Trump arrives in Salt Lake City, Utah, December 4, 2017
American president Donald Trump arrives in Salt Lake City, Utah, December 4, 2017 (ANG/Annie Edwards)

Remember when Trumpists were up in arms in 2016 about internal Republican attempts to deny their man the presidential nomination?

I defended such attempts at the time, arguing that Republicans had every right to use every method at their disposal to stop a candidate so patently unfit for high office and one who didn’t even share their views on foreign policy and trade. (Most Republicans have since come around to Trump’s views.)

But Donald Trump’s supporters saw an “establishment” plot and demanded that the “democratic” will of the Republican electorate be respected. (No matter that only 45 percent of primary voters supported Trump.)

Not anymore. Read more

Venezuela Is Starving and Still Maduro Clings to Power

Venezuelan president Nicolás Maduro delivers a speech
Venezuelan president Nicolás Maduro delivers a speech (Palacio de Miraflores/Miguel Angulo)

Nicolás Maduro is still president of Venezuela. That may not sound like news, but in the six years he has been in power, he has so poorly managed the economy, with increasingly authoritarian measures, that GDP has shrunk 60 percent, inflation has reached an astronomical 10 million percent, once forgotten diseases have returned, 4.5 million Venezuelans have fled the country and 90 percent of the remaining population lives in poverty. It’s the worst economic collapse outside of a civil war.

Little wonder mass protests have been a recurrent aspect of Maduro’s administration, but so far all attempts to remove him have failed.

Maduro only won reelection in 2018 after arresting opposition presidential candidates, sidelining the opposition-controlled legislature and most likely rigging the vote.

In January, Juan Guaidó, a social democrat and president of the National Assembly, took the extraordinary step of invoking Article 233 of the Constitution to declare himself interim president and call for early elections. Read more