What’s in the Dutch Coalition Agreement

Mark Rutte Justin Trudeau
Canadian prime minister Justin Trudeau speaks with members of the Dutch government in The Hague, October 29 (PMO)

Prime Minister Mark Rutte’s liberal VVD (of which I am a member) has completed negotiations with the left-liberal D66 and two Christian democratic parties to form his fourth government in the Netherlands.

At 47 pages, the coalition agreement is short by Dutch standards. In some cases, the parties define the outlines of a compromise but leave it to the next cabinet to fill in the blanks. Rutte has to find nineteen ministers and ten junior ministers.

Yesterday, I listed the key policies at a high level, which was based on Dutch media reports and the draft of an agreement Christian Union leader Gert-Jan Segers forgot on a train in November. Now that I’ve read the full text, I can give you the details. Read more “What’s in the Dutch Coalition Agreement”

The Next Dutch Government, Explained

Mark Rutte
Dutch prime minister Mark Rutte arrives at NATO headquarters in Brussels, June 14 (NATO)

Nine months after parliamentary elections, parties in the Netherlands are finally ready to form a government.

Prime Minister Mark Rutte’s liberal VVD (of which I am a member) has completed negotiations with the left-liberal D66, the Christian democratic CDA and the Christian Union (CU). The same four parties formed his last government.

At 271 days, this was the longest government formation in postwar Dutch history.

Why did it take so long? And what’s next? I’ll explain. Read more “The Next Dutch Government, Explained”

France’s Republican Presidential Primary, Explained

Sebastian Kurz Laurent Wauquiez Michel Barnier
Austrian chancellor Sebastian Kurz meets with French Republican party leaders Laurent Wauquiez and Michel Barnier in Salzburg, September 19, 2018 (EPP)

French Republicans choose their presidential candidate this week, who will challenge Emmanuel Macron in the spring.

Like all French elections, the primary is held in two rounds. Five candidates have qualified.

Here’s what you need to know. Read more “France’s Republican Presidential Primary, Explained”

What’s in Germany’s “Traffic Light” Coalition Agreement

Olaf Scholz
German finance minister Olaf Scholz attends a debate in parliament in Berlin, July 8, 2018 (Bundestag/Inga Kjer)

Germany’s Social Democrats, Greens and liberal Free Democrats are ready to govern. Two months after the federal election almost to the day, they unveiled a 177-page coalition agreement that lays out their program for the next four years.

Social Democratic Party (SPD) leader Olaf Scholz, who would succeed Angela Merkel as chancellor, described the deal as the “biggest industrial modernization of Germany in more than 100 years.” It calls for major investments in decarbonization and digitalization.

Free Democratic Party (FDP) leader Christian Lindner would succeed Scholz at the Finance Ministry, despite his party being the smallest in the “traffic light” coalition (named after the parties’ colors).

The Greens get climate and foreign policy, and the right to nominate Germany’s next EU commissioner. (Unless the conservative Ursula von der Leyen is reelected as commission president.)

Here are the highlights. Read more “What’s in Germany’s “Traffic Light” Coalition Agreement”

How Poland Ended Up Defying EU Law

Warsaw Poland
Palace of Culture and Science in Warsaw, Poland at dusk, December 4, 2020 (Unsplash/Iwona Castiello d’Antonio)

Poland has escalated its rule-of-law dispute with the rest of the European Union by arguing its own laws supersede the EU’s, and indeed some EU laws are incompatible with the Polish Constitution.

The decision of the Constitutional Tribunal caps six years of legal battle that began when Poland’s nationalist Law and Justice party returned to power in 2015.

Here is a timeline of events and a look at what could happen next. Read more “How Poland Ended Up Defying EU Law”

German Election: Takeaways and Next Steps

German parliament Berlin
Reichstag building in Berlin, Germany, July 5, 2021 (Unsplash/Kristijan Arsov)

Germans returned at least six parties to parliament on Sunday (counting the “Union” of Christian Democrats as one). The fate of The Left still hangs in the balance. Projections give the former communists exactly the 5 percent support they need to meet the electoral threshold.

The most likely outcome is a three-party government including the liberal Free Democrats (FDP) and Greens. The question is whether the Social Democrats (SPD) or Union will lead it.

If you haven’t been reading our live election blog, this explainer will get you up to speed on the results, takeaways and next steps. Read more “German Election: Takeaways and Next Steps”

Europe’s High Energy Prices, Explained

Eemshaven Netherlands power plant
Power plant in the Eemshaven of the Netherlands, April 17, 2020 (Unsplash/Untitled Photo)

Electricity prices are hitting records across Europe. In Portugal and Spain, wholesale energy prices have tripled from half a year ago to €178 per megawatt-hour. Italy is not far behind at €176. Dutch households without a fixed-price contract could end up paying €500 more this year. In the UK, prices peaked at €247 per megawatt-hour earlier this week.

The main culprit is the high price of natural gas, up 440 percent from a year ago. But Europe is facing something of a perfect storm involving accidents, depleted reserves and a higher carbon price.

Here are all the reasons prices are up — and what governments are doing about it. Read more “Europe’s High Energy Prices, Explained”

German Election Guide

German parliament Berlin
Reichstag in Berlin, Germany (Unsplash/Fionn Große)

Germans elect a new Bundestag on Sunday, which will elect Angela Merkel’s successor. It is the first time in postwar German history that a sitting chancellor isn’t seeking reelection.

If the polls are right, Merkel’s center-right Christian Democrats will lose power to the center-left Social Democrats for the first time since 2005.

Here is everything you need to know. Read more “German Election Guide”

Why It’s Taking So Long to Form a Government in the Netherlands

Mark Rutte Angela Merkel
Dutch prime minister Mark Rutte and German chancellor Angela Merkel meet with other European leaders in Brussels, December 13, 2019 (European Council)

Five months after parliamentary elections, parties haven’t even begun substantive coalition talks in the Netherlands, already making this the third-longest government formation in postwar Dutch history.

Mark Rutte remains in office as caretaker prime minister, but his government can’t make major decisions on such issues as climate policy, reform of child benefits, labor law and taxes.

Those issues are one reason it’s taking so long: whatever choices the next government makes could reverberate for years. Read more “Why It’s Taking So Long to Form a Government in the Netherlands”

What’s at Stake in the German Election

German parliament Berlin
Reichstag in Berlin, Germany (Unsplash/Fionn Große)

Germans elect a new Bundestag on September 26. Outgoing chancellor Angela Merkel is not seeking reelection after serving four terms. Her center-right Christian Democratic Union (CDU) is polling in first place, but the left-wing Social Democrats (SPD) and Greens are not far behind.

Three more parties (counting the union of Merkel’s CDU and Bavaria’s Christian Social Union as one) are expected to win seats: the center-right Free Democrats (FDP), the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) and the far-left Die Linke.

The outgoing “grand coalition” of Christian Democrats and Social Democrats may not defend its majority. More importantly, neither wants to form another two-party government after sharing power for twelve of the last sixteen years.

All other parties rule out pacts with the AfD. The Greens, who are projected to be the biggest winners of the election, would be needed in all possible coalitions:

  • Union + Greens + FDP: Failed in 2017, when the liberals balked. Could be a modernizing, pro-EU government that seeks technological solutions to the climate crisis.
  • Union + SPD + Greens: Less attractive to the Christian Democrats on labor and tax policy, but the Union and SPD see eye to eye on protecting industries and jobs.
  • SPD + Greens + FDP: Makes less sense for the FDP, who would face opposition from the center- and far right.
  • SPD + Greens + Linke: Politically risky for SPD and Greens, who want to appear moderate, and difficult policy-wise on defense and foreign relations.

Here’s where the four mainstream parties stand on ten of the issues at stake in this election. Read more “What’s at Stake in the German Election”