Should Scotland Become Independent?

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Nick OttensNick Ottensis the founder and editor of the Atlantic Sentinel.
Pap of Glencoe Scotland
Cottage at the foot of the Pap of Glencoe in the Highlands of Scotland (Unsplash/Max Hermansson)

Scottish public opinion is moving in favor of independence with several recent polls giving the separatists a 1- to 7-point lead.

Independence lost in the 2014 referendum by 10 points, but Britain’s exit from the European Union, and the growing likelihood that it will end the year without a trade deal to replace its access to the European single market, has many Scots wondering if they might not be better off leaving the UK in order to rejoin to EU.

The answer is probably still no. Read more “Should Scotland Become Independent?”

Why Kosovo Is Lifting, But Will Likely Reinstate, Tariffs on Serbia

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Nemanja PopovićNemanja Popovićis a political analyst.
Edi Rama Albin Kurti
Prime Minister Edi Rama of Albania receives his Kosovar counterpart, Albin Kurti, in Tirana, February 11 (Kancelarija Premijera)

Kosovo’s new prime minister, Albin Kurti, is partially lifting his predecessor’s 100 percent import tariff on Serbian goods. He has offered to lift the tariff completely if Serbia suspends its derecognition campaign. If it fails to reciprocate, the tariffs will be restored in June.

Since reciprocation would imply Serbian recognition of Kosovo’s independence, it seems inevitable the trade sanctions will be back soon. Read more “Why Kosovo Is Lifting, But Will Likely Reinstate, Tariffs on Serbia”

Why Democrats Are Scared of Sanders

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Nick OttensNick Ottensis the founder and editor of the Atlantic Sentinel.
Bernie Sanders
Vermont senator Bernie Sanders makes a speech in Brooklyn, New York, April 8, 2016 (Timothy Krause)

Why is the Democratic Party establishment in the United States scared of Bernie Sanders? Polls suggest the socialist from Vermont would do about as well against Donald Trump in a general election as his rival, Joe Biden.

I suspect there are three reasons:

  1. Democrats don’t trust the polls.
  2. They worry that, even if Sanders might defeat Trump, he would hurt down-ballot Democrats.
  3. They don’t want their party to be taken over by an outsider, like the Republican Party was in 2016. Read more “Why Democrats Are Scared of Sanders”

What Is a Brokered Convention? Could It Happen?

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Nick OttensNick Ottensis the founder and editor of the Atlantic Sentinel.
Republican National Convention
The Republican National Convention in Tampa, Florida, August 30, 2012 (Think Out Loud)

It’s every political junkie’s dream: a contested convention. When no American presidential candidate wins a majority of the delegates in state-by-state contests before the party’s convention in the summer, the assembly — normally stage-managed for television — will have to go through as many voting rounds as it takes to elect a nominee. Imagine the theater!

It hasn’t happened in almost seventy years, and for good reason.

The last time Democrats needed to “broker” their convention was in 1952. The last time Republicans had one was in 1948. At both times, the parties went on to lose the general election. The spectacle of a party struggling to find a presidential candidate doesn’t inspire much confidence in voters that they’ve made the right choice.

Could the same happen to Democrats this year? Read more “What Is a Brokered Convention? Could It Happen?”

Why Democratic Party Officials Are Reluctant to Take Sides

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Nick OttensNick Ottensis the founder and editor of the Atlantic Sentinel.
Hillary Clinton Andrew Cuomo
Former American secretary of state Hillary Clinton and Governor Andrew Cuomo of New York attend a political event in New York City, April 4, 2016 (Hillary for America/Barbara Kinney)

You may remember that in 2016, we interpreted both the Democratic and Republican primaries in the United States through the prism of “the party decides” theory, which argues that party elites — including elected and party officials, interest group leaders and other partisan figures — coordinate before presidential nominating contests in order to help their preferred candidate win.

Or, as The Economist pithily summarized the argument: parties tell the electorate how to vote, rather than voters telling the party whom to support.

That obviously didn’t happen in the Republican Party, where elites failed to stop Donald Trump.

Democratic elites (everyone from the chair of the Democratic National Committee to local union bosses) did coalesce around Hillary Clinton, but many voters didn’t listen: 43 percent backed Bernie Sanders.

This year, public endorsements from Democratic Party figures are slower than usual, suggesting that — like Republicans four years ago — “the” party is reluctant to decide. Read more “Why Democratic Party Officials Are Reluctant to Take Sides”

Who Is Russia’s New Prime Minister?

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Nemanja PopovićNemanja Popovićis a political analyst.
Mikhail Mishustin
Mikhail Mishustin, then director of Russia’s Federal Tax Service, meets with President Vladimir Putin in Sochi, November 20, 2018 (Kremlin)

Mikhail Mishustin was largely unknown both in- and outside Russia until two weeks ago. The head of the Federal Tax Service since 2010, he was unexpectedly promoted to prime minister, replacing Vladimir Putin’s longtime deputy, Dmitri Medvedev.

Yet it was probably because, not in spite of, this political inexperience that Mishustin was chosen. Read more “Who Is Russia’s New Prime Minister?”

Why Putin Wants to Change Russia’s Constitution

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Kristijonas Medeliswrites about Central and Eastern Europe.
Vladimir Putin Dmitri Medvedev
Russian president Vladimir Putin speaks with his prime minister, Dmitri Medvedev, at his country residence outside Moscow, January 25, 2016 (Kremlin)

Russian president Vladimir Putin has called for a referendum to approve constitutional changes that would nominally hand more power to parliament.

The changes, if approved, might improve Russia’s rating in the Freedom House index, but democracy is probably not on his mind.

Only hours after his yearly address to the combined Federal Assembly, in which he made his proposals, Putin accepted the resignation of Prime Minister Dmitri Medvedev and replaced him with the little-known head of the Federal Tax Service, Mikhail Mishustin.

The moves have left both Russians and Russia experts wondering: what’s happening? And what’s next? Read more “Why Putin Wants to Change Russia’s Constitution”

Everything You Need to Know About the Labour Leadership Election

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Nick OttensNick Ottensis the founder and editor of the Atlantic Sentinel.
British Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn attends a conference of European socialist parties in Paris, France, July 8, 2016
British Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn attends a conference of European socialist parties in Paris, France, July 8, 2016 (PES)

After leading the British Labour Party into its worst electoral defeat since 1935, Jeremy Corbyn is stepping down as leader.

The contest to succeed him will take three months and pit defenders of Corbyn’s legacy against centrists who believe the party must change.

Here is everything you need to know. Read more “Everything You Need to Know About the Labour Leadership Election”

The Trans-Anatolian Pipeline, Explained

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Nemanja PopovićNemanja Popovićis a political analyst.
Welded pipes of the Trans-Adriatic Pipeline are lowered in northern Greece, November 2016
Welded pipes of the Trans-Adriatic Pipeline are lowered in northern Greece, November 2016 (TAP)

After four years of construction, the Trans-Anatolian Natural Gas Pipeline (TANAP) has started pumping gas into Europe.

TANAP is part of Europe’s Southern Gas Corridor, connecting the South Caucasus Pipeline (completed) with the Trans-Adriatic Pipeline (still under construction). It aims to transport natural gas from Azerbaijan all the way through to Italy, where it flows into the European market.

Once the system is fully operational, it should be able to pipe 16 billion cubic meters of natural gas into Europe per year. Read more “The Trans-Anatolian Pipeline, Explained”

Corbyn’s Extremism Is Why Labour Will Lose Again

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Nick OttensNick Ottensis the founder and editor of the Atlantic Sentinel.
British Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn attends a meeting in Highbury, North London, January 8, 2018
British Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn attends a meeting in Highbury, North London, January 8, 2018 (Catholic Church England and Wales)

Few British voters outside the Conservative Party trust Prime Minister Boris Johnson, a one-time liberal who opportunistically embraced the reactionary cause of Brexit to advance his own political career and who shamefully besmirched Parliament to get his preferred version of Brexit through.

And still he is projected to win the election in December with support for the Conservatives trending toward 45 percent. Labour, the second largest party, is at 25-30 percent in the polls.

The reason is Jeremy Corbyn. He has pulled Labour so far to the left that middle-income voters no longer trust it.

Corbyn’s net approval rating is the lowest of any opposition leader since counting began in 1977. Just 16 percent of British voters have faith in him. Read more “Corbyn’s Extremism Is Why Labour Will Lose Again”