Setback for Montenegro’s Strongman

Milo Đukanović
Montenegrin president Milo Đukanović meets with NATO secretary general Jens Stoltenberg in Brussels, June 9 (NATO)

The Democratic Party of Socialists (DPS) has lost power in Montenegro after thirty years to an alliance of left- and right-wing parties, finally giving the Balkan country a chance at a free and more equal future.

Pro-Serbian opposition leader Zdravko Krivokapić announced, “The regime has fallen.”

Although DPS leader Milo Đukanović remains president until 2023, his party will be in opposition for the first time since the introduction of multiparty democracy in 1990.

It fell to 35 percent support in the election on Sunday, giving it thirty out of 81 seats in parliament. Krivokapić’s For the Future of Montenegro, Peace Is Our Nation and United Reform Action won a combined 51 percent and 41 seats. Read more “Setback for Montenegro’s Strongman”

After November: Can US-Africa Ties Be Rebuilt?

Abidjan Côte dIvoire
Aerial view of Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire, April 1, 2011 (UN/Basile Zoma)

Donald Trump has never been to Africa. At least not as president. Not for six decades, since John F. Kennedy, has an American president even met with fewer African leaders than Trump. During JFK’s time, of course, most African states were still colonial territories. His attitude toward the continent appears to be mired in either indifference or outright hostility, as his “shithole countries” comment and repeated (but unsuccessful) efforts to cut foreign aid demonstrate.

The feeling is mutual. As with the rest of the world, Africa’s view of the United States has declined under Trump’s leadership. Read more “After November: Can US-Africa Ties Be Rebuilt?”

What Biden Would Mean for Russia

Joe Biden
American vice president Joe Biden gives a speech on board the USS Freedom in Singapore, July 27, 2013 (USN/Karolina A. Oseguera)

With Joe Biden favored to win the American presidential election in November, Vladimir Putin’s days of comfort may be coming to an end.

Unlike Donald Trump, who has coddled the Russian leader, accepted his denials of 2016 election interference and lifted sanctions on Putin ally Oleg Deripaska, an oligarch who funded pro-Russian political parties in Ukraine (which were advised by later Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort), the Democrat considers Putin a “thug”, a “dictator” and a threat to “the foundations of Western democracy.”

Unlike Trump, who has given up America’s power to shame, Biden insists America should lead “not just by the example of our power, but by the power of our example.” Read more “What Biden Would Mean for Russia”

What Biden Wants

Joe Biden
Former American vice president Joe Biden gives a speech in Des Moines, Iowa, January 4 (Phil Roeder)

Joe Biden could become the most progressive president of the United States since Franklin Delano Roosevelt.

That might sound odd after he was declared a “centrist” and the “establishment” candidate in the Democratic primaries.

The former vice president isn’t as left-wing as some of his former rivals, like Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren. He doesn’t want to break up big tech, defund the police, forgive all student loans or nationalize health insurance.

But the whole Democratic Party has moved to the left and Biden has moved with it. He has involved Democrats and allies from the left to the center, including environmental and minority rights groups, gun control advocates and trade unions, in drafting his program. Left-wing congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez helped write his climate policy. Biden incorporated Senator Cory Booker’s proposal to tie federal funding to looser building codes in his housing plan.

The result is that Biden has buy-in from across the Democratic coalition, which — provided the party wins not just the presidency but the Senate in November — means his plans stand a good chance of becoming reality. Read more “What Biden Wants”

Lukashenko Shouldn’t Expect Russia’s Help

Vladimir Putin
Russian president Vladimir Putin listens during a meeting in Voronezh, August 5, 2014 (Kremlin)

Alexander Lukashenko could have gone down in history as the father of the Belarusian state. Now “Europe’s last dictator” is on his last leg. A rigged election has unleashed unprecedented protests.

Desperate, Lukashenko has turned to his ally, Vladimir Putin, for help. Belarusian state media report that Russia has promised to provide military assistance if Lukashenko asks for it. This has sparked speculation that Russia might intervene in Belarus much as it did in Ukraine when its Russia-friendly president, Viktor Yanukovich, was ousted in 2014.

That doesn’t seem likely. In fact, Russia may be better off with Lukashenko gone. Read more “Lukashenko Shouldn’t Expect Russia’s Help”

What If Trump Refuses to Leave?

Donald Trump
American president Donald Trump boards Marine One outside the White House in Washington DC, July 31 (White House/Tia Dufour)

Democrats and political experts in the United States are worried that President Donald Trump might not recognize the outcome of the upcoming election.

When over 100 former politicians and government officials, civil society leaders and journalists gamed out four election scenarios, they ended up in a constitutional crisis, “featuring violence in the streets and a severely disrupted administrative transition,” in all but one: a decisive win for Joe Biden. A close result could trigger civil and political unrest not seen in a century.

The last time a presidential candidate refused to concede was in 1876. Read more “What If Trump Refuses to Leave?”

Singapore-on-Thames Is Unlikely

London England
The sun rises over London, England (Uncoated)

With the Brexit transition period ending in just four months, concern is rising that the United Kingdom might crash out of the EU’s common market and customs regime without a deal.

Not everyone is worried. Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s predecessor, Theresa May, argued it “wouldn’t be the end of the world” if Britain left without a deal. Right-wing economists are looking forward to setting “attractive tax rates” once the United Kingdom is free of the EU’s grasp. The UK, they believe, could become a “Singapore-on-Thames”, gain a “competitive advantage” over the EU and draw businesses and investment away from continental Europe.

That is unlikely. Read more “Singapore-on-Thames Is Unlikely”

Education Has Become the Dividing Line in American Politics

Cleveland Ohio
View of downtown Cleveland, Ohio (Shutterstock/Pedro Gutierrez)

America’s two major parties continue to trade voters based on education.

An analysis by Pew Research of the 2018 electorate found that one in ten voters have switched parties since the election.

Of the 2018 Republicans who now call themselves Democrats, most are college-educated. Of the 2018 Democrats who have become Republicans, most are not.

This reflects a longer-term trend of white Americans sorting into the two parties according to their educational attainment. (Education is less predictive of party affiliation for voters of color.) Read more “Education Has Become the Dividing Line in American Politics”

Can Olaf Scholz Make Germany’s SPD Great Again?

Olaf Scholz
German finance minister Olaf Scholz joins a meeting of European finance ministers by videoconference from Berlin, July 10 (European Council)

Germany’s Social Democratic Party (SPD) has named Finance Minister Olaf Scholz as its candidate for chancellor.

It’s not hard to understand why. Scholz is the country’s second-most popular politician after Chancellor Angela Merkel, who is due to step down next year.

Can he make the SPD great again? Read more “Can Olaf Scholz Make Germany’s SPD Great Again?”

Belarus’ Lukashenko Under Pressure from All Sides

Catherine Ashton Vladimir Putin Alexander Lukashenko
EU foreign policy coordinator Catherine Ashton, Russian president Vladimir Putin and Belarusian president Alexander Lukashenko meet in Minsk, August 27, 2014 (EEAS/Viktor Drachev)

Belarus’ Alexander Lukashenko has been in power for 26 years. He is expected to win what will likely be a rigged election on Sunday, but he may not get a landslide this time. The cracks in his regime are widening. Read more “Belarus’ Lukashenko Under Pressure from All Sides”