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Updates from the Invisible Democratic Primary

Democratic senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts speaks at a rally in support of Planned Parenthood in Washington DC, July 26, 2017
Democratic senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts speaks at a rally in support of Planned Parenthood in Washington DC, July 26, 2017 (American Life League)
  • Massachusetts senator Elizabeth Warren has formed an exploratory committee to run for president and is visiting the early voting states of Iowa and New Hampshire.
  • California senator Kamala Harris has closed her state campaign committee and is on a publicity tour for her new book.
  • Senators Sherrod Brown of Ohio and Kirsten Gillibrand of New York are planning trips to Iowa.
  • Many in the media continue to advise Joe Biden against running, most recently The Boston Globe, The Economist, Vox and WGBH.
  • Independent Vermont senator Bernie Sanders is shaking up his staff to make it less male and white. Read more

Spanish Conservatives Balk at Terms of Deal with Far Right

Former Spanish defense minister María Dolores Cospedal confers with President Alberto Núñez Feijóo of Galicia during a People's Party congress in Seville, April 7, 2018
Former Spanish defense minister María Dolores Cospedal confers with President Alberto Núñez Feijóo of Galicia during a People’s Party congress in Seville, April 7, 2018 (PP)

Senior conservatives in Spain have balked at the terms set by the far-right party Vox to support a center-right government in Andalusia. Read more

Don’t Fear Dutchification

Dutch government buildings in The Hague, March 29, 2015
Dutch government buildings in The Hague, March 29, 2015 (Pixabay/Unsplash)

The Financial Times argues that the big political story in Europe is not so much the rise of populism as the fragmentation of electorates and the parties that represent them.

  • In Spain, the once-dominant conservative and socialist parties must compete with liberals, nationalists and the far left.
  • Neither the center-left nor the center-right bloc has a majority in the Swedish parliament anymore and neither is willing to allow the far-right Sweden Democrats to become kingmakers.
  • The far-right Alternative and the left-leaning Greens have eaten into support for the Christian Democrats and Social Democrats in Germany.
  • In what the Financial Times describes as “the most extreme example of such fragmentation,” the Netherlands, it now takes four parties to form a government.

This isn’t wrong per se, but I would like to offer two nuances. Read more

Kurzism Doesn’t Travel Well

Austrian chancellor Sebastian Kurz, French Republican party leader Laurent Wauquiez and Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier attend a meeting of European conservative party leaders in Salzburg, September 19, 2018
Austrian chancellor Sebastian Kurz, French Republican party leader Laurent Wauquiez and Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier attend a meeting of European conservative party leaders in Salzburg, September 19, 2018 (EPP)

The Financial Times wonders if Austria’s Sebastian Kurz is the savior of Europe’s center-right or an enabler of the far right.

His supporters, including the liberal-minded former prime minister of Finland, Alexander Stubb, see the Austrian as the antidote to Orbanism:

He talks about an open world, internationalism and is pro-European. But he is pragmatic about solving issues. And one of the big issues is immigration.

Critics argue that by taking a hard line on immigration, Kurz is legitimizing the far right. “You don’t fight fire with kerosene,” according to former chancellor and former Social Democratic Party leader Christian Kern. Read more

Cracks in California’s Progressive Model

The sun sets over the San Francisco Bay, California, September 29, 2015
The sun sets over the San Francisco Bay, California, September 29, 2015 (Thomas Hawk)

California may be the future of the Democratic Party, but the left doesn’t have everything figured out in the Golden State.

Michael Greenberg reports for The New York Review of Books that California likes to think of itself as a liberal bastion against the far-right policies of Donald Trump.

It is refusing to cooperate with the president’s anti-immigrant policies. It has enacted its own environmental and net-neutrality laws which, given the size and influence of California’s economy, could have a nationwide effect.

But California also has the highest poverty rate in America and a quarter of its homeless. Read more

A Year Has Been Wasted in Catalonia

View of the Palau Nacional in Barcelona, Spain, December 29, 2013
View of the Palau Nacional in Barcelona, Spain, December 29, 2013 (CucombreLibre)

Catalonia has made little progress toward either independence or normalizing relations with the rest of Spain since its failed attempt to break away a year ago. Read more