Faymann’s Resignation May Not Help Social Democrats

Austrian chancellor Werner Faymann resigned on Monday, two weeks after his Social Democratic Party’s candidate placed a distant fourth in the presidential election.

Faymann, who governed for nearly eight years at the head of a grand coalition with the conservatives, recognized that his own party had lost faith in him, saying, “The government needs a new start.”

But unless his successor — who can be named by the parties without the need for snap elections — makes a clearer choice as to where the Social Democrats stand, he or she may not do much better in stemming the party’s declining popularity. Read more “Faymann’s Resignation May Not Help Social Democrats”

Fear of In-Between Europe Premature

Prague Czech Republic
Aerial view of Prague, Czech Republic (Unsplash/Anthony Delanoix)

Last year, the Atlantic Sentinel took issue with Andrew A. Michta’s pessimism about the future of Central Europe.

The political scientist and author of The Limits of Alliance: The United States, NATO and the EU in North and Central Europe (2006) argued in The American Interest at the time that Europe’s center-periphery dilemmas were in full view again and that the “lands in-between” had not after all escaped the dilemma of being the periphery of either the East or the West.

We were more optimistic and believed that the return of East-West tension had not yet killed the Central European idea, which remains a powerful rebuke to geography.

In his latest for The American Interest, Michta is more persuasive. But we refuse to be disheartened. Read more “Fear of In-Between Europe Premature”

Poland’s Government Steps Up Battle with Court

Poland’s ruling Law and Justice party shows no sign of backing down in the face of growing unease about its power grabs both within the country and across Europe.

The conservatives, who returned to power in October, escalated their standoff with the Constitutional Tribunal this week by nominating another judge to the panel.

The court already has eighteen judges approved by the current legislature and the last — three more than there are seats. Read more “Poland’s Government Steps Up Battle with Court”

Poland’s Constitutional Crisis Deepens

Poland’s constitutional crisis deepened on Wednesday, when the country’s highest court rejected a series of changes to the way it operates.

The ruling conservative Law and Justice party immediately said it would not accept the court’s decision.

“It is hard to recognize that the hearing by the tribunal will be binding as it is not taking place according to the rules as determined by the current law,” argues Prime Minister Beata Szydło.

But it’s exactly the law her party rushed through parliament late last year that the court contests. Read more “Poland’s Constitutional Crisis Deepens”

Austria, Balkan States Agree to Curb Immigration

Austria and nine Balkan nations agreed to measures in Vienna on Wednesday that they hope will reduce the flow of migrants across the region.

Given that there is no “European solution in sight,” the countries are forced to pursue “national solutions,” argued Austria’s foreign minister, Sebastian Kurz.

Neither Germany, the most popular destination for migrants, nor Greece, the southern doorway into Europe, were invited to the conference — to the dismay of both. Read more “Austria, Balkan States Agree to Curb Immigration”

Poland Seeks British NATO Commitment for EU Support

Poland would be more amendable to Britain’s EU demands if the island nation helped bolster NATO’s defenses in Central Europe, the country’s foreign minister, Witold Waszczykowski, has said.

Waszczykowski made his unusually forthright proposal in an interview with the Reuters news agency that was published on Sunday.

“We still consider ourselves a second-class NATO member state,” the Pole said, “because in Central Europe … there aren’t, aside from a token presence, any significant allied forces or defense installations, which gives the Russians an excuse to play this region.”

Polish president Andrzej Duda called for a permanent NATO deployment in August, saying, “We do not want to be the buffer zone. We want to be the real eastern flank of the alliance. Read more “Poland Seeks British NATO Commitment for EU Support”

Liberal Poles Anxious as Right Consolidates Power

Tens of thousands of Poles have taken to the streets in recent weeks to demonstrate both for and against the right-wing Law and Justice party that returned to power in October.

The conservatives’ rapid consolidation of power has startled liberal, mostly urban Poles, even though some of them switched to the party from the centrist Civic Platform in the last election. Read more “Liberal Poles Anxious as Right Consolidates Power”

Poland’s Law and Justice Party Up to Its Old Tricks

This Law and Justice government was supposed to be different.

When Poland’s conservatives won the election last month after eight years of liberal party rule, it was on a promise to run the country better than they did last time.

But a law enacted on Thursday to remove justices from the Constitutional Court does not suggest they will govern very differently this time around.

“Law and Justice is over,” said former prime minister Ewa Kopacz, leader of the Civic Platform. “Today it’s Lawlessness and Injustice.” Read more “Poland’s Law and Justice Party Up to Its Old Tricks”

It Took Poland’s Conservatives Only Days to Bring Up the War

Poland’s conservative Law and Justice party has been in government for less than a week, but it’s already at neighboring Germany’s throat, rekindling memories of the last time it was in power.

In an interview with TVN24, the new interior minister, Mariusz Błaszczak, took the German president of the European Parliament, Martin Schulz, to task for criticizing Poland’s immigration policy.

Błaszczak said Schulz’ comments were “another example of German arrogance” and felt it necessary to invoke World War II.

“We are talking in Warsaw,” he pointed out. “Warsaw was destroyed by the Germans.” Read more “It Took Poland’s Conservatives Only Days to Bring Up the War”