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

Harder Line Neither Helps Nor Hurts Spain’s People’s Party — For Now

European commissioner Jyrki Katainen listens to Spanish People's Party leader Pablo Casado during a congress of the European People's Party in Helsinki, Finland, November 8
European commissioner Jyrki Katainen listens to Spanish People’s Party leader Pablo Casado during a congress of the European People’s Party in Helsinki, Finland, November 8 (EPP)

Pablo Casado has pulled Spain’s conservative People’s Party to the right, taking a harder line on everything from abortion to Catalonia to Gibraltar to immigration.

So far, it has neither helped nor hurt his party in the polls. Read more

How to Interpret the Collapse of Bavaria’s Christian Democrats?

Bavarian prime minister Horst Seehofer speaks with his counterpart from Baden-Württemberg, Winfried Kretschmann, in Berlin, October 10, 2014
Bavarian prime minister Horst Seehofer speaks with his counterpart from Baden-Württemberg, Winfried Kretschmann, in Berlin, October 10, 2014 (Bundesrat/Henning Schacht)

How much of a cautionary tale is the center-right’s collapse in Bavaria?

The Christian Social Union (CSU), which allies with Angela Merkel’s Christian Democrats nationally, is down from nearly 48 percent support in the last state election to 35-37 percent in recent polls. The far-right Alternative for Germany is up from 4 to 11-13 percent. Read more

Spanish Right Takes Harder Line on Catalonia, Immigration

Pablo Casado greets members of the executive committee of Spain's People's Party in Barcelona, July 26
Pablo Casado greets members of the executive committee of Spain’s People’s Party in Barcelona, July 26 (PP)

The new Spanish conservative party leader, Pablo Casado, is making good on his promise to move the People’s Party to the right.

  • In talks with Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez, who leads a minority left-wing government, Casado refused to support dialogue with Catalan parties that want to break away from Spain.
  • Separately, he argued Spain cannot “absorb millions of Africans who want to come to Europe in search of a better future.”

Both positions mark a hardening from those of Casado’s predecessor, and the previous prime minister, Mariano Rajoy. Read more

Two-Party System Leaves Anti-Trump Republicans in the Lurch

American president Donald Trump boards Air Force One at Joint Base Andrews, Maryland, February 1
American president Donald Trump boards Air Force One at Joint Base Andrews, Maryland, February 1 (USAF/Robert Cloys)

Janan Ganesh argues in the Financial Times that, after Donald Trump, America’s Republicans must become more like the European center-right: shed their small-government, low-tax, free-trade ideology in favor of a pragmatism statism. The state can be an instrument of national togetherness.

Perhaps. But what of the Republicans who still believe in small government, low taxes and free trade? Read more

With Casado, Spain’s People’s Party Turns Right

Pablo Casado delivers a news conference for Spain's conservative People's Party, June 19, 2017
Pablo Casado delivers a news conference for Spain’s conservative People’s Party, June 19, 2017 (PP)

Pablo Casado has won the leadership of Spain’s conservative People’s Party with 57 to 42 percent support from party delegates.

Soraya Sáenz de Santamaría, the former deputy prime minister, was considered the establishment favorite. Her defeat signals a desire for a more right-wing program. Casado’s economic policy is more liberal and he takes a hard line against the Catalan independence movement. Read more

Unconvinced Germans and Unconservative Republicans

German chancellor Angela Merkel answers questions from reporters in Brussels, October 19, 2012
German chancellor Angela Merkel answers questions from reporters in Brussels, October 19, 2012 (Bundesregierung)

Germany’s Christian Democrats and Social Democrats are both fending off grassroots rebellions against their decision to form another grand coalition government.

On the right, there is dismay that Angela Merkel gave away the powerful Finance Ministry. Der Spiegel reports that the decision has stirred her erstwhile catatonic party into a potentially revolutionary fury. The liberal Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung can already see the “twilight” of the Merkel era.

On the left, there is disappointment that Martin Schulz broke his word not to team up with Merkel and fear that the party will be punished at the next election. Wolfgang Münchau — prone to exaggeration, but maybe not far off this time — writes that we may be in for a Brexit-style surprise on March 4, when Social Democratic Party members vote on the coalition deal. Read more