Lockdown in Barcelona

Barcelona Spain
The Sagrada Família seen through two of the smokestacks of Les Tres Xemeneies in Barcelona, Spain, March 10 (Luke Strange)

I haven’t blogged much recently. What little news there is other than the coronavirus outbreak seems rather less important. Since I’m by no means an expert on pandemics, I don’t have a lot to write.

I can tell you what’s happening here in Barcelona. Read more “Lockdown in Barcelona”

Democratic Primary News

Joe Biden
Former American vice president Joe Biden campaigns in Des Moines, Iowa, August 8, 2019 (Gage Skidmore)

Joe Biden is now the clear frontrunner for the Democratic presidential nomination in the United States.

  • Delegates: Biden has won 642 pledged delegates against 566 for Bernie Sanders so far. 1,991 are needed to win the nomination outright.
  • States: Biden won ten of the fourteen states that held primaries on “Super Tuesday” and he is polling in first place in Michigan, Mississippi and Missouri, which vote next Tuesday. Sanders is ahead in Washington state.
  • Popular support: Biden’s national support has shot up from under 20 percent to an average of 34 percent since he won the South Carolina primary a week ago.
  • Party support: Sixty more prominent Democrats have endorsed Biden in the wake of his South Carolina victory.
  • Competitors: All other major candidates have quit, most recently Michael Bloomberg and Elizabeth Warren. Read more “Democratic Primary News”

Democratic Primary News

Joe Biden
Former American vice president Joe Biden gives a speech in Des Moines, Iowa, January 4 (Phil Roeder)
  • Joe Biden has risen in the South Carolina polls seemingly at the expense of the other center-left candidates.
  • Biden has also taken a commanding lead in the endorsement primary, most recently winning the support of South Carolina’s most prominent Democrat: Congressman James Clyburn.
  • Bernie Sanders has far less support from party officials, but he has won the endorsement of New York mayor Bill de Blasio, himself briefly a 2020 hopeful.
  • Biden needs a win in South Carolina, where one in six Democratic voters are black, to breathe new life into his campaign.
  • Sanders is wildly popular in California, the largest state to vote on Super Tuesday, March 3, but Biden leads in the few polls that have been conducted in Florida and Georgia. In North Carolina, Texas and Virginia, Biden, Michael Bloomberg and Sanders are neck and neck.
  • Bloomberg won’t be on the ballot in South Carolina. Read more “Democratic Primary News”

Three Middle-Aged Catholic Men Vie to Succeed Merkel

Armin Laschet
Armin Laschet, the minister president of North Rhine-Westphalia, gives a speech in the Bundesrat in Berlin, Germany, December 14, 2018 (Bundesrat/Sascha Radke)

Three middle-aged Catholic men from North-Rhine Westphalia are running to succeed Angela Merkel, postwar Germany’s first female and Eastern-born chancellor and the ruling Christian Democratic Union’s (CDU) first Lutheran leader.

The CDU, which has governed Germany for fifty of the last seventy years, is holding a leadership election in April, triggered by the resignation of Merkel’s handpicked successor, Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer.

Kramp-Karrenbauer, a former premier of Saarland, failed to match Merkel’s authority in the party. She stepped down after the CDU in Thuringia defied her instructions and made common cause with the far right. Read more “Three Middle-Aged Catholic Men Vie to Succeed Merkel”

Democratic Primary News

Michael Bloomberg
Former New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg attends a conference in Copenhagen, Denmark, October 10, 2019 (Mike Bloomberg 2020)
  • Bernie Sanders is now faraway the frontrunner with recent polls giving him 27 to 32 percent support nationally. Joe Biden and Michael Bloomberg are vying for second place with an average of 16-18 percent support each.
  • Sanders also leads in the few polls that have been taken in Nevada, where Democrats caucus on Saturday.
  • Biden is still ahead in the endorsement primary, winning nine more endorsements from prominent Democrats this month, but Bloomberg is catching up fast, with twenty endorsements in February.
  • Bloomberg is also making inroads with black voters. He has been endorsed by three members of the Congressional Black Caucus. A Quinnipiac University poll (PDF) gives the former New York mayor 22 percent support from African Americans, trailing only Biden, who has 27 percent.
  • Bloomberg is spending more money on television commercials than all the other candidates combined.
  • Michael Bennet, Deval Patrick and Andrew Yang have ended their presidential bids after failing to qualify for delegates in New Hampshire. Read more “Democratic Primary News”

Labour Leadership Election News

Keir Starmer Jeremy Corbyn Rebecca Long-Bailey
British Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn chairs a meeting in London flanked by Keir Starmer and Rebecca Long-Bailey, April 3, 2019 (PA/Stefan Rousseau)
  • Lisa Nandy has won the endorsement of the Jewish Labour Movement, one of the party’s largest affiliated socialist societies.
  • Keir Starmer has been endorsed by most affiliated groups and trade unions, most recently the TSSA transport union.
  • Rebecca Long-Bailey, the most left-wing candidate who is seen as outgoing leader Jeremy Corbyn’s ideological successor, has also qualified for the third and final voting round by members.
  • Emily Thornberry fell short. Read more “Labour Leadership Election News”

Kramp-Karrenbauer Quits, Throwing Race to Succeed Merkel Wide Open

Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer
Prime Minister Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer of Saarland attends a session of the Bundesrat in Berlin, Germany, July 10, 2015 (Bundesrat/Henning Schacht)

Angela Merkel’s heir apparent, Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer, has unexpectedly quit, throwing the race to succeed the German chancellor wide open.

Kramp-Karrenbauer is stepping down as leader of the ruling Christian Democratic Union (CDU), a position she has held since 2018. She will remain as defense minister.

Merkel elevated Kramp-Karrenbauer from the prime ministership of Saarland, on the border with France, to national politics in order to prepare her for a run in 2021. Although Kramp-Karrenbauer is socially more conservative than Merkel (she opposed marriage equality), she was seen as likely to defend the chancellor’s centrist legacy.

Merkel has said she will not serve a fifth term. Read more “Kramp-Karrenbauer Quits, Throwing Race to Succeed Merkel Wide Open”

Judicial Reforms Create Parallel Legal System in Poland

Mateusz Morawiecki
Polish prime minister Mateusz Morawiecki gives a speech at the Constitutional Tribunal in Warsaw, April 11, 2019 (KPRM/Adam Guz)

Poland’s ruling conservative party’s obsession with bending the legal system to its will is creating what the Financial Times calls a parallel legal system: one set of judges are loyal to Małgorzata Gersdorf’s still-independent Supreme Court while another obey the government-friendly Constitutional Tribunal. Read more “Judicial Reforms Create Parallel Legal System in Poland”

Democratic Primary News

Bernie Sanders
Vermont senator Bernie Sanders attends the Comanche Nation Fair Powwow near Lawton, Oklahoma, September 29, 2019 (Bernie 2020)
  • Bernie Sanders is now the frontrunner for the Democratic presidential nomination, according to FiveThirtyEight, which takes into account the Iowa caucus results and recent polls. The runner-up: no one. FiveThirtyEight believes there is a one-in-four chance no candidate will have a majority of the delegates by the time Democrats convene in Milwaukee in July. (Those odds will change.)
  • Joe Biden‘s support in New Hampshire, which votes on Tuesday, has collapsed from a high of 22-23 percent a month ago to 13 percent.
  • Biden did benefit the most in terms of fundraising from the departure of Cory Booker, Kirsten Gillibrand and Kamala Harris from the race.
  • Michael Bloomberg could benefit the most from the inconclusive Iowa caucuses. He is up to an average of 10-11 percent support in national polls, has surpassed Sanders in the endorsement primary, doubled his spending on television commercials and doubled his field staff to more than 2,000 (the biggest of any campaign).
  • But Sanders raised the most money in January: $25 million.
  • South Carolina Republicans are plotting to vote for Sanders in the February 29 primary.
  • California, the biggest state voting on March 3, Super Tuesday, with 415 pledged delegates at stake, is making it easier for non-Democrats to vote. Read more “Democratic Primary News”

Democratic Primary News

Pete Buttigieg
South Bend, Indiana mayor Pete Buttigieg visits Atlanta, Georgia, November 27, 2019 (PFA/Lawrence Jackson)
  • Bernie Sanders is going into Monday’s Iowa caucuses with an average of 24 percent support in the polls, followed by Joe Biden at 20 percent.
  • Pete Buttigieg and Elizabeth Warren both poll around 15 percent in the state, which is the minimum needed to qualify for delegates.
  • Nationally, Biden still leads with an average of 27 percent support against 23.5 for Sanders.
  • Sanders raised the most money in 2019 ($96 million), but billionaires Michael Bloomberg and Tom Steyer, who are largely self-funding their campaigns, outspent the other candidates ($388 million combined).
  • Bloomberg‘s Super Tuesday strategy may be working. The former New York mayor has moved into fourth place in national polls.
  • John Delaney has ended his presidential bid. Read more “Democratic Primary News”