Boris Johnson, who once described himself as a liberal, has made common cause with the reactionaries in his party to take power; forced out 21 principled moderates who opposed his Brexit policy, including ten former cabinet ministers, two former chancellors and one former deputy prime minister; and unlawfully suspended Parliament in an attempt to prevent debate on his Brexit deal, which, for all his bluster, is essentially the deal the EU offered two years ago.
Worst of all, Johnson frames this election as a choice between “the people” and Parliament. That is the sort of insidious rhetoric which paves the way for the erosion of liberal democracy. Read more
Macron the Secret Islamophobe
French president Emmanuel Macron has startled observers with a number of policies that might seem to contradict his previously held beliefs.
Despite being pro-EU, he blocked membership talks with Albania and North Macedonia. Once clear-eyed on the Russian threat, Macron now argues for dialogue with Moscow and calls Islamic terror NATO’s number-one enemy. He even made made a point of attacking political Islam.
Some hear dog whistles to the far right, assume bad faith and call Macron an Islamophobe. That is unfair to the most liberal president France has had since Valéry Giscard d’Estaing. Read more
Moderates in America Should Not Give Up on Political Reform
Regular readers know I believe the two-party system in America is one of the root causes of the country’s many political problems: extreme partisanship (but weak parties), polarization, a politicization of the judiciary and an unwillingness by lawmakers to rein in presidents of their own party, to name the four most urgent.
Taking judicial appointments out of the hands of politicians (in most other democracies, judges appoint their own) could help depoliticize the judiciary and take the sting out of the culture war that keeps the two-party system in place.
Ideally, these various changes would break up the Democratic-Republican duopoly. Countries in Northwestern Europe prove that multiparty democracy produces better outcomes. Read more
Europe Needs to Pay Attention to What’s Happening in Moldova
After five months in power, Maia Sandu’s pro-European government in Moldova has collapsed. President Igor Dodon, whose sympathies are with Russia, has appointed Ion Chicu, a Euroskeptic, as interim prime minister.
The situation worries Moldovans — but it should also worry the EU. Read more
Leftists Denounce “Coup” Against Vote-Rigging Autocrat in Bolivia
Let’s take a break from the right-wing apologists of a would-be autocrat in the United States to check in with the left-wing apologists of an actual autocrat in Bolivia.
In the face of mass protests, the Bolivarian military has forced the left-wing populist Evo Morales to step down.
Morales served an unconstitutional third term as president from 2014 to 2019. He called and lost a referendum in 2016 on whether he should stand for a fourth term, but the Supreme Court canceled that result, arguing that “American imperialism” had influenced the outcome.
In his latest bid for reelection, observers from the Organization of American States found clear manipulations, including a 24-hour freeze in the vote count, before which Morales was losing and after which he suddenly won.
You wouldn’t know it from reading British Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn, Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders or New York congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a leading light of the American new left, who have all denounced Morales’ removal as a “coup” and are calling for “free and fair elections” — no matter that’s the very thing Morales wouldn’t allow. Read more
Give Regional Parties the Balance of Power in Spain
There doesn’t seem to be market in Spain for a political party that is both liberal and pragmatic on the issue of Catalonia. Read more
EU Breaks Promise to Balkan States
Last week, French president Emmanuel Macron blocked the start of EU accession talks for Albania and North Macedonia, arguing that the Balkan states haven’t made enough progress to qualify and that the EU must reform internally before admitting new members.
His concerns were shared by the leaders of Denmark and the Netherlands.
They are not without merit. It would be naive to assume that decades of institutionalized corruption and crime, particularly in Albania, have been washed away over the course of a few years.
That said, progress has been made. North Macedonia’s name change is far from trivial. It represents a willingness to move on from the past. Albania has reformed its judicial system, encouraged by the prospect of membership.
If the French were so adamant about halting enlargement, they should never have made promises to Albania and North Macedonia in the first place.
Poland’s Andrzej Duda said it best: “Western Balkans states are taking part in a race that does not have a finishing line.” Read more