At a time of political polarization and upheaval in the West, the Atlantic Sentinel believes the center can hold. It are not the fanatics on either side who get things done; it are reasonable people in the middle. Better to muddle through than to veer to extremes.
The headline-grabbing news from Germany this weekend was the return of the far right, which won seats in the national parliament for the first time since 1961.
But the bigger — and more reassuring — story of the election was the fragmentation of the German political landscape.
The Christian Democrats and Social Democrats, once faraway the two largest parties, won only 56 percent of the seats combined. A record seven parties (counting the Bavarian Christian Social Union separately) crossed the 5-percent election threshold. Four parties will probably be needed to form a coalition government — another first in postwar German history.
The other day, I explained the reason Americans can’t get a European-style health care is not opposition from health insurers but the fears of 155 million Americans who currently get insurance through their employers. They worry that a single-payer system, like Britain’s, would mean higher taxes and lower-quality care.
Such fears — largely unfounded, but not entirely inaccurate; Britain’s National Health Service has a lot of problems — would undoubtedly be amplified by drug companies, health providers and insurance companies if the Democrats campaigned on “Medicare for all”.
Last night I wrote that time is running out to avoid a constitutional crisis in Spain. The Catalans are determined to hold an independence referendum in October; the central government in Madrid is determined to prevent one.
In Current Affairs magazine, Nathan J. Robinson takes issue with the dominant centrism in America’s Democratic Party.
The idea that Democrats can win elections by reminding progressives they have nowhere else to go, and reassuring conservatives they won’t go after big business, is a dead end, argues Robinson:
For one thing, it doesn’t work. Unless you have Bill Clinton’s special charismatic magic, what actually happens is that progressive voters just stay home, disgusted at the failure of both parties to actually try to improve the country.
This is the left-wing version of the Ted Cruz philosophy: that you can win national elections by mobilizing your base instead of appealing to the center.
A few fanatics might hold out if Democrats nominate too centrist a candidate, like Hillary Clinton, but the majority will make the rational decision and vote for the lesser of two evils, as many Bernie Sanders supporters did in November. Read more “In Defense of Democratic Centrism”
Parties in the Netherlands have asked former finance minister Gerrit Zalm to lead negotiations for forming a government, signaling their seriousness to do a deal before the start of the fiscal year in September.
Zalm succeeds Herman Tjeenk Willink, a retired Labor Party politician and seasoned negotiator who was appointed last month to break the gridlock that followed the election in March.
Prime Minister Mark Rutte’s center-right liberal party placed first in the election but won only 33 out of 150 seats. No other party won more than twenty seats, as a result of which at least four parties are needed for a majority.
Tjeenk Willink could not persuade any parties from the left to join a government led by the right, forcing the liberals, liberal Democrats and Christian Democrats into a pact with the socially conservative Christian Union.
This is far from the liberal Democrats’ first choice. They campaigned on expanding euthanasia rights and legalizing soft drugs. The Christian Union could block both.
French president Emmanuel Macron has won a comfortable majority for his centrist party, La République En Marche!, but low turnout points to the difficult task ahead: convincing the less prosperous half of France to give him a chance.
An estimated 43 percent of voters turned out in the second round of parliamentary elections on Sunday, an historic low.
Macron’s victory was in little doubt, which may be why so many left- and right-wing voters chose to stay home.
The once-mighty Socialist and Republican parties were decimated. They are projected to win 49 and 125 out of 577 seats, respectively, against 355 for Macron.
Before Labour started to catch up with her in the polls, it seemed Theresa May could have it both ways.
The Financial Times argued that her “Global Britain” vision, of free trade and friendship with the rest of the world, was at odds with cutting immigration to an arbitrary tens of thousands and pushing for a “hard” Brexit.
Yet voters seemed to like it. One poll had the Conservatives at nearly 50 percent support. Labour was down to 25 percent as recently as four weeks ago.