The Polish election on 13 October resulted, as expected, in a victory for of the ruling Law and Justice party (PiS).
But despite again securing a slim majority in parliament, it has not been wholly a triumph for PiS. And though there continue to be concerns about the party’s authoritarian tendencies, the election has illuminated some important nuances to its support and appeal, which hold lessons for politics across Europe.
Even though some opinion polls had suggested PiS were close to winning a supermajority in parliament that would have allowed it to pursue constitutional changes, the party fell short of that target, while it lost its majority in the Senate.… Seguir leyendo »
With a turnout of less than 40 per cent, the result of the referendum on whether to approve a change of the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia’s (FYR Macedonia) official name to the Republic of North Macedonia is a setback for the country’s government. It had hoped to use approval of the change to normalize relations with Greece and clear a major obstacle to FYR Macedonia’s pursuit of EU and NATO membership.
But the referendum also highlights two enduring problems for the EU: its toxic relationship with electorates and the stalling of enlargement as its main policy towards the western Balkans.… Seguir leyendo »
On 20 August, the Greek government is scheduled to exit its IMF bailout programme, ending a series of three programmes that have run continuously since 2010. The Greek programme was the largest, most high-profile and most politically controversial in a series of post-global financial crisis bailouts of EU member states organized by the so-called ‘troika’ consisting of the European Commission, the European Central Bank and the IMF.
Politically, the course of action taken by the troika has been seen as controversial at best. The Greek economy has now suffered the longest recession of any advanced capitalist economy, overtaking the slump suffered by the US during the Great Depression in 1929.… Seguir leyendo »
Europe was set to enter a new period of political uncertainty after two populist parties in Italy, the Five Star Movement and the League, agreed to form a new government together. The coalition was ultimately thwarted by President Sergio Mattarella’s veto of the two parties’ proposed finance minister.
But Italy, the eurozone’s third and the world’s eighth-largest economy, came very close to finding itself run by two populist parties that have in the past expressed deep scepticism of Italy’s membership of the eurozone, as well as opposing EU policies on migration. And with a new election likely in the offing, a Five Star–League government may only have been postponed by a few months.… Seguir leyendo »
Emmanuel Macron’s ambitious plan for EU reform seems to rest on economics. Macron is betting that a successful domestic reform programme will buy him enough goodwill in Germany to make French-favoured changes in European economic governance, like the establishment of the post of a European finance minister managing a eurozone budget, politically viable.
But this is risky. Economic reforms can be slow in producing results, and Macron’s popularity may prove fickle in the face of mobilization against his reforms. His party won a majority in the legislature but with a record low turnout that indicates unusual reticence to a new president.… Seguir leyendo »
British Prime Minister Theresa May’s decision this week to call a snap general election on 8 June has added another electoral contest to the busy political calendar of Europe. Already the direction of European politics depended on the outcome of the French presidential poll and the German election in the autumn. Earlier in the year the Turkish and Dutch governments entered into a bitter public feud as their electoral campaigns spilled over into each other’s territory. And 2016 was punctuated by the election victories of anti-establishment forces in the US and the UK.
All this points to a stark new reality: elections are now the key formative events, and national electorates the key actors, of world politics.… Seguir leyendo »
This time around, the push for resolution comes from inside Cyprus.
For the first time since the Turkish invasion of 1974, the Greek-Cypriot and Turkish-Cypriot communities both have moderate pro-resolution leaders. With assistance from the UN, Nicos Anastasiades and Mustafa Akinci have spent two years discussing the complex web of issues dividing the two communities: the land area each will occupy, the constitutional setup of the reunified Cypriot state, the return of Greek refugees to areas occupied by Turkey, and the compensation for loss of property. In the latest round of negotiations in Switzerland there were still disagreements, but it seems both sides are willing to find a compromise.… Seguir leyendo »
While covering the Greek soccer team in the 2008 European championships, a Greek sports columnist came to a restaurant in a picturesque Swiss mountain village and got to talking to the owner.
The championship games in Switzerland, the columnist suggested, would be great for the restaurant’s business. To the journalist’s surprise, the notion of thousands of fans crashing the orderly village gave the owner a panic attack.
It was good if the games brought a few stray tourists like the Greek columnist to the village, and some attention to Switzerland, the owner was saying. But if the soccer championships actually started interfering with everyday life, then no thanks.… Seguir leyendo »