These days, no one is more negative about the European economy than the Italians. In Sunday’s general elections, here’s how Italy’s hard economic times will likely factor.
A decade after the start of the euro-zone crisis, Italy’s gross domestic product has yet to return to its 2007 level. Unemployment is around 11 percent, while youth unemployment is at a staggering 32 percent. It’s perhaps no surprise that at least 1.5 million Italians have left the country since 2008.
Italy, Europe’s fastest-growing economy between 1950 and 1990, has hardly been growing for two decades. As euro-zone membership does not allow the country to devalue its currency, two economic weaknesses have become particularly obvious:
- The reliance on exports like clothing, furniture, and footwear, vulnerable to competition from developing countries.
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On Dec. 18, Austrian President Alexander Van der Bellen, a former leader of the Green party, appointed a new right-wing government. The two big winners of the October election — the center-right People’s Party (ÖVP) and the radical right Freedom Party (FPÖ) — have agreed on a common agenda.
Sebastian Kurz, the 31-year-old ÖVP leader, has stepped in as the country’s new head of government – the “chancellor” is the main actor in Austrian politics. His party won 31.5 percent by calling for restricted immigration and limiting support for immigrants, mainly referring to Muslims. This had originally been one of FPÖ’s signature issues.… Seguir leyendo »
In December 2016, Alexander Van der Bellen, a former leader of the Green Party, won Austria’s presidential election. Even though he barely defeated the candidate of the radical right Freedom Party (FPÖ), euphoric observers argued that “Austria stopped right-wing populism in its tracks.”
Austrians again head to the polls on Sunday, this time to elect the Nationalrat (National Council), with 183 seats assigned via proportional representation. Despite Van der Bellen’s victory, restrictive talk on immigration and integration continues to dominate Austrian politics. Even more, the FPÖ looks likely to gain seats, and rejoin the government coalition after more than a decade in opposition.… Seguir leyendo »