Opinion: The decline of social democracy
After a wretched result in last year’s general elections, Germany’s Social Democrats are now voting on whether to enter another grand coalition with the CDU/CSU. Whatever they decide, it may already be too late for the party to pull out of its tailspin. The SPD’s sad decline is part of a much broader eclipse of social democracy in Europe.
The specter haunting Europe
The populist wave spreading across Europe is rooted in deep-seated grievances – globalization, falling real incomes, unemployment, torn safety nets – that have been channeled into anger against migrants. Instead of engaging with these real problems, establishment politicians have preferred to insult voters. This is not a winning strategy.
2018 European perspectives
Today’s ruling elites of Europe have renounced its new political movements as “nationalist” and “populist,” and accuse some member states of no longer following democratic principles. In reality, though, it is Brussels’ overreaching ambitions that bring up the specter of autocratic rule in Europe.
Central Europe is not less European or less democratic
Parties unfairly labeled “euroskeptic” and “populist” have won elections in Austria and the Czech Republic. But they only want to preserve sovereignty and regional diversity. Western Europe likes to look down on Central Europe as nationalist and backward, but the real political problems in Europe stem from established parties’ headlong push toward harmonization and their refusal to accept new ideas.
Italy pushes for early elections that would make matters worse
Matteo Renzi, Silvio Berlusconi and Beppe Grillo may be poles apart politically, but the leaders of Italy’s center, right and left parties are jointly toying with a plan to offer disgruntled voters another make-believe reform scheme.
Are we heading toward trade wars?
Sluggish international trade in recent years has given reasons to worry about globalization. The value of trade involving the G20 group of countries leveled off in 2010 and has been in decline since mid-2014. Many blame Donald Trump and the new vogue for protectionism, but that is an oversimplification.
Opinion: Populists, demagogues and the French elections
The intellectually arrogant arguments against “populism” fail to consider that it is an important ingredient in any democracy. It is demagoguery that is dangerous. And there is plenty of that in France’s election campaign. With many of the candidates railing against “inequality” – a strength, not a weakness of mankind – only Francois Fillon, who supports free markets and an EU that acts as a fatherland of the fatherlands, has a realistic economic and social agenda.
Italy after the referendum
Italy's political establishment is hanging tough after the failed constitutional referendum. But buying time and tinkering with the election law will be of no avail unless the economy improves. Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni’s caretaker government appears to lack the political clout to cut spending and fix the banks. That will only strengthen the appeal of Beppe Grillo’s Five Star Movement.
Americans vote for change, and for stability
American voters have made their choice, and the message they sent was a strong one. But the anti-Trump reaction has been unfair and exaggerated. Now, rather than try to marginalize Mr. Trump, the international community should find ways to cooperate with the new leader of the world’s most powerful nation.
Central Europe is headed for turbulence, not Putinization
Recent political developments in Hungary and Poland have been interpreted as portending a reversal of westernization. If history is any guide, this perception is wrong. It is true that the region appears headed for institutional turbulence that could foster growing political and economic volatility. But a more serious upheaval is virtually precluded by the region’s...