The Italian challenge
Italy’s public finance troubles are making waves again, but the new government’s budget proposal does not spell disaster, nor should debt servicing create a big problem, considering today’s low interest rates. But Italy’s leaders have decided to transform their conflict with the European Union into a casus belli. Will the conflict end in an Italian crisis or a new EU architecture?
Opinion: No winners in Swedish elections
While the Sweden Democrats did not win as much support as they had hoped during Sweden’s recent elections, their success at the polls was enough to ensure a major seat at the table in coalition talks. Rather than a sign of right-wing fervor, the growing support for the party shows that many Swedes are simply concerned about the future of their country. Sweden has serious social, structural and fiscal problems that cannot be waved away by blaming populism.
Opinion: Italy at risk
Italy’s new left-right government is a political experiment that could turn out in one of two ways: either a disguised version of business as usual, or a complete disaster. Many observers assumed that Lega leader Matteo Salvini would manufacture the disaster on purpose to take Italy out of the euro. Now, it appears more likely that the financial crisis – if and when it comes – will occur by accident rather than design.
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.