Nothing is really changing politically in Berlin. To begin with, Germany’s socialists are currently in a coalition with the conservatives, forming an immense majority in parliament. The coalition has slowed down public spending cuts and reforms enacted by the previous government. The German Left is at risk of fading into irrelevance as its choices regarding coalitions are limited: it’s either Merkel once again or going down the road of a three-party coalition.
In this post-crisis economy, Berlin shouldn’t be interested in who organizes a government reshuffle in September, but should instead be concerned with how a freer economy can unleash the potential of hard-working Germans.
Germany’s historic free-market champion, former conservative politician Ludwig Erhard, should serve as a role model for the ideological emptiness of contemporary German politics. Erhard is known to be responsible for the most extensive period of economic deregulation in modern times. Instead of following the temptation of slowly moving towards more economically interventionist policies, Berlin should follow Erhard’s example who believed that, instead of central planners, individuals should decide a country’s future.
Australia’s voting system needs a shake-up. That’s the message that has been emanating from the political class, since a disparate group of micro-parties were elected in 2013.
Such calls have now spread to the state level, with The Age reporting on the pressure for reform within both of Victoria’s major parties.
The major parties are concerned by the election of minor and micro-party MPs, whose presence makes it harder for them to govern. This has led to a range of proposed reforms designed to reduce the presence of minor parties.
But there is one reform that’s not being discussed, the re-introduction of voluntary voting.
Voluntary voting existed in Australian until 1924 (on the federal level). Since then, voting in Australia has been compulsory, with non-compliance leading to a $20 fine (and ultimately much tougher court imposed sanctions).
Unlike proposals to toughen registration requirements, impose thresholds, or move to optional preferential voting (which does have its merits), voluntary voting would solve the problem at the heart of Australian politics: that major parties are failing to represent their constituents.
Forcing people to vote means that major parties are able to ignore their political base—who can be relied on to preference them above major competitors. As a result, elections are decided by an increasingly small number of swing voters in marginal seats.
Chicagoans head to the polls Tuesday for a mayoral runoff election where conservatives nationwide should be rooting for someone they once considered a bitter enemy: former chief of staff to President Obama and current Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel.
Emanuel’s opponent, Jesus “Chuy” Garcia, is far more liberal than Emanuel. Garcia has the backing of a laundry list of liberal progressives, including Howard Dean, Jesse Jackson Sr., the Chicago Teachers Union, the Service Employees International Union’s State Council, the National Education Association, and MoveOn.org.
Garcia’s Chicago would be a conservative nightmare. He wants to put a moratorium on new public charter schools and maintain teachers union influence over how the school district runs. Garcia wants to raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour and re-establish a Department of Environment that Emanuel consolidated into other government agencies. On budget issues, Garcia has been criticized for being maddeningly vague on his plans. When Garcia finally published an op-ed with his budget positions, it focused more on critiquing Emanuel than putting forth his own ideas.
Despite his background with the Obama administration, Emanuel has implemented a number of reforms in Chicago that conservatives should support. For example, the number of charter schools in Chicago has risen from 103 to 130 under his watch. According to Democrats for Education Reform, “In his first three years in office, Mayor Emanuel has secured more time for instruction” — Chicago until recently had one of the shortest school days in America — “more public school options for parents, and more support for students.” Emanuel also stood up to the Chicago Teachers Union’s demands in 2012, resulting in a strike that lasted for seven school days.
“It’s all downhill from here, but it’s not going to be easy.” This phrase has echoed through activist communities seeking to end the drug war in the United States since election day in 2012. On that day, voters passed two ballot measures that legalized the production, sale, and consumption of cannabis in two states: Washington and Colorado.
This year, four notable measures sit on the ballot: full legalization in Alaska and Oregon, a kind of partial legalization in Washington, DC, and medical marijuana up for a vote in Florida. These second-wave initiatives are seen as the next step in bringing cannabis prohibition to an end.