With Emmanuel Macron’s election as French president, a sharp critic of Germany’s vast export surplus has become one of the most powerful men in Europe. Although his opinion is shared widely by commentators, politicians, and organisations such as the IMF, the German public is still largely ignorant of the devastating consequences of the macroeconomic policies of its current government. Unless this changes, the internal cohesion of the European Union and the well-being of its citizens are under serious threat….
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“F**k it, we’ll do it live!”
Bill O’Reilly’s iconic moment as a peeved host of “Inside Edition,” mixed with his more recent habit of dominating the ratings at Fox News, seem unusual in Europe. Here, TV, especially shows about politics and culture, attempts to maintain a facade of earnestness. Apart from the UK’s “Prime Minister’s Questions,” the weekly shouty session of witty jokes and sassy remarks between the government and the opposition, European politics is usually something you skip on the channels. Even diehard fans of the spotlight are unable to avoid yawning at the banality of political “entertainment.”
The reason for this is simple: many stations are publicly owned, and those that aren’t still tend to remain apolitical. In Germany, privately owned TV stations have only existed since 1984, with state-owned channels ARD and ZDF covering almost the entirety of political news broadcasting. Public stations make up 45 percent of the market there. In France, among the top five stations, two (23.1 percent of the market share) are owned publicly, while three (34.5 percent of the market share) are in private hands
Continue reading at RARE Politics
With the recent rise to prominence of right-wing populist parties across Europe, it’s refreshing that Iceland has remained largely immune to such nationalistic rhetoric. On the continent, figures like Marine Le Pen in France and Geert Wilders in the Netherlands are capitalizing on what political scientists are calling a third wave of European populism that began after the international financial crisis of 2008. These parties are characterized by their anti-immigrant, and specifically, anti-Muslim sentiments. They fashion themselves the “protectors” of their homelands’ traditional culture against cosmopolitan globalism.
Yet, tiny Iceland has resisted this dirty brand of politics because of the rise of social movements that challenged the power structure of the Icelandic political establishment after the financial crisis of 2008. Unlike in other European countries, these social movements transformed themselves into a political movements, filling the vacuum of traditional center-right and center-left political parties, while also preventing far-right political projects from succeeding.
For starters, Iceland is a relatively young country that only became independent in 1944. It is a parliamentary democracy, based on coalitions because the Althing (parliament) has 63 members but a single party rarely has a clear majority. Unlike other Nordic countries, Iceland has been governed by the right for most of its history, either from the liberal conservative Independence Party or the center-right agrarian Progressive Party.
Continue reading at FEE.
Jean-Claude Juncker, the President of the European Commission, recently presented a White Paper on the Future of Europe outlining five possible scenarios for the Union’s future. In a joint statement, the French and German foreign ministers have already endorsed one of these, the so-called “Europe of multiple speeds”.
The concept is not new, and bears some risks, but is the only conceivable option given the current political circumstances. Europe of multiple speeds, or as the White Paper frames it “Those Who Want More Do More,” means that countries willing to integrate further in certain policy fields can do so without an obligation for others to follow their lead.
In fact, this is already a reality. The EU currently has 28 member states, 22 of which form the Schengen area that also includes non-members such as Switzerland or Liechtenstein. 19 states have accepted the Euro as their common currency, and Denmark has an opt-out clause in the field of foreign security. However, until now these differences have been exceptions. This could change now. Europe’s leaders realise they need to find a way forward in a Union that is under threat from many sides. “Carrying On” is not an option anymore.
Continue reading at Freedom Today.
The Republican establishment has been taking a shellacking in the past few months, as Donald Trump continues his march to the GOP nomination.
Trump’s supporters are angry about a great many things, and his opponents don’t have a clue how to calm down them down. Their most recent ideas have included wheeling out failed former presidential candidate Mitt Romney, and issuing an open letter from the Republican national security community. Both have had little effect.
Trump’s key narrative is that he will stop the United States from being taken advantage of on the world stage. Usually this takes the form of ridiculous attacks on free trade, but Trump does have a point that the United States is being fleeced when it comes to foreign policy.
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