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Archive for 10. März 2018

Why Germany’s new government is not about to go soft on the euro

Posted by hkarner - 10. März 2018

Date: 08-03-2018
Source: The Economist: Charlemagne

Italy’s depressing election will not help

FOR nearly half a year serious business in the European Union has been on hold as Germany struggled to cobble together a government. On March 4th the waiting came to an end when the centre-left Social Democratic Party declared that its members had voted two-to-one to rejoin Angela Merkel’s conservative Christian Democrats (CDU) in coalition. The sighs of relief in Paris and Brussels were almost audible. Yet inside the Willy Brandt Haus, the SPD’s Berlin headquarters, the mood was distinctly flat. So divisive had the issue been that party apparatchiks agreed in advance to mute their reactions to the result. The SPD has secured juicy ministries and all sorts of policy concessions from Mrs Merkel. But announcing the news on Sunday, Olaf Scholz, the SPD’s acting chairman and the presumed next finance minister, displayed all the enthusiasm of a funeral celebrant on Xanax.

That reflected the deep ambivalence of a wounded party towards renewing an arrangement that since 2013 has squashed its identity (and its vote share). It might also serve as a warning for foreigners who expect the SPD to inject a dash of vigour into Germany’s European policy. EU officials speak of a window of opportunity for reforms opened by Emmanuel Macron’s election in France, a sprightly economic upswing and the unfamiliar absence of crisis. Their hopes were further elevated by a SPD-CDU coalition agreement apparently infused with Europhilia, its first chapter titled “A new departure for the EU”. The red lines outsiders had come to expect from Germany on matters like risk-sharing in the euro zone seemed conspicuously absent. Den Rest des Beitrags lesen »

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British institutions may not withstand the authoritarian-populist wave

Posted by hkarner - 10. März 2018

Date: 08-03-2018
Source: The Economist: Bagehot
Subject: It could happen in Britain

IN HIS dystopian novel of 1935, “It Can’t Happen Here”, Sinclair Lewis described the rise of an American Caesar, Berzelius “Buzz” Windrip. Buzz easily defeats Franklin Roosevelt for the presidency by promising to make America great again. He then sets about destroying the country’s system of checks and balances, by fomenting fear and unleashing activists, while sensible Americans comfort themselves with the belief that their country is immune to authoritarian takeover.

Donald Trump’s election has propelled Lewis’s novel back onto the bestseller list and provoked a lively debate on the question of “Can it Happen Here?”, the title of a new book edited by Cass Sunstein, a Harvard professor and former adviser to Barack Obama. It is time for Britain to engage in a similar debate. The British are even more confident than the Americans about their immunity to extremism. Britain hasn’t had a violent revolution since 1640-60. Rather than rallying to Oswald Mosley’s fascists in the 1930s, the British treated them as figures of fun—black shorts rather than blackshirts, in P.G. Wodehouse’s satire. But the next five years could test Britain’s immune system to the limits. Den Rest des Beitrags lesen »

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