May 29, 2019

EU Elections

Editor's note: We couldn’t be more proud of one of our teammates, Isaac Rose-Berman, who penned his first op-ed this week in USA Today: “How college students can bridge American divides: 'Study abroad' in Alabama or New York.” Please give it a read, and share far and wide!

“The European Union’s traditional center splintered in the hardest-fought European Parliament elections in decades, with the far right and pro-environment Greens gaining ground on Sunday after four days of a polarized vote.” AP News

Nigel Farage’s Brexit Party romped to victory… with both Prime Minister Theresa May’s Conservatives and the opposition Labour Party losing support across the country.” Reuters

See past issues

From the Left

The left is relieved to see pro-environmentalists make headway, but worried about the demise of centrism and rise of the far right.

“Underscoring the growing demand for bold climate action that has found expression in global youth-led strikes, marches and civil disobedience over the past year, Green parties across Europe had their strongest-ever EU parliamentary election performance after running on a platform of transformative environmental change.”
Jake Johnson, Salon

The Greens’ success can represent a positive turning point in European politics, if the new political energy to confront climate change is channeled into effective reforms rather than the overhyped preoccupations that sometimes animate European environmental activism.”
Editorial Board, Washington Post

Overall, “the results delivered the heartening news that Europeans still care about Europe. Europe’s populist parties had wanted to make the elections a dagger in the heart of the bloc… [They] did increase their share of seats, from 20 percent to a robust 25 percent, but fell short of the landslide many had feared… Yet the results also showed Europe more polarized than ever. Those who wanted to support the European Union usually voted for smaller parties, like the Greens or Liberals, and voters on the right often went further right, all but abandoning the mainstream center-left and center-right parties that have controlled the European Parliament for years.”
Editorial Board, New York Times

In the UK, “voters are definitely unhappy with how their leaders have handled Brexit. But it’s not clear what they want to do differently… One way to resolve this confusion would be to conduct another general election before the next scheduled vote in May 2022… If there was a general election tomorrow, Nigel Farage wouldn’t become prime minister—despite leading two different parties to astonishing results in European elections, he has failed in each of his seven attempts to win a seat in Parliament. Still, neither of the main parties wants to test if eighth time’s the charm.”
June Thomas, Slate

“Not long ago, many mainstream politicians and pundits viewed the far right as little more than a protest movement: People voted against the establishment in European elections to send a message, but no one really wanted these politicians to try their hand at governing. These parties were not seen as serious about policy; they were just playing politics. Now, there is no choice but to admit that the populist far right is becoming a permanent feature of European politics.”
Ivan Krastev, New York Times

“The far-right party led in about three-quarters of all French départements… Far-right parties also saw strong results in Poland, Hungary, and Italy. Some well-meaning liberals have cheered the fact that these forces didn’t do even better—especially in Germany, where the Alternative for Germany party won just 10 percent of the vote. Still, with nationalists topping the polls in two of Europe’s three main founding nations, it’s hard to see how any of this is worth celebrating. The center may be holding, but it’s not on solid ground.”
Cole Stangler, The Nation

Some argue, “It was the political elites that made the populist radical right the dominant force in the political debate, adopting its issues and its frames. If the liberal democratic politicians want to, they can make this the turning point in European politics. But for that they don’t need just the ‘containment’ of populism, they also need a coherent and convincing liberal democratic vision. And there, the European elections did not provide much good news.”
Cas Mudde, The Guardian

From the Right

The right sees the election results as a repudiation of the status quo, and the success of the Brexit party as an indication that many Britons are impatient with the Brexit delay.

From the Right

The right sees the election results as a repudiation of the status quo, and the success of the Brexit party as an indication that many Britons are impatient with the Brexit delay.

The EU seeks “to centralize the power and sovereignty of 27 nation-states in European institutions without solving their existing democracy deficit; to replace their independent budgetary arrangements with a single European fiscal policy without the power of tax collection; to create a common European defense structure separate from NATO without increasing anyone’s defense expenditure; to replace fossil fuels with renewables to solve climate change without massive regulation, and a realistic plan to prevent a huge rise in energy costs for industry and consumers…

“It is sometimes said that the error of socialists is not that they have no faith in capitalism but that they have almost boundless faith in it. They think it can bear any burden they place on it and still stagger on delivering the goods. Modern European statesmen feel the same way about their citizens. The populists remind them they’re wrong. And they haven’t gone away… We could see the elections as a competition between two rising insurgent political forces — each trying not to let a good crisis go to waste: the populists using the migration crisis as an organizing principle, the Greens and the Liberals doing the same with the climate crisis. Which group will win probably depends on which crisis ultimately proves to be the more genuinely frightening one to the voters.”
John O’Sullivan, National Review

Some posit that “while no single party, establishment or skeptic, commands a majority in the new parliament, the establishment types are still stronger. A coalition of center-right conservatives and center-liberals, or Greens, or some other combination, can maintain the broad lines of what has been the mainstream Euro-establishment program, based on the principle of a single market. None of the rebels, except the British ones, favor leaving the EU. They want to reform the Union from within, and they have various notions of what this entails. The establishment will be able to play on their needs and national interests.”
Roger Kaplan, American Spectator

In most countries, European themes were eclipsed by domestic fights. Despite French President Emmanuel Macron’s best efforts, the campaign in France reflected the country’s domestic malaise. For understandable reasons, the debate in the United Kingdom ended up being exclusively about Brexit. And in Poland, much energy was channeled into a discussion of LGBTQI issues and of sex abuse scandals in the church. For pro-EU (and anti-EU) forces, the lesson is simple: Local context matters, there are no one-size-fits-all solutions, and there can be no substitute for taking domestic politics seriously.”
Dalibor Rohac, Politico

“The failure to pull off a timely Brexit was most likely on the minds of many [in Britain] as they went grudgingly to the ballot box. It helps explain why Nigel Farage’s Brexit party, which is only six weeks old, won 31.6 percent of the vote, and why the Lib Dems, back from the political wilderness, came in second with 20.3 percent. Labour came third. The Tories came fifth. This was a protest vote for many fed up with the two main parties, clearly. What is remarkable is just how many.”
Madelein Kearns, National Review

“Elections have consequences. And failing to execute a mandate from an election has consequences too, as both Conservatives and Labour discovered in the UK’s EU elections. Despite only being weeks old and largely without a policy portfolio, the Brexit party won almost a third of the vote, outstripping the UK’s two main parties — combinedvoters just showed how little patience they have with parties that don’t deliver on their promises.”
Ed Morrissey, Hot Air

“If a dozen drones or missiles can do the kind of damage to the world economy as did those fired on Saturday—shutting down about 6 percent of world oil production—imagine what a U.S.-Iran-Saudi war would do to the world economy. In recent decades, the U.S. has sold the Saudis hundreds of billions of dollars of military equipment. Did our weapons sales carry a guarantee that we will also come and fight alongside the kingdom if it gets into a war with its neighbors?… the nation does not want another war. How we avoid it, however, is becoming difficult to see. John Bolton may be gone from the West Wing, but his soul is marching on.”
Patrick Buchanan, The American Conservative

Others note, “I’d hate to be a Democratic member of Congress trying to convince Joe Sixpack that this is a whole new ballgame. The transcript shows Trump being Trump and Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky trying to ingratiate himself with the big dog by, for instance, mentioning that he stays at Trump hotels. Trump’s conversation is typically scattershot, wandering all over the field, leaving a reasonable listener puzzled about what the takeaways are supposed to be…

“I think Joe Sixpack’s response is going to be a hearty shrug. After all that has emerged about Trump so far, his approval rating is closely tracking Obama’s approval at the same point in his presidency. To get Mr. Sixpack’s attention you are going to have to do better than this.”
Kyle Smith, National Review

President Trump should be happy. As much as Warren is articulate, obviously intelligent, and energetically supported by Democrats, she would also be far easier to defeat than Joe Biden… Considering Trump's economy, the president is well placed to defeat Warren.”
Tom Rogan, Washington Examiner

A libertarian's take

“After adding in the ultra-millionaire’s tax and factoring in the other capital taxes Warren wants to levy — on financial transactions, on unrealized capital gains, on corporations — we’d be asking every billionaire to hand over more than two-thirds of their total wealth over a 10-year period. If the government actually managed to collect it, their fortunes would rapidly erode — and so would tax collections. The plan might be a good way to smash wealth, but it’s a terrible way to fund the nation’s health-care system…

“If Warren makes it to the White House, and tries to pass a plan, the Congressional Budget Office will eventually attach more reasonable numbers, with more defensible assumptions, sparking an even more spectacular political blowback than the one that greeted Friday’s announcement. Outside of the progressive Twitterati, there isn’t necessarily an enormous constituency for spending $20.5 trillion to herd every American into a national health insurance program; there would be even less support for spending what Warren’s plan would actually cost.”
Megan McArdle, Washington Post

On the bright side...

Massachusetts man says someone broke into his home ... and cleaned it. NBC News

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