ESADEgeo Daily Digest, 15/10/2018

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Politico – Ryan Heath / 5 lessons from Europe’s busy electoral weekend

  • As different as Belgium’s local council elections, the national vote in Luxembourg or a regional one in Bavaria were from each other, one common message emerged from all of them: Voters are increasingly saying “no” to establishment parties.
  • Green parties didn’t win any significant election, yet they won the weekend. In Bavaria, the Greens came in first in the state’s seven biggest cities, polling around 30 percent there.
  • Socialists lost nearly everywhere this weekend. In Bavaria, the SPD attracted just one in 10 voters, while the Luxembourg Socialist Workers Party achieved its worst result in a century.
  • Luxembourg Prime Minister Xavier Bettel and the Bavarian CSU heavyweight Manfred Weber, who leads the European People’s Party (EPP) in the European Parliament, are potentially in line for a top job in Brussels next year. The CSU’s drubbing on Sunday doesn’t help Weber’s candidacy.
  • In Germany, the CSU is set to submerge into internal reckoning in the wake of its historically poor performance. The center-left Social Democrats are getting thrashed in national opinion polls and state elections. Taken together, these two factors could lead to changes in Angela Merkel’s coalition government.

Euractiv – Reuters / Brexit talks stall before midweek EU summit

  • EU negotiator Michel Barnier said after meeting British Brexit Secretary Dominic Raab that they could still not bridge a gap between the EU’s “backstop” demands that Northern Ireland stay in the EU’s economic zone if there is a risk that border checks with Ireland could revive conflict, and London’s rejection of any checks on trade between the province and the British mainland.
  • Leaders had been due to decide on Wednesday whether enough progress had been made to hold another summit, penciled in for 17-18 November, at which both the treaty on an orderly British withdrawal and a vaguer document setting out future trade relations could be inked in. It is unclear now whether the leaders will call for the November summit this week.
  • Even if Prime Minister Theresa May reaches a withdrawal agreement, she will struggle to get it through parliament and may find opposition from the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) – which props up her minority government – to other legislation such as the budget.
  • “This backstop arrangement would not be temporary. It would be the permanent annexation of Northern Ireland away from the rest of the United Kingdom and forever leave us subject to rules made in a place where we have no say,” said Arlene Foster, head of the DUP.

Financial Times – Michael Peel / UK pushes on chemical weapons and cyber sanctions

  • Britain is putting pressure on the EU to name the targets of new chemical weapons sanctions due to be agreed as part of the bloc’s escalating response to alleged malicious Russian activity in Europe.
  • The UK has so far given no details of whom it wants to target with the chemical weapons sanctions, which would typically include travel bans and asset freezes. But it has not ruled out targeting more senior players than the two suspected perpetrators of the Salisbury attack.
  • Jeremy Hunt, Britain’s foreign secretary, will also call for talks on cyber-related EU countermeasures to be stepped up.
  • EU diplomats stress that the proposed new sanctions regimes are not solely aimed at Russia. They could in theory tackle events ranging from chemical weapons attacks in Syria to alleged commercial cyberespionage by China or other powers.

Brookings – Fred Dews / Charts of the week: The “forgotten Americans”

  • In a new essay, Brookings Senior Fellow Isabel Sawhill writes of her meetings with Americans in three cities to discuss potential solutions to the political, economic, and cultural divisions splitting the country.
  • Many of the participants in Sawhill’s focus groups “want better programs and policies, but are wary of the government’s ability to deliver” and “are deeply cynical about their elected representatives.”
  • Some kind of national service was a favorite policy idea that Sawhill proposed to focus group participants, but another popular one was career and technical education linked to jobs in local communities.
  • “People’s top concern was their wages,” observed Sawhill. Wages are low, and are not increasing, a fact felt by many of the study participants.

The selected pieces do not necessarily reflect the views of Javier Solana and ESADEgeo. The summaries above may include word-for-word excerpts from their respective pieces. 

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