ESADEgeo Daily Digest, 09/10/2019

Financial Times – James Shotter / Poland election: the unfinished counter-revolution

  • Next Sunday, Poles will head for the voting booths in what politicians on both sides of a bitter partisan divide have branded as the most important election since their country threw off communism. Many liberals fear that this vote is the last chance to stop the country sliding into the kind of semi-authoritarian netherworld that Viktor Orban has created in Hungary. For Law and Justice voters, something different is at stake. During the past years, many have seen their everyday lives improved by the generous welfare policies that rightwing Law and Justice has introduced. Others have been cheered by its promotion of Catholic-infused conservative values.
  • The timing of Law and Justice’s success could be described as surprising, since populist movements in the west have often gained during periods of stagnation. Law and Justice, on the other hand, has come to the fore while Poland is in an economic boom. Based on purchasing power parity, Poles are now richer than Greeks and closing in on the Portuguese. Growth in GDP — which topped 5 per cent in 2018 — has been among the highest in the developed world in recent years.
  • The ruling party’s position has been strengthened by the weakness of the opposition. In spite of Law and Justice’s scandals, ranging from the use of government jets by a top official’s family members, to allegations that a deputy justice minister was involved in a smear campaign, the opposition has been unable to capitalise. Part of the reason is state media’s tireless support for the government, as well as the Church’s. Other motives are the lack of a charismatic leader and the emergence of a leftwing coalition.

The Guardian – Larry Elliott / Nations must unite to halt global economic slowdown, says new IMF head

  • The new head of the IMF, Kristalina Georgieva, defended in her fist speech since becoming the IMF’s managing director, that the world was in a synchronised slowdown and needed a synchronised response. The organization, according to her director, was expecting a slower growth in nearly 90% of the global economy this year.
  • Ms. Georgieva said that the use of low interest rates by central banks in an attempt to boost activity had led to a buildup of corporate debt and that there would be a risk of a $19tn default in the event of a major economic downturn. The IMF has become steadily pessimistic about the health of the global economy since 2017, when it was confident that a sustained and synchronised recovery from the financial crisis was at last under way.
  • Amid reports that the talks between the US and China to end their tit-for-tat protectionist battle were going badly, the IMF managing director said that global trade had come to a near standstill. “Everyone loses in a trade war”, Ms. Georgieva stated.  
  • “Now is the time for countries with room in their budgets to deploy, or get ready to deploy, fiscal firepower”, emphasizing the need for states to use higher public spending and tax cuts as an alternative way of stimulating growth.

The Washington Post – Rachelle Krygier / As Ecuador protests grow, president moves government out of the capital

  • Ecuadoran President Lenín Moreno moved his government out of the capital as protests against his austerity measures continued to grow on Tuesday. Thousands of protesters converged on Quito for a sixth day of demonstrations, and the state-run oil company suspended operations at three oil fields in the Amazon region after they were “taken” by “individuals not affiliated with the operation,” the Energy Ministry stated. One person has died, dozens have been injured and more than 500 have been arrested in the demonstrations that began after Moreno withdrew a fuel subsidy that helped Ecuadorans buy gasoline.
  • Ecuador’s transportation union protested the resulting jump in gasoline prices with a strike on Thursday that brought the country to paralysis. The union lifted the strike on Saturday, but by then, indigenous groups, young people and others had joined the protests.
  • The governments of Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, El Salvador, Guatemala, Paraguay and Peru backed Moreno, and accused Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro of leading “actions aimed at destabilizing our democracies” by supporting the demonstrations. Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaidó also backed Moreno.
  • Al-Monitor – Ali Mamouri / Iraqi government seems powerless against protesters even as ‘unknown’ snipers take toll

Euractiv – AFP & Reuters / Britain’s Brexit talks with EU on verge of collapse

  • United Kingdom Prime Minister Boris Johnson spoke to German Chancellor Angela Merkel as he tried to salvage new divorce terms he has proposed ahead of next week’s pivotal EU summit. In an unusual move, Downing Street has shared a readout of what Merkel reportedly said, provoking an incendiary tweet from EU Council President Donald Tusk. In Berlin, Merkel’s office said it would not comment “on such confidential discussions”.  
  • The 1998 Good Friday Agreement effectively created an invisible border between the north and south of Ireland, satisfying republicans who want a united Ireland and unionists who want to keep the status quo. Finding a way to maintain the border open without keeping at least a part of the United Kingdom tied to EU trade rules has long been the main sticking point in the Brexit talks.
  • Downing Street officials say Brussels is making a big mistake because failure in the coming days to reach a deal would result in Britain’s position only hardening down the line. Should a delay still be granted at the EU summit, Johnson will campaign for a “no-deal” in any snap election, according to a Downing Street source. However, Johnson is facing a new rebellion from his own cabinet. Culture Secretary Nicky Morgan, British Minister for Northern Ireland Julian Smith, Justice Secretary Robert Buckland, Health Minister Matt Hancock and Attorney General Geoffrey Cox are all on a “resignation watch list”, according to The Times.
  • The New York Times – Mark Landler & Stephen Castle / Odds of a Brexit deal fade as Boris Johnson and Angela Merkel clash

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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