Week of March 5

Germany Has a Government:

On March fourth, the SPD voted on a 66% margin to join in a ruling coalition to end months of gridlock in the Bundestag. Due to the multiparty system in the German government, oftentimes there has to be a coalition for any parties to get over the 50% threshold to form a government. This comes at a time of great strife for the EU, such as Brexit, the North Korean crisis, and the never ending turmoil caused by Russia. In the interim, France has had to step up into the leadership role, but lacked the economic power to really make a difference. Now that Germany can start passing laws, Merkel has the ability to throw the full weight around in EU negotiations, hopefully bringing back the stability the EU needs. It deserves to be noted, however, that this is the first time a far right party has met the threshold to enter the Bundestag since world war ii.

Italy Falls to the Far Right:

On the same day Angela retained her position as Chancellor in Germany, a new wave of politicians entered parliament in the third largest economy in the EU. A combination of the Five Star movement and the center right parties won over 65% of the total vote. Interestingly, though their goals align in many aspects, neither have yet declared they would work together to form the coalition necessary to govern. If either group does somehow manage to form a coalition, it would spell trouble for the EU, seeing as all of them are aligned in their animosity towards the Union. Italy is by far the largest country in the EU to succumb to far right pressure, as both Germany and France avoided any populist sweeps. It will be interesting to see if this changes the calculus of the other EU powers, now that the far right euro skeptics have a major seat at the table.

Turkey Makes Moves to Stifle the Internet

President Erdogan of Turkey has made moves to stifle one of the last remaining safe havens for the press, the internet. What started as a relatively minor ban on a specific cleric turned into a series of rules that will crack down on political dissent and affect the internet of millions of Turks. This is just the most recent attempt Erdogan has made in stifling any opposition to his presidency, and once again reaffirms the remarkable rise and fall of Turkish democracy. Once a promising potential member of the EU, Erdogan has slowly but surely moved towards a more autocratic society. This culminated in the crackdown after the failed coup in 2016, where tens of thousands have been taken as political prisoner, and hundreds of thousands have lost their jobs. While Turkey is not the most obvious example of the world moving towards autocrats and strongmen, these restrictions rival even China in their breadth and depth of effectiveness. Turkey, with a population of almost eighty million and a member of NATO.


Shawn GilloolyComment