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June 15, 2016

An insurrection against Renzi in the PD

While all the focus is on the Brexit referendum, the second round of Italy's local elections on Sunday is important - not because an outsider may be swept into power in Rome, but because of their broader political significance. La Repubblica has an interesting behind-the-scenes article this morning on how Massimo D'Alema, former prime minister, foreign minister, and stalwart of the left in the Partito Democratico, is plotting a coup against Matteo Renzi. D'Alema is telling people that he will be voting for Virginia Raggi, the Five Star Movement candidate, in the final round of the mayoral elections in Rome. If both Rome and Milan are lost to the PD - which is possible - he will immediately be starting a 'No' campaign for the referendum on constitutional reform in October. If Renzi loses that, his government will resign, so this is the only lever D'Alema and other Renzi opponents have. D'Alema believes that a loss of the mayors of Rome and Milan would constitute a cataclysmic event in Italian politics and shift the balance of power against Renzi. The PD is now light-years away from the 41% result it obtained during the European elections. His specific criticism of the constitutional reforms is that they create a presidential system - with term limits - even though this sits oddly within a constitution written for a parliamentary system. D'Alema does not want to resign from the PD, but to align all the parties of the left behind a No. And he already has a successor lined up to replace Renzi: the governor of Puglia, Michele Emiliano.

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June 15, 2016

Syriza to face citizens protests and ND accusations

There will be two citizen rallies against the government today in Athens, organised via social media under #resign. There are no estimates available nor any way of knowing how this will plays out. What we do know is that New Democracy is exploiting the issue to call the Syriza government undemocratic. They launched a full-blown attack on the government's undemocratic views. Deputy ND Adonis Georgiadis stated that Syriza's hostile actions towards the country are unprecedented, and attempt to terrorise the world. The accusations gained weight after Education Minister Nikos Filis said the protests are “verging on the limits of constitutional tolerance”. ND leader Kyriakos Mitsotakis used the context to complain that Syriza is resorting to emergency decrees in a bid to fast-track legislation and avoid voting procedures. He said in a letter to the parliament president that the reckless use of emergency decrees is creating “serious” obstacles to parliamentary procedures, Kathimerini reports. He also slammed the Parliament’s administration as pro-government.

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June 15, 2016

French labour reform protests weaken CGT

French police clashed with protesters yesterday. The national day of protest against the labour reform law ended with 58 arrested and at least 40 injured in Paris, according to Les Echos. French unions claimed that a million protesters participated in Paris alone, while police offered a much lower estimate of between 75,000 and 80,000 people. The government is cautious not to claim victory just yet, though, and to emphasise dialogue instead. On Friday, Myriam El Khomri will meet with CGT leader Philippe Martinez.

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June 15, 2016

Why the eurozone crisis is unsolvable

Jan Techau makes an important point: in the long run, the refugee crisis will not unhinge the EU because immigration policy is ultimately national, not at heart an EU issue, and there are technical solutions. But the eurozone crisis is different. For the euro to survive, member states will have to drop their financial and mercantile cultures, which would require a compromise on a scale unprecedented in the history of European integration. They would need to create a full-fledged fiscal union, and a political union in which this takes place. That would involve systems of debt mutualisation, fiscal oversight, and transfers. "For the euro to survive, you need dramatically more Europe," he writes, but this is not going to happen given the political opposition. And each of the needed steps is a lot more poisonous politically than what it will take to solve the refugee crisis.

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