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October 27, 2016

Unity of the Dutch left?

The main political development in the Dutch political landscape since the last general election has been the collapse in support for the Dutch labour party PvdA, the junior coalition party to Mark Rutte's VVD. The two parties won 38 and 41 seats respectively in 2012, which gave them together a comfortable majority in the 150-seat Tweede Kamer. But recent opinion polls give the PvdA just 11 seats or thereabouts. It might drop from second to seventh place. This seems extreme even for a junior coalition partner. It is thus perhaps not surprising that PvdA leader Diederik Samson has been exploring alliances with other left parties. Before the summer, it was reported that Samson and the then leader of the GroenLinks (green left) party Bram van Ojik were having talks about cooperating in the next election, which might have gone as far as forming a common parliamentary group after the election. However, since then the GL replaced its leader with Jesse Klaver, who prefers looser but broader cooperation among the left parties, including the left-liberal D66 and the socialist party SP. Samson is known for his environmental credentials, but he's also involved in a leadership contest, so the position of the PvdA on these alliances might change.

Klaver, whose GL party is benefitting the most from the loss of support of the PvdA (it is projected to gain about ten seats from its current four) is proposing that the four left-wing parties adopt a common platform of broad principles before and after the election. These are, according to NRC: reducing inequality, increasing opportunities for children, reducing market forces in healthcare, greening of the economy, and stopping further labour market flexibility. Klaver thinks that the Christian democratic CDA and the conservative Christian Union could also work with his proposed progressive alliance, because they share values of "community and green stewardship". 

It may seem excessive to suggest an alliance of six parties, but with the VVD expected to lose about one third of its seats, and Geert Wilders' party of freedom PVV projected to come at least in second place with about 25 seats, polls suggest no less than four parties would be needed to form a 76-seat majority in the parliament. The six parties that Klaver proposes, CDA, D66, SP, Gl, PvdA and CU, could have a theoretical majority together - but the VVD should be expected to get a first try at forming a government as the foreseeable largest party in the next parliament.

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October 27, 2016

Macron, the tortoise

Manuel Valls and Francois Hollande are engaged in trench warfare, writes Cecile Cornudet. Valls never comes out in a frontal attack but puts his finger where it hurts most: talking about confidence, confidentiality, and respect. Hollande’s supporters fight back by putting other names in the hat, Ségolène Royal or even Christine Taubira, so that the message is understood: only Hollande can unite the party. This morning we see a stronger defence of Hollande. The Journal du Dimanche writes that the book, read in its entirety, is not such a bad verdict about Hollande after all. The first secretary of the Socialists Jean-Christophe Cambadélis countered a strong attack from Claude Bartolone, the president of the assembly. Stéphane Le Foll, the government spokesman, cites the strong unemployment data as a value yardstick. Taken together with the evacuation of the refugee camps in Calais, this is certainly one of the most difficult moments for Hollande.

There is one who continues like a tortoise: Emmanuel Macron. Just in the moment when the Socialist party crumbles, Macron moves forward and presents the structure of his movement "En Marche."  According to Marianne, the organisation has 100 departmental officials, and 1500 local committees throughout the country. The Socialist MP Richard Ferrand became secretary general of the movement. And there are nine other delegates, three elected MPs (two Socialist MPs, one mayor from Pas-de-Calais), three from business to represent classic, social, and start-up enterprises, and three representatives from civil society.  Benjamin Griveaux, former counsellor of Dominique Strauss Kahn, is the spokesperson. Macron sees no need to respond to the demise in the Socialist party really. 

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October 27, 2016

Ruminations on an interim deal

The Brexit discussions are mercifully becoming more technical. It's now all about how it should happen, not whether Brexit is good or bad, or how it might not happen. We came across two notable comments this morning. One is by Simon Tilford who takes a closer look at the interim agreement. Tilford works on the premise that it would take a long time for the EU and the UK to agree a final FTA, so that an interim agreement becomes necessary to avoid a sharp short-term shock after Brexit. We are not sure that the premise is necessarily correct but, if you assume that an FTA would take a long time to negotiate and ratify, an interim agreement is inevitable. How will it end? In a big bang or gradually? Tilford thinks gradually, but then makes an important political point:

"Because the interim status would be more favourable to Britain than the final deal, the rest of the EU will likely conclude that the interim status might become the final status as Britain wakes up to the costs of leaving altogether. They are thus likely to drive a hard bargain on the interim agreement. One solution could be to put a time limit on how long Britain can enjoy such interim status."

Tilford plays down the argument that an interim agreement would have much of a (positive) economic effect as investors would be basing their decisions on their long-term outlook. 

Simon Jenkins, who was a reluctant Leave supporter, writes in his Guardian column that a hard Brexit is not in Britain's interest and that the country should opt for a status as close as possible to that of the EEA. This is exactly the view we have taken. Jenkins says Brexit has divorced politically from the EU, but this does not logically imply an economic divorce.

"Political Europe is in the process of decline, if not disintegration. As refugees, bank bailouts, recession and unemployment all testify, the EU and especially the eurozone are not a functioning confederation but a zone of German influence. Britain has decided to distance itself from that zone. It cannot divorce itself from the economy of its entire continent. Caution and common sense advise the EEA, 'soft' Brexit."

Two short observations: We agree with Tilford that long-term expectations count and that smoothing arrangements may not be all that important. But we are less pessimistic about the long term. The economy will adjust. Resources will shift. And the City of London and its lobbying power will decline. What's so bad about that?

On the EEA: while the proposition to leave the EU in order to join the EEA is nonsensical, the proposition to join the EEA after having decided to leave the EU is in a completely different category. The EEA clearly isn't a first-best option, which would be EU membership. But since it is not attainable, the EEA may be a good enough second-best choice.

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  • Catalonia recalls EU and eurozone instability
  • French trade unions increase pressure over labour reforms
  • Watch out for a political accident in the UK
  • Municipal elections boost Portugal's Socialists
  • April 25, 2016
  • The death of the Grand Coalition
  • Insurrection against TTIP
  • Juppé to benefit from Macron hype
  • On optimal currency areas
  • Why the Artic region could be the next geopolitical troublespot
  • From a currency to a people
  • February 11, 2019
  • SPD dumps Hartz IV
  • Macron's revival
  • September 18, 2017
  • Why Germany cannot lead Europe, let alone the free world
  • Will Macron help to build up Mélenchon?
  • Boris' Coup
  • April 25, 2016
  • The death of the Grand Coalition
  • Insurrection against TTIP
  • Juppé to benefit from Macron hype
  • On optimal currency areas
  • Why the Artic region could be the next geopolitical troublespot
  • From a currency to a people
  • January 07, 2019
  • What to look out for in the Brexit debates
  • Macron's last-resort tool for the gilets jaunes
  • August 31, 2017
  • Where are the Républicains?
  • Poland unmoved by EU rule-of-law sanctions
  • May will stay through Brexit, and then fight the 2022 elections
  • April 25, 2016
  • The death of the Grand Coalition
  • Insurrection against TTIP
  • Juppé to benefit from Macron hype
  • On optimal currency areas
  • Why the Artic region could be the next geopolitical troublespot
  • From a currency to a people
  • December 12, 2018
  • 48 letters
  • A sense of deja-vu
  • August 21, 2017
  • Soft, getting softer
  • Tsipras' chances of a boost
  • On the fallacy of a middle-ground option for the eurozone
  • April 25, 2016
  • The death of the Grand Coalition
  • Insurrection against TTIP
  • Juppé to benefit from Macron hype
  • On optimal currency areas
  • Why the Artic region could be the next geopolitical troublespot
  • From a currency to a people
  • October 29, 2018
  • Why the EEA is no longer a Brexit option
  • Behold the rising superpower: post-catholic Ireland’s European miracle
  • July 27, 2017
  • Löfven's move
  • The nearing end of petrol and diesel engines
  • Why a second referendum in the UK won’t happen, and why it would be wrong
  • April 25, 2016
  • The death of the Grand Coalition
  • Insurrection against TTIP
  • Juppé to benefit from Macron hype
  • On optimal currency areas
  • Why the Artic region could be the next geopolitical troublespot
  • From a currency to a people
  • September 25, 2018
  • Be careful what you wish for - second referendum edition
  • July 10, 2017
  • EU in self-destruction mode
  • The EU's fault lines
  • Fake News and Fake views
  • April 25, 2016
  • The death of the Grand Coalition
  • Insurrection against TTIP
  • Juppé to benefit from Macron hype
  • On optimal currency areas
  • Why the Artic region could be the next geopolitical troublespot
  • From a currency to a people
  • October 17, 2019
  • A dangerous game for the EU
  • After Brexit, get ready for a German EU budget rebate
  • August 20, 2018
  • ... and a subtle shift in EU policies towards both Russia and Turkey
  • Nothing to celebrate about the end of the bailout programme
  • Support for Brexit holding up
  • June 20, 2017
  • How to soften Brexit?
  • The deep roots of Brexit: Thatcher and the Germans
  • April 25, 2016
  • The death of the Grand Coalition
  • Insurrection against TTIP
  • Juppé to benefit from Macron hype
  • On optimal currency areas
  • Why the Artic region could be the next geopolitical troublespot
  • From a currency to a people
  • August 27, 2019
  • Remain’s narrowing pathway
  • Macron's diplomatic masterstroke
  • July 09, 2018
  • German panic about Target2
  • AfD level with SPD
  • How the EU could fail
  • May 31, 2017
  • Getting real in the debate on the euro's future
  • Russia's growing influence in Italy
  • April 25, 2016
  • The death of the Grand Coalition
  • Insurrection against TTIP
  • Juppé to benefit from Macron hype
  • On optimal currency areas
  • Why the Artic region could be the next geopolitical troublespot
  • From a currency to a people
  • June 18, 2019
  • Retaliation threats over drilling
  • May 28, 2018
  • A no-confidence motion that could backfire
  • The political repercussions of a historic referendum in Ireland
  • Why the lack of an international role for the euro matters
  • May 10, 2017
  • PSOE primary campaign in full swing
  • Czech government crisis escalates
  • Backroom dealing on electoral reform in Italy
  • April 25, 2016
  • The death of the Grand Coalition
  • Insurrection against TTIP
  • Juppé to benefit from Macron hype
  • On optimal currency areas
  • Why the Artic region could be the next geopolitical troublespot
  • From a currency to a people
  • April 09, 2019
  • What can go wrong now?
  • April 13, 2018
  • German support for eurozone reform next to zero...
  • ... and no support for France on Syria either
  • A French sermon
  • Why the euro endures
  • April 19, 2017
  • Shadows of money
  • Breppe Grillo vs Eurointelligence
  • April 25, 2016
  • The death of the Grand Coalition
  • Insurrection against TTIP
  • Juppé to benefit from Macron hype
  • On optimal currency areas
  • Why the Artic region could be the next geopolitical troublespot
  • From a currency to a people
  • January 29, 2019
  • What comes after plan B fails? Plan C, of course. C for cliff-edge
  • Gilets jaunes, how to structure a movement in free flow?
  • European Court of Auditors criticises Juncker’s investment fund
  • February 26, 2018
  • Angela Merkel's cabinet
  • March 27, 2017
  • Governing formation troubles - Northern Ireland edition
  • Did Trump present Merkel with a bill for Nato?
  • April 25, 2016
  • The death of the Grand Coalition
  • Insurrection against TTIP
  • Juppé to benefit from Macron hype
  • On optimal currency areas
  • Why the Artic region could be the next geopolitical troublespot
  • From a currency to a people
  • September 30, 2019
  • A pyrrhic victory for Kurz
  • Will there really be UK elections?
  • November 19, 2018
  • May’s pushback is kicking in
  • January 08, 2018
  • Getting real on Brexit
  • Macron in China
  • March 01, 2017
  • The threat of Frexit
  • Fear and loathing of a referendum in Spain
  • How to get around Theresa May’s little ECJ issue
  • Solve the problem
  • April 25, 2016
  • The death of the Grand Coalition
  • Insurrection against TTIP
  • Juppé to benefit from Macron hype
  • On optimal currency areas
  • Why the Artic region could be the next geopolitical troublespot
  • From a currency to a people
  • June 11, 2019
  • Politics and the new sense of urgency
  • Ten little monkeys jumping up and down - down mostly
  • August 28, 2018
  • Urban politics and national crisis - the Irish case
  • How anti-semitism became one of the main issues in British politics
  • November 13, 2017
  • A pro-European list: Wauquiez' nightmare
  • Catalan separatism isn't going away
  • Why oh why does Germany behave the way it does?
  • Why the four freedoms matter
  • February 02, 2017
  • Will it come to the use of force in Catalonia?
  • The day Brexit became irreversible
  • Can Trump and May succeed?
  • April 25, 2016
  • The death of the Grand Coalition
  • Insurrection against TTIP
  • Juppé to benefit from Macron hype
  • On optimal currency areas
  • Why the Artic region could be the next geopolitical troublespot
  • From a currency to a people
  • February 13, 2019
  • What to make of the man in the pub - and other tales
  • Macron loses more early advisers - or cuts them loose
  • June 01, 2018
  • Will France and Germany stick together in their response to US trade tariffs?
  • From a eurozone budget to a slush fund
  • September 18, 2017
  • Why Germany cannot lead Europe, let alone the free world
  • Will Macron help to build up Mélenchon?
  • Boris' Coup
  • January 05, 2017
  • French Socialist primaries - old wine in new bottles
  • Le Pen's hard ecu
  • Will Tusk get a second mandate?
  • Themes of 2017
  • April 25, 2016
  • The death of the Grand Coalition
  • Insurrection against TTIP
  • Juppé to benefit from Macron hype
  • On optimal currency areas
  • Why the Artic region could be the next geopolitical troublespot
  • From a currency to a people
  • May 09, 2019
  • The EU's impossible dilemma
  • The horsetrading starts in Sibiu
  • May to bring withdrawal bill to Commons week after next
  • September 27, 2018
  • Two ways out of the Brexit impasse
  • February 16, 2018
  • How big will the euro budget be?
  • July 10, 2017
  • EU in self-destruction mode
  • The EU's fault lines
  • Fake News and Fake views
  • November 30, 2016
  • Is Russia behind a massive cyber attack in Germany?
  • Will Fillon move to the centre?
  • The Dutch left field is getting crowded
  • April 25, 2016
  • The death of the Grand Coalition
  • Insurrection against TTIP
  • Juppé to benefit from Macron hype
  • On optimal currency areas
  • Why the Artic region could be the next geopolitical troublespot
  • From a currency to a people
  • October 18, 2019
  • The horrifying implications of Merkel’s 5G decision
  • April 17, 2019
  • Why it is far from clear that the grand coalition will survive the year
  • Macron's chance and challenge
  • Eurozone firms' surprising response to sagging profits
  • The result of Spain's elections, a riddle wrapped in mystery
  • The MMT debate is coming to Europe - and Germany
  • Greek parliament seeks German war reparations
  • October 15, 2018
  • Black Brexit smoke
  • Bettel can relax and stay in office
  • Solving the crime vs solving the problem
  • April 16, 2018
  • Italy's and Germany's pained response to the Syria attacks
  • On the end of the eurozone's economic honeymoon
  • Why Bulgaria should stay out of the euro
  • Where shall we meet after Brexit?
  • October 16, 2017
  • What‘s the deep meaning of the elections in Lower Saxony?
  • Can Brexit be revoked?
  • Macron's grand narrative
  • April 19, 2017
  • Shadows of money
  • Breppe Grillo vs Eurointelligence
  • October 20, 2016
  • No games please, we are Europeans
  • April 25, 2016
  • The death of the Grand Coalition
  • Insurrection against TTIP
  • Juppé to benefit from Macron hype
  • On optimal currency areas
  • Why the Artic region could be the next geopolitical troublespot
  • From a currency to a people
  • July 16, 2019
  • What next, after EU sanctions Turkey?
  • What to make of Johnson’s four-point Brexit plan
  • Galileo fails, and nobody notices
  • March 04, 2019
  • Macron's two-month sprint
  • May's numbers are not there yet
  • Greening QE
  • On the "hope" of a rate raise
  • October 22, 2018
  • A week of intense political tension in the UK
  • Poland's local elections reveal deeply-split country
  • June 11, 2018
  • The end of the G7 - good riddance
  • Macron needs allies for his European agenda
  • Who is going to be the next director-general of the Italian treasury?
  • January 29, 2018
  • Where is the opposition in France?
  • Scenarios and risks for Syriza over Macedonia
  • September 21, 2017
  • Time to get serious about Brexit
  • Would the FDP claim the job of finance minister?
  • The return of the ultra-right to German politics
  • May 15, 2017
  • SPD and CDU disagree on how to respond to Macron
  • Was Rajoy blackmailed?
  • The rise of the re-leavers
  • January 05, 2017
  • French Socialist primaries - old wine in new bottles
  • Le Pen's hard ecu
  • Will Tusk get a second mandate?
  • Themes of 2017
  • August 30, 2016
  • Brexit facts on the ground
  • Burkinis and Republican primaries
  • The SPD and TTIP
  • April 25, 2016
  • The death of the Grand Coalition
  • Insurrection against TTIP
  • Juppé to benefit from Macron hype
  • On optimal currency areas
  • Why the Artic region could be the next geopolitical troublespot
  • From a currency to a people
  • October 10, 2019
  • What if UK parliament rejects both elections and the second referendum?
  • Should Europeans really look forward to President Warren?
  • August 27, 2019
  • Remain’s narrowing pathway
  • Macron's diplomatic masterstroke
  • July 03, 2019
  • A bold but risky choice
  • What will the European Parliament do?
  • May 22, 2019
  • Better start those no-deal preparations right now
  • Europe's real transfer union is from east to west
  • April 09, 2019
  • What can go wrong now?
  • February 27, 2019
  • EU bets on stable dictatorships to guard its south
  • The grand débat context for the unemployment insurance reform
  • Survey suggests that political dividing line in Europe is between France and Germany
  • January 18, 2019
  • Why Dublin won't yield on the backstop
  • Town hall debates vs street protests - who is winning?
  • December 10, 2018
  • ECJ says UK free to revoke Article 50, even inside extension period
  • A turning point in Macron's presidency
  • China has added Portugal to the list of its key EU partners
  • Belgium's coalition implodes over Marrakesh pact
  • November 01, 2018
  • Is candidate Merz a keen pro-European?
  • Around the corner - Brexit edition
  • September 25, 2018
  • Be careful what you wish for - second referendum edition
  • August 20, 2018
  • ... and a subtle shift in EU policies towards both Russia and Turkey
  • Nothing to celebrate about the end of the bailout programme
  • Support for Brexit holding up
  • July 16, 2018
  • How to think about the three Brexit options
  • How to respond to Trump
  • June 11, 2018
  • The end of the G7 - good riddance
  • Macron needs allies for his European agenda
  • Who is going to be the next director-general of the Italian treasury?
  • May 08, 2018
  • Macron and the technocratic republic
  • Philippe's silent offer to the SNCF unions
  • On the ordoliberal utopia of a debt-free state
  • April 06, 2018
  • Schleswig Holstein collapses Spain's strategy against Catalan separatism
  • On the implausibility of conspiracy theories in the Skripal case
  • March 07, 2018
  • The PD - so much like the SPD
  • Why the EU is right to blackball the City of London
  • Car companies don't deliver on diesel upgrades
  • February 05, 2018
  • How big is Germany's external surplus, really?
  • Macron's first election test
  • Coeure's endorsement of a fiscal union
  • January 05, 2018
  • Catalonia's government by Skype
  • The case for EEA membership
  • November 30, 2017
  • Please tell us there is another way than fudging the border
  • Could Gentiloni remain prime minister beyond the elections?
  • Stage set for Babis minority government
  • November 03, 2017
  • Catalan separatism is energised again
  • A prime minister without a party
  • Northern Ireland - handle with care
  • The death of liberalism
  • October 09, 2017
  • UK is starting to prepare for a no-deal Brexit
  • Why Germany will resist meaningful eurozone reform
  • September 14, 2017
  • Bravo Mr Juncker
  • ... what he said about the labour market
  • ... and what his speech means for Brexit
  • August 21, 2017
  • Soft, getting softer
  • Tsipras' chances of a boost
  • On the fallacy of a middle-ground option for the eurozone
  • July 25, 2017
  • The impact of Duda's veto
  • How to undo Brexit
  • Front National: Frexit or not?
  • July 03, 2017
  • Can Greece exit its programme without a credit line?
  • The softening Brexit
  • Macron's state of the nation address
  • June 12, 2017
  • Not strong perhaps, but stable
  • Catalan independence, a mental state
  • May 22, 2017
  • Catalonia's independence blueprint
  • Commission wants completion of eurozone by 2025
  • The case for more honesty about the abolition of cash
  • The case against an Italian euro exit
  • May 02, 2017
  • An accident waiting to happen
  • Matteo Renzi wins PD primaries
  • So much for the Schulz effect
  • April 15, 2017
  • Happy Easter
  • March 29, 2017
  • B-Day
  • Wargaming Catalan independence
  • Macron's strategy for the legislative elections
  • March 13, 2017
  • Poland and the future of the EU
  • Polls show 40% support for Costa's Socialists
  • Council of Europe questions Spanish constitutional court reform
  • February 27, 2017
  • May’s next gamble
  • Macron and the rise of the centre
  • Bite the bullet and get on with it
  • Who is the AfD?
  • February 13, 2017
  • What decides the French elections: cult or programme?
  • Sense and nonsense on globalisation
  • Towards the next European crisis
  • January 30, 2017
  • On the illusion of choice
  • January 16, 2017
  • Trump doubles down against the EU
  • Fake maths
  • January 05, 2017
  • French Socialist primaries - old wine in new bottles
  • Le Pen's hard ecu
  • Will Tusk get a second mandate?
  • Themes of 2017
  • December 14, 2016
  • Towards the next Italian referendum
  • Austria blocks declaration on Turkey
  • How to avoid exposure and be popular
  • Can Putin topple Merkel?
  • So much for Germany as world leader
  • December 06, 2016
  • Doubling down in Rome
  • On the Supreme Court's Brexit case
  • When a refugee commits a murder
  • November 28, 2016
  • And now what Monsieur Fillion?
  • The inescapable logic of an interim agreement
  • On Germany's foreign policy post-Trump
  • How to lose against the populists
  • November 21, 2016
  • Merkel IV
  • Erdogan increasingly alienated from the West
  • EU may force a hard Brexit
  • The day after
  • November 14, 2016
  • The populists are winning
  • The Trump effect on the French Republican primaries
  • ND to target disenchanted Syriza voters
  • Debt repayment postponed to infinity
  • November 07, 2016
  • Why UK elections are becoming more likely
  • The EU's moral bankruptcy on Turkey
  • Merkel's presidential mess
  • The case for a No vote in Italy
  • November 03, 2016
  • The UK's High Court rules today
  • Merkel's Turkey nightmare
  • October 31, 2016
  • Will the quake help Renzi?
  • Is Montebourg an alternative to Hollande?
  • The trials of Geert Wilders
  • October 28, 2016
  • Netherlands about to sink EU-Ukraine association deal
  • What Brexit effect?
  • Syriza's contempt for the TV court ruling
  • When the French police mobilise via social media