We use cookies to help improve and maintain our site. More information.
close

December 14, 2016

Towards the next Italian referendum

One of the many complicating factors in Italian politics is the possibility of another important referendum next year - on Matteo Renzi’s Job Act, his only important economic reform. This included the abolition of Article 18 in the Italian constitution, which gave workers the right of non-dismissal. Francesco Verderami has a long article in Corriere della Sera this morning, in which he explains why Italy will go to the polls at some point between mid-April and mid-June next year, either for a new election, or for a referendum on the jobs act. The jobs act is an issue that could align Matteo Renzi’s opponents once again. 

The Italian Constitutional Court will have a bearing on both issues. It is due to rule on the electoral law in January. Verderami says the consensus view among parliamentarians is that the court would let the new law pass. This should then pave the way for a new electoral law to be approved quickly, in time for new elections in the spring. This seems to be his main scenario, if only because the PD wants to avoid another humiliating referendum defeat. The court has yet to rule whether the Article 18 abolition meets the test for being brought to a referendum. The government could weaken the labour law to circumvent the need for a referendum. The referendum would also be subject to minimum turnout rules, unlike the referendum on Dec 4 (which would have passed that threshold in any case). 

The prospect of new elections has created all sorts of strange bedfellows. Matteo Renzi and the Five Star Movement want new elections. Parts of the PD do not. Angelino Alfano, the new foreign minister, says there is no need to wait for the Constitutional Court to rule in January, and wants the government to draft a new electoral law right away. Verderami concludes that, since the Constitutional Court will rule on the electoral law before it rules on the Article 18 referendum, the least risky course of action for the PD would be to opt for early elections in the spring.

Show Comments Write a Comment

December 14, 2016

Austria blocks declaration on Turkey

We already flagged the story in an earlier briefing. Austria has indeed vetoed a common declaration by EU foreign ministers who wanted to signal that the EU will not extend the membership talks with Turkey. The Austrian foreign minister Sebastian Kurz cast his veto on the grounds that the declaration did not go far enough. He wanted a statement to end the accession process altogether, irking the Germans in particular which are desperate to keep Turkey on board because of the refugee agreement. Frank-Walter Steinmeier called his Austrian colleague irresponsible, and said that for him the only red line would be the introduction of the death penalty. In other words, humans rights violations by Turkey are not considered to be an obstacle to EU membership. We agree with Kurz on this issue. It is fundamentally dishonest to claim that Turkey has any prospect of EU membership at this time. Keeping this option alive raises false hopes.

Show Comments Write a Comment

December 14, 2016

How to avoid exposure and be popular

It has been only three weeks since the Republican primaries that rearranged all the knowns in the French presidential campaign. One François entered the race, another abstained. The number of candidates on the centre left multiplied - some known, some forgotten. Emmanuel and Jean-Luc play their solos. Marine portrays herself as presidential - call her Marine, forget the Le Pen.

After each primary comes the readjustment, to talk to all of the French and not just the right or the left. Francois Fillon made some changes to his health reform programme, and got criticised for it. This is the downside when campaigning early with a strong and detailed programme. Emmanuel Macron refuses to get bogged down with programme details. Marine Le Pen avoids too much exposure too, her full campaign starting only in February. It is a strange paradox, writes Cécile Cornudet: Politicians recognise that the French want something new and truthful, but at the same time decide to blur their speeches. This is also true for the candidates of the left, there are no concrete new ideas out there. 

Show Comments Write a Comment

December 14, 2016

Can Putin topple Merkel?

The big fear within the CDU is that Vladimir Putin could influence the German elections in the same way he influenced the US elections, through security breaches and the sponsoring of fake news, and thus topple Angela Merkel. Frankfurter Allgemeine devotes a large amount of its first two pages to this theory, and quotes that parliamentary director of the CDU group in the Bundestag as saying that Germany should prepare for major interference in next year’s elections. Merkel was, of course, instrumental in the EU policies on sanctions against Russia, and Putin’s life would be a lot easier with the so-called red-red-green coalition of the SPD, the Greens, and the Left Party. The CDU now wants to step up the counter-espionage activity of the German secret services, while the SPD thinks that the CDU is bordering on the paranoid. The talk about Russia reflects the CDU's fear that they might lose the elections, a senior SPD spokesman is quoted as saying.

FAZ produces some solid background on what is known so far. The key question is whether Russia was behind the hacker attack on the Bundestag in April 2015. The president of the federal office for IT security believes so. The article goes back to the published counter-espionage reports and finds that concerns about Russian activity have been gradually increasing. The strongest indication in favour of the theory was the publication of 2,400 documents from a Bundestag committee that investigated an espionage scandal as part of which the National Security Agency tapped the phone of German politicians, including Merkel. The Wikileaks papers only included documents on Bundestag computers before the hacker attack, and the documents corresponded in format to those of the committee computers. 

The security services tend to accept that there are doubts, stemming mostly from members of the committee itself. They believe that the most plausible explanation for the document leak is an old-fashioned mole. The documents would have easily fit on a single USB-stick. Altogether 50 people had access to them. 

Expect this story to run and run. It has the potential to make the German elections a lot more confrontational than they would otherwise be.

Show Comments Write a Comment

December 14, 2016

So much for Germany as world leader

Hans Kundnani does a thorough job debunking the notion that Germany could replace the US as "the leader of the free world". That notion was clearly an emotional response by angry liberals after the election of Donald Trump. But it does not stand up to closer scrutiny, which is what Kundnani provides. For starters, leadership, like what the US has provided, includes military responsibilities to defend other democracies. Germany is technically unable and politically unwilling to fulfil such responsibilities. He recalls a 2014 Nato exercise during which German soldiers had to paint wooden sticks black and attach them to their armoured vehicles, pretending these were real machine guns. In 2015, the German military budget was $36.7bn, compared with $597.5bn for the US. It is smaller in total size than that of France or the UK. In GDP terms, defence spending is a pitiful 1.3%. The recently announced programme to increase defence spending will merely end up maintaining existing capabilities without adding new ones. 

Kundnani also makes the point that soldiers carry a much lower social prestige in Germany than the US, which means that the Bundeswehr is struggling to recruit. The goal is now to increase the Bundeswehr by 7,000 (!) soldiers by 2023, and Kundnani writes that he does not believe they are going manage even this. 

What about economic power? Kundnani makes the point that given Germany's extreme reliance on exports, Germany is much more likely to become a source of vulnerability than a source of power.

And what about moral leadership? Can Angela Merkel provide at least that?

“Given her approach to the euro crisis, it’s not clear she deserves even that title — no shortage of Greeks, Spaniards, and Italians would dispute it. But even if she does preside over the free world as a figurehead, it shouldn’t be reassuring for anyone who worries about a resurgence of authoritarianism. Rather, it brings to mind Joseph Stalin’s famous question about the pope: “How many divisions has he got?”

Show Comments Write a Comment

This is the public section of the Eurointelligence Professional Briefing, which focuses on the geopolitical aspects of our news coverage. It appears daily at 2pm CET. The full briefing, which appears at 9am CET, is only available to subscribers. Please click here for a free trial, and here for the Eurointelligence home page.

 

Recent News

  • 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 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
  • July 28, 2017
  • German government bans Porsche Cayenne
  • More troubles for the AfD
  • Of course there will be a soft transitional period for the UK
  • 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 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
  • June 21, 2017
  • Why has the SPD deflated?
  • Berlusconi’s strategy
  • 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 01, 2017
  • On how to fix the eurozone
  • What happens if there is no Article 50 agreement?
  • 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 11, 2017
  • Germany rejects IMF’s policy recommendations before they are issued
  • Why Labour is losing
  • 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 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?
  • April 20, 2017
  • Don’t bet on Trump turning globalist
  • A note on UK election polls
  • 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 27, 2018
  • Irish transport prepares for Brexit scenarios
  • One last Dutch referendum
  • Is the CDU a conservative party?
  • 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
  • January 08, 2018
  • Getting real on Brexit
  • Macron in China
  • March 02, 2017
  • Juncker's scenarios for Europe
  • EU minimum wages are rising
  • No, the Lords didn’t stop Brexit
  • 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
  • November 15, 2017
  • A Christmas bonus for poor Greeks
  • Dim prospects of negotiated de-escalation on Catalonia
  • Macron's favourite to succeed Juncker - first round
  • On sovereignty
  • Gli Azzurri
  • February 03, 2017
  • The Schulz effect is getting huge
  • The post-Brexit boom goes on and on and on
  • A correction on Catalonia
  • 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 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
  • February 19, 2018
  • SPD divided over grand coalition
  • Wauquiez - the French Trump?
  • Why Brexit will be extremely hard to reverse
  • July 10, 2017
  • EU in self-destruction mode
  • The EU's fault lines
  • Fake News and Fake views
  • December 01, 2016
  • Will Italian expats swing the referendum result?
  • Why we keep on misreading the polls
  • Si vis pactum, para bellum
  • 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 20, 2018
  • Macron at home
  • EU has rejected all UK proposals on Northern Irish border
  • Could there be a Five Star-Forza Italia government?
  • October 19, 2017
  • Germany is softening up over Brexit
  • The French budget and the wealthy
  • Will Borut Pahor win re-election as Slovenian president?
  • April 20, 2017
  • Don’t bet on Trump turning globalist
  • A note on UK election polls
  • October 21, 2016
  • Wallonia says No for the third time
  • Do you remember that Dutch referendum on Ukraine?
  • How narratives are destroying the EU
  • 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 30, 2018
  • Will Puigdemont be Catalan premier today?
  • Some thoughts about the German car industry
  • A short note on Italian coalition maths
  • September 22, 2017
  • The last German polls
  • 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
  • April 12, 2018
  • The ineffective European Globalisation Adjustment Fund
  • Davis wants concrete language on future trading relationship
  • The name dispute of Alexander the Great's descendants
  • March 13, 2018
  • When events intrude: Novichok edition
  • Fico loses Kalinák, might lose himself
  • February 12, 2018
  • What the euro debate is really about
  • How Brexit can still falter
  • January 15, 2018
  • Is the section on Europe for real?
  • Can Drahos upset Zeman?
  • December 18, 2017
  • SPD regional party preemptively rejects grand coalition
  • Future of eurozone to be decided by March - we can hardly wait
  • November 21, 2017
  • A short note on the impact of German political chaos on Brexit
  • A scandal, overshadowed
  • October 27, 2017
  • What exactly happened in Catalonia yesterday?
  • Transactional versus strategic foreign policy
  • October 04, 2017
  • On why Theresa May is likely to survive
  • On how to resolve the Brexit talks
  • Social housing - not a good start for the French government
  • September 12, 2017
  • Brexit bill passes Commons
  • Macron to weather another political storm
  • Conservative PM re-elected in Norway
  • August 21, 2017
  • Soft, getting softer
  • Tsipras' chances of a boost
  • On the fallacy of a middle-ground option for the eurozone
  • July 17, 2017
  • What Tony Blair's Brexit confusion tells us
  • Schulz advocates compulsory investments
  • Italy’s government has effectively lost its majority
  • June 26, 2017
  • Brexit - the central case and the tail-risk
  • The German fear of Macron
  • June 08, 2017
  • Day 0
  • Macron and his overly enthusiastic minions
  • 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 05, 2017
  • Front National - thinking beyond Sunday
  • Tusk attacks Juncker over Brexit diplomacy
  • Extraordinarily ordinary
  • April 19, 2017
  • Shadows of money
  • Breppe Grillo vs Eurointelligence
  • April 03, 2017
  • On the meaning of the Navalny protests
  • On the surreal nature of Italy’s political debate
  • March 20, 2017
  • Does the language of communiques matter?
  • Spain snap election rumblings
  • Will there be a Brexit deal?
  • March 05, 2017
  • Poland vs Tusk
  • Juppé - a recovered candidate?
  • Will Italy leave the euro?
  • February 20, 2017
  • SPD ahead of CDU/CSU
  • Fillon bounces back
  • The Brexit timetable
  • February 10, 2017
  • Brexit realism
  • How not to attack the populists
  • On German hegemony
  • February 01, 2017
  • Do Republicans have a plan B if Fillon falls?
  • Unforgiven
  • January 24, 2017
  • The geopolitics of Trump
  • On the future of the eurozone
  • January 17, 2017
  • In denial
  • Northern Ireland's snap elections and Brexit
  • Watch out for the border tax adjustment
  • January 11, 2017
  • Macron's European agenda
  • Back to Nigel
  • Operation talking past each other
  • Brexit realpolitik
  • AfD says FN is too leftist for them
  • 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 22, 2016
  • Round up the usual suspects
  • A populist goes to Moscow
  • Macron ahead of Fillon?
  • Discombobulated
  • December 19, 2016
  • Inside the customs union, outside the single market
  • Back to the future in Italy
  • The lessons from Fillon's first gaffe
  • Montebourg - a bit of everything
  • The Maastricht error
  • If Paul Romer is right...
  • December 16, 2016
  • Brexit on the ground
  • The EU/Ukraine agreement and the Dutch senate
  • A short observation about the future of the EU
  • December 15, 2016
  • Scared of its own electorate
  • Towards a transitional deal
  • The comeback of Gerhard Schröder as the SPD's powerbroker