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March 31, 2017

Will the AfD implode?

We put the Schulz effect at about an extra 10pp for the SPD, which is now about level with the CDU/CSU. A large part of those votes comes from the AfD. The last two polls have that party at only 7%, just barely above the minimum needed to get into the Bundestag. Apart from Schulz, the other reason is the party’s internal division, which has broken out into the open. Divided parties don’t win elections. Divided protest parties die. This is what happened to the Pirate party, which in 2012 managed to get poll results of close to 10%, but collapsed shortly thereafter.

There is another important parallel. The AfD chairwoman, Frauke Petry, said an interview with Tagespiegel that she could envisage life outside politics. A few days earlier she broke down in tears during a regional party congress in Saxony, when she was viciously attacked by some of the party’s right-wingers. It is hard to imagine that there is a lot of space to the right, but apparently large sections of the party are in that camp - including an increasing number of officials on the far-right.

Frankfurter Allgemeine observes that the AfD’s leadership does not seem to care much about Petry’s threat. There are two interpretations. She is either pre-announcing her retirement, or she is trying to blackmail the party into giving her even more power. Gerhard Schröder ran the SPD on that basis. The difference is that the AfD is a rather different party.

The decline of the Pirates was already triggered by the departure of a popular politician, a young woman who decided she'd had enough and went to university instead. The same could happen to the AfD without Petry. These leaders are media phenomena. After the resignation of Bernd Lucke, Petry is the only other candidate with effective communication skills. This is a potentially important development. If the AfD implodes before the elections, Germany is back to a five-party Bundestag - CDU/CSU, SPD, FDP, Left Party, and the Greens. It would become a lot easier for Schulz to form a red-red-green coalition if the AfD were not represented.

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March 31, 2017

The parliament vs Dijsselbloem

The confrontation between the European parliament and Jeroen Dijsselbloem over his liquor-and-women remark continues to escalate, and it makes us wonder whether his position as eurogroup chair could not become untenable soon. The latest incident concerns Dijsselbloem decision to excuse himself from a debate on the Greek programme review next Tuesday at the Strasbourg plenary. Dijsselbloem's office use a full agenda as an excuse, as the Parliament gave him too little notice. Dijsselbloem responded to a letter from Antonio Tajani with a proposal to postpone his appearance before the plenary until after the Greek programme review is concluded - and who knows when that will be?

El País calls the situation a sort of ambush. According to Volkskrant the parliament has been trying to schedule a plenary session on the Greek review since the start of the year, while Dijsselbloem continued his regular appearances at the economic and monetary affairs committee. El Mundo describes how Tajani manoeuvered to expose Dijsselbloem by sending him an actual letter inviting him to next week's plenary. This forced Dijsselboem to excuse himself if he wanted to avoid a hostile reception, after more than 70 MEPs signed a letter demanding his resignation. These were mostly EPP members, including the group chair Manfred Weber. It is no secret that the Spanish PP has been particularly active on this, though Luis de Guindos has denied that he wants Dijsselbloem's job any longer. In any case, the conventional wisdom is that, due to the under-representation of the social democrats among top EU jobs, Dijsselbloem's replacement should be another social democrat, possibly the Slovak Peter Kazimir who has a suitably hawkish reputation.

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  • 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 04, 2019
  • What will the European Parliament do?
  • February 21, 2019
  • Sound and fury, but Brexit reality unchanged
  • Supertanker Deutschland moves to join internet age
  • October 12, 2018
  • A deal so close, and yet so far
  • AfD leaves Germans speachless and helpless
  • June 04, 2018
  • German discourse out of control
  • Wait for European disunity on US tariffs
  • January 24, 2018
  • AfD europhobe to chair of Bundestag's budget committee
  • Watch out for the Labour Party debate on the single market
  • On the productivity puzzle
  • September 18, 2017
  • Why Germany cannot lead Europe, let alone the free world
  • Will Macron help to build up Mélenchon?
  • Boris' Coup
  • May 12, 2017
  • What to do with Germany’s tax windfall
  • How Macron counts on building a majority
  • Options for the eurozone
  • 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 07, 2019
  • What did Conte know?
  • August 27, 2019
  • Remain’s narrowing pathway
  • Macron's diplomatic masterstroke
  • July 09, 2019
  • What the UK polls are telling us - and what not
  • May 31, 2019
  • Salvini’s frightening strength
  • The significance of Corbyn’s latest flipflop on the referendum
  • April 24, 2019
  • May's final and biggest gamble
  • Will the EP be Brexit's great parliamentary beneficiary?
  • Can Loiseau fight the far right given her past?
  • March 18, 2019
  • May's deal still on the table. Don't rule it out.
  • EPP decision on Fidesz still open
  • On the defeat of liberalism
  • February 08, 2019
  • Macron turns stand-off with Italy into a game changer
  • Is there a strategic intent behind Macron's decision?
  • January 04, 2019
  • Will the AfD become the Dexit party?
  • Romania's corruption problem in the spotlight of its EU presidency
  • November 26, 2018
  • Two German plus two Dutch makes four spitzenkandidaten
  • Yellow vest protests - radicalisation and new political alliances
  • October 22, 2018
  • A week of intense political tension in the UK
  • Poland's local elections reveal deeply-split country
  • September 19, 2018
  • Attacks weaken legitimacy of spitzenkandidat model
  • A very German farce
  • 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 09, 2018
  • German panic about Target2
  • AfD level with SPD
  • How the EU could fail
  • 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 14, 2018
  • Catalonia: plus ça change...
  • Conveney says no to Brexit with border infrastructure
  • Why the noble Lords don't really matter
  • 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?
  • March 19, 2018
  • Waiting for Germany
  • Russia’s friends
  • Can the Commons force an extension of the Art 50 period?
  • February 22, 2018
  • Northern Ireland needs a structured dialogue
  • Something odd about the Italian discourse on Europe
  • January 29, 2018
  • Where is the opposition in France?
  • Scenarios and risks for Syriza over Macedonia
  • January 05, 2018
  • Catalonia's government by Skype
  • The case for EEA membership
  • December 11, 2017
  • A new era for the French right
  • Growing scepticism of a grand coalition
  • November 20, 2017
  • Showdown over Northern Ireland
  • Castaner and his list confirmed
  • Gennimata to lead the new left alliance
  • Brexit‘s ultimate irony
  • October 31, 2017
  • Puigdemont's flight of fancy
  • Hopeless but not serious
  • Serious but not hopeless
  • October 13, 2017
  • Why Austria’s vote matters
  • What a Paris diesel ban would mean for Europe's car industry
  • A Dutch referendum on the Dutch referendum?
  • September 25, 2017
  • Where does this leave eurozone governance reform?
  • Is Mélenchon losing his momentum?
  • Lost in Florence
  • September 06, 2017
  • On the failure of global policy coordination
  • The day Catalonia disobeyed?
  • Waiting for Varadkar
  • August 21, 2017
  • Soft, getting softer
  • Tsipras' chances of a boost
  • On the fallacy of a middle-ground option for the eurozone
  • July 24, 2017
  • Macron's popularity falls amid more budget cuts
  • Orbán to support Polish government against EU
  • No exit from Brexit
  • July 10, 2017
  • EU in self-destruction mode
  • The EU's fault lines
  • Fake News and Fake views
  • June 26, 2017
  • Brexit - the central case and the tail-risk
  • The German fear of Macron
  • June 12, 2017
  • Not strong perhaps, but stable
  • Catalan independence, a mental state
  • May 30, 2017
  • Beer tent politics - Merkel edition
  • Brexit arrives in UK elections
  • Rajoy clears budget hurdle
  • May 19, 2017
  • The EU is shocked, shocked by the UK’s stance on Brexit
  • Macron and the press
  • Towards a Buy European act?
  • May 10, 2017
  • PSOE primary campaign in full swing
  • Czech government crisis escalates
  • Backroom dealing on electoral reform in Italy
  • May 02, 2017
  • An accident waiting to happen
  • Matteo Renzi wins PD primaries
  • So much for the Schulz effect
  • April 25, 2017
  • Germans conflicted about Macron
  • A choice over Europe
  • Who can stop the Tories?
  • April 19, 2017
  • Shadows of money
  • Breppe Grillo vs Eurointelligence
  • April 13, 2017
  • Did Russia influence the Brexit vote?
  • All good between Germany and the US now?
  • April 10, 2017
  • Nein, nein, nein, und nein
  • Sounds like a bad Brexit story, but ain’t
  • On how not to exit the euro
  • April 05, 2017
  • What if Macron were to become president?
  • The case for relative optimism about Article 50
  • April 03, 2017
  • On the meaning of the Navalny protests
  • On the surreal nature of Italy’s political debate