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June 09, 2017

How about the Italian elections...

There was an accident in the Italian parliament that has now thrown open the entire effort to agree an electoral law and hold early elections. The Five Star Movement got one of its amendments to the electoral law through the chamber, an act to which the PD reacted furiously effectively pulling out of the four-party agreement that would have given Italy a German-style proportional system, and the German election date of September 24. Both are now in doubt, as the electoral law returns to the drawing board. Corriere quotes sources close to President Sergio Matterella that he is seriously concerned. The article says the strategy would now be to recover what is left from the law, and seek a wider political consensus to include parties that previously opposed it, including foreign minister Angelino Alfano’s Alternativa Popolare, the right-wing party Fratelli d’Italia, or the left-wing rebels who have deserted the PD. Silvio Berlusconi has called on the PD to resume negotiations with the Five Star Movement to rescue the proposed electoral law. If this fails, there are still six months to fix the law, but the idea of early election is then out of the question.

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June 09, 2017

...and the French?

The next elections are in France, with the first round in three days. If the polls are getting it right, Emmanuel Macron will win an overwhelming majority with between 360 and 400 seats. Transported by a wave of optimism to victory, Macron and his government will have to prove that they have the stamina to deliver on their promises. The Republican party is set to come out as the second largest party, far behind their ambitions. Macron's success and choice of prime minister lures many among them to join or support the government constructively, and could threatens to split the party in the aftermath of this election.

What about the Front National? They definitely are not in the position to become the opposition party against Emmanuel Macron. Discombobulated as they are, their aim is to increase the number of MPs from 2 to at least 15. They go up to 18 according to the more optimistic scenarios, but could also fall flat and go as low as 8 seats. Fifteen MPs would allow the FN to form a parliamentary group giving Marine Le Pen visibility and funds. But this target depends on uncertain factors. Their performance will benefit from triangular outcomes in the first round, with at least three parties qualifying for the second round by getting more than 12.5% of the votes. This is more likely, the more voters turn up to vote on Sunday. There is also a geographical divide. They are likely to score well in districts where Marine Le Pen got more than 50% of the votes in the second round of the presidential elections, writes l’Opinion. According to this criterion, the North is much more certain than the south, where Marion Marechal-Le Pen had a strong presence. Because she left politics, the future of FN candidates there is much less assured. The FN is thus faced with the possibility of suffering a defeat relative to the European elections in 2014, when the FN came first and got 23 MEPs elected. And, with that, the future of Marine Le Pen is more likely to be questioned. 

What will happen to the Socialists? In 2012, the party got an absolute majority with more than 290 deputies. Today, they might only get 15 according to the most pessimistic scenario. In the optimistic scenario they may get 50, so the polls. What about the remaining 275 or 240? And what about the party’s infrastructure, the grass roots the party used to rely on? Will the memory in these backbone institutions simply be lost or fade from the political scene? What about finances? Will they be able to repay their campaign expenses? Will this massive reduction push the party into debt? Could they be overtaken as the main opposition party on the left by La France Insoumise of Jean-Luc Mélenchon? 

François Bayrou’s MoDem party, meanwhile, faces accusations about fake employment contracts. These are part of a wider inquiry and are not expected to matter in the short term, but they might complicate things for the junior partner of LREM in the medium term. A former assistant made his deposition in the courts, showing that he was partially paid by the European parliament though he never worked for the MEP Jean-Luc Bennahmias, who signed his contract, according to Le Parisien. France Info says that, between 2009 and 2014, about ten employees at the party’s headquarters were officially working for MEPs in Brussels. Since March the judiciary in Paris opened a preliminary enquiry looking into employment practices of about 20 MEPs from different parties to find evidence that their financial endowments from Brussels was used to lighten the financial burden of the parties at national level. Already in 2014 Corinne Lepage, former MoDem MEP, wrote in her book that it was established practice that MEPs were to pay for national assistants, a request from Paris she refused to follow.

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  • January 05, 2018
  • Catalonia's government by Skype
  • The case for EEA membership
  • December 04, 2017
  • Can Brexit still be stopped?
  • Could Poland open up the Posted Workers Directive again?
  • Has the Bank of England solved the productivity puzzle?
  • November 17, 2017
  • Germany's climate change hypocrisy
  • Canada minus the plus
  • November 01, 2017
  • Brussels receives Catalan president as a circus
  • Canada Dry
  • Me too
  • October 17, 2017
  • Catalan separatism has its martyrs
  • European Parliament agrees to restrict posted workers
  • Foreign policy will be key in Austrian coalition talks
  • October 02, 2017
  • 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
  • September 18, 2017
  • Why Germany cannot lead Europe, let alone the free world
  • Will Macron help to build up Mélenchon?
  • Boris' Coup
  • September 04, 2017
  • Dutch referendum: never again?
  • Why trade unions stay quiet on French labour reform
  • August 21, 2017
  • Soft, getting softer
  • Tsipras' chances of a boost
  • On the fallacy of a middle-ground option for the eurozone
  • August 04, 2017
  • What the diesel saga tells us about the EU
  • July 26, 2017
  • Has Schulz blown it?
  • Housing benefits cuts expose Macron's weakness
  • July 17, 2017
  • What Tony Blair's Brexit confusion tells us
  • Schulz advocates compulsory investments
  • Italy’s government has effectively lost its majority
  • July 10, 2017
  • EU in self-destruction mode
  • The EU's fault lines
  • Fake News and Fake views
  • July 03, 2017
  • Can Greece exit its programme without a credit line?
  • The softening Brexit
  • Macron's state of the nation address
  • June 26, 2017
  • Brexit - the central case and the tail-risk
  • The German fear of Macron
  • June 20, 2017
  • How to soften Brexit?
  • The deep roots of Brexit: Thatcher and the Germans
  • June 16, 2017
  • The emerging Brexit consensus
  • On the economics of supply chains
  • June 14, 2017
  • Minority governments can be stronger and more stable than you think
  • The anti-Corbyn
  • Watch out for Berlusconi
  • June 12, 2017
  • Not strong perhaps, but stable
  • Catalan independence, a mental state