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May 03, 2018

Finland's take on universal income

Introducing a universal basic income (UBI) has been one of the big promises of Five Star in Italy. Finland, which experimented with a trial version of a UBI, has now decided against it. Petteri Orpo, the finance minister, told the FT that he was not a fan of the universal income anyway, but was open to the results of the trial. Orpo is the leader of the centre-right National Coalition party, which is leading the polls for next year's parliamentary elections. If he were to win the next elections, UBI would probably not get another chance.

In the trial, selected unemployed people were given €560 per month without any conditions on what they needed to do to get the money. This version of UBI was widely criticised as poorly designed and costly to implement, though participants reported that it reduced the stress of dealing with the administration. Finland is also using activation policies, that is monetary incentives for the unemployed to work, similarly to Denmark though in a softer version. It seems that Orpo is much more a fan of the latter type of policies, though it is not clear whether they really lead people to pick up work since half of the unemployed took the hit on unemployment benefits instead.

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May 03, 2018

The lessons from Weimar

Harold James has a brilliant essay in which he explains the relevance of the rise of Nazism for today’s political situation. 

Here is a subset of his ten lessons:

  • Referendums are dangerous;
  • dissolving parliaments prematurely is a bad idea;
  • constitutions don’t necessarily protect the system;
  • populists don’t usually have overall majorities - the Nazis never got more than 37%;
  • incumbents can survive by buying off the voters for some time.

We note especially in the Italian context a propensity by centrists to place too much emphasis on the Italian constitution, and on the ability of the political centre to fix the system. This is where James' historical comparison becomes relevant. The last election produced a populist majority in the Italian parliament. The president can appoint the most orthodox technocrat as finance minister, but this does not change the fact that there is no majority in the Italian parliament in favour of an EU-compliant budget. It is possible that Five Star will moderate its position, but only if bound into a stable government with the PD. All other options will invariably lead to more radicalism. In a government with the Lega, Five Star cannot act as the centrist party because it would lose its core support. Under any grand coalition/technical government scenario, Five Star would necessarily radicalise in preparation for new elections. And remember what James writes about new elections.

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  • Marion Maréchal keeps dream of political comeback alive
  • August 27, 2019
  • Remain’s narrowing pathway
  • Macron's diplomatic masterstroke
  • July 24, 2019
  • Johnson has more options than you think
  • A Franco-German initiative to redistribute migrants
  • June 26, 2019
  • How would the EU react to Do-or-Die?
  • Merkel Procrastinates? Surely not.
  • May 30, 2019
  • US threatens Instex
  • Alliance - surfing on the Remain vote in Northern Ireland
  • May 03, 2019
  • The pro-Brexit message from the local elections
  • Putin's silk road
  • April 08, 2019
  • Welcome to the new Brexit grand coalition
  • Waiting for Macron's next move
  • March 14, 2019
  • A very meaningless vote
  • February 19, 2019
  • Neither seven dwarfs, nor the magnificent seven. Merely a sad day for Labour
  • Will Costa last through the stand-off with the unions?
  • January 28, 2019
  • Battle of the amendments
  • How the Prespes deal affects the next Greek elections
  • January 04, 2019
  • Will the AfD become the Dexit party?
  • Romania's corruption problem in the spotlight of its EU presidency
  • December 03, 2018
  • French protests coming to a head this week
  • The Galileo fiasco, an ill omen for the future UK-EU relationship
  • November 12, 2018
  • Does Macron really believe in his own 2019 battle plan?
  • A throwaway commentary about a throwaway comment
  • October 23, 2018
  • May hardens position on Irish backstop under pressure from cabinet
  • Greek pension cuts - a classic European dilemma
  • October 05, 2018
  • What to make of the Anglo-Irish approximation on the backstop?
  • Macron's launches charm offensive but gives offence nevertheless
  • Moscovici all but breaks with his socialist party
  • September 19, 2018
  • Attacks weaken legitimacy of spitzenkandidat model
  • A very German farce
  • September 03, 2018
  • Is the AfD an extremist party? Of course it is. Why do you ask?
  • 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 30, 2018
  • Brexit midsummer madness
  • July 17, 2018
  • Forget the idea of an anti-Trump alliance between the EU and China
  • Towards a new social contract in France?
  • July 06, 2018
  • US ambassador in Berlin and German car chiefs in direct trade talks
  • The bygone age of the motor car
  • June 25, 2018
  • Trump's car tariff to come early
  • On the lack of a sharp focus in the eurozone debate
  • June 14, 2018
  • A Labour rebellion, really?
  • June 06, 2018
  • Putin's new European strategy
  • May 30, 2018
  • Italian pro-Europeans repeat UK Remainers' error
  • Commission shakes up structural funds
  • Democracy lessons from the Irish referendum
  • May 23, 2018
  • Mattarella’s limited options
  • May 18, 2018
  • Ciudadanos pressures Rajoy on Catalonia
  • The EU's bluff on Iran sanctions
  • What the Brexit deal will look like
  • May 14, 2018
  • Catalonia: plus ça change...
  • Conveney says no to Brexit with border infrastructure
  • Why the noble Lords don't really matter
  • May 10, 2018
  • Time for some clear thinking on Trump and Iran
  • Will Corbyn accept the EEA? Brexiteers can relax. He won't.
  • What next for the DUP?
  • 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
  • May 04, 2018
  • On the madness of Germany's investment cuts
  • Has Macron given up on eurozone reform?
  • May 03, 2018
  • Finland's take on universal income
  • The lessons from Weimar