Saturday will mark the beginning of an historic turning point for European politics as 1,001 voting members of Germany's Christian Democratic Union, the party of Chancellor Angela Merkel, hold an online conference to elect a new leader.
Here are the basic facts:
<ul class="ee-ul"><li>The candidates are <strong>Friedrich Merz</strong>, a business-friendly candidate of the center right, <strong>Armin Laschet</strong>, governor of Germany's largest state, and <strong>Norbert Röttgen</strong>, the current chairman of parliament's foreign affairs committee. </li><li>Any of these three could win. Merz has pledged to lead the CDU "out from the shadow of Angela Merkel" by leading the party toward the center right. The other two contenders have offered themselves as centrists and consensus <a href="https://think.ing.com/articles/germany-guick-guide-to-this-weeks-cdu-leadership-vote/" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank">builders</a>.</li><li>The winner will enter negotiations with the CDU's sister party, the Bavaria-only Christian Social Union and its popular <a href="https://www.web24.news/u/2020/06/spiegel-poll-on-black-green-coalition-and-candidate-for-chancellor.html" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank">leader</a>, Markus Söder, to choose a CDU-CSU unity candidate for September's national election. That choice will be made in late March or early April. </li><li>Watch the popularity ratings of this weekend's winner over the next few weeks. Those numbers will likely determine whether the new CDU leader or the CSU's Söder will be chosen as the union's candidate for chancellery. </li><li>That CDU-CSU unity candidate is highly likely to replace Merkel as Germany's chancellor in September, possibly in coalition with the Green party.</li></ul><p><strong>Europe will be watching all this closely,</strong> because Merkel's September exit will mark a crucial turning point for the European Union. Over the past 15 years, <a href="https://www.gzeromedia.com/is-angela-merkel-staging-a-comeback" target="_self">Merkel's ability</a> to use Germany's unrivalled political and economic muscle and her own powers of persuasion have helped Europe navigate: </p><ul class="ee-ul"><li>The <a href="https://www.npr.org/2011/12/08/143292255/can-angela-merkel-save-europe" target="_blank">sovereign debt crisis </a>that followed the 2008-2009 global financial market meltdown</li><li>The migrant crisis that followed Syria's civil war</li><li>Increasingly troubled relations dividing Europe's North from South, and East from West</li><li>Ever more complex relationships with the United States and China</li><li>The process of moving beyond Brexit to build a new relationship with the UK</li><li>The <a href="https://www.cnn.com/2020/05/07/europe/angela-merkel-coronavirus-legacy-grm-intl/index.html" target="_blank">response </a>to the global pandemic</li></ul><p>She certainly hasn't done all that alone. But as leader of the EUs most influential member, and by virtue of her experience and of international respect for her judgment and ability, she has proven indispensable for the EU's ability to absorb an extraordinary series of shocks. </p><p><strong>Europe faces new challenges in 2021.</strong> The enormous <a href="https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2020-09-17/eu-unveils-conditions-for-gigantic-recovery-fund-disbursements" target="_blank">economic recovery fund</a> for EU members must be successfully rolled out. In a COVID world, there must be wisely crafted new rules for how much EU member states will tax and spend. </p><p>There's work to do with US President-elect Joe Biden to bolster transatlantic relations. The EU parliament will <a href="https://www.euronews.com/2020/12/30/eu-and-china-set-to-sign-historic-investment-deal-but-could-human-rights-concerns-scupper-" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank">consider </a>an historic and controversial investment deal with China. There are potential crises with Turkey to <a href="https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2020/12/11/europes-stance-on-turkey-toughens-with-sanctions-weapons-talk" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank">manage</a> and complex relations with Russia to consider. </p><p>French President Emmanuel Macron will now move to center stage, but there are factors that will limit his ability to fill the vacuum left behind by Merkel. </p><p>First, given Germany's economic and political clout, Macron will need a capable and willing German partner, and for most of this year, Merkel will remain in place with reduced influence. It will take time for Germany's new leader to establish himself. </p><p>Second, just as Merkel departs in September, Macron must look to his own campaign for re-election next year. France has <a href="https://www.gzeromedia.com/the-road-ahead-for-macron-is-only-getting-rougher" target="_self">plenty </a>of health, economic, and security challenges to keep him busy. </p><strong>Bottom line:</strong> Saturday will open a new chapter in Europe's history — the post-Merkel EU. We'll learn more about what that means for Germany soon enough. Its meaning for Europe — and its ability to weather the next unexpected storm — will take much longer.
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January 15, 2021
They call it Einstein. It's the multibillion-dollar digital defense system the US has used to catch outside hackers and attackers since 2003. But it was no match for what's looking like one of the biggest cyber breaches in US history. Ian Bremmer breaks it down.
Watch the GZERO World episode: Cyber attack: an act of espionage or war?
January 14, 2021
Since Martin Luther King Jr delivered his iconic "I have a dream" speech in August 1963, the number of Black Americans elected to the United States Congress has dramatically increased. Still, it wasn't until 2019, more than half a century later, that the share of Black members serving in the House of Representatives reflected the percentage of Black Americans in the broader population —12 percent. To date, only six states have sent a Black representative to serve in the US Senate (recent runoff elections will make Georgia the seventh state), and many states have never elected a Black representative to either house of Congress. Here's a look at Black representation in every US Congress since 1963.
More than 32 million COVID shots have now been administered globally, raising hopes that the light at the end of the tunnel is now in sight.
The US has vaccinated 3 percent of its total population, while the UK is nearing a solid 5 percent inoculation rate. In Israel, which has been hailed as a vaccine success story, almost 24 percent of people have already received at least one dose of a COVID vaccine.
But while many countries are able to glimpse the outlines of a post-COVID world, there is a huge population of people who are being left out entirely. Refugees, as well as displaced, undocumented, and stateless people around the world remain ineligible for inoculations and vulnerable to the coronavirus.
We take a look at three case studies where powerless populations are being left in the lurch.
<p><strong>Colombia's Venezuelan migrant dilemma.</strong> The dire economic and political crises under the Maduro regime in Venezuela have plunged 65 percent of households into<a href="https://www.reuters.com/article/venezuela-poverty/venezuela-poverty-rate-surges-amid-economic-collapse-inflation-study-idUSL1N2EE1MG" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank"> poverty</a> and caused widespread food and medicine shortages. As a result, 1.7 million desperate Venezuelans have spilled over into neighboring Colombia, putting a massive strain on Colombia's already weak public infrastructure.</p><p>Now Colombian President<a href="https://www.gzeromedia.com/unga/videos/colombia-president-ivan-duque-on-early-pandemic-response-multilateralism-didnt-work-as-it-should" target="_self"> Ivan Duque</a> says that those who don't have formal migration status will not have access to Colombia's vaccine stash, meaning that around 935,000 Venezuelan refugees will be <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/global-development/2020/dec/22/colombia-coronavirus-vaccine-migrants-venezuela-ivan-duque" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank">ineligible </a>for the shot. Duque claims the policy is aimed at prioritizing the wellbeing of Colombians first amid a <a href="https://ourworldindata.org/coronavirus/country/colombia?country=~COL" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank">surging</a> outbreak, and avoiding a rush on the border as more Venezuelans clamor to get the vaccine. But <a href="https://twitter.com/agaviriau/status/1341042581224996864" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank">public health experts say </a>that the move isn't just a humanitarian failure, it's also an epidemiological one that will hamper Colombia's efforts to root out the disease, because a successful vaccine drive should be as broad as possible.</p><p><strong>Israel shirks responsibility to Palestinians.</strong> Israel has been broadly praised for its ambitious vaccine drive, now <a href="https://ourworldindata.org/grapher/covid-vaccination-doses-per-capita?tab=chart&stackMode=absolute&time=latest®ion=World" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank">leading the world</a> in COVID vaccinations per capita by a long shot. At this rate, the government aims to vaccinate the entire population of 9 million by the end of March, a remarkable feat as vaccine rollouts remain sluggish across North America and Europe.</p><p>But Israel's vaccine drive <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2021/01/06/world/middleeast/israel-coronavirus-vaccine-palestinians.html" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank">excludes</a> millions of Palestinians living in the occupied West Bank, as well as the Gaza Strip (though the Strip is run by the Islamist Hamas militant group and not the internationally-recognized Palestinian Authority).</p><p>Israeli officials say that Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas has not reached out for assistance with vaccine procurement, an odd justification for inaction during a once-in-a-generation global crisis. They also argue that under the terms of the Oslo Accords, the de-facto law of the land, the Palestinian Authority oversees healthcare for its people. (Arab citizens of Israel are in fact being vaccinated.)</p><p>But application of international law here is <a href="https://twitter.com/AnshelPfeffer/status/1346439174275141632" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank">murky</a>: while the Oslo Accords gave the Palestinian Authority responsibility in the West Bank and Gaza, the Fourth Geneva Convention states that an occupying power (Israel) has a clear responsibility to assist those living under its occupation (the Palestinians). Under Israel's current vaccine scheme, millions of Palestinians in the West Bank, many of whom work in Israeli cities, are being left behind.</p><p><strong>Undocumented migrants abandoned in the US.</strong> Nebraska's Republican Governor Pete Ricketts recently sparked a firestorm when he said undocumented immigrants would be <a href="https://www.washingtonpost.com/nation/2021/01/06/nebraska-covid-vaccine-immigrants-meatpacking/" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank">ineligible</a> for COVID vaccines in his state. Ricketts doubled down even when critics pointed out that 11 percent of Nebraska's meat processing <a href="https://www.migrationpolicy.org/content/essential-role-immigrants-us-food-supply-chain" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank">workers</a>, who have been<a href="https://omaha.com/state-and-regional/meatpacking-workers-account-for-one-in-six-coronavirus-cases-nebraskas-total-cases-top-7-000/article_92b9c056-a8fc-5f8b-84eb-15404939b6ba.html" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank"> pummeled</a> by COVID-19, are undocumented.</p><p>Similar conversations have played out in New York state, home to at least 750,000 <a href="https://www.pewresearch.org/hispanic/interactives/u-s-unauthorized-immigrants-by-state/" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank">undocumented migrants</a> (likely an undercount) who are disproportionately represented in essential jobs. The federal government recently <a href="https://spectrumlocalnews.com/nys/central-ny/ny-state-of-politics/2020/12/10/feds-will-no-longer-seek-personal-data-for-covid-vaccine" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank">reneged</a> on a requirement mandating that states report the personal details of all vaccine recipients, information that could then be passed on to US Immigration and Customs Enforcement. However, after the government flip-flop, it's unclear whether undocumented New Yorkers — who <a href="https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2020/12/19/covid-19-vaccine-undocumented-immigrants-fear-getting-dose/3941484001/" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank">fear </a>arrest and deportation — will now feel safe to show up for the jab.</p><p><strong>Not enough vaccines. </strong>Leaving behind the most vulnerable populations both within their own countries' borders and in adopted ones, is not only morally questionable, it is bad public health policy as the world strives to get to COVID zero. But there is a very basic constraint here for all the politicians involved: there are fewer vaccines than people, and no elected leader could agree to vaccinate non-citizens before citizens, could they?</p>
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