EU Elections: Turning a New Leaf

EU Elections: Turning a New Leaf

The results of the EU's parliamentary elections are in, but the work of parsing the 28-member bloc's most important election in decades has only just begun. Here are a couple of themes that emerged from the vote:


The center continues to collapse. The two big party blocs that have dominated the parliament – the center-right European People's Party and the center-left Socialists & Democrats – lost about a hundred seats between them. For the first time since direct elections began in 1979, they can no longer form a majority by banding together. They are now looking for coalition partners among smaller parties.

The former fringe has gone mainstream. While traditional centrist parties took it on the chin across the continent, Euro-skeptic populist and nationalist parties led by Italy's Lega and France's National Rally, the top vote-getters in their countries, surged to grab just under a quarter of seats.

But at the same time, the left-environmentalist Green Party also made strong gains, particularly in Germany. If the traditional blocs tap the Greens for a coalition, it could drag the EU's politics further left on some issues, like the environment, even as right-wing politics gains support.

Europeans aren't sleepwalking. More than half of eligible European voters turned out to vote – the strongest showing since 1994. What's more, this is the first time in the history of these elections that turnout increased from one election to the next. That suggests European voters aren't sleepwalking their way into a political realignment, they are actively running towards it.

What to watch next at the national level

In France, President Emmanuel Macron's centrist Republique En Marche, one of Europe's newest parties, came in second to Marine Le Pen's right-wing National Rally party, with 22 percent of the vote vs National Rally's 23 percent. While that's a setback for Macron domestically, it's far from a rout. And the increase in support for alternative parties at the EU level, including the Macron-aligned Alliance of Liberals and Democrats, could give the French president new influence in Brussels.

In Italy, Matteo Salvini's right-wing Lega party trounced his coalition partners, the 5-Star Movement. That's in line with Lega's broader ascent in Italy over the past year. The big question now is whether Salvini will call a snap election to capitalize on his growing momentum and rid himself of the need for a coalition with the discombobulated 5-Star altogether.

In the UK, does the victory of Nigel Farage's Brexit party heighten the chance that the Tories tap a Brexiteer like Boris Johnson as party head and prime minister? If so the risk of the UK careening out of the EU without an agreement on future economic relations would increase. If that happens, the EU, and especially the UK, could be in for major economic pain.

What happens next at the EU level: EU heads of state will meet in coming days to discuss the choice of next president of the European Commission – the executive body that drives EU policy. With no clear governing coalition yet to emerge, the debate is likely to be contentious – indeed, there are already signs of a split between Germany and France over their preferred candidates. Parliament will get its first chance to vote on a new Commission president on July 11. By then, we should have a clearer idea of whether the EU's fractured Europhile majority can hang together against an emboldened populist and nationalist right wing.

Advancing global money movement for everyone, everywhere

https://ad.doubleclick.net/ddm/trackimp/N6024.4218512GZEROMEDIA/B26379324.311531246;dc_trk_aid=504469522;dc_trk_cid=156468981;ord=[timestamp];dc_lat=;dc_rdid=;tag_for_child_directed_treatment=;tfua=;gdpr=${GDPR};gdpr_consent=${GDPR_CONSENT_755};ltd=?

Even with innovations in fintech and digital payments, roadblocks related to basic infrastructure like electricity and internet connectivity still prevent many migrant workers from being able to transfer money to their families back home with a truly digital end-to-end flow. While more workers can send money digitally today, the majority of people still receive funds in cash. Read more about why public-private partnerships are key to advancing the future of global money movement and why it matters from experts at the Visa Economic Empowerment Institute.

The European Union is, for better or worse, the most ambitious experiment in human history in institutionalized multinational cooperation. Its success depends on the willingness of its members to abide by its rules.

In recent years, the populist-nationalist governments of former Communist bloc members Hungary and Poland have flouted some of those rules in order to boost their own popularity with citizens suspicious of the EU's liberal values on issues like immigration and minority rights. In response, the EU has scolded these "illiberal" governments and threatened forceful action – so far without much effect.

The fight between EU institutions and Poland and Hungary has escalated.

More Show less

Some of the worst sectarian clashes since Lebanon's 15-year civil war (1975-1990) broke out in Beirut this week between supporters of Hezbollah and Amal, both Shiite political parties, and Christian, far-right Lebanese Forces. Shiite protesters were rallying against the state probe into the Beirut port blast, which occurred last year. They say authorities were singling out Shiite politicians for questioning and blame. Below is our original piece on the Beirut port explosions published on August 5, 2020.


The twin explosions at Beirut's port on Tuesday were so powerful that the aftershocks reverberated as far as the Eastern Mediterranean island of Cyprus, 150 miles away. The specter of fire and smoke was such that many suggested on social media that Beirut had experienced a nuclear blast.

In the days ahead, more details will come to light about why a deadly cache of materials was haphazardly stashed at a port warehouse, and why Lebanon's government failed to secure the site. So, what comes next for crisis-ridden Lebanon?

More Show less

Jon Lieber, head of Eurasia Group's coverage of political and policy developments in Washington, shares insights on US politics:

What does it actually mean to cut $1 trillion from the Democrats' $3.5 trillion social spending bill?

President Biden has proposed one of the most ambitious expansions of federal spending in recent memory. If he gets everything he wants, it would probably be the largest expansion of government since the Great Society, but he's not going to get everything he wants. Democrats have basically said they cannot do all $3.5 trillion in spending. They're probably going to end up around $2 trillion. So what gets cut? Well, we don't know yet. There's kind of two ways to go about this. They could either cut the number of programs that have been proposed, doing fewer things with more money on a permanent basis, or they could try to do more things, each program getting less money and potentially doing them on a temporary basis. So, a future Congress would have to extend it. What does this mean for you? Well, a lot of the money in here is designed to go directly to families, either in the form of cash payments, through the tax code, the Child Tax Credit and the Earned Income Tax Credit, or subsidies for things like child care, early childhood education, and community college. And if you cut these things back, it means less money is going to go out the door to the American people. It also means less tax increases to finance it. So the implications of what's being proposed could actually end up being a big deal for a lot of Americans who would qualify for benefits under these new programs.

More Show less

How will artificial intelligence change the world and especially the job market by 2041? AI scientist Kai-fu Lee just wrote a book about precisely that, and he predicts it'll shake up almost every major industry. AI, he explains, will be most disruptive to many so-called "routine" occupations, but the damage may be reduced by shifting "empathetic" workers to jobs that require human empathy. Watch his interview on GZERO World with Ian Bremmer.

Watch this episode of GZERO World with Ian Bremmer: Is a robot coming for your job? Kai-fu Lee explains AI

The Atlantic CEO Nick Thompson believes in tech firms doing business in China because connecting with people there is a huge social good for the world. But in demanding LinkedIn de-platform certain people, he says, the Chinese government crossed a line, and "you can't justify that."

Watch Ian Bremmer's interview with Nicholas Thompson in an upcoming episode of GZERO World, airing on US public television.

Sectarian clashes in Lebanon: As Lebanese supporters of Hezbollah and Amal, both Shiite political parties, were on their way to a protest in Beirut Thursday, gunfire broke out, evidently between Hezbollah militants and those of the Christian, far-right Lebanese Forces. The protesters were rallying against the ongoing state probe into last year's devastating twin blasts at a Beirut port, saying that state authorities were singling out Shiite politicians for questioning and blame. They have called for the dismissal of Judge Tarek Bitar — who is leading the probe and on Monday issued an arrest warrant for a prominent Shiite parliamentarian linked to Amal. Each side has blamed the other for starting the violence Thursday, which killed at least six people, injured dozens more, and threw the entire city into a panic. In a grim omen, the clashes, which are among the worst in recent years, erupted along one of the old front lines (dividing Muslim and Christian neighborhoods) of the 15-year sectarian civil war that devastated the country up until 1990. With the country mired in economic and political crises, the people of Lebanon can't seem to catch a break: just last week the country was plunged into complete darkness when its decrepit power grid ran out of fuel. Meanwhile, Najib Mikati, who became prime minister designate in July after months of political deadlock, declared a "day of mourning," but civil strife continues.

More Show less

35.4: The US has overtaken China as the country with the largest share of the world's Bitcoin mining networks, now accounting for 35.4 of the global mining presence. This comes after the Chinese government banned domestic cryptocurrency mining operations to promote its own digital yuan that would track every single transaction.

More Show less

Subscribe to GZERO Media's newsletter, Signal

GZEROMEDIA

Subscribe to GZERO Media's newsletter: Signal

GZEROMEDIA

Subscribe to GZERO Media's newsletter: Signal