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Crunch Time in Europe

Crunch Time in Europe

Late last week, Germany’s two largest parties reached a preliminary agreement to form a new government, presenting a possible breakthrough in the country’s worst political crisis in decades. While the agreement between Chancellor Merkel’s CDU and the center-left SPD still faces serious hurdles, a successful deal would end an unusual period of uncertainty in German politics and create new momentum behind French-led efforts to further integrate Europe.

Two key questions to consider:

  • Would a new Grand Coalition be good for Germany? The country’s two largest parties — the SPD and CDU — have held the reins of power in a so-called “Grand Coalition” for 8 of the past 12 years. Bringing the center-right and center-left together provides stability and consensus, but can they deliver on an ambitious agenda that will reverse the historic electoral gains of the country’s far-right and renew faith in the value of the European project? A majority of Germans (55%) are skeptical.
  • What would another Grand Coalition mean for Europe? French President Emmanuel Macron has put forth a set of bold proposals to deepen European economic and financial integration by creating an EU finance minister and a joint budget for the eurozone, the bloc of 19 countries that use the euro as their currency. Macron can only succeed if he has a stable and willing partner in Berlin. While momentum has shifteddecidedly in his favor, time is of the essence–elections for the European parliament are slated for early 2019, and voters will want to see progress.

In 2017, the European Union dodged several existential crises that risked undermining the bloc’s future–from the influx of millions of refugees from the Middle East and North Africa to the historic performance of the far-right candidate Marine Le Pen in France.

The Merkel-Macron axis represents a unique opportunity to push back against populist, anti-establishment parties and to demonstrate that the European Union can benefit all of its members. Progress depends on what happens next in its least expected source of instability–Germany.

The role of the public library has evolved over time. As we move online at an even faster rate, knowledge, entertainment and opportunities for education and employment are found on the internet. Those living in well-connected, affluent places may have come to take internet access for granted. But there is a digital divide in the U.S. that has left people at a disadvantage – particularly since the arrival of COVID-19.

Finding ways to overcome that divide in a sustainable, community-led way could help bring the benefits of the internet to those who need it most. One solution is to use technologies such as TV white space to facilitate wireless broadband – as Microsoft's Airband Initiative is doing. To read more about Microsoft's work with public libraries, visit Microsoft On The Issues.

Who does Vladimir Putin want to win the US election? Given the Kremlin's well-documented efforts to sway the 2016 vote in Donald Trump's favor, it's certainly a fair question. And while there's no solid evidence that Russian interference had any decisive effect on the outcome four years ago, the Trump administration itself says the Kremlin — and others — are now trying to mess with the election again.

So let's put you in Vladimir Putin's size 9 shoes as you weigh up Donald Trump vs Joe Biden while refreshing your own personal PyatTridsatVosem (FiveThirtyEight) up there in the Kremlin.

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Less than a week out from Election Day, 66 million Americans have already cast their ballots, and many of those are people who are voting "early" for the first time because of the pandemic. In fact, the early vote total alone this year is already equal to nearly half of all ballots cast in the 2016 general election, suggesting that 2020 turnout could reach historic levels. Most important, however, is how things are playing out in key battleground states where the outcome of the US election will be determined. In Texas, for instance, a huge surge in early voting by Democrats this year has raised the possibility that a state which has been won by Republican candidates since 1976 could now be up for grabs. Here we take a look at early voting in battleground states in 2020 as compared to 2016.

In a national referendum on Sunday, Chileans overwhelmingly voted in favor of a new constitution. But, why are people in this oasis of political stability and steady economic growth in South America willing to undo the bedrock of the system that has allowed Chile to prosper for so long?

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Ian Bremmer discusses the World In (more than) 60 Seconds:

One week before the US election. What do other world leaders want to happen?

Well, I mean, let's face it. Outside the United States, most of the world's leaders would prefer to see the back of Trump. An America first policy was not exactly made for non-Americans. That was not the intended demographic audience. Trump doesn't really care. In fact, to a degree, it's kind of a selling point that a lot of foreign leaders don't want Trump. It's showing that Trump is strong in negotiations and indeed is doing better for the American people.

That's largely BS, but occasionally it's true. I mean, his willingness to use American power to force the Mexican government to actually tighten up on Mexico's Southern border and stop immigration from coming through. AMLO would have much rather that not have happened, but the fact that it did was an America first policy, that rebounded to the benefits of the United States. And there are other examples of that. But generally speaking, it would be better for the US long-term, and for the world, if we had more harmonious, smoother relations with other countries around the world, certainly pretty much all the Europeans would much rather see Trump lose. The United Kingdom is the significant exception given the nature of Brexit, and the fact that Trump has been in favor of that, like being called Mr. Brexit by five or six Brits or however many did.

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