THE CENTER FADES FURTHER: BAVARIA’S ELECTIONS

Voters in the German state of Bavaria returned a stunning result over the weekend, dealing a body blow to the centrist parties currently in German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s national governing coalition. Because Bavaria is a bellwether for Germany as a whole, here are two lessons and a question to take away from the vote:


Another setback for center parties in Europe. The center-right Christian Social Union (CSU), a crucial national alliance partner for Ms. Merkel, rang up their worst election result (37 percent) since 1950. While they will remain in power in Bavaria by allying with a small conservative party, the CSU just barely escaped having to call on leftist parties to support it in a state that it has ruled single-handedly for decades. Meanwhile, the center-left Social Democratic Party (SPD) fared no better, seeing its vote share fall by half since the last election in 2013. In both cases, voters fled traditional centrist parties. But where did they go?

The far-right wasn’t the only big winner: The far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) picked up 10 percent of the vote in its first Bavarian state race. With seats now in 15 of Germany’s 16 states – in addition to leading the opposition in the national legislature – this weekend’s performance confirms that the party’s anti-immigrant message appeals to voters well beyond its initial base of support in Germany’s economically lagging East. But arguably the biggest winner on Sunday was the Greens, which saw its support more than double. The Greens’ message of sustainability, open borders, and multiculturalismappeals to younger voters who make up a large share of the party’s supporters.

How does it look for Ms. Merkel? The results in Bavaria may offer Chancellor Merkel a temporary reprieve with more conservative elements within her governing alliance who have called for a further lurch to the right – after all, the CSU tried to appeal to right wing voters and got punished for it. But the broader erosion of the political center, which is where Merkel’s consensus-based governing style thrives, is a longer-term challenge for her and for Germany more broadly. The next big test will be an election in the state of Hessen later this month, where another poor result for parties within Merkel's coalition could lead to renewed calls for her to make way for a fresh face to reboot the center-right.

Microsoft has a long-standing commitment to child online protection. First and foremost, as a technology company, it has a responsibility to create software, devices and services that have safety features built in from the outset. Last week, in furtherance of those commitments, Microsoft shared a grooming detection technique, code name "Project Artemis," by which online predators attempting to lure children for sexual purposes can be detected, addressed and reported. Developed in collaboration with The Meet Group, Roblox, Kik and Thorn, this technique builds off Microsoft patented technology and will be made freely available to qualified online service companies that offer a chat function.

Read more at Microsoft On The Issues.

Vladimir Putin has ruled Russia for twenty years, but he has a problem: his current presidential term ends in 2024, and the constitution prevents him from running for re-election then.

As a result, the question of what he'll do in 2024 has been on the minds of Russia's oligarchs, spooks, bureaucrats, and a lot of ordinary folks, as well. After all, over the past two decades, Putin has made himself, for better and for worse, the indispensable arbiter, boss, and glue of Russia's sprawling and corrupted system of government. As the current speaker of Russia's legislature once said, "Without Putin, there is no Russia." Not as we currently know it, no.

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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 last year, 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, 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.

It's been nine years since Libya's long-time despot Muammar Qaddafi was killed in a violent uprising, bringing the oil-rich country to the brink of civil war. That conflict entered a new stage last year when violence between warring factions competing for territory intensified around Tripoli, Libya's capital, leading to the displacement of some 300,000 civilians. In recent weeks, fighting has intensified again, and ceasefire talks have failed. Here's a look at who's who and how we got here.

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Nicholas Thompson, editor-in-chief of WIRED, discusses combating cyberbullying, CCPA and tech "fashion":

What is a "troll score" and is it a realistic way to combat online bullying?

Something that Kayvon Beykpour, head of product at Twitter and I talked about, and the thought was: Twitter doesn't give you a lot of disincentives to be a jerk online. But what if there were a way to measure how much of a jerk someone is and put it right in their profile? Wouldn't that help? I think it's a pretty good idea. Though, you can see the arguments against it.

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