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Looking ahead to a post-Merkel Europe

Ian Bremmer's Quick Take:

Hi, everybody. Ian Bremmer here. Happy week to all of you and thought I'd talk a little bit about Germany and Europe. Because of course, we just had elections in Germany, 16 years of Angela Merkel's rule coming to an end - by far the strongest leader that Germany has seen post-war, Europe has seen since the collapse of the Soviet Union. And indeed in many ways, the world has seen in the 21st century. Xi Jinping, of course, runs a much bigger country and has consolidated much more power, but in terms of the free world, it's been Angela Merkel.

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After Merkel, who leads Europe?

Carl Bildt, former Prime Minister and Foreign Minister of Sweden, shares his perspective from Europe:

Who's going to be the leading voice politician in Europe after Angela Merkel leaves?

Well, that remains to be seen. First, we need to wait for the outcome of the German election, and then it's going to take quite some time to form a government in Germany to see who's going to be chancellor. And then of course we have elections coming up in France in the spring. Macron is likely to win, but you never know. So by next summer, we'll know more about that. And then there are other personalities there. There's Mario Draghi, prime minister of Italy, who has a strong personality. Mark Rutte of the Netherlands, as long as he's there. So it's going to take quite some time for this to be sorted out.

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What We’re Watching: Salvadorans protest Bitcoin, meet Aukus, no COVID pass no job in Italy

Salvadorans protest Bukele, Bitcoin: Thousands of people took to the streets of El Salvador's capital on Wednesday, the 200th anniversary of the country's independence, to protest against President Nayib Bukele's increasingly authoritarian streak and his embrace of risky cryptocurrency. Last May, Bukele ended the Supreme Court's independence; perhaps unsurprisingly, the court then decided to lift the constitutional ban on presidential term limits — presumably so Bukele can run for reelection in 2024. Meanwhile, last week El Salvador became the first country in the world to accept Bitcoin as legal tender, but the rollout was, to put it mildly, messy. The protesters resent Bukele's dictator vibes and warn that Bitcoin could spur inflation and financial instability. The tech-savvy president, for his part, insists that crypto will bring in more cash from remittances and foreign investment, and remains immensely popular among most Salvadorans. Still, Bukele's Bitcoin gamble could erode his support if the experiment fails.

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US most unequal, least vaccinated in G7

Ian Bremmer's Quick Take:

Hi everybody, Ian Bremmer here. Welcome to your week, happy to be back in the offices, of course, in New York City. And by the way, and what do I have at my desk here? A fan sent me a Moose the dog cookie, which how does one eat that? You can't eat that because it's Moose, you just keep it! But that's pretty awesome, a Norfolk Terrier in a cookie right there, very talented. Thank you so much.

And let's get started. So what I was thinking about as I saw over this weekend, today. Not only is the United States today the most economically-unequal of the G7 advanced industrial democracies, and the most politically divided, but we're also now in terms of first jabs of the COVID vaccine, we are the least vaccinated of the G7, which is annoying because we were the most vaccinated of the G7 months ago. And of course, all of this speaks to the fact that the United States is enormously wealthy, enormously powerful, there are so many great things about this country, but the politics are deeply, deeply screwed up. And the problems we have are self-inflicted.

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Enrico Letta on Italian politics: “Houston, we have a problem”

Why is Italy's political scene so unstable and what are the odds that its newest Prime Minister, Mario Draghi, can pull it out of a tailspin? Since 1989 the country has had 18 prime ministers, six in the last decade alone. One of those six prime ministers to have resigned in the last ten years is Enrico Letta, who shares his perspective in a conversation with with Ian Bremmer on GZERO World.

Watch the episode: Italy in Europe's spotlight: insights from former PM Enrico Letta

Italy’s dysfunctional politics

Italy's economy was already weak before the pandemic, but saw a nearly 9-point decline in GDP over the past year. While unemployment was dropping from a decade high reached in 2014, it was still around 10% in early 2020. And if you don't like Italy's political leaders…just wait a minute. They'll change. In fact, since 1989 the country has had 18 prime ministers. By comparison, Germany has had only three chancellors and France just five presidents. Can Italy's new Prime Minister pull the country out of its political tailspin? Ian Bremmer explains on GZERO World.

Watch the GZERO World episode: Italy in Europe's spotlight: insights from former PM Enrico Letta

Who is Italy’s new prime minister, Mario Draghi?

Only in Italy could a mild-mannered technocrat be widely popular for just being, well, competent. But that's exactly how Mario Draghi (nicknamed Super Mario) has been received since he agreed to lead the country at a moment of political turmoil this February. Why is Draghi so popular and why is he poised to be a leader of not just Italy but Europe as a whole? Ian Bremmer poses those questions to another former Italian prime minister, Enrico Letta, on GZERO World.

Watch the episode: Italy in Europe's spotlight: insights from former PM Enrico Letta

Why Italy's third COVID lockdown is different

A year ago, a horrific series of photos of overflowing hospitals in Italy's Lombardy region made many Americans realize that this pandemic was going to have devastating results. And now, over 100,000 deaths later, Italy is entering its third lockdown. But this time is different, says former Prime Minister Enrico Letta, because now a lockdown doesn't mean a total economic shutdown. And there's hope on the horizon, as long as the country can get its act together on the vaccines front.

Letta's conversation with Ian Bremmer is part of a new episode of GZERO World, which began airing on US public television stations nationwide on Friday, March 26. Check local listings.

Watch the episode: Italy in Europe's spotlight: insights from former PM Enrico Letta

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