current-affairs

Italy’s crisis and the question of democracy

The last seven days in Italy have proven that a week is indeed a long time in politics: after a political crisis emerged following Italian president Sergio Mattarella’s decision to veto the Five Star Movement and the League’s choice of finance minister, a government led by Giuseppe Conte was eventually sworn in on 1 June. Andrea Lorenzo Capussela argues […]

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Rajoy loses power in Spain: What happens now?

Following a vote of no confidence in Mariano Rajoy, Pedro Sánchez is the new Prime Minister of Spain. Ben Margulies explains how Rajoy’s demise came about and outlines what might happen next with the country potentially heading for new elections.

Politics, unlike theatre, rarely gets pacing right. Either one spends months waiting for some seemingly inevitable drama, or all hell […]

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    Five views: What we’ve learned from 20 years of the European Central Bank

Five views: What we’ve learned from 20 years of the European Central Bank

The European Central Bank was established 20 years ago today on 1 June 1998. To mark the anniversary, we asked five academics to give their views on the lessons learned from two decades of the ECB, and their predictions on what might lie in store for both the ECB and the euro over the next 20 years.

Paul De […]

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    Macri and Macron: Why the Argentine and French presidents share more than their surnames

Macri and Macron: Why the Argentine and French presidents share more than their surnames

When Emmanuel Macron won the French presidency a little over a year ago, he was viewed by many of his supporters as an ‘antidote to populism’ and as someone capable of implementing an ambitious reform programme. Sam Maynard and Ilona Lahdelma compare Macron’s period in office with another President who came to power in similar circumstances: Mauricio Macri, the President […]

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    Italy’s crisis: Wouldn’t it be simpler if the government simply dissolved the people and elected another?

Italy’s crisis: Wouldn’t it be simpler if the government simply dissolved the people and elected another?

The decision of Italy’s President, Sergio Mattarella, to veto the appointment of Paolo Savona as Italian finance minister has sent the country into a political crisis. Bob Hancké argues that although Mattarella was legally within his rights to do what he did, his actions not only raise questions about democratic legitimacy, but are almost certainly not in Italy’s long-term […]

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    Understanding the transformed moral landscape in Ireland following the ‘repeal the 8th’ referendum

Understanding the transformed moral landscape in Ireland following the ‘repeal the 8th’ referendum

Voters in Ireland have backed a proposal to amend the Irish constitution to allow for a liberalisation of the country’s abortion laws. But the referendum result also said a great deal about the social attitudes of Irish citizens more broadly. Lisa Smyth traces the history of abortion law in Ireland, writing that the moral certainties that underpinned the Eighth […]

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    Would government prove a poisoned chalice for the Five Star Movement?

Would government prove a poisoned chalice for the Five Star Movement?

The formation of a new Five Star Movement/Lega government in Italy is in doubt after Italian President Sergio Mattarella refused to approve of Giuseppe Conte’s proposed economy minister, Paolo Savona. Ben Margulies writes that if the Five Star Movement does enter government, the main risk for the party will come from the Italian economy. Should external factors, such as EU constraints or the bond markets, force […]

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    Ireland’s referendum illustrated a major shift in Irish society and the country’s social attitudes

Ireland’s referendum illustrated a major shift in Irish society and the country’s social attitudes

Irish voters have backed a proposal to amend the current constitutional provision which places a ban on abortion in most circumstances. Anthony Costello assesses what the result means for both the country’s abortion laws and Irish society, noting that the will of the people has spoken and there is now a clear mandate for progressive change.

On 25 May, the […]

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    Ireland votes to repeal the 8th: Will Northern Ireland be next to liberalise its abortion laws?

Ireland votes to repeal the 8th: Will Northern Ireland be next to liberalise its abortion laws?

Ireland’s abortion referendum on 25 May resulted in a victory for the ‘Yes’ side campaigning to reform the country’s strict abortion laws by repealing the Eighth Amendment of the Irish constitution. For Jennifer Thomson, the result underlines a dramatic transformation that has taken place in Irish society over recent decades, however it also shines a light on Northern Ireland, […]

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Can there be a democratic theory for the real world?

Is there a problem with democracy? Phil Parvin argues that the time has come to engage with the wealth of data that has emerged about citizens, their motivations, and their abilities, and take a clear-headed view about what democratic states can expect of them. A more representative politics, as opposed to a more participatory one, would better meet the […]

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    The Five Star Movement and the rise of ‘techno-populist’ parties

The Five Star Movement and the rise of ‘techno-populist’ parties

The Five Star Movement and Lega’s nomination of Italian law professor Giuseppe Conte as the next Prime Minister of Italy presents a puzzle: why would an apparently ‘populist’ government nominate a Prime Minister who fits the mould of a technocrat? Chris Bickerton writes that given the Five Star Movement’s history, we should not be surprised at the nomination of […]

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Three lessons from Erdoğan’s rally in Sarajevo

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan held a rally in Sarajevo on 20 May ahead of the upcoming Turkish elections scheduled for 24 June. Vuk Vuksanovic draws three lessons from the rally: that Turkey is in the process of adopting a more assertive approach to foreign policy in the Balkans; that Erdoğan is intent on using foreign policy in the […]

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    Mutually assured destruction? Understanding the UK and Ireland’s standoff over the Northern Irish border

Mutually assured destruction? Understanding the UK and Ireland’s standoff over the Northern Irish border

Time is rapidly running out in the Brexit negotiations and there is still no agreement in sight on the issue of the Irish border. Gavin Barrett explains that despite the ultimatums emanating from each side, a no-deal Brexit would be catastrophic for both the UK and Ireland.

Tony Blair once famously compared then British Prime Minister David Cameron’s (badly miscalculated) […]

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The death of ‘business as usual’ in the EU

European integration was once thought of as a largely technocratic process built around consensus, but the last decade has seen the work of the EU’s institutions become heavily politicised. Presenting evidence from a new study, Reinout van der Veer highlights just how pervasive the effect of this politicisation has been.

Our post-Brexit era makes it hard to imagine that there […]

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    Skilled migrants have higher earning potential in countries with more inequality

Skilled migrants have higher earning potential in countries with more inequality

Why do skilled migrants choose to travel to particular countries and what motivates them to stay there or leave once they have employment? Drawing on new research, Matthias Parey, Jens Ruhose, Fabian Waldinger and Nicolai Netz illustrate that skilled migrants enjoy higher earning potential when they move to countries that have greater levels of inequality. Meanwhile, less qualified migrants benefit from the compressed […]

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How Brexit will affect Germany’s role in the EU

Given the size and influence of the UK, Brexit is expected to have a significant impact on the political dynamics within the EU’s institutions. Leopold Traugott assesses how Britain’s departure is likely to affect Germany’s role in the EU. He notes that Germany will be obliged to do more to fill the gap left by the UK, while the […]

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    The legacy of World War II on social spending in the western world

The legacy of World War II on social spending in the western world

The Second World War had a major impact on almost every aspect of European society, but one area that has been relatively under-researched is the influence the war had on social spending. Presenting results from a new study, Herbert Obinger and Carina Schmitt illustrate that World War II not only created new welfare constituencies such as disabled war veterans, […]

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    IMF ‘doves’ versus German ‘hawks’? The Fund and Europe’s politics of austerity

IMF ‘doves’ versus German ‘hawks’? The Fund and Europe’s politics of austerity

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has a major role in promoting ‘sound’ economic policies. But as Ben Clift writes, there have been important evolutions in the IMF’s economic ideas since the global financial and Eurozone crises. The IMF is now often at odds with some European leaders over key issues, undermining the notion that economic policy can be viewed […]

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    Are discretionary referendums on the EU becoming ‘politically obligatory?’

Are discretionary referendums on the EU becoming ‘politically obligatory?’

Do European governments call referendums on EU matters because contextual circumstances make them ‘politically obligatory’ or because ruling politicians believe they are the ‘appropriate’ decision-making mechanism? Aude Bicquelet-Lock and Helen Addison argue that, contrary to these suggested reasons, politicians have the freedom to choose whether and when to use referendums strategically to achieve their domestic and European policy objectives.

Posters […]

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Three challenges in contemporary populism research

Populism has become one of the most hotly debated topics in European politics, but how should academics seek to study it? Yannis Stavrakakis identifies three key challenges in contemporary populism research: the need for critical reflexivity, the use of minimal definitions, and the difficulty in capturing and accounting for different types or degrees of populism.

Today populism seems to be […]

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