current-affairs

Six things to know about the German election

Ahead of Germany’s federal election on 24 September, Manès Weisskircher highlights six things to know as voters go to the polls. While many observers are expecting a clear victory for Angela Merkel’s CDU/CSU, the performance of smaller parties will also be keenly followed as it is highly likely there will be as many as six parties (or seven including the […]

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    Tinker, tailor, soldier… Foreign Minister? The runners and riders for Switzerland’s new federal councillor

Tinker, tailor, soldier… Foreign Minister? The runners and riders for Switzerland’s new federal councillor

The Swiss government is composed of a seven-member Federal Council, which is usually appointed after a parliamentary election. However, on 20 September, a new member of the Federal Council will be appointed due to the resignation of Swiss foreign minister Didier Burkhalter in June. Sean Mueller gives an overview of the three main candidates vying for the position.

Federal Palace […]

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    How support from other Member States affects influence in the Council of the European Union

How support from other Member States affects influence in the Council of the European Union

Numerous studies have attempted to measure the relative bargaining power that each EU member state has when making decisions in the Council of the European Union. But as Klaas Staal writes, the extent to which a state’s preferences match those of other member states can be just as important as its bargaining power. Drawing on data from a new […]

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    Is the UK’s economy really as strong as the government says it is?

Is the UK’s economy really as strong as the government says it is?

The latest UK unemployment figures showed unemployment at its lowest level since the 1970s, but there has also been a decline in real wages of 0.4% over the last year. Drawing on a new report by the Institute for Public Policy Research, Grace Blakeley explains that despite the headline figures on employment, the UK still faces a number of major economic challenges.

As the UK […]

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Understanding European Union science diplomacy

In recent decades, a great deal of attention has focused on the EU’s attempts to exert influence on the global stage, but one area which has received relatively little attention is the issue of so called ‘science diplomacy’. Alea López de San Román and Simon Schunz provide a detailed overview of what science diplomacy entails, and how the EU […]

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    How do attitudes toward redistribution differ between Europe and the United States?

How do attitudes toward redistribution differ between Europe and the United States?

Europeans are often assumed to be more in favour of redistributive policies than citizens of the United States, but is this actually the case? New research by Jennifer Oser and Marc Hooghe finds that American public opinion is indeed less supportive of redistribution and social security than in Europe. However, a very substantial group of US citizens would still like […]

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    Juncker’s State of the Union: Where now for multispeed Europe?

Juncker’s State of the Union: Where now for multispeed Europe?

In his annual State of the Union speech, delivered on 13 September, European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker voiced criticism of the principle of ‘multispeed Europe’, under which some countries within the EU engage in integration at a faster pace than others. Pol Morillas argues that while it is reasonable for the Commission to try and avoid any kind of […]

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    A third way? Why Poland needs an alternative to right-wing populism and western liberalism

A third way? Why Poland needs an alternative to right-wing populism and western liberalism

The Polish government has endured a tense relationship with the EU’s institutions since coming to power in 2015, yet the ruling Law and Justice party still maintains a comfortable lead in recent opinion polls. Kasia Narkowicz argues that deficiencies in both the government and the opposition mean there is a need to foster a third space in Poland: one […]

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    Election reaction: Norway’s government secures a fragile second term

Election reaction: Norway’s government secures a fragile second term

Norway’s government, led by Erna Solberg, is set to remain in power following the country’s parliamentary election on 11 September. Although the Norwegian Labour Party emerged with the largest number of seats, it lost support in the latter stages of the campaign and fell short of the mark required to regain control of the government. Sveinung Arnesen reacts to […]

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    How the EU shapes and hones its identity through the language of its treaties

How the EU shapes and hones its identity through the language of its treaties

The European Union has always sought to portray itself as having a distinct identity built on a set of values. But how is this identity constructed through the EU’s treaties? Odelia Oshri and Shaul Shenhav decipher the ways in which the EU’s discourse on values has changed throughout the 60 years of European integration. They show that two values have traditionally dominated the […]

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    Why Europe holds unique normative power in the Israeli-Palestine conflict

Why Europe holds unique normative power in the Israeli-Palestine conflict

The Israel-Palestine conflict has persisted despite decades of talks and attempts at mediation from other regional and global powers. But what role can Europe play in the peace process? Drawing on a recent study, Anders Persson highlights that despite reservations from some scholars about Europe’s influence, the EU has significant normative power to shape the process, particularly in situations […]

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The Catalan endgame: How we got to where we are

Large pro-independence demonstrations are expected in Catalonia today ahead of a proposed referendum on independence on 1 October. Karlo Basta highlights that although many explanations of the Catalan independence movement focus on technical issues, such as the legal provisions for Catalan autonomy or Catalonia’s fiscal arrangements, it is the role of symbolic politics that has perhaps been most important […]

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    The worries of wealth: What Monday’s election might mean for the future of Norway

The worries of wealth: What Monday’s election might mean for the future of Norway

On 11 September, Norwegians will head to the polls to elect a new government. Mi Ah Schoyen and Are Vegard Haug preview the vote, writing that alongside the choice between a centre-left and centre-right administration, the country must also make a number of important strategic decisions in the coming years that will set its future trajectory.

Credit: xoiram42 (CC BY-SA […]

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Should the EU be concerned about a possible ‘Polexit’?

The Polish government has come into conflict with the EU’s institutions on several fronts, notably over judicial reforms and the relocation of refugees during the migration crisis. Aleks Szczerbiak explains that although opponents of the government accuse it of undermining the country’s ties with the EU, its supporters argue that the ruling party is committed to defending national interests […]

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    Germany’s election: Behind consensus politics lie conflicting ideas of Europe

Germany’s election: Behind consensus politics lie conflicting ideas of Europe

Ahead of the 24 September German federal elections, Angela Merkel and the CDU/CSU are leading by a wide margin, although the number of undecided voters is still high. Annette Bongardt, Lorenzo Codogno and Francisco Torres write that although Europe has been relatively absent from the electoral debate, there is a clash between two different visions: further integration by strengthening […]

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    Why a basic income alone will not be a panacea to social insecurity

Why a basic income alone will not be a panacea to social insecurity

At the start of this year, Finland began a trial of a ‘universal basic income’ system, under which 2,000 individuals who were receiving welfare were selected to receive a guaranteed monthly income of 560 euros over the next two years. But can basic income systems really address problems of social insecurity? Neil Warner, Frederick Harry Pitts, and Lorena Lombardozzi explain […]

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    How can Brexit be an economic success when the economics establishment is united in predicting a disaster?

How can Brexit be an economic success when the economics establishment is united in predicting a disaster?

The Economists for Free Trade group has argued that contrary to the predictions of many economists, Brexit could provide gains to the UK economy of around £135 billion. Kent Matthews argues that the differences between Economists for Free Trade and other economists stem from distinct theoretical assumptions about how trade functions, and that the only way to resolve this […]

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    Macron gambles on reducing unemployment through greater flexibility for employers

Macron gambles on reducing unemployment through greater flexibility for employers

French President Emmanuel Macron has pledged to reform France’s labour market regulations, but his proposals have been met with opposition from some political figures and trade unions. Nick Parsons explains that against the backdrop of falling popularity, Macron is essentially gambling that by giving employers greater flexibility, he can push down the country’s unemployment rate.

Credit: European Council (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)
On […]

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    The right is set to be the big winner in Austria’s upcoming general election

The right is set to be the big winner in Austria’s upcoming general election

Austria will hold a general election on 15 October. Fabio Wolkenstein takes stock of the campaign so far, which has seen the centre-right Austrian People’s Party (ÖVP) move into a polling lead under the leadership of Sebastian Kurz. He suggests that the most likely outcome to emerge from the election will be a coalition between the ÖVP and the right-wing […]

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Why Brexit has led to falling real wages in the UK

The UK has not yet left the European Union and the long-term economic effects of Brexit remain unknown. However, one of the trends which has attracted attention so far is a drop in real wages for UK workers, which many economists have put down to the immediate depreciation of the pound after the referendum and a subsequent rise in […]

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