Elections, party politics and government across Europe

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    Should we prosecute political leaders after a crisis? Lessons from Iceland

Should we prosecute political leaders after a crisis? Lessons from Iceland

At the end of November, the European Court of Human Rights ruled that the conviction of former Icelandic prime minister Geir Haarde over his handling of the country’s financial crisis was fair. Ragnar Hjalmarsson and Iosif Kovras examine whether political leaders should face criminal proceedings following a crisis, and what the potential pitfalls are for democracy.

Former Icelandic Prime Minister […]

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Another grand coalition awaits a fractured Germany

The CDU/CSU and the SPD are set to discuss the possibility of renewing their grand coalition in Germany, following the breakdown of negotiations between the CDU/CSU, Greens and the FDP. Rakib Ehsan assesses the dilemma facing the SPD as it considers joining another government. He argues that the party sorely needs a period in opposition to try and resolve […]

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    How EU law came to the fore in the Catalan independence debate – and what it means for Carles Puigdemont

How EU law came to the fore in the Catalan independence debate – and what it means for Carles Puigdemont

The Catalan independence movement has made repeated calls for EU actors to take a role in resolving the crisis that followed the independence referendum in October, but until now the response from EU leaders has largely been that the situation is an internal one to be dealt with in Spain. Auke Willems writes that despite the EU’s intention to […]

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    Can Donald Tusk save Poland’s weak and divided opposition? 

Can Donald Tusk save Poland’s weak and divided opposition? 

A scathing Twitter attack on the Polish government has fuelled speculation that European Council President, Donald Tusk, is planning a return to Polish politics to head up the country’s struggling opposition. Aleks Szczerbiak writes that although he remains a dangerous opponent for the ruling party, making a successful comeback would be a long and arduous process, and pinning its […]

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    Is Romania at risk of backsliding over corruption and the rule of law?

Is Romania at risk of backsliding over corruption and the rule of law?

When Romania joined the European Union in 2007, a ‘Cooperation and Verification Mechanism’ was established to assess the country’s progress in implementing judicial reforms and anti-corruption measures. However, the latest report published on 15 November raised concerns over potential backsliding, particularly in the area of judicial independence. Corina Lacatus assesses how Romania can respond to the concerns raised in […]

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    For whom does justice work? The Mladić verdict and prospects for reconciliation in the Balkans

For whom does justice work? The Mladić verdict and prospects for reconciliation in the Balkans

Former Bosnian Serb general, Ratko Mladić, has been found guilty of genocide and war crimes at the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY). Reacting to the verdict, Denisa Kostovicova states there is broad consensus that the work of the ICTY has not translated into reconciliation among the affected communities in the Balkans. However, it is problematic to […]

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Five lessons from the mayoral run-off elections in Kosovo

Mayoral run-off elections were held in Kosovo on 19 November, with voters going to the polls in 19 municipalities. Blerim Vela gives an overview of the results and highlights five key lessons from the contests that provide an insight into how politics functions in Kosovo.

On 19 November, voters in 19 municipalities in Kosovo voted in mayoral run-off elections. The […]

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    Germany’s Brexit moment: What happens now following the collapse of coalition talks?

Germany’s Brexit moment: What happens now following the collapse of coalition talks?

Coalition talks in Germany between the CDU/CSU, the FDP and the Greens have collapsed, with the FDP withdrawing from the discussions after four weeks of negotiations. Julian Göpffarth assesses why the FDP chose to quit the process and what is likely to happen now.

This morning, Berlin woke up in shock. Most observers anticipated that the so-called Jamaica coalition negotiations […]

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    The Catalan crisis reflects the failure of Spanish federalism

The Catalan crisis reflects the failure of Spanish federalism

Catalonia is set to hold regional elections on 21 December, but it is far from clear how the stand-off over Catalan independence will develop following the vote. Joan Costa-Font argues that the rise in support for independence in Catalonia reflects the failure of attempts to construct a federal Spanish state, and that the EU should think carefully about developing […]

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    Why the left loses: Explaining the decline of centre-left parties

Why the left loses: Explaining the decline of centre-left parties

Are centre-left parties across Europe facing a future of decline? Drawing on a new book, Rob Manwaring and Paul Kennedy argue that an essential element in any robust democracy is an effective centre-left. However, centre-left parties now face a number of major challenges, from the rise of new parties, to the erosion of their traditional support bases, and only […]

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    Will the assassination of Daphne Caruana Galizia lead to wholesale institutional reform in Malta?

Will the assassination of Daphne Caruana Galizia lead to wholesale institutional reform in Malta?

Journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia was killed in a car bomb attack in Malta on 16 October. Her death prompted widespread international condemnation and has refocused attention on the need for institutional reforms within Malta to protect the rule of law and freedom of the press. Roderick Pace writes that with the recent Paradise Papers leak also portraying off-shore financial […]

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    A tale of changing destinies: Why the Catalans are pushing for independence rather than the Basques

A tale of changing destinies: Why the Catalans are pushing for independence rather than the Basques

While all eyes are currently on Catalonia, it was the Basque Country that first sought a degree of sovereignty from Spain over a decade ago, when then Basque President, Juan José Ibarretxe, proposed redefining the Basque relationship with Spain as one of ‘free association’. But why did Madrid’s refusal of Ibarretxe’s proposals result in a return to moderation, whereas […]

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    Why journalists should not use the expression ‘semi-autonomous’ (or ‘semiautonomous’)

Why journalists should not use the expression ‘semi-autonomous’ (or ‘semiautonomous’)

Sometimes the media can use terminology that obscures or even misrepresents the message that honest journalists are trying to explain. Brendan O’Leary and Khaled Salih highlight how using ‘semi-autonomous’ to describe the constitutional powers of either Catalonia or Kurdistan may be unhelpful.

Glass candles forming Catalan and Scottish flags at a pro-independence demonstration in Edinburgh, Credit: byronv2 (CC BY-NC 2.0)
Some items of […]

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    Making sense of the uncertainty following Catalonia’s declaration of independence

Making sense of the uncertainty following Catalonia’s declaration of independence

Catalonia faces an uncertain future following the events of the last month, but the regional elections now scheduled for 21 December are likely to be a key moment in determining its trajectory. Mariana S. Mendes assesses how the crisis developed following the 1 October referendum, arguing that by calling early elections, the Spanish government has attempted to give the pro-independence […]

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Catalonia: The end of the independence road?

With the Spanish government now implementing direct rule of Catalonia from Madrid, despite the Catalan parliament making a declaration of independence, what lies ahead for both Catalonia and Spain? Luis Moreno explains that the results of the new Catalan elections that have been proposed for 21 December could be key to determining the outcome of the crisis, but other […]

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Catalonia’s declaration of independence: What comes next?

The Catalan parliament’s declaration of independence on 27 October, coupled with the Spanish government implementing direct rule over Catalonia, has left Spain facing its greatest political crisis since the country’s transition to democracy. James Irving assesses what might happen next, writing that ultimately it will be the reaction of ordinary citizens that will determine where Catalonia is headed.

Credit: Parlament […]

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What’s next for the AfD? Three possible scenarios

Having passed the electoral threshold and entered the Bundestag for the first time in September’s German federal election, the AfD is now coming to terms with the responsibilities and pressures of being a key player in the German parliament. One month on from the election, Julian Göpffarth reflects on three possible scenarios for the AfD over the coming years: […]

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    Explaining the popularity of Poland’s Law and Justice government

Explaining the popularity of Poland’s Law and Justice government

Despite coming under heavy criticism from its political opponents for allegedly undermining democracy and the rule of law, the popularity of Poland’s Law and Justice government remains at record levels. Aleks Szczerbiak writes that the government has delivered on its high-profile social spending pledges, strongly opposed the EU’s unpopular migrant relocation scheme, and many Poles feel that it deserves […]

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    Election reaction: The Czech Republic shifts toward the Polish and Hungarian model

Election reaction: The Czech Republic shifts toward the Polish and Hungarian model

The Czech Republic held parliamentary elections on 20 and 21 October, with ANO, led by Andrej Babiš, emerging as the largest party. Jan Rovny argues that although there are some distinct features of ANO and the Czech party system, the country’s political outlook now has broad similarities to its two central European neighbours Hungary and Poland.

Credit: Chris Jones (CC […]

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    The historical roots of the Catalan crisis: How we got to where we are

The historical roots of the Catalan crisis: How we got to where we are

The Spanish government has indicated it is ready to suspend Catalonia’s autonomy after a deadline passed for the Catalan authorities to drop their push for independence. Gerard Padró i Miquel writes on the role of Spanish nationalism in the crisis. He argues that moving towards independence using extralegal means is not only illegitimate but unrepresentative, but that it is also clear the status quo […]

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