Foreign Elections

Germany’s Merkel Gets a Lifeline

Washington Post: “The impasse that has gripped German politics all week showed signs of breaking Friday as a main center-left party backed down from pledges that it would not consider teaming with Chancellor Angela Merkel to form a government.”

“The shift gives Merkel a potential path out of a crisis that’s been called the worst of her 12-year tenure. It also lessens the chance that Germans will go back to the polls in early 2018 after an inconclusive September election left the country without an obvious formula for a stable government.”

Germany May Face New Elections

“Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany faced the greatest crisis of her political career on Monday, after late-night negotiations to form a new government collapsed, raising the prospect of a snap election,” the New York Times reports.

“The chancellor expressed a preference for a new election, saying that she was doubtful that a government lacking a majority in Parliament could handle the many challenges it faces.”

The BBC runs through the options.

Austria Elects 31-Year Old Leader

“Sebastian Kurz, a 31-year-old conservative, is set to become the next chancellor of Austria and Europe’s youngest leader, though he will likely need to form a coalition to rule, early results from Sunday’s election show,” CNN reports.

BBC: “Immigration was the dominant issue in the run-up to the vote, and Mr Kurz moved his party to the right in the wake of Europe’s 2015 refugee crisis.”

“He appealed to conservative and right-wing voters with pledges to shut down migrant routes to Europe, cap benefit payments to refugees, and bar immigrants from receiving benefits until they have lived in Austria for five years.”

Merkel’s Win Marred By Surge in Far-Right Vote

German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s election to a fourth term was tarnished by a surge in vote for the anti-immigration Alternative for Germany, the Wall Street Journal reports.

“Germany’s election result confirms the overriding trend of European politics in the past year: the crumbling of the Continent’s established parties in the face of voter anxiety over economics and identity.”

“The fragmented vote mirrors this year’s elections in other Continental European countries including France and the Netherlands. Established parties have suffered steep losses, especially on the center left, and voters have turned to upstarts on the nationalist right, the anticapitalist left or the liberal center.”

CNN: “The AfD won 13% of the vote and came a stunning third place behind the main center-right and center-left parties. It becomes the first far-right party to enter the Bundestag since 1961.”

Specter of Coup Haunts Venezuela

“Venezuela appears to be sliding toward a more volatile stage of unrest after anti-government forces looted weapons during a weekend raid on a military base and frustration over what some see as an ineffectual opposition leadership boils over,” Reuters reports.

“Last week’s installation of an all-powerful new legislative body run by leftist President Nicolas Maduro’s Socialist Party loyalists, despite massive protests and a global outcry, has left many Venezuelans feeling there are no more democratic options to oppose the government.”

Netanyahu Says He Won’t Be Toppled

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu “has rejected criminal suspicions leveled against him in recent days, amid speculation that his tenure will end soon,” the Jerusalem Post reports.

“Netanyahu lashed out – in private conversations with Knesset members – at the press, the opposition and members of his own party, whom he accused of conspiring to unseat him.”

Said Netanyahu: “They are trying to get me and attempting to topple the Right. This is not new. They have been trying for many years. I don’t see us going to elections now.”

He added: “I have nothing to fear. I don’t think I have a problem.”

Macron Proposes Overhaul of French Parliament

French President Emmanuel Macron said that the country was ready to embark on a “radically new path” after presidential and parliamentary elections swept him and his new centrist party into power, AFP reports.

“The 39-year-old French leader, elected in May, laid out a series of proposals including a new law that will reduce the number of lawmakers in both houses of parliament by one third. He also proposed that the electoral system be changed to allow more proportional representation ‘so that all tendencies are fairly represented (in parliament).'”

Abe Plunged Into Crisis After Tokyo Election Loss

“Scandal-hit Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe faces one of his biggest tests since coming to power in late 2012, after his ruling party lost to an upstart outfit in an election for Tokyo’s assembly,” Bloomberg reports.

“The Liberal Democratic Party lost more than half its seats to end up with 23, the lowest number ever in the capital, in a vote that could be a harbinger for national elections. Voter turnout was up about eight percentage points on the previous poll four years ago.”

Macron’s Party Set for Parliamentary Landslide in France

“The centrist party of French President Emmanuel Macron looks set to win a landslide victory in the second round of parliamentary elections on Sunday,” the BBC reports.

“A party needs 289 seats to control the 577-seat National Assembly. LREM is predicted to win more than 400. Mr Macron won the presidential election last month and he is now hoping to secure a solid majority to help push through his planned reforms for the country.”

“He formed his party just over a year ago, and half of its candidates have little or no political experience.”

Washington Post: “Macron rose from relative obscurity to score a landslide victory in the presidential election in May, becoming the first winning candidate in decades to come from neither the traditional center-right nor center-left parties. But now, something even more momentous is happening: Macron is leading a total overhaul of an ossified political system.”

Macron Set for Huge Parliamentary Majority

Reuters: “President Emmanuel Macron’s fledgling party is set to trounce France’s traditional main parties in a parliamentary election and secure a huge majority to push through his pro-business reforms, projections after the first round showed on Sunday.The vote delivered a further crushing blow to the Socialist and conservative parties that had alternated in power for decades until Macron’s election in May blew apart the left-right divide.”

How Theresa May Lost It

Politico: “Halfway through Britain’s seven-week snap election campaign, some in Theresa May’s team came to the conclusion that they had a problem — the candidate. At a gathering of senior staff in Conservative campaign headquarters in central London, one of May’s top operatives told the sitting prime minister that she risked crashing and burning like Sarah Palin did in 2008… To the operative, May was overly controlling and her inexperience would tell during a short, intense campaign. May listened with good grace but changed nothing.”

Young Voters Strike Back In Britain

“As Britain took stock on Friday of the stunning results of a snap election that wiped out the parliamentary majority of Prime Minister Theresa May and her governing Conservative Party, one narrative bubbled up to the surface: The youth had spoken,” the New York Times reports.

“The election results were fueled partly by a higher turnout rate among young British voters who had long been angry at the results of the referendum last year to leave the European Union, known as Brexit. That vote, overwhelmingly supported by older Britons, was seen by many younger people as a threat to their jobs, their ability to study abroad and their desire to travel freely across the bloc’s borders.”

“In other words, the vote by young Britons on Thursday had a whiff of payback.”

U.K. Turnout Models Ignored Surge In Youth Vote

Nate Silver: “The 2017 election therefore seems to be a case of an overcorrection. The pollsters apparently did a good enough job of weighting the raw samples properly, which got them fairly close to the right outcome. Then on top of that, some of them gave extra weight to the Conservatives through their turnout models. As a result, they discounted signs of a youth-driven Labour turnout surge. As was the case in the U.S. with Bernie Sanders, younger voters turned out in a big way for Labour’s left-wing leader, Jeremy Corbyn.”

“It’s one thing for a pollster to get an outcome wrong because voters fail to turn out when they say they will. But if voters tell you they’re going to turn out, you ignore them, and they show up to vote anyway, you really don’t have much of a defense.”