On June 23, 2016 Britain voted to leave the European Union. This set off a populist wave across the Western world that resulted in, or encouraged, the election of Donald Trump and the success of a variety of right-wing and far-right European parties. After the vote, Britain embarked on a long process of negotiation that was supposed to end by March 29 of this year. Although that allowed Prime Minister Theresa May nearly three years to work with the EU on the terms of a deal, it proved to be not enough time to settle their differences.Read More
On December 22, the government underwent what turned out to be a 35-day shutdown, the longest in American history. At the center of the problem was a dispute over funding for a border wall. Eager to keep his promises in the 2016 primaries, and doubtful that the incoming Democratic majority in the House of Representatives would support his goals, President Trump insisted that Congress include $5.7 billion in funding for a wall in the new spending bill. Democrats refused to grant any money for the project and Trump refused to sign any bill without such funds, leading to a stalemate. Although a stopgap bill passed on January 25 reopened the government for three weeks, it merely bought time for negotiations and did nothing to resolve the fundamental impasse. With a new shutdown looming, Congress crafted a new compromise bill that would keep the government open, grant $1.3 billion for fencing on the border, and limit the number of people the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency (ICE) can detain. Although he was reluctant to support legislation that gave him only a fraction of what he wanted, Trump ultimately decided, last Thursday, that he would sign the bill. Simultaneously, he revealed his intent to declare a national emergency so he could try to use his executive powers in order to build the wall.
This week, Americans go to the polls to decide the composition of the next Congress. President Trump’s upset victory over Hillary Clinton two years ago generated a surge of political engagement on both sides. Because this political fervor continues, the 2018 election has been perhaps the most highly anticipated midterm of our lifetimes.Read More
Since Brexit’s success in June of 2016, European political commentary has focused on the decline of moderate “establishment” parties and the emergence of right-wing populism as a powerful new force. In the last two years, elections in several countries, including Germany, Austria, Poland reinforced this narrative, with far-right parties gaining ground and some governments modifying their policies to appease nationalist voters Last Sunday, Europe’s political transformation seems to have continued.Read More
Last January 3, an overjoyed Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnell took their seats in the new 115th Congress hoping to undo President Obama’s legacy and establish a conservative one of their own. The next months, however, did not live up to their expectations. Despite their surprise victory in the 2016 elections, which gave them the presidency and allowed them to maintain control of both houses of Congress, the Republicans found themselves divided, consumed by unsuccessful attempts to repeal the Affordable Care Act and unable to pass any major legislation. This has all changed in recent weeks, with a new tax bill likely to become law.Read More
This month, Austria and the Czech Republic held general elections. The results in both countries represent the latest step in right-wing populism’s march through Europe. On October 15, Austrians voted for Sebastian Kurz, a 31-year-old ex-foreign minister and head of the center-right OVP (Austrian People’s Party), to be their next chancellor. After his appointment to the OVP’s top spot last May, Kurz revitalized his stagnant and floundering party, bringing it from a dismal 20 percent support to 31.5 percent in the election. Discussion of migration dominated the campaign. Kurz capitalized on popular concerns about this issue, promising to close the Mediterranean Route, a major path African migrants take to reach Europe, and arguing that “on a European level we need to fight hard to put a stop to immigration.” Interestingly, the OVP’s embrace of nationalism did not prevent the far-right Freedom Party (FPO) from gaining ground; the FPO also climbed 5% to 26%, finishing just behind the second-place Social Democrats.Read More