What’s next for Spain?


The major Spanish parties can no longer use the regional elections in Galicia and the Basque country as an excuse for not forming a national government. The spotlight has been put on the weakened socialist party, as the citizens in both ‘communities’ have grown tired of seeing the parties failing to come to an agreement throughout the country.

On Sunday, 25 regional elections took place in two ‘communities’ characterised by very different political situations.

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Saving EU trade policy


These are tough times for the European Union’s trade policy. Public sentiment has never been more hostile to the idea of free trade than it is now. An area previously of interest only to specialists of technical issues like tariff schedules, quotas, customs rates and trade balances is now the subject of impassioned street protest and furious rhetoric over the perceived risks of such deals for consumer rights and more. Free trade is now so contentious that nervous ministers are ready to block even the most modest of EU agreements.

This past year has already seen many setbacks for trade.

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Berlin 2016 – A state election with national impact


Latest update from the German state election includes: SPD Mayor remains in office, Grand coalition lost voters’ trust, AfD attracted non voters, FDP back in Parliament, pirates out.

Government parties suffer
The incumbent mayor Michael Müller and his SPD won the state elections with 21.6% of the votes. Müller succeeded the popular Klaus Wowereit in office in 2014 and governed in a grand coalition since. Both parties, the social democratic SPD and the conservative CDU, achieved their worst result in history in a Berlin state election. The Left Party and the Greens gained almost equal number of votes (15.6% and 15.2%), the liberal FDP re-enters the Parliament.

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EU leaders in Bratislava look beyond Brexit


After a summer spent processing the pain of Britain’s June referendum vote to leave their club, European Union leaders resolved at their summit last Friday in Bratislava to move beyond Brexit and chart a path towards a more citizen-friendly union.

The 27 leaders – meeting without Britain’s prime minister, Theresa May, who was not invited – insisted they remained united at their summit, called to brainstorm ways to connect with ordinary people.

It was, they recognised, a daunting challenge. Brexit is just the latest of a series of crises to hit the EU in recent years, following the ongoing refugee influx, a sluggish European economy, and a collapse in voter trust for the EU establishment.

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A forecast for the 2017 Norwegian elections


Norway’s present government has two parties represented among its Cabinet Ministers and relies on an additional two coalition partners to get a majority in Parliament.

Norway has a long tradition of minority rule. Eight parties are represented in Parliament, with 169 seats in total.

Since World War II, there has only been 10 years of majority government. The former centre-left (red-green coalition) formed a majority in Parliament in the period from 2005 till 2013. During this time, power shifted from Parliament toward the Ministries and from public debates to meetings behind closed doors.

After the elections in September 2013, the centre-left coalition handed over power to another coalition, this time made up of the Conservatives (Høyre) and The Progress Party (FrP).

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Toughest elections since the end of Apartheid


Enter the era of coalition government.

South Africa’s Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) has released the results of the country’s 2016 Municipal Elections, in which over 200 parties and 1.3 million new voters participated in what is regarded as the country’s most fiercely contested municipal elections since the dawn of democracy in 1994.

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Brussels Brexit Briefing – 2nd August


As we enter the summer break in the UK and across Europe, Brexit fervour at last seems to be dying down.

The big news in the last week has been the appointment, by Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, of former French Foreign Minister and EU Commissioner, Michel Barnier, to lead the EU’s Brexit negotiations. Mr Barnier, who led the Commission’s overhaul of EU banking laws in the aftermath of the 2008 financial meltdown, is already being seen as a provocative appointment by many in the UK media, given France’s firm stance on the UK’s future relationship with the EU.

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Brussels Brexit Briefing – 27th July


Theresa May’s new government has made its first practical moves towards Brexit by pulling the UK out of its scheduled slot in the EU’s rotating presidency in the second half of 2017.

The UK’s space will be taken over by Estonia, which will bring forward its own presidency by six months. A spokesman for European Council President Donald Tusk said there was “broad agreement” when EU ambassadors met in Brussels, although the decision still has to be formally confirmed.

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Brussels Brexit Briefing – 19th July


Key EU figures have put pressure on Theresa May to move fast to quit the EU. European Parliament President Martin Schulz called on her to invoke Article 50 after the summer, saying her government must give “the utmost consideration” to the European Parliament, which has the power to veto the UK’s EU divorce and any future trade deal. In an article for the Guardian, Mr Schulz called for talks to begin “without rancour” and for Britain to be thought of as a beloved relative leaving home rather than a treacherous renegade.

However, EU officials have acknowledged they have no powers to force the UK to trigger Article 50. European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, at a summit in China, offered conciliatory words for Mrs May, saying that the UK will face no “hate” or “revenge” during the Brexit talks. “I will not negotiate with Britain in a hostile mood. We have been partners in the EU for 40 years. We are allied countries, most of us in the North Atlantic Alliance,” he said.

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Were “free” banknotes enough to sway Swiss voters?

Swiss flag

Swiss citizens recently took part in a ballot, voting on five separate issues. With a 46% turnout, the public followed the advice of the Federal Council, hoping to ensure a solid long term impact on the economy.

Amongst the differing issues, the most notable case which generated a lot of attention, not only on a national scale but on a global one too, was the issue concerning a basic income for all.

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