FEWER MEMBERS, LESS MONEY In Britain, the opposition Labour party is still distrusted because it presided over a deregulated financial market bonanza that ended in the crash of 2008, wrecking the reputation for economic competence once built by Tony Blair and Gordon Brown. In France, one of the few countries with an absolute center-left parliamentary majority, Socialist President Francois Hollande is deeply unpopular as his government dithers between old-style tax-and-spend policies and half-hearted welfare and labor market reforms, satisfying no one. With the membership and funding of mainstream parties dwindling in many countries, the center-left has rarely kept pace with new vectors of political action via social media and grassroots initiatives. Some of the center-left’s woes may be temporary. When voters tire of center-right governments implementing austerity policies and scandal and attrition in office take their toll, the pendulum may swing back to the mainstream opposition. But the center-left can no longer offer much prospect of a rosier future through state intervention. There are fewer fruits of economic growth to redistribute, globalization continues to exert downward pressure on wages and working conditions in developed countries, and the demographics of ageing societies with shrinking workforces make welfare benefits and pensions ever harder to sustain. Compounding the left’s problems, some conservative leaders such as Merkel and Swedish Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt have successfully occupied the middle ground. “(Merkel) has taken any political polarization away by reverse-engineering the social democratic Third Way strategy,” said Henning Meyer, editor of the Social Europe Journal. “Similar to what Tony Blair and Gerhard Schroeder did in the 1990s and 2000s, she has adopted the most popular policies of her opponents – at least rhetorically.” Merkel embraced the phasing out of nuclear power, increased public spending on childcare and family benefits and offered a watered-down form of minimum wage to neutralize the center-left. A lurch to the left did not help the SPD regain much ground as core voters are still angry over painful reforms in the last decade that cut unemployment benefits and raised the retirement age, even though they are now credited with restoring German competitiveness. CREDIBLE SOCIAL JUSTICE? The policy dilemma confronting the European left is how to offer a credible, modern vision of social justice. Reformers such as Policy Network’s Cramme argue that the only salvation lies in emphasising “pre-distribution” through investment in childcare, education and job training, rather than perpetuating blanket welfare handouts.
Europe won’t save you: Why e-mail is probably safer in the US
9, 2013. (Photo: Tullio M. Puglia, Getty Images) SHARE 83 CONNECT 38 TWEET 8 COMMENTEMAILMORE Egypt’s state news agency says a boat has capsized off the coast of the city of Alexandria, killing 12 migrants and leaving 116 survivors. Meanwhile, Italy’s coast guard says many of the 200 migrants aboard a boat that capsized off Lampedusa have survived and helicopters are taking the injured to the Sicilian island. Coast guard spokesman Marco Di Milla says “a good number” of the estimated 200 people have been rescued. He says the coast guard received a satellite phone call from the boat and was able to locate it based on the satellite coordinates. A Maltese armed forces statement says that since the boat was in Maltese search and rescue waters, a Maltese aircraft was sent up and reported that the boat had capsized and that “numerous” people were in the water. The aircraft dropped a life raft and a patrol boat soon arrived at the scene. ALSO THIS WEEK: Italy detains suspected boat captain as death toll hits 275 Egypt’s state news agency says the coast guard received a call for help Friday from a boat carrying the migrants and naval forces went out to the rescue. It said the survivors were 72 Palestinians, 40 Syrians, and four Egyptians. The nationalities of those who drowned were not immediately available. Officials said rescue efforts continued. At least 70,000 Syrians are registered in Egypt as refugees. Many non-registered, including thousands of Palestinians who also fled the war in Syria, use the country as a stop before making the perilous sea trip to Europe.
Europe’s Strategic Future: Implications of the Eurozone Crisis
However, its ability to achieve targeted outcomes faces a number of hurdles. It will be constrained in the breadth of its geopolitical engagement, concentrating its efforts and abilities on issues of major significance, such as energy and finance. The European Union will also continue its endeavors to act as a monitor and judge of good conduct by countries in Eurasia, Africa, and Latin America. It will still be lecturing others on human rights and democratic development, irrespective of the situation within the Union itself, but it is likely to have less impact on the decision-making of countries that may emerge as new power centers for these respective regions. In the area of global political issues, the European Union is likely to be a secondary force to the United States, China, possibly India, and regional unions around powers such as Brazil or Russia. What the European Union can and is likely to focus on is the role of a trusted broker and a factor of balance in future geopolitical tensions and confrontations between major powers. This could entail a greater focus by the European Union on the strictures and enforceability of international law, and a greater focus on diplomatic processes that do not rely on internal EU resources. To maintain its geopolitical positioning, the European Union would be increasingly reliant on multilateral approaches and mechanismsthrough existing institutional channels, and potentially new roles for frameworks such as the Group of 20. For example, in order to carry sufficient geopolitical weight, the European Union would do well to maintain the interest of players like Turkey in ongoing engagement and closer ties with the Union. Turkey has already established its intent to conduct itself as a regional power center in the Middle East, and is assuming leadership in a much more efficient and effective manner than the European Union on a number of issues of global significance. Losing the interest of Turkey to be a part of the European Union would reduce the sway that the European Union currently has and may potentially wield in the future. Second, the European Union will continue to endeavor to develop its hard power capacities.