Thursday 19 Sep 2019 | 07:46 | SYDNEY
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Europe

Macron and the uprooting of France

For months the world has waited with bated breath for Emmanuel Macron to save France, Europe and democracy by succeeding in his outwardly improbable campaign to become the next French president. Now that he has, it is time to ask: what, with the 'Far Right' duly slain, does he actually have a

From Macron to Renzi: The centre fights back

Emmanuel Macron's decisive victory - 65% to 35% - over Marine Le Pen has calmed fears of a Eurozone crisis and boosted the hopes of centrists and business in Europe that the momentum for populist parties has stalled, at least for now. German Chancellor Angela Merkel's spokesman was quick to describe

'A Wary Embrace': Response to Stephen Blank

Stephen Blank's very generous comments on A Wary Embrace arrived too late to cover in my response to the original contributions in The Interpreter debate. But he brings up a number of additional points that deserve a reply. The nature of the China-Russia relationship Blank somewhat

Le Pen’s support grows but Macron still in front

Emmanuel Macron's odds of becoming French President have narrowed in the final sprint to Sunday's election, with four in every ten voters* set to back the extreme-right candidate Marine Le Pen. A fierce opponent of immigrants, Muslims and the EU and an admirer of Vladimir Putin, the Front National

UK elections: A May day in June

After promising repeatedly there would be no early election, Prime Minister Theresa May has called a snap poll for 8 June, ostensibly to secure an electoral endorsement for the UK's Brexit negotiating position. May argues she needs the clear backing of British voters to stop other parties

‘A Wary Embrace’: The author responds

This post is part of a debate on Bobo Lo's Lowy Institute Paper, 'A Wary Embrace'. Other debate posts can be found here. In their excellent responses to my Lowy Institute Paper, A Wary Embrace, Kyle Wilson, Peter Rutland, Alexander Gabuev, and Marcin Kaczmarski raise a number of interesting points

The popes and the Islamists

As we approach Easter, it's worth looking at how institutional Christianity and radical Islamism interact in the contemporary world. The bomb attacks on Coptic churches in Egypt highlight the occasional focus by Islamist groups on Christian targets in the Middle East. Just as outsiders

How China and Russia avoided the Thucydides trap

This post is part of a debate on Bobo Lo's Lowy Institute Paper A Wary Embrace. Other debate posts can be found here. With every energy or arms trade deal and joint veto in the UN Security Council, the question of whether Russia and China have formed an alliance becomes more salient. These two

Sweden unites in wake of terror attack

Nice, Berlin, London and then Stockholm. The wave of Islamic-inspired, lone-wolf terror attacks sweeping through Europe reached the heart of Scandinavia on Friday, targeting Sweden, the country famously cited by Bin Laden as a symbol of freedom. Now 7/4 will be remembered by Swedes as the day when

China and Russia: Friends with strategic benefits

This post is part of a debate on Bobo Lo's Lowy Institute Paper A Wary Embrace. Other debate posts can be found here. Is the relationship between China and Russia just an axis of convenience – a limited partnership with no real empathy between the two parties, spiced by deep-seated and well-

Quick comment: Bobo Lo on China-Russia relations

This week the Lowy Institute launched its latest Penguin Special, A Wary Embrace, on the future of China-Russia relations. The author, Dr Bobo Lo, is in Sydney for the launch, and he sat down with me to talk about why he thinks China-Russia relations will remain largely transactional, and why Russia

Post-Brexit: Will the Kingdom stay united?

British Prime Minister Theresa May's decision to send the formal notice to Brussels that the United Kingdom will leave the European Union within the next two years has ignited restiveness on the fringes of the Kingdom. Scotland voted by 55% to 45% to remain in the Union in September 2014,

How Erdogan makes EU opprobrium work in his favour

The recent standoff between Turkey and several European countries shocked the world. For the first time in NATO and EU history, a member (or member candidate, in the case of the EU) state's foreign minister's plane was not allowed to land in EU territory (the Netherlands). Another Turkish

Finally, good news for the European Union

Three major recent developments appear to indicate that the EU, at long last, is on the up again: solid growth in the EU; the populist wave apparently cresting with Brexit and the Trump Administration; and it migration appearing to be manageable without totally wrecking 'Schengen',

The EU shouldn’t strike a Turkey-style deal with Libya

Last week, the European Court of Justice (ECJ) ruled that EU member states are not obliged to issue humanitarian visas to asylum seekers at their overseas missions. A humanitarian visa would enable a third-country national at risk of torture of inhumane treatment to apply in situ for entry

The Russian Revolution, a century on

A century ago today, Emperor Nicholas II, 'Tsar and Autocrat of all the Russias', pencilled his name to a document renouncing a throne three hundred years in his family's possession, not only for himself but also his son and chronically ill heir, Alexis. The date, according to the old Russian

European defence policy after Trump and Brexit

While international attention, especially from financial markets, is focused on how well nationalist-populist right movements in various EU member states perform in upcoming elections (Marine Le Pen in France, Geertt Wilders in the Netherlands, the Alternative für Deutschland in Germany), more

Marine Le Pen and the spectre of Frexit

National Front leader Marine Le Pen is one of the top contenders in this year's French presidential elections. And a President Le Pen would reconfigure international relations for good. Polls suggest the far-right leader will win the first round of voting on April 23 but lose the decisive run-off

What's behind Russia's missile treaty violation?

Earlier this week the New York Times broke a story that Russia is fielding new cruise missiles in violation of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF). This is significant, not because Russia stands accused of violating the Treaty, but rather how and why. The INF Treaty

Merkel's Faustian bargain with Erdogan

Angela Merkel’s visit to Turkey last week was met with wide-ranging scepticism. It was the German Chancellor’s first visit since the failed coup of July 2016, to which President Recep Tayyip Erdogan responded with an uncompromising offensive of suppression and violence. Having obtained the

Why Russia's 'slapping law' is bad news for all of us

Russia is moving to decriminalise domestic violence. Dubbed the 'slapping law', the bill that decriminalises certain acts of domestic violence was introduced by conservative parliamentarian Yelena Mizulina in January. It has now passed its third reading in the lower house, 380 MPs voted in support

French socialists reject centrism, want to dream again

The outcome of the French left's presidential primary vote this week marks an about face for the country's Socialist party. By electing Benoît Hamon as the presidential candidate, French socialists have shown that they want the party to return to core left-wing values and away from the business-

Little joy for Ireland in May's Brexit plan

I am a believer in the EU and I think what we need to do is to rediscover its great moments...What I think is rather sad…was the degree of fear that was in the discourse…It seemed to crowd out… all the things that the people of Europe can achieve together that go far beyond the elimination of

Theresa May’s Brexit cherry-picking is doomed to fail

In her two recent Brexit speeches, one delivered in London to the representatives of the 27 other EU-members and a second delivered two days later at Davos, May insisted that she wants a clean break: an exit from the single market (implicating the four freedoms) and from full membership of the

A grand bargain: What Russia now wants from the West

The election of Donald Trump as president of the United States of America has elicited thousands of lines of newsprint as academics, journalists and the wider public seek to make sense of its implications. It has occasioned no less speculation in Russia, much of it shot through with a strong sense

Western democracy and the crumbling party system

After the election of Donald Trump I argued that populism may not be the right lens through which to view recent political trends in Western democracies ('Is there a global wave of populism?'). Instead what we have seen in the Euro crisis, Brexit, the Trump election and to a lesser extent in

The British left must rediscover its internationalism

When the United Kingdom first applied to join the European Common Market in the 1960s, the great Clement Attlee, former Labour PM, rose in the House of Lords to argue against membership. His objections were made on two bases: The harmful rigidity of a political union with European countries,

Russia's revolutionary centenary

Russians are preparing for a New Year heavy with historical symbolism. A hundred years after their revolution, the French celebrated 1789 as year zero not only of the Republic that had finally emerged as France’s settled form of government, but also of a new, Enlightened era in the history of

EU-Turkey relations: A decade of reversals

After the European parliament’s overwhelming vote to freeze Turkey’s EU accession process, the European Council summit that will get underway later today in Brussels will debate relations between Turkey and the EU. For economic and strategic reasons, both the EU Council and the Turkish

Merkel pays the price for a bold stance on refugees

In the East German city of Dresden upwards of 5000 protesters linked to the anti-Islam PEGIDA (Patriotic Europeans Against the Islamisation of the West) party march through the streets every Monday. It's a confronting sight for the hundreds of newly migrated Syrians allocated to the city, a

The future according to Vlad and Shinzo

Vladimir Putin’s visit to Japan later this week is not interesting in itself. Rather, it is the strategic environment in which it is happening that holds our attention. Through this visit we can discern what the world’s powers think a Trump administration may mean for them, and see how they

Renzi's referendum and the future of the euro

On Sunday, Italians resoundingly rejected the constitutional changes put to them by Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi. Formally, the referendum sought to curtail the powers of the Senate (Italy’s upper house). But despite arguments to the contrary, the real question was: ‘How much pain are you

Can a populist EU survive?

Nationalism is contrary to what the EU is all about: nation states pledging to further coordination and cooperation for the common good based on common heritage and values, preventing the nationalist and authoritarian deviation that has continuously dragged Europe into conflict over the centuries

The ascendancy of François Fillon

Written off until only a week ago, François Fillon has won the nomination of France’s mainstream right-of-centre party Les Républicains in next year’s presidential elections, where it seems likely he will face the Front National’s Marine Le Pen. In all likelihood, Fillon will be the next

Trump: Not the ideal poster-boy for European populists

Sometimes luck can be so timed as to give an impression of genius. So it seemed with Angela Merkel’s announcement last week that she would stand as the German Christian Democrat Chancellor candidate for a fourth time in 2017.  The announcement itself was no surprise: Merkel’s apparent

Trump’s victory seen from Europe

Beyond the notion that 'the elite' (the mainstream media, the 1%, intellectuals, academics, established politicians, whoever) had not grasped the craving for deglobalisation by 'the people', seemingly all assembled in the boundless expanse from the Rust Belt to the Rockies, three main points appear

Trump, Germany and the new European order

Like much of the world, Germans watched the election of Donald Trump with surprise and dismay. It signified the ascent to high office of a man whose values and political methods have shocked even the most conservative of observers, and whose foreign policy positions threaten to unravel a

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