POLITICS & POLICY
The German electoral campaign is under the spotlight. On Sunday Chancellor Angela Merkel and SPD rival Martin Schulz, went head to head for the main debate of the electoral campaign. The debate focused on issues such as international relations, security and immigration. The future of the EU, and social and economic policies, were instead absent from it.
Merkel defended herself from Schulz’s questioning of her leadership of the country. Polls released after the debate confirmed that she was successful. Still, the leader of the Social Democratic Party scored a few points by sharpening his position vis-à-vis the Turkish government. Schulz pledged to interrupt talks with Ankara on its access to the EU.
Meanwhile, the CDU retains a 14-point lead over the SPD. Yet, it looks likely that the ruling party will need to engage in coalition talks with at least one other party in the Bundestag. The Liberal Party (FDP) and the Green Party are the main candidates to form a coalition Government with the CDU-CSU. On Tuesday September 5 minor political forces faced off in a second television debate aimed to highlight their policy views.
In other news, the preparation of the Catalan Independence referendum makes the headlines in Spain. Catalan authorities are set to open the ballot boxes on October 1. However, the national Government in Madrid is trying to weaken support for the popular vote.
On Monday Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy defined the Catalan referendum a challenge to democracy. But Catalan President Carles Puigdemont rebuffed any criticism. Puigdemont said that “a referendum can never become a threat to democracy itself”. Meanwhile, Pedro Sanchez, the leader of the Spanish Socialist Party (PSOE) called for all political parties to engage in talks to establish a new “territorial model” for the country.
In France, the labour market reform is becoming the main concern of the political class. Last week the government presented the key ingredients of the new reform. French President Emmanuel Macron aims at increasing the flexibility of the job market. The reform should foster investments in the national economy. At the same time, it would make it easier for employers to fire employees. Likewise, the new measures would lower social security standards. But trade unions and opposition parties are to the barricades. On September 12 they will take the streets against the reform. Meanwhile, opinion polls showed that Macron is losing popularity among French citizens. Nevertheless, foreign leaders cheered Macron’s effort to reform the French economy.
The migrant crisis continues to make headlines across Eastern Europe and in Brussels. The Hungarian Government established a barrier along its border with Serbia. The fence should block migrants from entering the country. Over the past few months, Brussels criticised Budapest for these initiatives. Even so, Viktor Orban called for the EU Commission to back the costs of construction of the fence. Representatives of the EU institutions could not but raise their eyebrows.
Meanwhile, the Polish Government rebuked invitations from Brussels to abide by the European Union’s refugee quota scheme. Brussels and Warsaw continue to clash also on other fronts, such as the judiciary reform enacted by the government of Beata Szydlo.
“[The third Greek bailout] was a scandal in terms of democratic processes, not because the decisions were scandalous, but because by deciding in this way the fate of a nation, imposing detailed decisions on pensions, the labour market”.
Pierre Moscovici, European Commissioner for Economic Affairs
Source: EurActiv, 04.09.2017
The growth rate of real salaries in the European Union in 2017.
Source: Der Spiegel, 01.09.2017
Photo Credits CC: Assemblea.cat
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