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Category: European Politics

A free vote: This May be the lifeline Theresa needs

Written by Thomas Eason

Political turmoil has become something of a feature in British politics since the Brexit referendum. Time and time again Prime Minister Theresa May has faced down calls for her resignation and speculation about her suitability for office. Yesterday, the Prime Minister presented her draft Brexit deal to Parliament, creating a major political backlash that appears to present her greatest leadership challenge yet. After a gruelling few hours answering questions in Parliament about the Brexit deal, it’s clear she is unlikely to get her way in the Commons. In this chaotic context, there has been speculation over whether May will give her MPs a free vote – a vote in which MPs are allowed to vote without instruction from party managers. In this blog I explore how a free vote could impact May’s future as PM and argue that it might just be a much needed lifeline for the Prime Minister.

Taking over schools is taking over the heart and minds of the next generation: The case of Hungary

Written by Ksenia Northmore-Ball.

Whoever, in a given society, controls the content of school textbooks is in the highly privileged position of shaping how the next generation of citizens views the world. As the American Pulitzer-winning journalist and historian, Frances FitzGerald has said, school textbooks “tell children what their elders want them to know.” School textbooks take a special position in that they command unquestioning authority. The younger the school children reading the books, the less equipped they are to question the content – in other words, school children are the ideal captive and impressionable audience. Any ambitious political leader, movement, or regime with a strong guiding world view will ultimately desire to influence and control the education system, particularly the content of school textbooks. In a liberal democracy, one hopes that a plurality of social and political actors can influence this content.

Populist and Extreme Parties: To Ban or Not To Ban?

Written by Fernando Casal Bértoa and Angela Bourne.

Extreme, populist and anti-systemic parties are on the rise! Only this year elections in the Netherlands and Bulgaria and Germany returned excellent results for radical right parties (e.g. Party of FreedomAlternative for Germanyor Ataka). Even in usually quiet Liechtenstein The Independents (DU), a right-wing populist party, managed to obtain more than 18 percent of the votes. In France, Marine Le Pen came second in the presidential elections. Last Sunday the Freedom Party of Austria got more than 20 percent of the vote, and in countries like Greece or Slovakia support for neo-Nazi parties (i.e. Golden Dawn or People’s Party Our Slovakia) reach a notable 7 percent of the electorate.

The Missed Opportunity to Diffuse the Conflict with Catalonia

Written by Simon Toubeau. 

The scenes that the Spain and the rest of the world witnessed during last Sunday’s independence referendum in Catalonia brought to light what ensues when each party to a territorial conflict are equally assertive in their demands and resolute in their strategy.

For the Catalan and Spanish government to negotiate, the EU must be involved

Written by Simon Toubeau. 

Unless the Catalan and Spanish immediately open channels of dialogue about the constitutional future of Catalonia, the scenes witnessed last Sunday may only be a mild precursor of things to come. But for this dialogue to take place, the EU must be actively involved.

Red lines and compromises: public opinion on the Brexit negotiations

Written by Lindsay Richards and Anthony Heath.

The heated nature of the public discourse around Brexit suggests that the British public are not in a compromising mood, but is there evidence to back this up? We set out to discover what people think about the various aspects of the EU negotiations. Where are people more willing to compromise and what do they say are the ‘red lines’? Our results suggest there is more to see than the ‘two tribes’ politics of leave and remain.

Euroscepticism during the debt crisis in Portugal and the mass media´s focus on national politics

Written by Britta Baumgarten and Vicente Valentim.

Portugal was one of the countries most affected by the European sovereign debt crisis. Following the external IMF/EU intervention on the country in 2011, the economic crisis and the current and future state of the European Union became a major theme in the public debate in the country.

Socio-economic drivers of the 2016 Italian referendum vote

Written by Silvia Merler.

On December 4th 2016, Italy held a constitutional referendum in which almost 60% of the voters decided against a reform proposed by the government. The vote triggered the resignation of Prime Minister Renzi and opened a phase of political transition that will lead to new elections in 2018. In light of the elections ahead it is important to understand the factors driving this vote.