On May 29, Israeli lawmakers voted to dissolve parliament after Netanyahu failed to form a coalition government by a midnight deadline. Fresh elections will be held on September 17. This is the first time in Israel’s history that a prime minister-designate has failed to form a coalition government.
Netanyahu now finds himself the victim of a political landscape which he himself had a large part in shaping over the past ten years, unable to build his Likud into a majority party, and beholden to far-right and ultra-orthodox religious parties on the one hand and to the secular followers of Avigdor Liberman on the other.
The recently concluded European parliamentary elections have fractured longstanding political alliances. From the Liberal and Green parties to the populists and Euroskeptics, voters have delivered a more fragmented European Parliament. Challenges abound as the European Union (EU) needs to among other things address climate change, rekindle sustainable economic growth, and address foreign policy issues. All of these are pan-European issues, which will require looking beyond national borders and setting up new coalitions to craft policy directions. The European Parliament can serve as a forum to reconcile Europe and its citizens, provided it becomes a public square for transnational debate.
The European parliamentary elections—held this year from May 23 to 26—are one of the largest democratic displays in the world. Many observers, however, often view them as a “strange beast” and consequently ignore the consequences. The European Parliament shares responsibility with the European Council in crafting European legislation and the budget of the European Union (EU). As it appoints the president and members of the European Commission, the policy priorities it defends matter a great deal.
After elections to the European Parliament from May 23 to 26 saw the two main political parties in Europe lose seats to smaller Euroskeptic and pro-integration parties, European leaders must now figure out how to navigate an increasingly fractured political landscape, while also capitalizing on renewed interest in the Union underscored by the highest voter turnout since 1994.
Despite predictions that Euroskeptic, populist, and far-right parties would potentially swamp more pro-European integration parties, the elections saw only a moderate increase in Euroskeptic representation, while the solidly pro-European Union Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe (ALDE) and Greens-European Free Alliance (Greens) both saw double-digit seat increases. Emiliano Alessandri, a nonresident senior transatlantic fellow with the German Marshall Fund of the United States, said the result “is a turning point… Those of us who believe in a strong and united Europe should feel relieved after this election.”
The World Trade Organization (WTO)’s appellate body—part of the WTO’s dispute settlement system, once considered “the crown jewel” of the global trading system—is facing an existential crisis. The United States is blocking any new appointments to the body to force its members to update the WTO rulebook and address its concerns and to limit its judicial reach. While Washington’s path to achieve change is highly disruptive, many of the US administration’s points of discontent are shared by other members who agree that the WTO is in urgent need of reform.
Usually a body of seven, the appellate body has recently been reduced to three, the minimum number to decide a case under current rules. By December 2019, only one member will remain as the terms of two members expire. Without new appointments, the body would be made unfunctional.
Europe’s two major parties suffered considerable losses to smaller parties—both Euroskeptic and pro-European integration—in elections to the European Parliament from May 23 to May 26.
While the center-right European People’s Party (EPP) and center-left Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats (S&D) remain the two largest parties in the European Parliament, both parties suffered double-digit seat losses, according to preliminary results. The big gainers of the night were the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe (ALDE), which benefitted from the debut of French President Emmanuel Macron’s En Marche party, and an array of far-right Euroskeptic parties who made gains throughout Europe.
The best Europe in history is facing some of its greatest challenges ever. They will test the sustainability, effectiveness and relevance of the European Union and its related institutions that helped end centuries of conflict.
Despite all the focus on this week’s European parliamentary elections – the most closely watched and most widely reported in their four-decade run – this vote shouldn’t distract anyone from the more existential questions facing Europe.
British Prime Minister Theresa May announces her resignation
British Prime Minister Theresa May has suffered the ultimate political indignity, announcing her own political demise after just three years as prime minister of the world’s fifth-biggest economy.
May announced on May 24 that she will resign her position as leader of Britain’s ruling Conservative Party on June 7, but will stay on as prime minister until a new leader has been chosen, a process that will probably not be completed until late July.