Wednesday 14 Apr 2021 | 23:23 | SYDNEY
What's happening on


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

The real Trump-Putin connection

Among the first (and originally few) world leaders to congratulate Donald Trump on winning the White House was Russian President Vladimir Putin. But was Putin also the first to call it? After months of speculation about Russian meddling, nobody is now saying that Putin 'threw' the election

US-Russia rivalry takes the stage

Recent developments in the US Presidential race should put to rest any lingering doubt that one nation’s information warfare capabilities can fundamentally affect the politics of another. At the third US presidential debate in Las Vegas, Hillary Clinton accused the Russian government of aiding

Don't count on the Russians backing down this time

Happily, Russia and the US seem to have pulled back from some of the bitterness, outrage and disappointment that set the tone between them 10 days ago.  But the stakes in Syria remain incredibly high. There's a real danger that both sides, which had appeared to be on the verge of

Understanding Boris Johnson's call to protest Russia

On Tuesday, British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson made an unusual suggestion during his debut appearance at the House of Commons as a representative of the government. 'I would certainly like to see demonstrations outside the Russian embassy', he said, in agreement with a Labour Party MP who had

Russia over a South China Sea barrel

Russia and China have just kicked off a joint naval exercise in the South China Sea, Joint Sea 2016. It is scheduled to last until 19 September, including a visit by the Russian surface contingent to China’s South Sea fleet headquarters at Zhanjiang. This is the latest in a series of Russo-Chinese

Where the Russian intervention in Syria is headed

Russian President Vladimir Putin is well on the way to achieving several objectives of his military intervention in Syria. Russia has ensured the survival of the Assad regime, its only Arab partner, without loss of Russian personnel to the rebels or becoming mired in a ground conflict. In doing so

Iran and Russia: Not an easy relationship

Iran’s relationship with Russia has been characterised as many things, ranging from a ‘marriage of convenience’ to a ‘long-lasting alliance’. In reality it's a  pragmatic working relationship forged between two countries that  have faced similar political and economic pressures

Putin's plan to restore the Romanovs (Part 2)

Part one of this series examined the notion that Putin is encouraging re-Stalinisation in Russia. This post looks at the public rehabilitation of the Romanov Tsar Nicholas II. If there's a Russian leader whose reputation has been unequivocally rehabilitated during the Putin era, it's Nicholas

Putin's plan to restore the Romanovs (Part 1)

When US Secretary of State John Kerry visited Moscow in March, looming over his meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin in the Kremlin was a statue of Russian Emperor Alexander II (1855-81). Known as the ‘Tsar-Liberator’, Alexander freed the serfs, introduced trial by jury, relaxed press

Few answers to the existential questions posed by Brexit

A week and a half after the vote that shook the world, the list of unanswered questions continues to grow. Will Brexit really happen? Who will take responsibility? Who and what lost Northern England? Has unbridled populism won or has the popular will prevailed, reflecting a majority disenfranchised

Brexit: The view from China

Reports that China’s central bank will allow a further fall in the renminbi, which is already trading at its lowest level in over five years, highlight Beijing leadership’s immediate concerns over Brexit. Premier Li Keqiang’s speech to the World Economic Forum last week painted a

What we can learn from Brexit

There is much being written about the implications of Brexit. This stream of commentary will undoubtedly continue for some time; Matthew Goodwin said the repercussions from Brexit will be felt 'for generations'. While the focus is mostly on the negative implications, some think there may

Brexit is England's silliest decision since Suez

It's now over 70 years since British Prime Minister Winston Churchill told his Australian counterpart John Curtin of his wish to see a united western Europe, of which Britain would be a member. The allies had fought their way up the southern Italian peninsula but the Normandy landing was still a

Brexit: Bruised egos will heal, trading relationships will endure

By  Brett Hogan, Senior Fellow and John Roskam, Executive Director at the Institute of Public Affairs Brexit’s victory in last Thursday’s referendum may very well have been a surprise for the pollsters, financial markets, and possibly even the leaders of the Leave campaign but, to twist

Australia and the UK's leap into the unknown

By Dr Annmarie Elijah, Associate Director, ANU Centre for European Studies, Australian National University and Dr Ben Wellings, Deputy-director, Monash European and EU Centre, Monash University. The full ramifications of the events of 23 June, when a majority of British voters elected to leave the

Brexit: The view from Berlin

'One has to face up to the fact that the other members of the EU have been slagged off fairly royally, and they're the people who you would be negotiating with.' That was the assessment two weeks ago of Lord Jonathan Hill, who on Saturday resigned as Britain's European Commissioner. First among

Brexit should be a wake-up call for the G20

The economic and political consequences of last week's Brexit bombshell will have far-reaching implications. One of these is that the G20 should see Brexit as a wake-up call. Philip Stevens from the Financial Times points out that capitalism needed saving in the aftermath of the Global Financial

The economics of Brexit

A vote to leave would represent an immediate and profound shock to our economy. That shock would push our economy into a recession and lead to an increase in unemployment of around 500,000, GDP would be 3.6% smaller, average real wages would be lower, inflation higher, sterling weaker, house prices

After the vote comes the reckoning

Sometimes cliches and hyperbole are inescapable. Britain’s decision to leave the EU really is momentous; it really will reshape Europe’s political landscape; things really will never be quite the same again. The implications of this entirely avoidable decision look uniformly bad, and not just

Brexit: Unknown forces unleashed by outcome

In just over 90 hours after the UK's excruciating referendum vote to leave the EU, the politically shattered British Prime Minister, David Cameron, was due to go to Brussels to attend a long-planned EU leaders summit. Instead of celebratory champagne, he and his fellow EU confreres will be bracing

Brexit would be good for the UK and good for Europe

By Brett Hogan, Senior Fellow, and John Roskam, Executive Director, Institute of Public Affairs. This week's referendum on whether the UK remains with, or leaves, the EU is primarily about democracy and the right of a sovereign people to live under their own laws.  A vote to leave would be a

The strategic consequences of Brexit

If Britain votes to leave the EU on 23 June, it may well represent the greatest strategic shock to the continent since the breakup of the Soviet Union and consequent reunification of Germany a quarter century ago. The balance of power and influence between Britain, France and Germany – a crucial

The word on the street

As an Australian living in the UK, I have been asked by friends from home what's the word on the street about Brexit. The idea of reporting public opinion as 'the word on the street' brings to mind the infamous George Negus–Margaret Thatcher interview in which the Iron Lady calls out the

Brexit: Where are all the Leave pundits?

Daniel Woker writes on these pages that the Brexit campaign 'lack(s) any intellectually sound argument'. Judging by how difficult it has been for my colleagues and I at The Interpreter to find writers who favour the Leave campaign, it is tempting to agree. And The Interpreter is not alone: we have

Brexit campaign's immigration focus misses the point

Lacking any intellectually sound argument, the Leave crowd centres its appeal on the hot-button issue of migration. Boris Johnson, Nigel Farage and company dangle the illusion of a 'pure' British labour market in front of their followers just as Trump promises a Mexican-built wall to those who are

The curious case of the British left's Europhilia

The UK Labour Party has officially embraced a strong 'Remain' position in this month's EU referendum. The party has invested its full resources, including money, party staff, and volunteers. In many parts of the country, the Labour Party is the mainstay of 'Remain' campaign activity. There are two

What the UK needs now is more multilateralism, not less

Britain leaving the EU could signal a new shift away from multilateralism as leaders around the world increasingly talk about pulling up the drawbridge against globalisation and retreating into isolationism. This would be a mistake. The EU is enfeebled because its members cannot reach consensus

Putin: Russia’s last ‘pro-Western’ alternative

The West tends to anticipate the eventual downfall of Vladimir Putin with certain exuberance and optimism due to expectations of a more ‘pro-Western’ alternative or even the return of Yeltsin-era policies. The anti-Russian sanctions following Moscow's seizure of Crimea were envisioned to turn

The Brexit vote and Europe's security

The Brexit vote has put on hold any major EU business. But one way or the other, the EU will change after 23 June, especially with regard to security. Europe faces three related challenges: Libya and Turkey as key migrant transfer countries; Putinism in the East; and the need to stay globally

Facts take flight; rhetoric takes over

Boris Johnson, former London Lord Mayor, tilter for the next British prime ministership, and all round consummate public player, may not have expected to have Geert Wilders as a political bedfellow. Wilders, the ultra–nationalist, anti–Islamic Dutch populist, has joined Johnson in harking

Quick comments: Robin Niblett and Martin Wolf on Brexit

Next month, Britain will vote on whether to leave the European Union. How are both sides' campaigns affecting British politics? How would either outcome affect Britain's relationship with the EU? And if Britain votes to stay, what are the prospects for a similar referendum in the future?