Geert Wilders Falls Short In Election, As Wary Dutch Scatter Their Votes

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE NEW YORK TIMES)

Geert Wilders, a Rising Anti-Muslim Voice

This is Geert Wilders, a far-right Dutch politician with aspirations to be the next prime minister of the Netherlands. He has compared the Quran to “Mein Kampf” and has called Moroccans “scum.”

By AINARA TIEFENTHÄLER on Publish Date March 13, 2017.  

THE HAGUE — The far-right politician Geert Wilders fell short of expectations in Dutch elections on Wednesday, gaining seats but failing to persuade a decisive portion of voters to back his extreme positions on barring Muslim immigrants and jettisoning the European Union, according to early results and exit polls.

The results were immediately cheered by pro-European politicians who hoped that they could help stall some of the momentum of the populist, anti-European Union and anti-Muslim forces Mr. Wilders has come to symbolize, and which have threatened to fracture the bloc.

Voters, who turned out in record numbers, nonetheless rewarded right and center-right parties that had co-opted parts of his hard-line message, including that of the incumbent prime minister, Mark Rutte. Some parties that challenged the establishment from the left made significant gains.

The Dutch vote was closely watched as a harbinger of potential trends in a year of important European elections, including in France in just weeks, and later in Germany and possibly Italy. Many of the Dutch parties that prevailed favor the European Union — a rare glimmer of hope at a time when populist forces have created an existential crisis for the bloc and Britain prepares for its withdrawal, or “Brexit.”

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“Today was a celebration of democracy, we saw rows of people queuing to cast their vote, all over the Netherlands — how long has it been since we’ve seen that?” Mr. Rutte said.

Alexander Pechtold, the leader of Democrats 66, which appeared to have won the most votes of any left-leaning party, struck a similar note underscoring the vote as a victory against a populist extremist.

“During this election campaign, the whole world was watching us,” Mr. Pechtold said. “They were looking at Europe to see if this continent would follow the call of the populists, but it has now become clear that call stopped here in the Netherlands.”

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How Far Is Europe Swinging to the Right?

Right-wing parties have been achieving electoral success in a growing number of nations.

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According to an unofficial tally compiled by the Dutch Broadcasting Foundation, the country’s public broadcaster, the People’s Party for Freedom and Democracy was likely to capture 33 of the 150 seats in Parliament — a loss of seven seats, but still far more than any other party.

Mr. Wilders’s Party for Freedom was expected to finish second, with 20 seats (an increase of eight); and the right-leaning Christian Democratic Appeal and the left-leaning Democrats 66 were tied for third, with 19 each, the broadcaster reported.

In the Netherlands, the results betrayed a lingering distrust of turning over the reins of power to the far right, even as its message dominated the campaign and was likely to influence policies in the new government.

Yet there are limits to how much the Netherlands, one of Europe’s most socially liberal countries, will be a reliable predictor for Europe’s other important elections this year, including next month’s presidential elections in France.

Mark Bovens, a political scientist at Utrecht University, noted that Mr. Wilders and other right-wing parties, despite their gains, did not drastically cross traditional thresholds.

“The nationalist parties have won seats, compared to 2012 — Wilders’s party has gained seats, as has a new party, the Forum for Democracy — but their electorate is stable, it has not grown,” Mr. Bovens said.

Mr. Bovens pointed out that an earlier populist movement led by the right-wing politician Pim Fortuyn had won 26 seats in 2002, and that Mr. Wilders’s won 24 seats in 2010. If Mr. Wilders’s party rises to 20 seats, as the early returns seemed to indicate, it will still be lower than the previous high-water marks.

“And some of the traditional parties have moved in a more nationalistic direction, taking a bit of wind out of his sails,” he said. “You see the same strategy in Germany.”

The German governing coalition led by Chancellor Angela Merkel, which is facing a stiff election challenge of its own this year, was clearly buoyed by the Dutch result, its foreign ministry sending a warmly enthusiastic message via Twitter.

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“The Netherlands, after Brexit, after the American elections, said ‘Whoa’ to the wrong kind of populism,” said Mark Rutte, the Dutch prime minister, speaking to an enthusiastic crowd. CreditCarl Court/Getty Images

“Large majority of Dutch voters have rejected anti-European populists. That’s good news. We need you for a strong #Europe!” it read.

In the Netherlands’s extremely fractured system of proportional representation — 28 parties ran and 13 are likely to have positions in the 150-seat lower house of Parliament — the results were, not atypically, something of a dog’s breakfast.

Mr. Rutte’s party lost seats, even as it came out on top, and will need to join forces with several others in order to wield power. Virtually all parties said they would not work with Mr. Wilders in a coalition — so toxic he remains — though his positions are likely to infuse parliamentary debate.

“Rutte has not seen the last of me yet!” Mr. Wilders wrote on Twitter, and indeed his anti-immigrant message, which dominated much of the campaign, was not likely to go away.

It came into particularly sharp relief on the eve of the election, when Turkey’s foreign minister sought to enter the Netherlands to rally support among Turks in Rotterdam for a referendum to increase the power of the Turkish president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Dutch officials refused him landing rights.

Mr. Wilders, who has seemed to relish being called the “Dutch Donald Trump,” has been so extreme that some appear to have thought twice about supporting him.

He has called for banning the Quran because he compares it to Hitler’s work “Mein Kampf,” which the Netherlands banned, and for closing mosques and Islamic cultural centers and schools.

Election turnout was high, with polling places seeing a steady stream of voters from early morning until the polls closed at 9 p.m. Of the 12.9 million Dutch citizens eligible to cast ballots, more than 80 percent voted.

Some polling places ran out of ballots and called for additional ones to be delivered. There were so many candidates listed that the ballots were as voluminous as bath towels and had to be folded many times over to fit into the ballot box.

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Supporters of the Green Party reacted in The Hague on Wednesday.CreditRobin Van Lonkhuijsen/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

The percentage of the vote that a party receives translates into the number of seats it will get in Parliament. If a party gets 10 percent of the total votes, it gets 10 percent of seats in the 150-seat Parliament, given to its first 15 candidates listed on the ballot.

The election was a success for the left-leaning Green Party, led by 30-year-old Jesse Klaver, a relative political newcomer, whose leadership at least tripled the party’s seats, making it the fifth-place finisher and potentially a part of the government.

Mr. Klaver ran specifically on an anti-populist platform and worked hard to turn out first-time voters.

“In these elections there was an overwhelming attention from the foreign press, which is understandable because Brexit happened and Trump was elected, and because France, Germany and maybe Italy will be holding elections,” Mr. Klaver said. “They asked us: Will populism break through in the Netherlands?”

The crowd shouted: “No.”

“That is the answer that we have for the whole of Europe: Populism did not break through,” Mr. Klaver said.

Another striking development was the first-time election of former Labor Party members, all three of Turkish background, who formed a new party, Denk (which means “think”). It will be the only ethnic party in the Dutch Parliament and is a reminder that Turks are the largest immigrant community in the Netherlands. There are roughly 400,000 first, second, or third-generation Turkish immigrants in the nation.

The big loser was the center-left Labor Party, which was expected to drop from being the second largest party in Parliament, with 38 seats and a position as Mr. Rutte’s coalition partner. The party was expected to win only nine seats.

In past elections the impact of extremist right-leaning parties has been largely blunted by a political system that for more than a century has resulted in governance by coalition.

This year’s election may give the Netherlands its most fragmented government in history. Some political analysts believe it could take weeks or months to form a government and that the governing coalition will be fragile.

In Belgium, which has a similar political system as the Netherlands, it famously took nearly a year and a half after inconclusive elections in June 2010 to form a government.

French President Hollande Says French Values Must Be Defended In Cold War Climate

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF BLOOMBERG NEWS)

Hollande Says France Must Defend Values in Cold War Climate

December 31, 2016, 3:03 PM EST
  • Outgoing French president sees democracy, freedom at risk
  • Final New Year’s address targets National Front’s Le Pen

French President Francois Hollande tells the French they have values to defend in the context of a new Cold War — a reference to both geopolitics and the country’s looming presidential election.

“There are moments in history when everything can be toppled. We are living through one of those periods,” Hollande said in a televised speech from Paris. “Democracy, freedom, Europe and even peace — all of these things have become vulnerable, reversible. We saw it with Brexit and with the U.S. election in November.”

Hollande, who came to power in May 2012, bowed out of France’s 2017 presidential race earlier this month, meaning today’s New Year’s eve address to the nation will be his last as head of state. The Socialist leader insisted to French voters that they have a responsibility on the global stage when they cast their ballots.

“France is open to the world, it is European,” Hollande said. “It is not possible to imagine our country crouching behind walls, reduced to its domestic self, returning to a national currency and increasingly discriminating based on peoples’ origins. It would no longer be France. That is what is at stake.”

Those remarks directly targeted the policies of National Front leader Marine Le Pen, who is committed to pulling France out of the euro, increasing restrictions on immigration, as well as putting up tariff barriers.

“Our main enemy is our doubt. You must have confidence in yourselves,” Hollande said.

Before it’s here, it’s on the Bloomberg Terminal.

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Germany: After Berlin Murders Chancellor Merkel Political Career Is In Jeopardy

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE HUFFINGTON POST/WORLD POST)

THE WEEKEND ROUNDUP 

Europe was already reeling from major terror attacks in Brussels, Paris and Nice as well as Brexit and the defeat of the political establishment in the Italian referendum before this week. With anti-immigrant parties standing ambitiously in the wings waiting for events to further boost them into power, the worst thing that could have happened, the shoe waiting to drop, was a terror attack at Christmas time in Germany by an asylum-seeker linked to Islamist terror groups. It is just that which took place in Berlin this week.

That the inevitable has now occurred likely seals the political fate of Europe. Public opinion will surely turn decisively against the open-arms refugee policy of German Chancellor Angela Merkel — the most prominent defender of the troubled European project of integration and the free movement of people. Merkel’s coalition partner (yet mainstream opponent) Horst Seehofer of the Bavarian Christian Social Union, has already laid down the challenge. “We owe it to the victims, to those affected and to the whole population to rethink our immigration and security policy and to change it.” As Nick Robins-Early reports, the Alternative for Germany party and other anti-immigrant groups are already capitalizing on the incident. One AfD leader called those killed “Merkel’s dead.”

Alex Görlach hopes that Merkel’s considerable political skills can save the day by adjusting the Europe-wide refugee policy in the wake of this week’s tragedy. That she is also the only European leader who can stand up to the next American president, Görlach notes, could be a political asset.

Yet, even if the chancellor survives, the damage has already been done. The European idea, which has been losing luster for years, looks to be the latest and most consequential casualty of a world in turmoil that stretches from the rubble of Aleppo to the World War II memorial ruins of the Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church, near where the Christmas market attack took place in Berlin.

Writing from Germany, Stefan Schmidt argues that his fellow citizens should resist calls to blame anyone but the perpetrator while continuing to embrace the values of an open, but inevitably vulnerable, society. In a similar vein,Sebastian Christ writes from Berlin that, “We can’t give in to those who want to force their hate-filled world view on us. … On top of everything, we must continue to hold on to freedom for ourselves. I will definitely continue going to Christmas markets in Berlin.”

Picking up on the theme in the back of everyone’s mind about Muslims at Christmas, Dean Obeidallah fondly remembers his Muslim father, born near Jesus’ birthplace of Bethlehem, hanging Christmas lights on their home in New Jersey as a child. He also surveys other American Muslims who partake in the holiday, including Aasif Mandvi.

Unfortunately, the attack in Germany wasn’t the only attack we saw this week. Another act that shocked the world took place in Ankara, where the Russian ambassador to Turkey was assassinated. John Tures, who has studied the different motivations and effectiveness of “lone wolf” versus “wolf pack” terrorists linked to organized extremists, argues that preventing future attacks, whether of the kind in Berlin or Ankara, requires being able to distinguish between these two threats.

Details are still emerging about the attack in Ankara, but it appears to be an apparent act of revenge over the Kremlin’s key role in the brutal assault on Aleppo in recent weeks. As Alex Motyl writes, more such attacks can be expected due to Putin’s Syria policy. “Anti-Russian terrorism is the new normal,” he says. Turkish journalist Ilgin Yorulmaz ponders the timing of the assassination in Ankara, which came on the eve of a tripartite meeting of Russia, Turkey and Iran concerning Syria, and reports that some suspect a geopolitical aim. “A strong NATO member,” she writes, “Turkey may have found a new ally in Russia, and possibly even Iran, to become a game changer in the Middle East.”

This week also saw the last evacuations out of Aleppo. Dr. Ahmad Tarakji, whose organization has been working on the ground in the besieged city, offers a detailed account of the humanitarian catastrophe there, which he says is far from over after the forced relocations. “The world has failed the people of Aleppo time and time again,” he writes, “but it’s not too late to act now to help those seeking refuge somewhere else. The international community must do everything in its power to protect these most vulnerable of people. They continue to suffer while the world is standing idly by.”

Writing from Moscow before the Syrian regime claimed control over all of Aleppo,Vladimir Frolov proposes that the best course for the Kremlin now would be, “declaring victory in Aleppo, scaling down its military operations against the rebels, refocusing its air war on ISIS in a new collaborative effort with the U.S. and pressuring the Assad regime into a political settlement.”

Returning to the hot issue of Russian influence meddling in the affairs of democracies, Toomas Hendrik Ilves knows from whence he speaks. In 2007, the former president of Estonia experienced a Kremlin-led cyberattack on his government, banking and news media servers. He expects more such attacks in Europe as elections loom. “The conundrum that Europe will face in the coming year,” he writes from Tallinn, “is whether or not to use illiberal methods to safeguard the liberal state. … Because of cyberattacks and fake news, we can already imagine the problem all democratic societies will face in future elections: how to limit lies when they threaten democracy?”

In an exclusive interview, former U.S. National Security Adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski claims Russian President Vladimir Putin was directly involved in the effort to tip the recent American election scales in Trump’s favor. “Yes. Russian intelligence was involved, no question,” he says, “Yes. Putin plays that kind of direct role. Russian intelligence is not some independent agency. It is an agency of the state organized for specific political purposes. Putin absolutely controls the state apparatus. No doubts there.” He also warns that “stupid irritations” over Taiwan risk derailing America’s most important foreign policy relationship with Beijing. “A world in which America and China are cooperating,” Brzezinski underscores, “is a world in which American influence is maximized.”

One of the hottest issues in the U.S. presidential campaign was Donald Trump’s pledge to build a wall with Mexico. Writing from Mexico City, Homero Aridjis and James Ramey offer a highly innovative proposal: Instead of Trump’s wall, they want to build a border of solar panels. “It would have a civilizing effect in a dangerous area,” they contend. “Since solar plants use security measures to keep intruders out, the solar border would serve as a de facto virtual fence, reducing porousness of the border while producing major economic, environmental and security benefits on both sides.” Such an installation, they continue, “would make trafficking drugs, arms and people all the more difficult for criminal cartels. In Mexico, the solar border would create a New Deal-like source of high-tech construction and technology jobs all along the border, which could absorb a significant number of would-be migrant workers on their way to cross into the U.S. illegally, at great physical risk.”

Rolling back globalization to stem joblessness and inequality was another prime issue in the recent presidential election campaign. Branko Milanovic takes up this challenge, arguing that reversing globalization would only reduce growth rates in both the advanced and emerging economies, to no one’s benefit. “A more promising avenue for dealing with inequality in rich countries for the 21st century,” he writes, “is to reduce inequality in human and financial capital endowments. This implies, first, reversing the currently extraordinary high concentration of capital assets by giving the middle classes fiscal and other incentives to invest and own assets and, second, equalizing access to high-quality education that is increasingly monopolized by the rich.” A special Highline investigative report we publish this week traces the corporations and criminals profiting handsomely from the refugee crisis.

Britain’s top court hears case that could delay European Union exit

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE SHANGHAI DAILY NEWS)

Britain’s top court hears case that could delay European Union exit

BRITAIN’S Supreme Court yesterday began a historic hearing to decide whether parliament has to approve the government’s Brexit negotiations, in a highly charged case that could delay the country’s EU exit.

For the first time, all 11 Supreme Court judges convened to hear a challenge by the government against a ruling that Prime Minister Theresa May must seek lawmakers’ approval before starting the process to leave the European Union.

The High Court ruled last month that the government did not have the executive power alone to invoke Article 50 of the EU’s Lisbon Treaty, formally starting exit talks which could take two years.

The decision enraged Brexit supporters and some newspapers who accused judges of thwarting the will of the 52 percent who voted “Leave” in the June 23 referendum.

The vote for Britain to become the first country to leave the 28-nation bloc sent shockwaves across the world and emboldened populists in Europe and the United States.

Supreme Court President David Neuberger said people involved in the case had received threats and abuse and stressed that the judges would rule without any political bias after criticism from Brexit backers.

A parliamentary vote on Article 50 could open the door to pro-EU lawmakers delaying or softening Britain’s withdrawal from the bloc.

Neuberger said the judges were “aware of the strong feelings” surrounding Brexit but “those wider political questions are not the subject of this appeal.”

He told the court: “This appeal is concerned with legal issues, and, as judges, our duty is to consider those issues impartially, and to decide the case according to the law. That is what we shall do.”

He said some parties involved in the case had received threats of “serious violence and unpleasant abuse,” warning that there were “legal powers” to deal with such threats.

Attorney General Jeremy Wright, the government’s chief legal adviser, outlined the government’s case at the start of the four-day, live-broadcast hearing, with a judgment expected in January.

In his opening statement, he said there was a “universal expectation” that the government would implement the referendum result.

He argued that the government had constitutional authority over foreign affairs, including the right to withdraw from treaties, under so-called “royal prerogative powers.”

The royal prerogative is “not an ancient relic but a contemporary necessity,” he said.

If it loses, the government is expected to introduce a short bill — reportedly comprising just three lines of text — which it will then seek to push rapidly through parliament to authorize the triggering of Article 50.

May, who became prime minister after the Brexit vote, has insisted a parliamentary vote on the legislation would not disrupt her plans to trigger Article 50 by the end of March.

However, the opposition Labour Party delivered a blow to the government on Saturday when it announced it would seek to amend any bill, potentially delaying the process.

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said the amendment would ensure Britain retains access to the European single market and protect workers’ and environmental rights.

May faces a further potential complication from representatives of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland who will argue Article 50 also needs to be approved by the UK’s devolved parliaments.

Brexit: In The UK, Just like In The U.S. The Vote Of The People Means Nothing?

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF TIME MAGAZINE)

UNITED KINGDOM

What to Know About the Brexit Ruling Against the U.K. Government

BRITAIN-EU-POLITICS-COURT-BREXIT
Niklas Halle’n—AFP/Getty ImagesGina Miller, co-founder of investment fund SCM Private and the lead claimant in the case, reads a statement outside the High Court in central London after winning the legal challenge that Article 50 cannot be triggered without a decision by parliament, on November 3, 2016. The High Court in London ruled on Thursday that parliament, not the government, must approve the start of Britain’s withdrawal from the European Union, in a landmark decision that could delay Brexit.

High Court decision has thrown a wrench in the gears of Theresa May’s government

The United Kingdom’s High Court ruled on Thursday the British government must receive approval from parliament to begin the process of withdrawal from the European Union, a move that could significantly disrupt the progress of so-called ‘Brexit.’

The ruling comes as a bitter blow to the government of Prime Minister Theresa May, which had argued the triggering of the mechanism that puts Brexit into motion did not need to be approved by lawmakers. Lawyers for the government will now appeal the ruling in the U.K.’s Supreme Court.

Here’s a quick guide to the biggest obstacle yet placed in Brexit’s path:

Does this mean Brexit is doomed?

No. The ruling merely makes it harder for the government to trigger ‘Article 50,’ the section of the relevant E.U. treaty that allows for countries to leave the 28-nation bloc. May said in October that the government would notify the E.U. of Article 50 before the end of March next year, formally starting a two-year process of leaving. This ruling throws that timeline into doubt, and threatens to undermine May’s negotiating position with E.U. leaders over the terms of departure.

What was the nature of the legal challenge?

The British government had argued that Article 50 could be triggered under the so-called “royal prerogative,” by which it has exercised executive power on issues of foreign policy for centuries.

Lawyers for the anti-Brexit campaigners who brought the case argued that, since withdrawing from the E.U. would affect their domestic legal rights, the royal prerogative should not apply, and lawmakers in parliament should be asked for approval.

The court sided with the plaintiffs, concluding that the government “does not have power under the Crown’s prerogative to give notice pursuant to Article 50 of the [E.U. treaty] for the United Kingdom to withdraw from the European Union.”

So now MP’s will get to vote on Brexit?

Yes, if the ruling survives the appeal process. The Supreme Court will rule on the government’s appeal in early December. If that fails, the government could escalate its appeal to the European Court of Justice—but that would be a supremely ironic move, given Britain is currently seeking to escape its jurisdiction. If the Supreme Court ruling goes against the government, May will face enormous pressure to drop the challenge and give parliament a vote.

How will lawmakers vote?

That’s an interesting question. In the buildup to the E.U. referendum, a large majority of members of parliament (MPs) across the various parties were in the ‘Remain’ camp. If the parliamentary vote had been held before the referendum, it undoubtedly would have been in favor of staying in.

But the public has now spoken, and MPs will be under pressure to reflect the will of their constituents as opposed to what they personally feel about Brexit. This is especially the case for the opposition Labour Party, whose constituencies voted 70-30 to leave the European Union in spite of the party’s near-unanimous support for ‘Remain.’

Lawmakers could, however, use a requirement for a vote to pressure the government to seek a “softer” Brexit—maintaining access to the European single market, for example, or even allowing free movement across borders. This would certainly undermine the position of the Conservative government, which wants a clean, sharp break from the economic and political bloc.

What’s the reaction been like to the ruling?

The government issued a terse statement saying it would appeal the ruling. Elsewhere, it has provoked sharply different reactions from ‘Remainers’ and ‘Leavers.’ Nigel Farage, leader of the United Kingdom Independence Party, warned on Twitter the ruling would open the door to a “betrayal” of the popular vote:

Leaders Of England, Scotland, Whales And Northern Ireland Meet To Discuss Brexit

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE SHANGHAI DAILY NEWS)

UK nations hold crucial Brexit talks

THE leaders of Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales met British Prime Minister Theresa May yesterday to discuss what part the three nations will play in the Brexit process, a thorny issue that risks triggering a constitutional crisis.

May proposes setting up a new committee to give the three devolved governments, which have varying degrees of autonomy from London, a formal avenue to express views on how Britain’s future relationship with the European Union should work.

“The country is facing a negotiation of tremendous importance and it is imperative that the devolved administrations play their part in making it work,” May said in a statement released before the meeting.

At stake is the three-century union between England, where a majority voted to leave the EU, and Scotland, where a majority voted to stay.

Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said yesterday she was seeking “meaningful input” into the decision-making structure and wants each of the United Kingdom’s four assemblies to get a vote on the proposed negotiating package.

Sturgeon has said her government is preparing for all possibilities, including independence from the UK, after Britain leaves the EU.

In Northern Ireland, which also voted to keep EU membership, there are fears that Brexit could undermine a 1998 peace deal and reinstate a hard border with the Republic of Ireland.

Experts have warned of the risk of a constitutional crisis if May does not take into account the position of each of the UK’s four nations when conducting talks on the terms of Brexit.

“Imposing a Brexit settlement in the face of devolved opposition (while legally possible) would be a reckless strategy,” said the Institute for Government, an independent think-tank.

“Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland cannot be treated like any other lobby or interest group. Equally, the devolved governments will have to accept that Westminster will have the final say,” it said in a report.

The new committee proposed by May would be chaired by Brexit minister David Davis and include representatives from the three devolved governments. May proposes that it should meet by the end of November and at least once more before Christmas.

Sturgeon has said Scotland wants to keep as many of the advantages of membership of the EU’s single market as it can and is looking for a bespoke deal to do so.

IMF Downgrades The Worlds Economic Growth Outlook For 2016-17

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE SHANGHAI DAILY NEWS)

IMF downgrades world’s prospects

THE International Monetary Fund downgraded its forecasts for growth in global trade volume and for advanced economies’ output, saying that prospects for richer countries had darkened this year in its latest global economic forecasts.

“It is vitally important to defend the prospects for increasing trade integration,” IMF chief economist Maurice Obstfeld said yesterday. “Turning back the clock on trade can only deepen and prolong the world economy’s current doldrums.”

Global output is expected to grow this year at a rate of 3.1 percent before rising to 3.4 percent next year, estimates that are unchanged from July, the IMF said in its World Economic Outlook report.

The IMF notably cut its growth forecast for the United States, the world’s largest economy, but upgraded those for Japan and the euro zone.

“Taken as a whole, the world economy has moved sideways,” Obstfeld said, adding that “sub-par growth” was stirring negative economic and political forces around the world.

The IMF downgraded its outlook for advanced economies this year by 0.2 percentage points to 1.6 percent but raised it slightly for emerging and developing economies to 4.2 percent. Next year’s forecasts were unchanged.

The global crisis lender predicted the US economy would expand by just 1.6 percent, compared to its July estimate of 2.2 percent and one percentage point below 2015’s pace.

The slower-than-expected activity comes out of the ongoing oil industry slump, depressed business investment and a persistent surplus in business inventories, it said.

But also underpinning the turgid pace of activity, the IMF said, is uncertainty over the looming US presidential election, which pits Democrat Hillary Clinton against Republican Donald Trump.

The IMF also cut its 2017 growth forecast for Britain, blaming Brexit, and warning that the damage could be greater if rocky negotiations lead to trade barriers.

Uncertainty after Brexit vote

It now expects Britain’s GDP to expand by 1.1 percent in 2017, a downgrade of 0.2 percentage points from the prediction given in July.

“In the United Kingdom slower growth is expected since the referendum as uncertainty in the aftermath of the Brexit vote weighs on firms’ investment and hiring decisions and consumers’ purchases of durable goods and housing,” the IMF said.

The world trade outlook also soured, with growth pegged at 2.3 percent this year, 0.4 percentage points lower than forecast in July, before rising to 3.8 percent in 2017.

“Over the medium term, while we expect that advanced economies will continue along a disappointingly low growth path, emerging market and developing economies should accelerate,” said Obstfeld.

Japan was a surprise bright spot, with forecasts for this year and next revised upward over July’s forecast. The Japanese economy is now due to grow by 0.5 and 0.6 percent this year and next.

Likewise, the euro zone had its forecasts moved upward by 0.1 percentage points, with output expected to increase by 1.7 percent this year and 1.5 percent in 2017.

But Obstfeld warned of a “gathering political fallout” of a low-growth era in wealthy countries where income distribution has skewed “sharply toward the highest earners.”

King Obama Telling The British People “How It Is” (I don’t think the British people like getting lectured)

THIS IS A COPY POST FROM THE BELFAST TELEGRAPH NEWS PAPER OF APRIL 24th

(This IS A Re-post From Two Months Ago, I Said Then That King Obama Should Have Kept His Royal Mouth Shut. The Vote Results Proved Me Correct.)

Brexit: Furious reaction following Barack Obama’s intervention

(By Shaun Connolly, Press Association Political Correspondent)

PUBLISHED 24/04/2016

Prime Minister David Cameron greets US president Barack Obama
Prime Minister David Cameron greets US president Barack Obama

US president Barack Obama has launched a fresh intervention into the Brexit battle, warning the UK would have to wait up to a decade for a trade deal with America if it quits the EU.

Unbowed by a furious backlash from the Leave camp against his “interference” in British affairs during his visit to London, Mr Obama reinforced his stark statement that the UK would be at “the back of the queue” for a beneficial economic arrangement if it breaks away from Brussels.

“My simple point is that it’s hard to negotiate trade deals. It takes a long time, and the point is that the UK would not be able to negotiate something with the United States faster than the EU.

“We wouldn’t abandon our efforts to negotiate a trade deal with our largest trading partner, the European market, but rather it could be five years from now, ten years from now, before we were able to actually get something done,” Mr Obama told the BBC.

Denying that he was a “lame duck” president as prominent Leave figures have alleged, Mr Obama delivered a direct slap-down to the Brexit camp who had claimed the UK could cut a speedy deal with the US.

“The point I was simply making was that for those who suggested that, you know, if we could just not be entangled with the Europeans, our special relationship is going to mean that we can just cut the line and just get a quick deal with the United States, and it will be a lot more efficient, and that’s not how we think about it.

“I don’t think that’s how the next administration will think about it, because our preference would be to work with this large bloc of countries,” Mr Obama said.

The president made it clear he believed it would be damaging for the British economy to quit the EU.

“If I am a business person or a worker in Britain, and I’m looking at the fact that I already have access seamlessly with a massive market, one of the wealthiest markets in the world, that accounts for 44% of my exports, the idea that I’m going to be in a better position to export and trade by being outside of that market and not being in the room setting the rules and standards by which trade takes place, I think is erroneous,” Mr Obama said.

The president also warned that the security of the West could be weakened by a British withdrawal which took it out of communications between Brussels and Washington.

“I think we will together be less effective if we’re not in those forums, than we are currently, where we’ve got this great ally who engages in unmatched co-operation, with us in the room negotiating.

“You know, things as simple as making sure that passenger lists are shared, it took a lot of years for us to be able to negotiate that with the European Parliament and EU, and our strongest advocate for getting that done was the UK, and it was extremely helpful.

“What we do believe is that the United Kingdom will have less influence in Europe and as a consequence, less influence globally, and since we rely heavily on the UK as a partner globally on a whole range of issues, we’d like you to have more influence. We’d like you to be at the table, helping to influence other countries who may not oftentimes see things as clearly from our perspective as our British partners do,” Mr Obama said.

Mr Obama rowed back from criticism that Prime Minister David Cameron became “distracted” after the military action in Libya as the country slipped into turmoil.

“Well, I think that we were all distracted. You know, that portion of my comments, I’m sure got attention here. What maybe got less attention was my statement that one of my regrets is not fully anticipating the degree of concentration of focus that would be required after the campaign to make sure that Gaddafi wasn’t killing his own people in Libya,” Mr Obama said.

 

Obama issues stark trade warning against Brexit

Boris Johnson suggests ‘part-Kenyan’ Obama may have an ‘ancestral dislike’ of Britain

 

King Obama Telling The British People “How It Is”

THIS IS A COPY POST FROM THE BELFAST TELEGRAPH NEWS PAPER OF APRIL 24th,

Brexit: Furious reaction following Barack Obama’s intervention

By Shaun Connolly, Press Association Political Correspondent

PUBLISHED 24/04/2016

Prime Minister David Cameron greets US president Barack Obama
Prime Minister David Cameron greets US president Barack Obama

US president Barack Obama has launched a fresh intervention into the Brexit battle, warning the UK would have to wait up to a decade for a trade deal with America if it quits the EU.

Unbowed by a furious backlash from the Leave camp against his “interference” in British affairs during his visit to London, Mr Obama reinforced his stark statement that the UK would be at “the back of the queue” for a beneficial economic arrangement if it breaks away from Brussels.

“My simple point is that it’s hard to negotiate trade deals. It takes a long time, and the point is that the UK would not be able to negotiate something with the United States faster than the EU.

“We wouldn’t abandon our efforts to negotiate a trade deal with our largest trading partner, the European market, but rather it could be five years from now, ten years from now, before we were able to actually get something done,” Mr Obama told the BBC.

Denying that he was a “lame duck” president as prominent Leave figures have alleged, Mr Obama delivered a direct slap-down to the Brexit camp who had claimed the UK could cut a speedy deal with the US.

“The point I was simply making was that for those who suggested that, you know, if we could just not be entangled with the Europeans, our special relationship is going to mean that we can just cut the line and just get a quick deal with the United States, and it will be a lot more efficient, and that’s not how we think about it.

“I don’t think that’s how the next administration will think about it, because our preference would be to work with this large bloc of countries,” Mr Obama said.

The president made it clear he believed it would be damaging for the British economy to quit the EU.

“If I am a business person or a worker in Britain, and I’m looking at the fact that I already have access seamlessly with a massive market, one of the wealthiest markets in the world, that accounts for 44% of my exports, the idea that I’m going to be in a better position to export and trade by being outside of that market and not being in the room setting the rules and standards by which trade takes place, I think is erroneous,” Mr Obama said.

The president also warned that the security of the West could be weakened by a British withdrawal which took it out of communications between Brussels and Washington.

“I think we will together be less effective if we’re not in those forums, than we are currently, where we’ve got this great ally who engages in unmatched co-operation, with us in the room negotiating.

“You know, things as simple as making sure that passenger lists are shared, it took a lot of years for us to be able to negotiate that with the European Parliament and EU, and our strongest advocate for getting that done was the UK, and it was extremely helpful.

“What we do believe is that the United Kingdom will have less influence in Europe and as a consequence, less influence globally, and since we rely heavily on the UK as a partner globally on a whole range of issues, we’d like you to have more influence. We’d like you to be at the table, helping to influence other countries who may not oftentimes see things as clearly from our perspective as our British partners do,” Mr Obama said.

Mr Obama rowed back from criticism that Prime Minister David Cameron became “distracted” after the military action in Libya as the country slipped into turmoil.

“Well, I think that we were all distracted. You know, that portion of my comments, I’m sure got attention here. What maybe got less attention was my statement that one of my regrets is not fully anticipating the degree of concentration of focus that would be required after the campaign to make sure that Gaddafi wasn’t killing his own people in Libya,” Mr Obama said.

The president heaped praise on his wife Michelle, saying: “I cannot separate anything that I’ve achieved from the partnership that I’ve had with that remarkable woman. So I could not be prouder of her, and I think it’s fair to say that anything good that I’ve done, she gets a shared billing.”

Obama issues stark trade warning against Brexit

File photo dated 23/02/16 of Mayor of London Boris Johnson, who has come under fire over his attack on the "part-Kenyan" president Barack Obama. PA

Boris Johnson suggests ‘part-Kenyan’ Obama may have an ‘ancestral dislike’ of Britain

 

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