paul horneOnce again, the euro survived a crucial electoral test and strengthened in financial markets clearly relieved that the world’s second reserve currency will carry on despite populist politicians pandering to voters blaming economic stagnation and high unemployment on the European Union and the euro. The euro’s bounce against the dollar came just hours after the first round of France’s presidential election on Sunday, April 23, resulted in Emmanuel Macron, a pro-European centrist; and Marine Le Pen, head of the hard right and anti-European Front National, winning through to the run-off vote on May 7.

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aliaslanTurkey’s autocratic president Recep Tayyip Erdogan added another critical, albeit controversial electoral win to his column last Sunday. A referendum officially changing the regime from a parliamentary democracy to a presidential system with little or no checks and balances passed with a narrow margin (51-49 percent).

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BrianBeary.new1Brexit may be about to claim another casualty: the devolved Northern Ireland government. 

First results in the snap elections Thursday for the Northern Ireland Assembly suggest a surge in support for the Irish nationalist Sinn Fein Party whose long-term goal is to reunify the northern and southern parts of Ireland. Sinn Fein’s wins come partly at the expense of the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), the pro-UK party that leads the devolved Northern Ireland government created under the 1998 Good Friday Agreement.

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Conscientious Americans, eager to be distracted from President Trump’s latest diplomatic salvo, his threat to “solve North Korea” unilaterally if China doesn’t sort it out, may take comfort from a Ruritanian version of sabre rattling diplomacy which vied for European headlines as the week began. Another Falklands war!  Another Spanish Armada!  Like much else, the Gibraltar question would be funny if it wasn’t serious.

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Last week, the senior leadership of the new Trump Administration turned out in full force in Europe to try reassuring anxious allies about the continued strong commitment of the United States to European security and to transatlantic relations overall.  To the extent we can make judgments based largely on media reporting, Secretary of Defense James Mattis said the right things to his colleagues at the NATO Defense Ministers meeting in Brussels about the “rock solid”[1]  US defense commitment and continued implementation of decisions taken at the 2014 and 2016 NATO summits in the wake of Russian military aggression in Ukraine.  He and Vice President Mike Pence did the same thing at the 53rd annual Munich Security Conference last weekend – the defense and foreign policy equivalent of the World Economic Forum in Davos.   Many important people from more than 100 countries spoke at the Munich conference, including the German Federal Chancellor and her key ministers, the British, French, Russian, and Chinese foreign ministers, as well as leaders from many other countries from around Europe and elsewhere. 

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