Whether you get your news online, on the radio, on television, or in print, there is no way to escape the recent spate of revelations of sexual harassment, sexual misconduct, and sexual assault that have taken place in every industry and at every echelon. Powerful politician, billionaire media mogul, tenured professor, it makes no difference; the Harvey Weinstein scandal (rather than the countless sexual disgraces associated with our Commander-in-Chief) provided the watershed moment that now has our country engaged, at least for the time being, in this important, albeit uncomfortable, conversation.
For more than a month, representatives of German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union (CDU) and its Bavarian sister party, the Christian Social Union (CSU), have been engaged in preliminary discussions about creating a coalition government with two other smaller parties—the pro-business liberal (in the European sense) Free Democratic Party (FDP) and the environmentalist Greens. Following a long German habit of identifying political parties and their coalitions by traditional colors, the linking of Christian Democrats (Black), Liberals (Yellow), and Greens has been referred to as a “Jamaica” Coalition, reflecting the colors of the Caribbean nation’s flag.
The Catalan independence crisis feels intractable. Ministers who defied the Spanish Constitutional Court to organize an independence referendum on October 1 have been jailed. The government in Madrid has dissolved the regional administration after the administration claimed the referendum as a mandate to break away. Carles Puigdemont, the Catalan president, has fled to Belgium.
After last year’s victories for Brexit and Donald Trump, liberals looked to Angela Merkel in Germany for hope. The conservative chancellor was suddenly—and unwillingly—promoted to “leader of the free world.” She is unlikely to live up to expectations. Merkel has no grand vision. She only phased out nuclear energy and allowed a free vote on gay marriage when public opinion demanded it. Her decision in 2015 to open Germany’s borders to more than a million refugees stands out because it was so uncharacteristic of her.
As Europe digests the results of last Sunday’s referendum in Turkey and prepares for this weekend’s first round of presidential elections in France, Prime Minister Theresa May of the United Kingdom has added a further electoral entrée to the Continental smorgasbord. This morning, the PM announced her decision to call for an early parliamentary election, proposing that parliament dissolve on 3 May and that new elections take place on 8 June.