The French presidential election has already produced high drama, with Emmanuel Macron and Marine Le Pen ultimately advancing to the second round on 7 May. But were their parallels with the first round of voting and developments in other European countries? Caterina Froio draws together three key ways in which the election has reflected Western European trends, but argues that Macron’s ability to successfully oppose the establishment from within stands out as unique in the European context.
Socialists struggle to retain their influence within Europe – FT article
“Following the collapse of the Dutch Labour party last month, and the struggles of PSOE to remain Spain’s main leftwing force, Benoît Hamon’s fifth-placed finish in Sunday’s vote is the latest blow to a family of parties used to being at Europe’s top political table.”
Populist rhetoric increases pressure on overseas aid
The growth of income and wealth inequality has led to greater political influence for the 1 percent. But what are the social policy outcomes of this increasing inequality? In new research, Thomas Hayes and Lyle Scruggs examine support for social safety nets among different income groups as well as the link between state welfare generosity and income inequality. They argue that those with greater wealth are more likely to dislike generous state welfare policies; the greater political influence that these groups now wield may be linked to sharper reductions in state welfare policies.
Credit rating agencies received a great deal of criticism during the Eurozone crisis, but what actually explains the changes that occur in a country’s credit rating? Drawing on new research, Periklis Boumparis, Costas Milas and Theodore Panagiotidis write that ratings agencies have responded differently to low-rated and high-rated Eurozone countries. Regulatory quality and competitiveness have a stronger impact for low rated countries, while GDP per capita is a major driver for high rated countries. The creditworthiness of low rated countries also takes a much bigger ‘hit’ than that of high rated countries when European policy uncertainty is on the rise.
The archetypal populist radical right voter is usually thought of as being male, with female voters less likely to back these parties in elections. But many of these parties have nevertheless drawn on a substantial share of support from women. Outlining results from a recent study, Niels Spierings writes that although there is a gender gap in support for populist radical right parties, focusing on their female supporters can provide a more nuanced understanding of their success.
The so called ‘Troika’ of the European Commission, European Central Bank, and the International Monetary Fund was frequently criticised during the Eurozone crisis on the basis that it had imposed austerity on countries requiring a bailout. But how accurate was this picture in reality? Drawing on new research in Ireland, Rod Hick writes that the nature of Troika supervision was quite different from the popular image: while the deficit reduction targets put Ireland in a fiscal straight-jacket, they allowed room for manoeuvre in terms of the precise tax rises and spending cuts that would be imposed to reduce the deficit.