Ideas on Europe

Informed analysis, comment and debate

Category Archives: Democracy & Citizenship

France 2017: The end of ridicule?

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For over forty years, since Maurice Duverger coined the expression in 1974, ‘The Republican monarchy’ has no doubt been the most frequently used metaphor for the Fifth Republic. In countless books, essays and articles, the presidential system and all its corollaries –power, pomp and protocol – have been portrayed as a legacy of pre-Revolutionary, absolute […]

Two-faced Theresa

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Britain’s Prime Minister, Theresa May, has pledged to take the country out of the European Union. But before last year’s referendum on 23 June, Ms May was a firm advocate against Brexit and for Britain remaining in the EU. Can we trust a prime minister whose principles blow so easily in the wind? Is this […]

Brexit à la française

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As that wise old owl of eurosceptic theorising, Dr Richard North, once observed, there are no Brexit experts, for the simple that Brexit hasn’t happened. It’s good to be reminded of this from time to time, if only to reflect on the variety of opinion that’s out there. The past weeks have served up two fine […]

France 2017: Disruptive

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Emmanuel Macron had no chance of winning the presidential election. Every textbook on French politics or contemporary history will tell you so. He had no chance, and he seized it. After his first large-scale rallies, in Strasbourg in October 2016 or in Paris in December, all serious commentators indulged in gentle mockery. Partly because his […]

May’s rhetorical Brexit trap

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To say that the past week has been a poor one for Article 50 would be something of an understatement: the fall-out from last Wednesday’s ‘Brexit-supper‘ culminated yesterday with Theresa May holding a press conference in front of Number 10, claiming that some Europeans were deliberately interfering in the General Election. It would be easy […]

The recurring Brexit problem

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It is with more of a whimper than a bang that the first week of campaigning in the 2017 General Election begins. On the one side, a Prime Minister who feels herself to be in such a position of strength that she doesn’t need to explain herself or her plans. On the other, the other […]

France 2017: Old fault lines, new salience

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‘France has voted like it never did before’, was the headline of Spiegel Online on Monday morning, and many other foreign observers expressed similar views on the manner in which the traditional parties of the Left and Right were kicked out of the competition by an overwhelming desire of renewal of the political class. But […]

France 2017: That ‘pschitt!’ feeling

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‘Pschitt!’ is – at least in colloquial French – the disappointing sound of flat champagne, a deflating balloon, or a damp firecracker. It is also a good description of the feeling that many French voters will inevitably have on Sunday evening in front of their television screen. With an unprecedented degree of uncertainty, with virtually […]

What the 2017 General Election means for Brexit: procedure, personnel and policy

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The lovely thing about long walks is that they give you time to think, to join your physical movement with metaphysical wanderings through the things that occupy your life. It’s often a time when you have a bright idea, that makes sense as the sunlight filters through the leaves and warm air of spring fills […]

France 2017: Ready for the Fake Presidency?

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Oops – they did it again! They made us believe that the Fifth Republic provides its president with a particularly wide array of prerogatives, little constrained by checks and balances, and reigning well above the heads of a weak parliament. And with all the hype around the presidential election, this highly personalised ‘encounter of a […]

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