Carlo's Think Pieces

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Posts Tagged ‘Trump’

Trump and Brexit Strengthening EU

Posted by butalidnl on 1 March 2017

The international  media is constantly speculating about a possible impending break-up of the European Union (EU), due to the momentum of the Brexit and Trump populist victories. The opposite is true: Trump and Brexit are actually strengthening the EU.

Elections.
The media point to three ‘crucial’ elections in 2017 – that of the Netherlands, France and Germany – that may end up derailing the EU, because anti-EU parties are poised to gain power. Not really. In both the Netherlands and Germany, anti-EU parties could increase the number of their parliament seats, but that is all. In France,  Le Pen of the Front National (FN) may get the biggest vote in the first round of the French presidential election, where five main parties (and some minor ones) have candidates. But in the second round, with only the two top candidates left to fight it out,   Le Pen will lose, since the supporters of all the other parties will vote for whoever stands against her. This has happened once before, when Le Pen’s father (Jean Marie Le Pen) also won in the first round of the 2002 presidential elections, but got trounced in the second round.
There is very little chance that any country will opt to leave the EU, other than the UK.

Brexit
The people in EU countries are well aware of the economic and political mess Brexit is bringing to the UK. Even before the UK triggers Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty (which will formally start the process of leaving the EU); the negative economic effects of Brexit have started to take effect: the British Pound devaluated by more than 10%, foreign companies are preparing to move their Europe headquarter offices out of London,  inflation is rising, etc. To add to the UK’s woes, Scotland will most likely leave it and join the EU.  Far from being an inspiration for other countries to also leave the EU, Brexit is showing everyone the horrors of leaving the EU. Recent opinion polls in the EU show a rise of pro-EU sentiment because of Brexit.

Brexit is the logical end result of years of UK government policies.  Various British Prime Ministers, with David Cameron as the last, had regularly threatened to take the UK out of the EU if its demands were not met. Just before the Brexit vote, the EU gave in to most of the UK’s demands for a special deal, including with regards to EU citizens working in the UK. Before that, the UK had succeeded in opting out of the Euro single currency and the Schengen Agreement (for free travel within most of the EU, plus Norway and Switzerland), and other EU-wide arrangements. The UK had long had one foot outside the EU;  Brexit is the natural continuation of this trend.
The UK was alone in this unique position; other EU countries, with both feet in EU, are not likely to follow the UK’s lead.

Trump
Ironically, the presidency of Donald Trump is having the effect of strengthening the EU. Trump’s open disdain for the EU, and his wish that it breaks apart, has mobilized latent anti-American feelings among many EU citizens which have been channeled into pro-EU sentiments.

Trump is widely perceived as being supportive of Europe’s far-right parties. These parties, e.g. France’s FN, have thrived on their anti-immigrant platform. Now, the Trump victory has pushed them to take a more pronounced anti-EU position. As a result, these parties have backed themselves into a corner. Being anti-EU is effectively being pro-Trump; and since Trump is unpopular in Europe, the far right parties are losing support.

Another thing about the Trump victory in the US is that it shows how wrong elections could go, and that it does matter that people vote. When before, many people (especially young people) would not vote, because “the result will be the same anyway”; now they know how bad a bad result could be. Not voting could result in a Trump or Brexit-like victory. Because of Trump and Brexit, younger voters are now more likely to vote in future elections; and most of them tend to be pro-EU.

While the EU faces all kinds of problems today e.g. the Greek debt crisis or the floodof migrants from Africa and elsewhere, these are far from existential. The EU will overcome them, just as it has done for the last 58 years.

 

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After a Trump Defeat

Posted by butalidnl on 3 November 2016

The US elections are still some days away; and any side can still win. However, the odds that Hillary Clinton will win the elections are quite good. Trump will lose. Let us take a look at how the how the loss will be for Trump.

Accepting the Results
Inspite of all the furor about whether or not Trump will accept the results of the elections, I believe that he will accept the results of the elections as soon as they are declared. Cinton’s victory will be by a large enough margin that there could be no objection to the result. Trump will probably avoid saying that the elections were rigged, because this may cause violence, and he will be blamed for it. He will resort to blaming his loss on the media and to Republican ‘traitors’.
Incidents of angry Trump supporters being violent will be isolated and short-lived.

Things will have Changed
Trump will not be able to go back to the way things were before his presidential bid.
The accusations of sexual assault by a number of women will keep him busy for a long while. He will probably not sue them, because it would be difficult for him to prove them wrong, and things will turn out worse for him if he sued and lost. After the elections, I expect more women to step up and accuse him of misbehavior.

The campaign has broken the aura of invincibility and impunity around Trump. Media is no longer scared of exposing him in various ways, and people are now more open to revealing his bad business practices (e.g. the case of Trump University).

His businesses will suffer from his presidential bid. His brand is now ‘damaged goods’ for a very big part of the population. Many of his former customers will no longer consider it classy to go to a Trump resort or to buy Trump branded products. His current supporters are not the kind of people who patronized his luxurious brand.
The Trump brand has suffered immensely in Latin America and the Muslim world.

Trump’s unethical business practices will be subject to increased media scrutiny. As a result, Trump will have to stop his practice of employing illegal immigrants, using dubious tax avoidance strategies, etc.. This will significantly increase his cost of doing business. If the Democrats win the House of Representatives, the loopholes that Trump used to avoid paying income tax will be closed.

Trump’s political clout (i.e. his ability to influence politicians) will not be the same as before. Previously, he would contribute to a wide range of politicians, and then collect favors as he needed. Now, only those who are politically aligned to him will ask for his support and potentially do him favors.

Trump TV
What Trump has gained is his popularity among a segment of working-class whites. Many of them will continue to be devoted fans after the elections. There are indications that Trump is preparing to launch Trump TV, which will cater to his new-found base of support. If he did so, it will have to position itself to the right of Fox News.
I believe that the space to the right of Fox News is too small. What will the difference be between Fox News and Trump TV in programing, in news content? If Trump’s outlandish statements would be the main difference, they will not be enough to sustain its audience for long.
It would make good business sense for him not to launch ‘Trump TV’, since it is poised to be a big failure.

Chaos Among Republicans
The elections will probably result in a Democrat majority in the Senate, and a reduced Republican majority in the House of Representtives.  This means that Clinton will be able to appoint progressive Supreme Court judges; but will have to court moderate Republicans to get her legislative proposals through the House of Representatives. She would need only a few Republican congressmen to break any boycott by the Tea Party and Trump’s hard=line followers in Congress. In the previous Congress, the Republicans had boycotted everything that President Obama proposed.

Republicans who supported Trump will blame those who didn’t for the defeat. This internal struggle will push the more moderate Republicans to cooperate more with the Democrats in passing legislation.

The Republicans  will have to reevaluate their opposition to the Affordable Care Act (a.k.a. Obamacare) and gay marriage. If they continue to oppose these, they stand to lose even more ground in subsequent elections.

Trump will retain his wealth after the elections are over; but he will lose a lot of prestige, and have a lower capacity to make money. He will continue to make political statements that may cause some commotion from time to time.

It is even likely that Trump will make another try for the presidency in 2020, especially if Clinton runs for reelection. If he does, the Republicans will be able to stop him early in the primaries.

 

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