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from The Great Debate UK:

Britain’s 8 million renters are a key electoral battleground

--Stephen Evans is a former Senior Policy Advisor for HM Treasury and Director of Employment and Skills at Working Links. The opinions expressed are his own.--

Estate agents boards are lined up outside houses in south London June 3, 2014. REUTERS/Andrew WinningEstate agents boards are lined up outside houses in south London June 3, 2014. REUTERS/Andrew WinningAsking prices for London houses have risen by £80,000 since the start of 2014 according to Rightmove. A three-bedroom house in London increases in value more each day than the average Londoner earns, a sobering thought on your daily commute. These are just the latest startling figures on house prices, particularly in London and the South East, prompting concern from Mark Carney and all three major political parties.

To some extent this is a return to business as usual – rising house prices have long been the stereotypical topic of conversation for dinner parties. But rarely has this cut through into a major political topic, with the exception of Homes for Heroes after World War 1 and Right to Buy in the 1980s. This time it could be different, with Labour and the Conservatives pitching offers to Britain’s 8m both renters (promising longer tenancies and more stable rent rises) and property owners (Help to Buy offering easier access to finance).

Beyond these short-term pitches, however, our distorted housing market is a long-term cause of inequality and low social mobility – whatever the short-term trends.

from Nicholas Wapshott:

Democracy is on the ropes. So what are we going to do about it?

child holds her father's hand at a polling station in Kabul

Democracy is taking a bashing. On almost every continent, attempts to extend the right of people to choose their own government is running into deep trouble. In Iraq, Egypt, Ukraine, Russia, Afghanistan, Pakistan and many other countries, democracy is being overwhelmed by despotism and despair.

A commonly heard response is that Western democracy is not for everyone, that what works in our society does not automatically work elsewhere. Another is to suggest that we should not try to spread democracy to the rest of the world; it is none of our business.

from MacroScope:

Signs of European dash for growth

The ripples of EU election results are being felt, no more so than in France where the National Front topped the poll.

The day after the results, Prime Minister Manuel Valls promised further tax cuts for French households. The government is already committed to a 30 billion euros cut in labour taxes to help business but insists all this can be done while meeting its EU deficit commitments.

from Breakingviews:

James Hoffa: Let sun shine on corporate donations

By James Hoffa
The author is a Reuters Breakingviews guest columnist. The opinions expressed are his own.

Companies increasingly are playing an outsized role in U.S. elections. In many cases, they donate money to advocate controversial policies that could antagonize their customers and undermine their businesses. Because so many of these contributions are not disclosed, however, shareholders are left in the dark and unable to evaluate potential conflicts or risks.

from The Great Debate UK:

Youth is the answer to the EU’s troubling voter turnout rate

MJC--Dr Marie Julie Chenard is Deputy Head of the Cold War Studies Programme at LSE IDEAS and Academic Officer for the Dahrendorf Symposium Project at the London School of Economics and Political Science. The opinions expressed are her own.--

The European elections are the second biggest exercise in democracy world-wide (behind India). Nearly 400 million EU citizens were eligible to vote their representatives to the European Parliament between the 22nd and 25th May, but only 43% actually did. What can be done to increase participation in elections that have an impact on 500 million people?

from The Great Debate:

Why Egyptians voted for Sisi

sisi55

Former army chief Abdel Fattah al-Sisi is set to win the presidential elections in Egypt this week, almost a year after Egypt’s military reasserted formal control following widespread revolts against Mohamed Mursi.

While a popular uprising preceded the military’s intervention last June, the counter-revolutionary crackdown that followed over the past nine months has soured many Egyptians against the current order. So why is Sisi going to be Egypt’s next president, and why would the same Egyptians who ousted Hosni Mubarak now clamor for another authoritarian military man to take power, rather than support a more inclusive democratic process? Is the clock being turned back?

from The Great Debate UK:

Scepticism about the state runs deep

--Sheila Lawlor is Director of the London think tank, Politeia. The opinions expressed are her own.--

As UKIP's earthquake materialises, with the party topping the European poll and the Conservative party narrowly missing second place, a shift in the political landscape is underway. Even before counting of the council votes had finished, or that for the European parliament had begun, the message from voters was clear - people were returning to the values with which they most readily identify: socialist or conservative.

from Breakingviews:

Italy’s lesson for Europe: do your homework

By Neil Unmack

The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are his own.

Italy has a lesson for Europe: do your homework. The victory of Matteo Renzi’s Democratic Party in European Parliament elections demonstrates that a strong domestic politician can be more appealing than euro-bashing, even in a sickly economy.

from Hugo Dixon:

EU leaders need to kickstart reform

By Hugo Dixon

Hugo Dixon is Editor-at-Large, Reuters News. The opinions expressed are his own.

When European Union leaders dine in Brussels on May 27, conversation is likely to revolve around three Ps: the poll, the priorities and the people.

from MacroScope:

Mixed results for right in early voting

The British and Dutch got EU elections underway yesterday and gave only mixed support to the rise of the right.

An exit poll from the Netherlands showed the anti-Islam, Eurosceptic Freedom Party of Geert Wilders' - which plans to forge an alliance with France's far-right National Front - had fallen well short of its goal of topping the poll and may even have slumped into fourth place. That would give it three out of the 26 Dutch seats in the EU assembly, down from four in the last elections held in 2009, when it came in second place.

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