It’s been a whirlwind 24 hours around the world, with two prime ministers resigning – New Zealand’s John Key and Italy’s Matteo Renzi; US temperatures rising over the fallout from Donald Trump’s phone call to the Taiwanese leader and the army pulling rank to stop a controversial pipeline; and Britain’s government going to its Supreme Court over its plans to leave the EU.
Confused? Here’s our take on yesterday, today and what may happen tomorrow. We’ll discuss “what happens next in New Zealand” in a separate post.
As Renzi resigned and shares plummeted after yesterday’s failed referendum on parliamentary reform, the country faces questions whether it is on the brink of a takeover by populist and right-wing parties.
The anti-establishment Five Star Movement and the Northern League, which wants northern provinces to split from Italy, say they want snap elections.
Most analysts dismiss the idea. They agree the president, Sergio Mattarella, will be able to install a new prime minister and caretaker government, which would oversee changes to the electoral laws that would make it more difficult for Five Star or Northern League to win a strong majority in parliament.
If Mattarella is able to cobble together a coalition government, it could delay elections until as late as 2018.
However, the referendum result is seen as a rejection of establishment politics in favour of populist and anti-immigrant forces, much like the UK’s vote to leave the EU and Trump’s election.
The presidential election result was a victory over hard-right populism. Arron Banks, close confidant and bankroller of Nigel Farage and UKIP, tweeted, “I suppose [the Austrian people] haven’t suffered enough rape and murder yet.” The mask slipped and the ugly xenophobic, racist face of the populist right was exposed.
Austrians remain in favour of EU membership, with latest polls suggesting 34% want to leave the EU, down from 49% prior to the UK referendum. In fact, support for EU membership has increased significantly across Europe since Brexit.
However, Europeans want a convincing EU package to end the economic crisis and tackle the obscene youth unemployment plaguing so many countries. They want a sizable border and coastguard that can manage the refugee crisis. They also want an EU that will intervene to manage globalisation so it offers opportunities for everyone, not just the few.
The UK government has gone to court to rule on who has legal authority to notify the EU that Britain is beginning its withdrawal. The government maintains its executive powers entitle it to signal to Brussels that the UK will be leaving. The challengers argue that, since many citizens’ rights will be abolished by Brexit, only parliament has the authority. It’s a crucial decision for both the EU process – which could be delayed for years – and British civil liberties.
The White House has delivered a stinging rebuke to Donald Trump, revealing officials have talked at least twice with Beijing amid concern he is endangering US-China ties after his conversation with Taiwan’s leader last week.
White House spokesman Josh Earnest said: “Some of the progress we have made in our relationship with China could be undermined by this issue flaring up.”
He suggested Trump should begin taking briefings from the US State Department ahead of future conversations with foreign leaders.
Trump’s call represented a breach of US diplomatic precedent, since the US recognises Taiwan as part of China. Trump responded in typical style, with a round of bellicose early-morning tweets attacking China’s economic and military activities.
Less than 24 hours after the US army refused permission for the 2786km Dakota Access oil pipeline to pass through Native American lands at Standing Rock, Al Gore has promised to escalate action against Trump over his climate change stance.
The former vice-president and leading climate chance advocate hopes Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton will join him.
Trump has called climate change a hoax, pledged to withdraw the US from the Paris climate accord, dismantle the Clean Power Plan, slash renewable energy funding and prop up the ailing US coal industry. He has also owned shares in the companies behind the Dakota pipeline, and activists fear yesterday’s decision will be overturned.
“We have to win this struggle and we will win it; the only question is how fast we win. But more damage is baked into the climate system every day, so it’s a race against time,” Gore said.
He said he was very concerned how pro-fossil fuel interests surround Trump but remained optimistic the president-elect could be engaged with on climate change.