European Council on Foreign Relations

Greece: back in the game?

After months of painful negotiations with the Troika over a new financial rescue package, finally some good news is coming out of Athens. As of Wednesday 9 April, Greece is back on the international financial markets, for the first time since the euro crisis hit hard in early 2010. The sale of 10-year government bonds is expected to raise up to €2.4 billion, with expected yield at roughly 5 percent. This is excellent news for the embattled Greek economy, which has long been relying on a lifeline thrown by the IMF and the rescue fund set up by the eurozone. The sale comes about two years after Greece defaulted on its loans and imposed a “haircut” on creditors. Now, it seems that investors are willing to take a chance on the South European nation, after they rallied en masse for Spain-issued paper worth €10 billion in January (reaching yields as unbelievably low as 3.65 percent). If

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Beware appearances: behind the Sisi hype

As Egypt gears up for two months of election fever, the European Union is asking itself what an Abdel Fattah el-Sisi presidency will mean for Egypt and for its bilateral relations. The hype surrounding Sisi’s candidacy in Egyptian national media has portrayed him for months as a national hero and a ticket out of hard times. This has been matched recently in some international media by a worrying trend of “Sisi apologists” who claim that only the former general, given the institutional, military, and popular support he enjoys, can implement the hard-hitting reforms that Egypt needs to achieve economic stability. Yet Sisi has yet to come up with concrete proposals or anything resembling an election manifesto. Once the cheesy, adoring pop videos die down and the T-shirts have all been sold, how long will a population that has become accustomed to pushing presidents out of office

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Tunisia polices cyberspace

Tunisia’s new constitution, cited as a beacon of hope for a region in turmoil, should not detract attention from the country’s remaining challenges in guaranteeing basic democratic rights. Tunisia’s leaders and lawmakers are now entering a critical phase in the country’s departure from dictatorship, during which they will be responsible for making the most of their new legal framework. Internet surveillance, tightly controlled under the Ben Ali regime, is a useful indicator for gauging the extent to which authoritarian practices endure. And while certain policies in this domain hint at continuity, rather than rupture, with the former regime, Tunisians are more empowered than ever to influence decision-making. But will this new participatory potential penetrate Tunisia’s unreformed, politicized institutions?

Since the January 2011 uprising, a series of prosecutions, during which

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Eurosceptic surge: View from Rome

The Italian electoral campaign for the May European elections sees more than ten parties competing for seats in the European Parliament: the government’s centre-left Democratic Party (DP), Berlusconi’s Forza Italia (FI), the New Centre-Right (NCD), the anti-establishment Five Stars Movement (5SM), the eurosceptic Lega Nord (LN), the leftish Tsipras List and other minor parties, which won’t enter the EP. 

According to recent opinion polls on Italians’ voting intentions in the next EP elections by the research institute EMG (as of 7 April), only four parties, DP, FI, 5SM and LN, and one coalition are expected to reach the 4 percent threshold needed to gain seats at the EP. 

The party expected to get the most votes is the DP (33.9 percent of Italians declared their intention to vote for the DP, an increase of 0.4 percent in one week). The DP is the only party that clearly

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French Angst and European malaise

European Elections – The View from Paris

A deeply unpopular centre-left government, a fractious centre-right opposition, a rising far-right party led by a canny politician popular far beyond the ranks of the party faithful - France, with Germany one of the pivotal power in EU politics, is prey to a growing economic and political malaise that could soon send shockwaves through European politics. The  second round of the town hall elections this Sunday look  confirmed that the National Front led by Marine Le Pen benefits like no other party from many French voters' disillusionment with national and European politics. In the first round of voting on 23 March, the Front National scored a number of resounding mayoral race victories, boosted the number of elected officials and, as importantly, positioned itself as kingmaker in numerous races between the centre-left socialist party and

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