Last week, a certain number of events took place and are worth paying special attention to.
With the conquest of Ramadi in Iraq and Palmyra in Syria, IS now controls 50% of Syria’s entire territory and a third of Iraq. The predicament the Middle-East finds itself into made the US feel the need to defend their policy of carrying out air strikes in support of Iraqi ground forces. Describing the situation, US Defence Secretary Ashton Carter questionned the Iraqis’ will to fight, as they “vastly outnumbered” the IS forces but chose to withdraw, a statement the head of Iraq’s defence lambasted as being “unrealistic and baseless”. As for Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi, he insisted Ramadi could be taken back “in days”. For now, the militiamen retook Husayba, east of Ramadi, the capital of Anbar province, on Saturday.
Even if the ruling party, the PP, has still the highest share of the vote of any single party, Spain has experimented a political revolution, as the main parties have lost ground. Both the economic crisis and high-profile corruption scandals have tarnished their reputation to the point where anti-austerity parties hold power in Barcelona (defeating the left-wing pro-independence Catalan nationalist party) and could form a coalition to govern Madrid. It appears the support natiowide has shifted from the PP to parties on the left, although Mariano Rajoy’s government has taken Spain’s economy to a period of growth (expected to grow faster this year than any other economy in the Eurozone). The unemployment, still a massive 24%, could explain why the Spanish people felt the urge to punish the PP despite its impressive economic records.
Poles have changed their head of state. The conservative challenger in Poland’s presidential election, Andrzej Duda, has defeated the incumbent, Bronislaw Komorowski, with 51.5% of votes. Despite being the favourite, President Komorowski, who maintained Poland’s economic growth through the financial crisis and permited his country to catch up to Western Europe’s living standards, did not convince youngest voters who suffer from high unemployment rates. Mr Duda has also wooed voters with the promise to bring the retirement age down. However, the powers of the president being limited (he is head of the armed forces and can veto new laws), his Law and Justice party will have to win this autumn’s parliamentary elections.
The in/out EU referendum the Conservatives have promised to hold before the end of 2017 will be introduced to Parliament via a bill on Thursday. However, No 10 has already stated that citizens from most EU countries living in the UK will not get a vote in the referendum. By and large, the elegibility rules will be the same as for a general election, except for the fact that Irish citizens, residents from Malta and Cyprus and Commonwealth nations qualify. If the Labour party has dropped its opposition to Britain holding an EU referendum, the SNP’s Europe minister in the Scottish parliament, urged the government to reconsider its elegibility rules, fearing the exclusion of EU citizens paying their taxes in the UK for a number of years could create a democratic deficit.