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The Economist Europe

An upset in North Rhine-Westphalia unsettles Germany’s ruling coalition

The election-night party on May 15th in a tent in the garden of the headquarters of the Christian Democratic Party (cdu) in Düsseldorf, the capital of North Rhine-Westphalia (nrw), got so noisy that the office of public order had to intervene after locals complained. cdu members celebrated their unexpectedly strong showing at the state’s election with 500 litres of beer and very loud chanting. Hendrik Wüst, the usually stiff Westphalian who is the incumbent state premier, was dancing and...

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Rows over press freedom overshadow Greece’s recent achievements

Greece’s centre-right government has done a fine job of polishing its image with tourists and investors since Kyriakos Mitsotakis took over as prime minister in 2019. The country’s ancient heritage, not least the invention of democracy, plays a big role in the messaging. But just as in the fifth century bc, freedom of speech matters too.Listen to this story.Enjoy more audio and podcasts on iOS or Android.Your browser does not support the <audio> element.Listen to this storySave time by...

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A new sitcom gives faces to “faceless Eurocrats”

Aside from war, illness and retirement planning, nothing can possibly be less funny than a “trilogue”. This arcane facet of lawmaking in the eu involves shutting elected meps, officials representing the bloc’s 27 member states and boffins from the European Commission in a room until a deal is thrashed out, often late at night. The forging of cross-institutional consensus over Article 225(b) is more likely to induce sleep than laughter. So to devise an entire ten-episode sitcom about the way...

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Ukraine’s ports are worsening world hunger

The fiasco of the Gallipoli campaign of 1915 was caused, in part, by a global food crisis. The Ottoman empire’s entry into the first world war, on Germany’s side, blocked grain exports from the Russian empire, which then encompassed Ukraine. By forcing open the passage between the Black Sea and the Mediterranean, Britain and its allies hoped to knock the Turks out of the war and restore Russian trade. That would help lower soaring food prices, and strengthen Russia’s weak finances. But the...

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Mariupol’s last Ukrainian defenders begin to surrender

LIKE UKRAINE itself, they had defied the odds, holding out when most thought it would be impossible. But on May 16th the troops holed up in tunnels beneath the Azovstal steel plant in Mariupol, a Ukrainian port city, began to capitulate. By the end of the day 264 Ukrainian fighters had surrendered to surrounding Russian units, according to Ukraine’s defence ministry. Of those, 52 were severely wounded and evacuated to a hospital in Russian-occupied territory. Iryna Vereshchuk, Ukraine’s...

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Meet Elisabeth Borne, France’s new prime minister

IN 2022 it ought to be unremarkable for a woman to be appointed to run a European government. Yet the nomination on May 16th of Elisabeth Borne as the next prime minister of France was anything but. It is the first time for 30 years that a woman has held the post in France, and only the second time ever. The previous one, Edith Cresson, appointed by François Mitterrand, did not last a year in the job. As Ms Borne took over from Jean Castex on the evening of her nomination, she dedicated her...

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Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is running out of steam, again

EIGHTY YEARS ago the second Battle of Kharkov was raging in what was then the western Soviet Union. The Red Army had heroically driven the Nazi Wehrmacht back from the gates of Moscow. It gathered in a bulge west of Izyum, a town to the south of Kharkov, as Ukraine’s second city was then known. The subsequent Soviet offensive, launched on May 12th, was a disaster. Soviet armies were driven back and encircled. Over 170,000 Soviet troops were killed. Nikita Khrushchev later focused on the...

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“Borgen” returns after a decade to a pessimistic Europe

THE DANISH TV series “Borgen” introduced Europe’s madly intricate coalition politics to viewers in simpler lands such as America and Britain. The show’s first three seasons, which aired in 2010-13, followed Birgitte Nyborg (played by Sidse Babett Knudsen), leader of the fictional Moderates, as she became Denmark’s first female prime minister, then resigned and founded a new party. Striking compromises and pursuing liberal values, Nyborg was a heroine for her time. American Democrats wishing...

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What Russia’s Victory Day celebrations say about the war in Ukraine

THE RULE of Vladimir Putin, a former KGB operative turned dictator, rests on lies, violence and militarism. And on May 9th, the day marking the Soviet Union’s victory in the second world war, all three of those traits were paraded on Moscow’s Red Square. Mr Putin has long hijacked the victory over Nazi Germany and built it into something resembling a religious cult to serve his regime. Now he is invoking it as he fights his war against Ukraine and anyone inside Russia who stands in his way....

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A new alliance boosts the left ahead of France’s parliamentary elections

IN A POLITICAL takeover that upends the past half-century’s political order, the radical French left has swallowed the centre-left. Jean-Luc Mélenchon, a 70-year-old firebrand with a gift for oratory and a fondness for Latin American autocrats, launched on May 7th an electoral alliance ahead of next month’s parliamentary elections. Snappily named the “New Popular, Environmental and Social Union”, or NUPES, its main purpose is captured in his election poster: “Mélenchon, prime minister”. To...

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