Per Persson examines the overwhelming defeat of the Social Democratic Party in the recent elections and explains why, after more than twelve years of uninterrupted governance, the Swedish people have decided to change governments. Not only did the Social Democratic Party fail to outline its plan to create more jobs, but as rigid political lines blur, and all parties drift towards the center, the renewed and revitalized Moderaterna (Moderate) Party and its center-right Alliance were able to attract a vast majority of the votes to lead them to an overwhelming victory. In Persson opinion, this victory presents a golden opportunity for the new majority government of the Alliance and Prime Minister Reinfeldt, to lead the newly transformed Swedish politics towards important, lasting change.
Ricardo Israel Z. writes that neither the disaster of Iraq, nor the war in Afghanistan, nor his unconditional support of George W. Bush, can explain Tony Blair‘s nosedive fall from power. The reason that Tony Blair lost power –or better said, the reason his own party members wrested it from him– is because many are convinced that if Blair stays in power he will lead the British Labour Party to disaster in the next elections. In Israel Z.‘s opinion, what happened to Margaret Thatcher –who was forced to resign without having lost an election– could very likely happen to Tony Blair.
Piero Ignazi describes how the crisis in the Middle East tested the orientation and decision-making readiness of the newly transformed Italian foreign policy under the Romano Prodi government. The new, more active approach of the Prodi government to practice equal favoritism of all parties concerned, helped greatly to reach a ceasefire to the conflict in Lebanon, and to agree on the deployment of peace-keeping troops, which Italy will help lead. Italy‘s active position has met with overwhelming support by a majority of countries including, surprisingly enough, the US and Israel, raising the question as to whether this success was simply a fluke of circumstance, or whether it represents the beginning of a more assertive foreign policy that will bring Italy greater status in the international community.
Per Persson describes how after almost a century of power, the Social Democrats are losing support in Sweden. With the economy on the ups, all rational reasoning would point to the easy re-election of the Social Democrats and current Prime Minister Goran Persson, but preliminary polls show the opposite. In Persson‘s opinion, many Swedes are dissatisfied with the current government’s foreign policy, unfulfilled promises of job creation, the arrogance of the Social Democrats, and with the disproportionate amount of power that Prime Minister Goran Persson has gained. The Social Democracy Party is firmly rooted within Swedish society and change, Persson points out, will not be easy, but the time may have come to give the opposition a fresh chance at government.
Eric L. Napoli writes that in this summer’s war in Lebanon, the US responded by stalling cease fire negotiations in favour of Israeli interests while Europe‘s reaction was to do nothing, thus demonstrating that the EU still lacks the political will and infrastructure for impeding an acute humanitarian crisis in its own front yard. Napoli, thus, questions European passivity towards the human tragedy of its neighbours. He explains how on one side of the Mediterranean hundreds of civilians have lost their lives and thousands are homeless and turned into refugees, and on the other side, the Europeans are getting their feet wet, but not by defending their neighbours’ human rights or counterbalancing US foreign policy. The Europeans are on vacation.
Carlos Taibo explains how diplomatic relations between Russia and the United States have become strained over the last two years. In Taibo‘s opinion, the United States has been pressuring Russia to dissuade the country from alliances with rogue nations, and to impede Russia from returning to its status as a Cold War world power. US pressure has made it difficult for Putin to put foreign policies into practice that achieve positive results for his country.
Piero Ignazi explains how Italian foreign policy has changed since the election of Romano Prodi as Prime Minister. While Berlusconi was in office, Italy found little support among its European counterparts, and turned to the United States as one of its only allies in the international relations. But now, with a shift in leadership from center-right to center-left, Italy has pulled out of Iraq, criticized Guantanamo, and even begun to question its continuing involvement in Afghanistan. The relationship between Italy and the United States will never be the same.
Mercedes Herrero explains the motivations behind Russia‘s moderate stance towards Iran in its bid to harness nuclear energy. Despite US and EU criticism, Russia has acted with great reserve in condemning Iran, for various reasons. Economically, Iran‘s move towards nuclear weapons could be quite lucrative for Russia, and politically, Russia is using the crisis to gain international power as a world player. Yet, if the situation were to worsen, and Mahmud Ahmadineyad were to become even more radical, Moscow would be one of the principal nations in danger of the Iranian threat, and may be one of the firsts to suffer if Teheran obtained nuclear missiles.
Javier Ortiz draw attention to the ups and downs that the fight against terrorism has taken during the last few years in Spain, and analyzes how the policies implemented by Rodríguez Zapatero (before his presidency) could now become obstacles to the very peace process that he began. In 2000, Zapatero took a hardliner stance on terrorism in order to gain support against ex-President Aznar. Since then, he has entirely changed his position on terrorism, and yet the mechanisms that he set in motion continue to function, and risk jeopardizing the whole peace process. In Ortiz‘s opinion, an important lesson can be learned from the current President of Spain on the dangers of political opportunism of any kind.