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“Brexit Is A Warning To Young American Voters”: Historically Low Young Voter Turnout Trend

The results of the Brexit referendum shine a light on the importance of the youth vote, and young Americans should learn from them as we approach our own crossroads in November.

Seventy-five percent of voters 24 and younger were against the Brexit, and for remaining in the European Union. British voters 49 and younger also favored the Remain option, according to polls conducted before the vote.

A poll taken before election day showed that 34 percent of pensioners backed Remain, and 59 percent backed the Brexit.

“Young people voted to remain by a considerable margin, but were outvoted. They were voting for their future, yet it has been taken from them.” Liberal Democratic leader Tim Farron said of Britain’s referendum decision to leave the European Union.

British youth overwhelmingly took to social media to express feelings of helplessness about facing a future they did not choose. Many were angry that older voters who have enjoyed the benefits of the European Union decided on a different, uncertain path for the future generations.

“This decision was made by an aging population who has spent decades reaping the many benefits of the EU. These people have voted for a future that is not their own,” wrote university student Alana Chen in a Facebook post. “They will not be here to feel the full effects of the devastation they have caused with their votes. It’s us, the student generation that now have to live with something we voted against. Tell me how that’s fair?! Our country is crumbling and we’re completely helpless to stop it. Utterly devastating.”

Political journalist Nicholas Barret wrote in a now-viral reaction to the vote: “The younger generation has lost the right to live and work in 27 other countries. We will never know the full extent of the lost opportunities, friendships, marriages and experiences we will be denied. Freedom of movement was taken away by our parents, uncles, and grandparents in a parting blow to a generation that was already drowning in the debts of our predecessors.”

Even voters who chose the Leave option have expressed regret after their side won.

“I did not think that was going to happen, I didn’t think my vote was going to matter too much because I thought we were just going to remain,” a young man named Adam told the BBC.

Voting preferences showed a strong correlation with age. East coast areas, which have the largest pensioner populations, scored the highest pro-Brexit votes. YouGov poll results in the days before the vote told a clear story:

Age breakdown on Brexit polls tells underlying story. Older generation voted for a future the younger don’t want: pic.twitter.com/kMPECqQF6u

— Murtaza Hussain (@MazMHussain) June 24, 2016

The Guardian broke down the British youth vote:

Voter ages are not recorded, but in urban areas where the average age was 35 and under, electoral commission data showed overwhelming support for remaining in the EU. This was particularly marked in the London local authorities of Lambeth, Hackney and Harringey, where the average age is between 31 and 33, and which all voted over 75% in favour of remaining in the EU.

Oxford and Cambridge, the councils with the highest percentage of 18- to 25-year-olds, were also remain strongholds, as was Tower Hamlets, which has the highest percentage of 21- to 30-year-olds. According to YouGov polling before the referendum result, 64% of under-25s said they wanted the UK to remain. With a life expectancy for that generation of 90, younger voters have approximately eight more decades to live compared with the voters who most favoured leaving, the over 65s.

For all their agreement on the right direction for Britain, youth turnout to vote was, perhaps predictably, low. In the largest turnout election in decades in Britain, the number of attainers, or newly eligible voters, fell by 40 percent.

The vote was also held over the summer, when many young people are in summer vacation from college.

According to a Times poll taken at Glastonbury music festival, 22 percent of the young attendee’s did not vote, with 65 percent of those saying they wanted to vote to Remain but did not register in time. They would have added about 15,000 votes to the Remain side.

Michael Sani, a member of the youth voting group Bite the Ballot, said that young voter turnout was negatively affected by the direction of both campaigns, which ignored youth engagement because of the historically low turnout of young voters.

“If no one inspires you, that is how you end up being marginalized, divided and fearing,” Sani told The Guardian. “This generation are so passionate, they care so much about issues, but they are just not empowered to use the means of communication to get through to make real change. Both campaigns have been a disaster in terms of meaningful engagement on such complex issues.”

Prime Minister David Cameron, who has announced his resignation after the Brexit, missed his chance to appeal to young voters. The Cameron-lead government rejected requests from Labour, Liberal Democrats, and the Scottish National Party to allow 16- and 17-year olds to vote in the referendum.

As America faces its own vote in November — one that has been compared to Brexit by presumptive Republican candidate Donald Trump, who backed the Leave option — young people can have a voice in what is sure to be a decisive moment in American history.

They will either follow the historically low young voter turnout trend that contributed to Britain’s exit from the EU, and has been a consistent factor in American politics, or they could learn from this seismic moment in British history and break the pattern.

 

By: Germania Rodriguez, The National Memo, June 24, 2016

June 25, 2016 Posted by | Brexit, Donald Trump, European Union, Young Voters | , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Europe The Unready”: Europe’s Ability To Protect Itself Turns Out To Have Been Undermined By Its Imperfect Union

Thanksgiving as we know it dates not to colonial days but to the middle of the Civil War, when Abraham Lincoln made it a federal holiday. It is, in other words, a celebration of national unity. And our national unity is indeed something to be thankful for.

To see why, consider the slow-motion disaster now overtaking the European project on multiple fronts.

For those not familiar with the term, the “European project” has a very specific meaning. It refers to the long-term effort to foster a peaceful, prosperous Europe through ever-closer economic and social integration, an effort that began more than 60 years ago with the formation of the Coal and Steel Community.

The effort continued with the creation of the Common Market in 1959; the expansion of that market to include newly democratic nations in southern Europe; the Single European Act, assuring free movement of people as well as goods; further extension of the European Union to former Communist nations; the Schengen agreement, which removed many border controls within the continent; and, of course, the creation of a common European currency.

Every weekday, get thought-provoking commentary from Op-Ed columnists, The Times editorial board and contributing writers from around the world.

One way to think about all these moves is that they were attempts to give Europe many of the attributes of a single nation without formal political union — at least not yet. The more or less explicit hope of many in the European elite was that technical and economic integration would gradually foster psychological unification, and eventually pave the way for a United States of Europe.

And for a long time the project worked very well, as Europe grew steadily more prosperous, peaceful, and free. But how would the process deal with setbacks? After all, the European project was creating ever-growing interdependence without creating either the institutions or, despite elite hopes, the sense of political legitimacy that would be needed to manage that interdependence if things went wrong.

Which brings me to the disasters.

At first sight, the financial crisis, the refugee crisis, and the terrorist attacks might not seem to have anything in common. But in each case Europe’s ability to protect itself turns out to have been undermined by its imperfect union.

On the financial crisis: There’s widespread consensus among economists (though not, alas, among politicians) that Europe’s woes were mainly caused by mood swings among private investors, who recklessly poured money into southern Europe after the creation of the euro, then abruptly reversed course a decade later. Yet something similar happened in America, too, where money first poured into mortgage lending in the “sand states” — Florida, Arizona, Nevada, California — then took flight. In the U.S., however, the pain of that reversal was limited by federal institutions, ranging from Social Security to deposit insurance. In Europe, unfortunately, the cost of bank bailouts and much more fell on national governments, so that private-sector overreach soon spilled over into fiscal crisis.

On refugees: the politics of immigration in general, and refugees in particular, are nasty everywhere — just listen to Donald Trump or Ted Cruz. But Europe is also trying to maintain open internal borders while leaving the management of external borders to national governments like that of impoverished, austerity-ravaged Greece. No wonder, then, that border controls are making a comeback.

And on terrorism: No free society can ever be perfectly secure from attack. But think about how much harder it gets when anti-terrorism is pretty much left up to national governments, whose capacity for policing varies greatly. Imagine how New Yorkers would feel if political paralysis in New Jersey were getting in the way of any effective anti-terrorist policy there, and you have a good idea of the problems Belgium has created for France.

Ideally, Europe would respond to these setbacks by strengthening its union, creating more of the institutions it needs to manage interdependence. But the political will for that kind of move forward seems lacking, even for the most obvious steps. For example, on Tuesday the European Commission proposed the gradual phase-in of a Europe-wide system of deposit insurance, which is the bare minimum needed to maintain stable banks within a currency union. Yet the plan faces furious opposition within Germany, which sees it as a giveaway to its spendthrift neighbors.

The alternative is to take a step back, which is already happening on border controls. European leaders are, rightly, concerned that each such move damages the whole European project. But what is the realistic alternative?

The truth is that I don’t know the answer. I’m just thankful that America has the kind of unity Europe can only dream of — at least for now. I guess we’ll see what’s left after President Trump gets done with it.

 

By: Paul Krugman, Op-Ed Columnist, Opinion Pages, The New York Times, November 27, 2015

November 28, 2015 Posted by | Europe, European Union | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“The Art Of The Deal”: Congress Has A Clear Choice, Approve This Deal Or Watch Iran Grow Stronger

In the annals of nuclear arms control accords, the deal signed with Iran on Tuesday morning is a remarkably good deal. The 159-page document—titled “Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action”—is more elaborate, detailed, and allows for more intrusive inspections than any Soviet-American arms treaty completed during the Cold War.

Of course, to many, that’s not good enough. For some critics, any deal with Iran is a bad deal; the very act of negotiating with the Islamic Republic is seen as tantamount to appeasement. Other critics, though, have voiced reasonable concerns: whether a deal like this, with a regime like Iran’s, can be verified with any confidence; whether the West might end up lifting economic sanctions before Iran has truly abandoned its (presumed) ambitions to build nuclear weapons; and whether the sanctions can be restored, and other countermeasures be taken, if Iran is seen as cheating.

The main articles of the deal have been outlined elsewhere, and no serious critic can dispute their merits. If Iran observes the deal’s terms, all paths to a nuclear bomb—whether through enriched uranium or plutonium—will be cut off for at least 10 years. (Those who object that 10 years is like the blink of an eye have got to be kidding. These same people warn that Iran could build a bomb within one year from now. Which outcome is preferable?) The real question, then, is what the agreement does to help ensure that Iran observes the deal.

In fact, it does quite a lot. When this round of the talks got under way last month in Vienna, Iran’s supreme leader, the Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, made some statements that raised a lot of eyebrows: He said that sanctions must be lifted upon the signing of a deal and that no international inspectors would be allowed on Iranian military sites. I’ve supported these negotiations, but even I wrote that if Khamenei’s words held sway, no final deal was possible.

As it turns out, whatever the supreme leader’s motive was in making those remarks, they are not reflected in the deal signed Tuesday morning.

The timing of sanctions-relief is addressed in Annex V of the document, and it’s very clear that nothing gets lifted right away. This is a step-by-step process.

The first step is “Adoption Day,” which occurs 90 days after the deal is endorsed by the U.N. Security Council. On that day, the United States and the European Union start taking legal steps to lift certain sanctions—while Iran must pass the Additional Protocol of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (which allows for onsite inspection by the International Atomic Energy Agency) and issue a statement on “Past and Present Issues of Concern,” acknowledging or explaining military aspects of its nuclear program in the past. (Many critics were certain that Iran would never own up to this obligation.)

The second step is “Implementation Day.” This is when the West really starts to lift sanctions, but only “upon the IAEA-verified implementation by Iran of the nuclear-related measures”—that is, only after international inspectors are satisfied that Iran has fulfilled its main responsibilities in freezing and reducing elements of its nuclear program. Section 15 of Annex V lists 11 specific requirements that Iran must have fulfilled, including converting the Arak heavy-water research reactor, so it can no longer produce plutonium; reducing the number of centrifuges and halting production of advanced centrifuges; slashing its uranium stocks; and completing all “transparency measures” to let the inspectors do their job.

The third step is “Transition Day,” when more sanctions are dropped. This happens eight years after Adoption Day, and even then only after the IAEA Board of Governors issues a report, concluding “that all nuclear material in Iran remains in peaceful activities.”

Finally, there is “UNSCR [U.N. Security Council Resolution] Termination Day,” when the Security Council drops all of its remaining nuclear-related sanctions. This happens 10 years after Adoption Day.

In other words, sanctions are not lifted upon the signing of the deal or anytime at all soon—and when they are lifted, it’s only after inspectors signify that Iran is abiding by the terms of the deal, not simply that a certain date on the calendar has passed.

But how will the inspectors know this? The Advanced Protocol of the Non-Proliferation Treaty, which Iran must sign and ratify soon, allows international inspectors inside known nuclear sites. But what about covert sites? This has always been a knotty issue in arms control talks. No country would sign an accord that lets outsiders inspect any military site of their choosing simply because they “suspect” covert nuclear activity might be going on there. And yet covert nuclear activity might be going on somewhere. How to reconcile this genuine dilemma?

The deal’s section on “Access,” beginning with Article 74, lays out the protocols. If the inspectors suspect that nuclear activities are going on at undeclared sites, they will request access, laying out the reasons for their concerns. If access is denied, the matter can be turned over to a joint commission, consisting of delegates from the countries that negotiated the deal, which would have to rule on the request—either by consensus or majority vote—within seven days.

This may seem legalistic to some, but what are the alternatives? Meanwhile, under other articles of the deal, the inspectors will have access to the complete “supply chain” of Iran’s nuclear materials—from the production of centrifuges to the stockpile of uranium to such esoterica as all work on neutrons, uranium metallurgy, and multipoint detonation optics. For instance, centrifuge rotor tubes and bellows will be kept under surveillance for 20 years.

The point is, cheating—pursuing an atomic weapon covertly—requires a number of steps, at a number of complexes, some of which are very likely to be detected, given the IAEA’s rights of surveillance. If Iran suddenly denies IAEA those rights, if it ignores a decision by the joint commission, the United States and the European Union can pull out of the deal and reinstate the sanctions. Some fear that the Western leaders wouldn’t take that step, that they might put too much stake in the deal to let a few possible violations get in the way. The critics may have a point, but this is a matter to be settled politically and diplomatically. No treaty could survive the scrutiny of every what-if scenario.

Congress now has 60 days to examine this deal. Its leaders, who distrust Iran (with some reason) and want to deny President Obama any diplomatic triumph (especially in an election season), will pry open every crevice for ambiguities and loopholes, and they will no doubt find a few.

But here’s the proper question: Which state of affairs is better for national and international security: an Iran, even a gradually more economically robust Iran, that’s constrained in its nuclear program and bound by international inspectors or an Iran with growing nuclear capability and no diplomatic obligations, burdened with no foreign watchdogs on the ground? It’s worth noting that the economic sanctions have held in place for as long as they have only because they were seen as incentives to drive Iran to the negotiating table—as a bargaining chip to get a nuclear deal. If the deal falls apart, especially if it falls apart because the U.S. Congress makes it fall apart, the sanctions will collapse as well. Then Iran will grow in strength—and be unconstrained by restrictions, foreign inspectors, and the rest.

The details are worth examining, but the choice is clear.

 

By: Fred Kaplan, Slate, July 14, 2015

 

July 15, 2015 Posted by | Congress, European Union, Iran Nuclear Agreement | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Ending Greece’s Bleeding”: Europe’s Self-Styled Technocrats Are Like Medieval Doctors Who Insisted On Bleeding Their Patients

Europe dodged a bullet on Sunday. Confounding many predictions, Greek voters strongly supported their government’s rejection of creditor demands. And even the most ardent supporters of European union should be breathing a sigh of relief.

Of course, that’s not the way the creditors would have you see it. Their story, echoed by many in the business press, is that the failure of their attempt to bully Greece into acquiescence was a triumph of irrationality and irresponsibility over sound technocratic advice.

But the campaign of bullying — the attempt to terrify Greeks by cutting off bank financing and threatening general chaos, all with the almost open goal of pushing the current leftist government out of office — was a shameful moment in a Europe that claims to believe in democratic principles. It would have set a terrible precedent if that campaign had succeeded, even if the creditors were making sense.

What’s more, they weren’t. The truth is that Europe’s self-styled technocrats are like medieval doctors who insisted on bleeding their patients — and when their treatment made the patients sicker, demanded even more bleeding. A “yes” vote in Greece would have condemned the country to years more of suffering under policies that haven’t worked and in fact, given the arithmetic, can’t work: austerity probably shrinks the economy faster than it reduces debt, so that all the suffering serves no purpose. The landslide victory of the “no” side offers at least a chance for an escape from this trap.

But how can such an escape be managed? Is there any way for Greece to remain in the euro? And is this desirable in any case?

The most immediate question involves Greek banks. In advance of the referendum, the European Central Bank cut off their access to additional funds, helping to precipitate panic and force the government to impose a bank holiday and capital controls. The central bank now faces an awkward choice: if it resumes normal financing it will as much as admit that the previous freeze was political, but if it doesn’t it will effectively force Greece into introducing a new currency.

Specifically, if the money doesn’t start flowing from Frankfurt (the headquarters of the central bank), Greece will have no choice but to start paying wages and pensions with i.o.u.s, which will de facto be a parallel currency — and which might soon turn into the new drachma.

Suppose, on the other hand, that the central bank does resume normal lending, and the banking crisis eases. That still leaves the question of how to restore economic growth.

In the failed negotiations that led up to Sunday’s referendum, the central sticking point was Greece’s demand for permanent debt relief, to remove the cloud hanging over its economy. The troika — the institutions representing creditor interests — refused, even though we now know that one member of the troika, the International Monetary Fund, had concluded independently that Greece’s debt cannot be paid. But will they reconsider now that the attempt to drive the governing leftist coalition from office has failed?

I have no idea — and in any case there is now a strong argument that Greek exit from the euro is the best of bad options.

Austerity hasn’t worked. Five years is enough! It’s time to try something new. The financial elites resist with an obduracy that defies…

Imagine, for a moment, that Greece had never adopted the euro, that it had merely fixed the value of the drachma in terms of euros. What would basic economic analysis say it should do now? The answer, overwhelmingly, would be that it should devalue — let the drachma’s value drop, both to encourage exports and to break out of the cycle of deflation.

Of course, Greece no longer has its own currency, and many analysts used to claim that adopting the euro was an irreversible move — after all, any hint of euro exit would set off devastating bank runs and a financial crisis. But at this point that financial crisis has already happened, so that the biggest costs of euro exit have been paid. Why, then, not go for the benefits?

Would Greek exit from the euro work as well as Iceland’s highly successful devaluation in 2008-09, or Argentina’s abandonment of its one-peso-one-dollar policy in 2001-02? Maybe not — but consider the alternatives. Unless Greece receives really major debt relief, and possibly even then, leaving the euro offers the only plausible escape route from its endless economic nightmare.

And let’s be clear: if Greece ends up leaving the euro, it won’t mean that the Greeks are bad Europeans. Greece’s debt problem reflected irresponsible lending as well as irresponsible borrowing, and in any case the Greeks have paid for their government’s sins many times over. If they can’t make a go of Europe’s common currency, it’s because that common currency offers no respite for countries in trouble. The important thing now is to do whatever it takes to end the bleeding.

 

By: Paul Krugman, Op-Ed Columnist, The New York Times, July 5, 2015

July 7, 2015 Posted by | Austerity, European Union, Greece | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

   

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