At elections for the European Parliament, a predicted surge by populists and nationalists failed to materialise, though such parties gained seats in Italy and Britain. The new parliament will be much more fragmented than the old one, thanks to a strong showing by green and liberal parties. The traditional main groupings, the centre-right European People’s Party and the centre-left Socialists and Democrats, both lost ground, falling well below a combined majority of the chamber for the first time. See article.
Greece’s prime minister, Alexis Tsipras, said he would call a snap election after his left-wing Syriza party flopped in the Euro polls. In Austria, Sebastian Kurz lost a vote of confidence thanks to the break-up of his coalition with the hard-right FPö, so a fresh election will be held there, too. In a state election in Bremen, Germany’s Social Democrats lost for the first time in 70 years. See article.
Romania’s ruling party did terribly in the European elections. The next day its leader, Liviu Dragnea, was jailed for corruption.
Theresa May said she would resign as Britain’s prime minister, after repeatedly failing to deliver Brexit. The 12-week-old Brexit Party won the most votes of any party at the European elections in Britain. The anti-Brexit Liberal Democrats and Greens won more votes than the Brexit Party but fewer seats. The traditional parties of government, the Conservatives and Labour, did miserably. See article.
Britain’s Labour Party expelled Alastair Campbell, a former adviser to Tony Blair, for backing the Liberal Democrats in the European elections. Party members who make anti-Semitic comments have seldom been dumped so swiftly. Several other prominent Labourites also backed other parties, mostly over Brexit.
Brazil’s supreme court ruled that discriminating against gay or transgender people is equivalent to discriminating on grounds of race. Homophobic and transphobic acts are to be punished under existing laws banning racial discrimination until Congress passes a bill. Brazil legalised same-sex marriage in 2013, but at least 420 gay people are thought to have been murdered last year.
Mexico charged Emilio Lozoya Austin, a former head of Pemex, the state-run oil company, with fraud. It is the first big case brought by the government of Andrés Manuel López Obrador, whose campaign last year promised to crack down on corruption.
All of the top leaders of Amnesty International, a human-rights group, offered to resign after an internal review uncovered a “toxic” workplace culture, including reports of bullying.
Back to the polls!
The Israeli Knesset voted to hold a fresh election in September, five months after a poll in April, as talks led by Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, to put together a new coalition government failed. The sticking point was an attempt to end the exemption from the military draft for ultra-Orthodox Jews, which their parties refused to countenance. Mr Netanyahu pushed for a new election rather than let another party try to form a government. It is the first time in Israel that a governing majority has not been formed after an election. See article.
The Syrian regime of Bashar al-Assad pounded Idlib province, the last rebel-held stronghold. Scores of civilians have died in the bombardment, which began last month. Some 300,000 have fled.
Donald Trump declared a national emergency over tensions with Iran in order to push through the sale of $8bn-worth of weapons to Saudi Arabia, Iran’s regional rival. By declaring the emergency, Mr Trump was able to bypass Congress, which has criticised Saudi Arabia’s conduct of the war in Yemen. Mr Trump said he is not seeking regime change in Iran—unlike his national-security adviser, John Bolton.
Cyril Ramaphosa named a new, smaller cabinet following his re-election as South Africa’s president. Half the appointments were women and the new intake was generally taken as a sign that Mr Ramaphosa is serious about cracking down on corruption. They will all have to sign performance agreements.
The end of Mueller’s time
Robert Mueller, who led the Department of Justice’s investigation into Russian meddling in the election of 2016, gave a rare public statement. He explained that because the department works for the president, indicting Donald Trump was “unconstitutional” and “not an option we could consider”. He also suggested that he has nothing to say beyond what is already in his report.
America’s Supreme Court rejected a law in Indiana that would have banned abortions sought because of the fetus’s sex or disability. However, it upheld Indiana’s requirement that aborted fetuses be buried or cremated. Louisiana passed a bill banning abortions if a fetal heartbeat is detected. The Democratic governor has said he will sign it. Both pro-life and pro-choice activists expect a big battle over abortion during next year’s presidential campaign. See article.
America laid fresh charges against Julian Assange, this time for being “complicit with” Chelsea Manning in leaking hundreds of thousands of sensitive documents, starting in 2009. Mr Assange, who is in a British prison for jumping bail and is too ill to attend court, has already been accused by the Americans of abetting the hacking of a government computer.
WrestleMania it ain’t
On a state visit to Japan, Donald Trump met the new emperor and attended a sumo-wrestling tournament, where he presented a trophy. He startled his hosts by saying that North Korea’s recent missile tests did not bother him and didn’t violate UN resolutions. Shinzo Abe, Japan’s prime minister, called the missile tests “extremely regrettable”.
John Bolton, Mr Trump’s national security adviser, enraged China by meeting his Taiwanese counterpart in Washington. It was the first meeting between the top national-security officials from both countries since 1979, when America ended formal relations. China says Taiwan is part of its territory.
After weeks of political tumult, Peter O’Neill bowed to pressure and resigned as prime minister of Papua New Guinea. He was replaced by James Marape, a former ally who recently stepped down as finance minister. Mr O’Neill had faced mounting opposition to energy deals with foreign companies, including Total and ExxonMobil. Many locals complained that they had been overlooked in the process. See article.
This article appeared in the The world this week section of the print edition under the headline “Politics this week”