Okay folks, now that I’m rested from the conclave, I’ve decided where I’m going next. Originally, my plan was only to run the blog regularly through the conclave due to my offline schedule – but due to “popular demand” and fortuitous freeing of my time, I’m staying open. At least that’s the plan for now.
I know a lot of you followed me for my attempt at playing armchair Vaticanista, and trust me I will comment regularly on Pope Francis’ appointments and reforms. However, deep down, I am not a “Catholic Issues” blogger – I’m an international politics guy.
So, with the conclave over I am re-broadening my focus to the global lever. Here are the three event’s I’m planning on watching this month – and I hope you’ll join me for the ride.
Iceland may not be a big country, but it’s a very interesting one from a political perspective. Over the last few years it’s provided some case studies in how an electorate responds to an economic crash and what happens when the population loses all confidence in the established order. Three years ago, things were so bad that the capital city threw out all of the major parties - instead electing a city government led by a joke party led by comedian-turned-mayor Jon Gnarr. This campaign has been marked by wild poll shifts, with the fourth-place Progressive Party surging to the front, the rise of the Gnarr-inspired Bright Future party, and a Pirate Party creeping toward relevance.
2) Instability in Italy
Italy’s national election was last month, but it produced an ungovernable mess that may send Italy back to the polls soon. The election “winning” left-wing coalition of Pier Luigi Bersani lacks a majority but refuses to work with right-wing Sylvio Berlusconi in a coalition. The insurgent Five Star Movement led by comedian Beppe Grillo is refusing to work with anyone and puposefully trying to blow up the system – which should be expected from a party that literally ran on the slogan “F**K OFF!” The figurehead president, Georgio Napolitano, want’s to appoint an independent government of technocrats, but Berlusconi is vowing to block that option in parliament. On top of that, the divided parliament must elect a new president as Napolitano’s term is ending. Pass the popcorn.
While it’s non-political, I have a yearly obsession with Europe’s largest pop-music contest – not least because a continent-wide televote exposes the various cultural biases and patterns across Europe. It’s American Idol meets the Olympics, and whether you like it or not, I’ll be writing. This year features strong entries from Denmark, Norway, Germany, and (shockingly) tiny San Marino.
Who wouldn’t watch a show that produces such masterpieces as Verka Serduchka (above) - who came dangerously close to winning in 2008.