Charlemagne – European leaders are appealing directly to voters in other countries | Europe

Charlemagne – European leaders are appealing directly to voters in other countries | Europe

May 7th 2020IN THE NASTY, brutish and short life of an Italian prime minister, an interview with a mid-market Dutch newspaper is not usually a high

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IN THE NASTY, brutish and short life of an Italian prime minister, an interview with a mid-market Dutch newspaper is not usually a high priority. Yet when faced with the worst health crisis in a century and the prospect of economic meltdown, Giuseppe Conte took time to speak to De Telegraaf about the crisis. In it, Mr Conte addressed the Dutch prime minister, Mark Rutte, in front of his voters: “Mark, help us now.”

European leaders are attempting to burst out of the corset of national politics. Increasingly, politicians across the EU are going over the heads of their peers and speaking to each other’s voters directly instead. A group of Italian mayors recently bought an advert in the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, calling for debt relief, with a punchy reference to Germany benefiting from similar leniency in the wake of the second world war. Pedro Sánchez, Spain’s socialist prime minister, writes op-eds in major European newspapers. Mr Conte also took time to address readers of the Süddeutsche Zeitung, a national newspaper based in Munich. Emmanuel Macron, the French president, deploys rhetorical hand grenades when speaking to the English-language press, in the hope the explosion will be heard beyond Francophone borders.

It is a potential solution to a long-running problem for the EU. The bloc suffers from the conundrum identified by Massimo d’Azeglio, one of…



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