The Economist: Europe

Europe

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How the Kremlin outwitted Amnesty International

ON MARCH 1ST Russian news announced that Alexei Navalny was moving to a new prison, Penal Colony No. 2, notorious for psychological torture. Two days later his lawyers found him in a different, and less ghastly, jail. Russia’s justice system likes to keep people guessing. The Kremlin says Mr Navalny, Russia’s main opposition leader, is a common criminal,...

How Germany’s Greens conquered the industrial heartland

WINFRIED KRETSCHMANN has a strong claim to be the world’s most powerful Green politician. True, Greens occupy a few junior ministries in places such as Austria and New Zealand. But Mr Kretschmann is the undisputed ruler of the state of Baden-Württemberg, an industrial powerhouse in Germany’s south-west that, with 11m people, is bigger than most EU countries....

Armenia’s army turns on its prime minister

FOR A MAN in his own army’s cross-hairs, Nikol Pashinyan, the Armenian prime minister, seems unfazed. As long as the Armenian people have the final say, “there will be no coup,” he told The Economist this week. The only way out of the crisis consuming his country, he says, leads through the ballot box and early elections. There are no tanks on the...

Despot, genius or both? France argues about Napoleon

TO SOME HE was a military genius, strategic mastermind and visionary leader who bequeathed to France a centralised modern administration and sense of gloire. To others he was a tyrant and a butcher who squandered French supremacy in Europe on the battlefield of Waterloo. Napoleon Bonaparte, who died in captivity on the British island of Saint Helena...

How brave German hairdressers won a battle for human dignity

“HUMAN DIGNITY shall be inviolable.“ The first article of Germany’s constitution turns out to have surprisingly broad application. For while much of Germany’s service sector remains in the deep freeze, on March 1st Germany’s 80,000 hair salons will be allowed to reopen. Some politicians frowned at the decision, taken in mid-February. But it has “something...

Europe’s underground abortion network

WANDER AROUND any Polish city and the same phone number pops up on an array of unlikely surfaces. It is scrawled on bus stops and billboards. It can be daubed on the side of a church. Head online and the same number (+48 222 922 597) appears in people’s usernames. Those who dial it are put through to Kobiety w Sieci (“Women on the Net”), a group that...

Skiing without lifts in France

THE MECHANICAL clatter of chairlifts and the bass beat of high-altitude bars are familiar soundtracks in an Alpine ski resort every winter. So the quiet of the mountains this season is startlingly strange. French ski resorts are instead alive to different sounds: children tobogganing, huskies pulling sledges, defiant enthusiasts trudging uphill on skis...

Why Corsican number plates are popular

JUST OVER a decade ago, France dropped a rule that had obliged motorists to change their car’s number plate each time they moved house to a new administrative département. The point was to ensure, in true bureaucratic style, that the vehicle’s plate matched the place of residence. Since 2009, however, car owners have been free to choose which département...

The rise of dirty politics in Europe

THE BOIS DE LA CAMBRE is the most handsome park in Brussels. Its 123 hectares offer mature forest and potential peace for the residents of the Belgian capital’s well-to-do southern suburbs. Naturally, the Belgians—among Europe’s biggest petrolheads—built a motorway through it. During the lockdown, the park was closed to traffic. Pedestrians were delighted....

Mario Draghi begins the toughest job in European politics

MARKETS HAVE a way of bowing before Mario Draghi, who on February 13th took charge of Italy’s 68th government in 75 years. Stocks soared the moment it was reported he had been asked to become prime minister. Three days after he took office, investors flocked to a bond auction, slashing Italy’s borrowing costs. It was reminiscent of the hot days in July...

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