Daily Comment (March 21, 2016)

by Bill O’Grady and Kaisa Stucke

[Posted: 9:30 AM EDT] There wasn’t too much news over the weekend.  Perhaps the most interesting news came from the NYT, which carried a report that establishment Republicans are considering a third-party candidate if Donald Trump wins the nomination.  Although such actions are not seen often in the U.S., they are quite common in Europe.  In fact, this is how the European establishment has kept the populist parties from gaining power in the major Western European nations.  For example, in recent regional elections in France, the National Front did very well in the first round of elections.  In response, the Socialists, who represent the center-left establishment, pulled their candidates for the second round of voting, ensuring the center-right conservatives would carry the election.  Essentially, the establishment, which includes the center-left and center-right, will engage in a form of political suicide to ensure that a populist party fails to gain control.  By running a third-party conservative candidate, the GOP coalition would be split and guarantee that the presumptive Democratic Party nominee, Sen. Clinton, will be the next president.  Of course, this assumes that Sen. Sanders doesn’t make the same play by running as an extra-party candidate himself.  The fact that the GOP establishment is willing to consider a third-party candidate confirms our position that the establishment prefers a leader from the opposite party rather than a populist.

Meanwhile, in the U.K., PM Cameron’s position is becoming increasingly difficult.  Over the weekend, Pension Minister Iain Duncan Smith resigned after the Tory budget included cuts to the disabled.  Cameron is trying to prevent the U.K. from leaving the EU and budget turmoil is the last thing he needs; this will undermine the popularity of his administration and give Brexit supporters a chance to build support for their position.  As a side note, recent polls show that Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn is now as popular as the prime minister, suggesting that if Cameron faces a no-confidence vote, the British equivalent of Bernie Sanders will be running the country.[1]

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[1] See WGR, 9/21/2015, Meet Jeremy Corbyn.