Much of the English-language reporting of German politics since the September national election has centred on two claims: that Germany is adrift without a government, and that the country has lurched to the right. It’s true that a new government is yet to be formed, and it’s unarguable that the far-right populist Alternative für Deutschland, or AfD, won seats in the Bundestag. But that doesn’t mean that either of those broader claims is correct.
Articles from Inside Story
It’s been an off-balance year in politics, here and elsewhere, but the Trump presidency remains the biggest show on earth. The great political question for the coming year is whether — lurching from scandal to scandal, interspersed with tweeted threats of nuclear war — it will survive.
After the Liberals won Bennelong last weekend, we were assured that Malcolm Turnbull was back in the game and we could expect a more evenly balanced political contest in 2018. The prime minister’s win on same-sex marriage seemed a probable status-enhancer, and the looming ministerial reshuffle was a further chance to assert authority.
Looking back on the past twelve months, I wonder if 2017 was the year that never really happened. It kicked off in January with an event the pundits assured us couldn’t transpire — the inauguration of Donald Trump — and from there everything careered off the rails into a parallel universe.
The recent award of the Prime Minister’s Prize for fiction to Ryan O’Neill’s Their Brilliant Careers: The Fantastic Lives of Sixteen Extraordinary Australian Writers came as a surprise — not because the novel isn’t clever and well-written, but because it is directed at literary readers, at the kind of people who know their literary history and can enjoy the book’s jokes about Australian writers’ lives.
In late 2015, during the dying weeks of Tony Abbott’s prime ministership, consumers of Australian politics were treated to a bizarre spectacle. The death of West Australian MP Don Randall had triggered a by-election in the electorate of Canning, and the contest quickly became a test of Abbott’s leadership.
To be honest, my introduction to Mary Beard came not through her many books and articles but via the television screen. It was 2012 and Professor Beard had invited me and an audience of millions to join her on a tour of Ancient Rome. Picture it. Here was an “expert,” a Cambridge don, riding her rickety bike through the crazy traffic of the Italian capital, her long grey hair flowing free behind her like some ageing hippie’s.
With Christmas almost upon us, it now seems certain that 2017 will be the first year since 2000 in which no leader of any major party, federal or state, has been felled by a leadership coup. Every year since 2001 has seen at least one leader felled, with five leaders voted out by their colleagues in the single most coup-prone year, 2008.
With the healthcare debate relentlessly focused on Medicare, hospitals and doctors, it’s easy to forget that most sick, disabled and elderly people spend much if not all of their time at home. There, they are cared for by family and friends, many of whom are untrained and sometimes in poor health themselves.