It is extraordinary that there are five democratic governments which are facing major challenges all at the same time. They include Britain, France, Germany, Israel, and the United States. While some are more conventional and traditional tests–which all democratic leaders face–others involve major attacks on their capacity to continue to remain in office.
Most polls are suggesting that British Prime Minister Theresa May is unlikely to remain in office either after the Brexit vote next Tuesday in Parliament or in subsequent votes within the Conservative Party. Should she lose control of the Parliament there are numerous possible scenarios being floated about. She could be forced to resign as the head of the Tory Party but the party would remain in power; a vote of no-confidence could pass the Parliament and elections would be called; the Labour Party could be asked to form a new Government; or the entire Brexit debate could or might be re-opened. This last possibility would also send the British public as well as the European Union potentially into many more months of indecision. What does seem most likely is that May will not be leading her party through this maelstrom.
French Prime Minister Emmanuel Macron finds himself in the midst of major unrest within the country just as he was asserting his place as the leading voice of the Western globalists. The protestors’ demands for a rollback of the fuel tax increase to assist in further environmental initiatives was successful, although it was not achieved without dramatic demonstrations, rioting, and police activity. These protests are expected to continue on Saturday, but do not represent an immediate threat to Macron’s presidency. For his political future, it does suggest that Macron needs to engage France’s domestic problems in a more comprehensive manner, especially wages and unemployment.
Prime Minister Angela Merkel has taken the first step to provide both a smooth transition for her party as well as for Germany. Following her announcement that she would not stand for re-election, Merkel stepped down as the head of the Christian Democratic Party which today selected Merkel’s preferred candidate, Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer (AKK), as her successor. Merkel and many other observers believe that this orderly succession to a Merkel-like leader will be better able to constrain the growing right-wing AfD party. With this orderly transition, Merkel hopes that AKK will successful solidify her party as well as Germany’s leadership position in the EU.
The situation for Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu presents a very difficult challenge to Israel’s democracy. He as well as his wife have now been recommended to be indicted twice by the police for criminal financial activities. This has not yet occurred, but Israel must hold elections by next fall. It is unclear that Bibi will be able to avoid at least the distraction of a trial. This undoubtedly will bring a number of members in his right-wing coalition to fight among themselves for the leadership; while there are no obvious opponents emerging from the centrist or left opposition parties. Netanyahu continues to maneuver to find a way to circumvent his legal charges. This week it was even suggested that the dramatic expose of Hezbollah dug tunnels entering Israel from Lebanon was a Netanyahu effort to divert public focus away from his personal problems and on to a national security issue.
President Trump, except for the lull created by the nation’s farewell to Bush 41, is increasingly facing legal challenges to his actions since he decided to run for President. As the confrontations mount, the potential for a standoff between Trump’s ability to govern and the rule of law will emerge. As the Mueller investigations, indictments, and pleas continue to intensify the American democratic system will be severely tested. The President will seek to slam the messengers, but ultimately the rule of law in a democracy must win-out.