#BlueStarBrief March 2020

Coronavirus and the U.S. Response

On Wednesday, March 11, President Donald Trump announced that the U.S. administration would take a number of steps to combat the spread of the coronavirus, just hours after the World Health Organization declared that the disease is now a global pandemic. The most dramatic step was to ban travel from Europe to the United States for 30 days starting at midnight on Friday, March 13, although additional White House guidance has explained that the move will only apply to foreign nationals who have been in the 26-country Schengen area in the last 14 days – not American citizens. Other measures will include an additional $50 billion for Small Business Administration loans, payroll tax relief, and expanding testing facilities. In response, the House of Representatives introduced the new multi-billion dollar "Families First Coronavirus Response Act," though its future in the Senate is uncertain. The State Department has issued a Global Level 3 Health Advisory for U.S. citizens to reconsider travel. The latest information from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on coronavirus can be found at the Coronavirus Disease-19 (COVID-19) webpage.

Insight & Analysis

Who will be the Democrats' Nominee to Challenge President Trump?
A complicated process, explained

By Karen A. Tramontano

In the last few days we watched one of the Democratic Party’s presidential candidates — Joe Biden, then well behind in delegates and counted out by most pundits — win more delegates than any other candidate in the race, including the previously presumed frontrunner, Senator Bernie Sanders.

The question now is: who will be the Democrats’ nominee to challenge President Trump?

Click here to read more.

Can Latin America Fight Its Way Back to Growth?

By Daniel P. Erikson

By all accounts, 2019 was a challenging economic year for Latin America. Stalled growth in the largest economies of Brazil and Mexico, together with recession in Argentina, hyperinflation and economic collapse in Venezuela, and growing social unrest in countries as diverse as Bolivia, Chile, and Haiti all added up to a bleak regional panorama. In December, the UN Economic Commission announced that the period from 2014 to 2020 was the lowest period for economic growth in Latin America in past seven decades, clocking in a GDP growth rate of 0.1% in 2019.

Will 2020 be any better?

Click here to read more.

European Political Update: Slovakia and Slovenia

By Pero Jolevski

In the Slovak Republic...

Slovakia's February 29 parliamentary election resulted in a major victory for the anti-corruption political party, Ordinary People and Independent Personalities (OĽaNO), which took more than 25% of the total vote, replacing the ruling coalition led by the social democrat party, Direction (Smer-SD).

  • Background: Smer had been in power for over a decade but came under fire following the 2018 murder of journalist Jan Kuciak and his fiancée Martina Kusnirova, after Kuciak reported on tax evasion and fraud among Slovak business leaders.

  • Outlook: OĽaNO's leadership has agreed on a future government coalition to be comprised of three center-right parties hoping to form a ruling coalition with a 90-seat majority in the 150-seat parliament. As for ministerial posts, there has been little progress on which party will get which ministry and who will lead them.

In Slovenia...

On March 3, President Borut Pahor nominated a new prime minister, Janez Jansa, to lead the formation of a new government in Slovenia.

  • Background: The new prime minister is a center-right veteran leader of the Slovenian Democratic Party (SDS) and has twice served in the post in prior governments. The outgoing center-left prime minister had led a minority government, but resigned due to a lack of support for new legislation.

  • Outlook: The SDS previously won Slovenia’s 2018 parliamentary election, but other groups refused to cooperate due to concerns over anti-immigrant positions. The newly formed government has stated that its 2-year term will focus on "compromise solutions which all coalition partners agree on," namely deregulation of the economy and introduction of competition in education and healthcare.

Karen Tramontano Speaks on Impeachment Process

Karen Tramontano participated in a panel discussion analyzing the impeachment process at an event hosted by the Institute of Politics, Policy and History at the University of the District of Columbia.

Click here to watch the C-SPAN video recording of the event.

Karen's fellow panelists included U.S. Congressman Jamie Raskin, former Republican National Committee chair Michael Steele, and Georgetown University law Professor Paul Butler. Sharon Pratt, former mayor of Washington, DC, moderated the discussion.


Tips and Recommendations

Nordic and French Old Québec City, Canada

Mathilde Defarges recommends...


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