When the world gets closer.

We help you see farther.

Sign up to our expressly international daily newsletter.

Already a subscriber? Log in .

You've reached your limit of one free article.

Get unlimited access to Worldcrunch

You can cancel anytime .


Exclusive International news coverage

Ad-free experience NEW

Weekly digital Magazine NEW

9 daily & weekly Newsletters

Access to Worldcrunch archives

Free trial

30-days free access, then $2.90
per month.

Annual Access BEST VALUE

$19.90 per year, save $14.90 compared to monthly billing.save $14.90.

Subscribe to Worldcrunch

Cameron Victory Threatens United Kingdom And United Europe

David Cameron at the European Union headquarters in Brussels
David Cameron at the European Union headquarters in Brussels
Dominique Moïsi

PARIS — "It’s the economy, stupid!" Just like the famous slogan in Bill Clinton's 1992 challenge, the economy may have been decisive for David Cameron — but in a positive way this time for the incumbent.

The economic crisis 22 years ago was George H. W. Bush’s downfall, despite his laudable record in foreign policy. The decline in unemployment and the economic growth guarantee David Cameron’s triumphal return to Number 10, Downing Street.

While the Conservatives emphasized the good results of the economy, Labour and Ed Miliband, its leader who has since stepped down, made the fatal error of conducting a sharply left-wing campaign. The fear of change prevailed over any other consideration, as it had paradoxically been the case with of the success of the “No” during the Scottish referendum in Sept. 2014. In both cases, the economic considerations turned out to be decisive.

But beyond Cameron’s shattering victory, which defied all pre-election polls that showed him neck-and-neck with Miliband, the British elections also point to a looming revolution that could have historic consequences on multiple fronts. In first instance, of course, is the triumph of the Scottish nationalists of the SNP, who won almost every seat in Scotland (56 out of 59). They may have a Syriza-like economic message and claim to be much attached to the European Union, the May 7 vote was, for the Scottish people, before anything else, the equivalent of a “do-over referendum.” Nicola Sturgeon, the SNP's leader, made them understand they had a second chance to seize and that they had to overcome their fears. Disappointed by London’s behavior since the 2014 referendum, they voted this time with their hearts.

Can we go as far as saying that last Thursday’s elections convey a double defeat of union, in the British sense of the word? We can, of course, expect now that a triumphant David Cameron will fulfill his promise of a referendum in 2017 on the UK's place in the European Union. But the elections also reflect the new political, economic and cultural reality of what, until now, they still call the United Kingdom.

The three Britains

A new tripartite system has just emerged: Conservatives, Labour, Scottish nationalists. (The Eurosceptic party UKIP did get important results, but it only got one seat and, this a major humiliation, Nigel Farage will not enter the House of Commons and also stepped aside as leader.)

Beyond this singular tripartite system, there’s a tri-polar reality that is crucial to understand to explain the changes underway. Behind the term “Great Britain,” there are actually three distinct identities. Three, and not only two, as it is often said to emphasize the Scottish exception. There’s London, Scotland and the rest of Britain, including Wales and Northern Ireland.

Of course, there are still major economic and social differences between a richer and more conservative South and more modest and Laborite working-class North. But these differences alone are no longer enough to explain the divided reality of the nation. Cosmopolitan, multicultural, vibrant with energy and dynamism, London has, in fact, effectively left the rest of the United Kingdom, just like the SNP in Scotland intends to do formally.

After more than three centuries of a system that has worked fairly well, David Cameron leads a United Kingdom that is at a historical crossroads. How far can the prime minister go in the concessions to Scotland to maintain the unity of the Kingdom? And, conversely, which concessions will he be able to obtain from the Union, European this time, to maintain Great Britain, or what is left of it, in the EU?

What can the consequences of the voting of the British be for Europe? In Berlin, where I was at the beginning of last week, worry was spreading about the results of a referendum lying ahead. Facing this impending threat, Germany's alliance with Paris was imposing itself more than ever. And, in this context, the future of France itself, considered uncertain, was becoming even more important. And what if, in 2017, Britain says “No” to Europe at the exact moment France says “Yes” to Marine Le Pen's anti-EU National Front party?

This scenario is probably too alarmist, but it reflects Germany’s concerns and its fear of ending up all alone in Europe, as the last “truly European” major country, followed by Poland. The more cynical, tactical question: is France not exaggerating the threat of its National Front to obtain concessions from Germany in negotiations over the European Union. “If you’re too intransigent with us, you’re paving the way for the National Front” is the implicit message of this viewpoint.

The British may feel very far from Europe, but their elections were followed quite closely by Europeans, ever more worried about the possibility of less Great Britain in Europe and in the world.

You've reached your limit of free articles.

To read the full story, start your free trial today.

Get unlimited access. Cancel anytime.

Exclusive coverage from the world's top sources, in English for the first time.

Insights from the widest range of perspectives, languages and countries.

food / travel

When Racism Poisons Italy's Culinary Scene

This is the case of chef Mareme Cisse, a black woman, who was called a slur after a couple found out that she was the one who would be preparing their meal.

Photo of Mareme Cisse cooking

Mareme Cisse in the kitchen of Ginger People&Food

Caterina Suffici


TURIN — Guess who's not coming to dinner. It seems like a scene from the American Deep South during the decades of segregation. But this happened in Italy, in this summer of 2023.

Two Italians, in their sixties, got up from the restaurant table and left (without saying goodbye, as the owner points out), when they declared that they didn't want to eat in a restaurant where the chef was what they called: an 'n-word.'

Racists, poor things. And ignorant, in the sense of not knowing basic facts. They don't realize that we are all made of mixtures, come from different racial and ethnic backgrounds. And that food, of course, are blends of different ingredients and recipes.

The restaurant is called Ginger People&Food, and these visitors from out of town probably didn't understand that either.

Keep reading...Show less

The latest