By Gideon Rachman
I have a nightmare vision for the year 2017: President Trump, President Le Pen, President Putin.
Like most nightmares, this one probably won’t come true. But the very fact that Donald Trump and Marine Le Pen are running strongly for the American and French presidencies says something disturbing about the health of liberal democracy in the west. In confusing and scary times, voters seem tempted to turn to “strong” nationalistic leaders — western versions of Russia’s Vladimir Putin.

The latest round of global talks on climate change, dubbed COP21, begins today in Paris. Environmental campaigners want leaders to agree on emissions cuts, with the goal of limiting temperature increases to 2C.

However, prospects of a deal remain uncertain, in part because rich and poorer nations are struggling to agree on how those cuts should be paid for. Developing countries believe that those who have already become wealthy on the back of burning fossil fuels should shoulder most of the financial burden.

Key developments

Read our bluffer’s guide to the talks here.  

The malign side-effects of the Paris terror attacks and Europe’s migrant crisis are still emerging. But something that needs watching is the way in which the two issues are combining to isolate Germany within Europe. In particular, Germany’s vital relationships with its western and eastern EU neighbours – France and Poland – are under severe strain. Both the French and the Germans feel they are facing a national crisis – terrorism for France, migrants for Germany – and that the other side is not showing sufficient “solidarity”. Read more

Can world powers make common cause against Isis?
France has been courting US and Russian support for a war on Isis in the wake of the Paris terror attacks. But while Russia and Turkey, a Nato member, claim to be fighting the same foe, they themselves saw armed combat this week when Turkey shot down a Russian jet on its border with Syria. Mark Vandevelde asks Gideon Rachman and Geoff Dyer whether world powers are capable of making common cause against Isis.

By Gideon Rachman
In the aftermath of the Paris attacks, two pictures sent a powerful message about how international politics are changing. One was of Barack Obama hunched in discussion in a hotel lobby with Vladimir Putin. The frosty body language of their previous meeting at the UN had given way to something more businesslike.

Donald Trump – would not rule out the idea of a database to track Muslims in America

Watching the debate on terrorism from the US this week has been a bizarre experience. The attacks took place in France – but it seems to be the US where the political demands for ever-tougher border controls are taking hold. On November 19th (Thursday), the House of Representatives passed the American Security Against Foreign Enemies Act (SAFE – get it!) which would stop resettlement of Syrian and Iraqi refugees in the US indefinitely. By contrast, President Hollande has just reaffirmed that France will take 30,000 Syrian refugees over the next two years. Read more

Key points

  • Eight arrests and at least two killed, says Paris prosecutor, after French police raid earlier in Saint-Denis, a suburb north of Paris

  • Belgian mastermind of attacks Abdelhamid Abaaoud was the target of the raid but not among those arrested. Bodies yet to be identified

  • Operation “neutralised” a new, heavily-armed terrorist cell, which was ready to strike

  • In the intense firefight during the raid, terrorists fired 5,000 rounds

  • One of the dead is a female suicide bomber, explosion so powerful it collapsed a floor of the apartment

  • Belgian prosecutors have charged two men in connection with the
    Paris attacks

By Mark Odell, Josh Chaffin and John Murray Brown


Paris atrocity exposes European security shortcomings
The Paris terror attacks have exposed Europe’s security and intelligence shortcomings and fulfilled officials’ worst fears about blow back from Syria’s bloody civil war. Ben Hall discusses the attacks and their implications with Sam Jones, defence and security editor, and Roula Khalaf, foreign editor.

António Costa, the Socialist leader who toppled the Portuguese government

I have a confession to make. After Portugal’s October 4 parliamentary elections, I wrote that Pedro Passos Coelho, the centre-right prime minister, had broken the mould of eurozone crisis politics. He had shown that it was possible for a European government to carry out difficult economic reforms and win re-election. This misread what was about to happen in Portugal.

Mr Passos Coelho’s ruling coalition came first in the polls. President Anibal Cavaco Silva asked him to reconstitute his government. But no sooner was Mr Passos Coelho back in Lisbon’s São Bento palace – the seat of Portugal’s government – than he was, metaphorically speaking, out again. Read more

Key points

  • The investigation into last week’s attacks spread across borders, with arrests in Germany as it emerged French police are hunting for not one but two surviving attackers.

  • France carries out fresh air strikes on the Syrian city of Raqqa overnight

  • Russia also steps up its air campaign as the Kremlin announces it has doubled the number of aircraft carrying out strikes against Isis in Syria.

  • Russia’s FSB says it has proof the Russian plane that crashed in Egypt last month was brought down by a bomb.

By Josh Noble, Mark Odell, John Murray Brown and Rob Minto


By Gideon Rachman
Ever since the late Samuel Huntington predicted that international politics would be dominated by a “clash of civilisations”, his theory, first outlined in 1993, has found some of its keenest adherents among militant Islamists.

Parisians return to work today following Friday’s attacks, which have left at least 129 people dead and many more wounded. A state of emergency remains in place.

France has responded with a series of police raids at home, and stepped up air strikes against Isis in Syria.

Key points

  • François Hollande declares: “France is at war” and tells French parliament he will seek permission to extend state of emergency declared over the weekend for three months

  • Barack Obama, speaking at the G20, again rules out large US troop presence in Syria

  • French jets have launched strikes on the Isis stronghold of Raqqa, Syria

  • Police raids, more than 150, have been carried out across France, Belgium. Many arrests made

  • Three attackers have been positively identified, all French nationals

  • UK prime minister David Cameron vows to build a case for expanding British air strikes into Syria

  • French police hunt for suspect named as Salah Abdeslam, 26, a French national, and brother of one of the dead bombers

  • A minute’s held silence across Europe

By Mark Odell, Henry Sanderson, Josh Noble and John Murray Brown


Following the deadliest terrorist atrocity in a western city in more than a decade, security and border controls have been tightened across Europe. France is in a state of emergency, and security forces across the continent are scrambling to track down those involved in the plot, which French president François Hollande described as “an act of war” in a television address.

Key points

  • The French police are looking for a suspect named as Salah Abdeslam, 26, a French national, who is still on the loose
  • Two of the attackers are believed to have been French nationals who lived in Brussels
  • Belgium authorities have arrested at least five people in relation to a car with Belgian number plates found near the scene in Paris
  • A further suspect has been identified as Omar Ismail Mostefai, a 29-year-old Frenchman, known to the authorities. Six of his relatives have been detained by authorities, including a brother who said that he had had no recent contact with Mostefai
  • The attacks were carried out by at least seven gunmen in three co-ordinated teams
  • Isis claimed responsibility for the attacks in a statement on Saturday saying “this is only the beginning of the storm”
  • 132 people were killed and 349 wounded in a series of co-ordinated attacks on Friday night
  • There will be a minute’s silence across Europe tomorrow at 11am
  • For a full round-up of the FT’s coverage as well as the best from the rest of the web see FirstFT

By Emily Cadman and Joseph Cotterill


A series of co-ordinated attacks across Paris has left more than 120 people dead with Isis claiming responsibility.

French President François Hollande has declared a state of emergency and deployed the army around Paris in response to one of the deadliest terrorist atrocities in a western city since September 11 2001.

By Mark Odell and Josh Noble


When Narendra Modi was elected as India’s prime minister 18 months ago, my Dad cracked open a bottle of champagne at our family home in east London.

It was an odd way to celebrate the arrival of a devout Hindu leader who has an aversion to alcohol. Stranger still was that this was being done by my Dad, who has never lived in India.

Why was he, like hundreds of thousands of other people of Indian origin in the UK — particularly those from the western state of Gujarat, elated about Modi’s victory? And why are 60,000 of them going to pack Wembley Stadium in London on Friday just to see him in the flesh? Read more

Rwanda's capital city, Kigali, at night

Economic statistics for sub-Saharan Africa have been criticised for decades as unreliable, complicating efforts to measure wealth – and poverty.

But help might now be at hand, thanks to a light-bulb moment for three World Bank economists.

Tom Bundervoet; Laban Maiyo and Apurva Sanghi found a close correlation between the intensity of night-time lighting, as viewed from space, and countries’ gross domestic product over the 21 years to 2012 . Read more

Cameron’s message to the European Union
David Cameron has set out his demands for a new relationship with the European Union ahead of a referendum on Britain’s membership. Gideon Rachman discusses how the UK prime minister’s message is being received at home and in the rest of Europe with George Parker and Alex Barker


The Republican White House contenders took the stage in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, for their fourth presidential debate. There were eight contenders on the stage after Fox Business News, which co-hosted the event with media empire stablemate The Wall Street Journal, determined that Chris Christie, the New Jersey governor, and Mike Huckabee, the former Arkansas governor, did not qualify to participate under their criteria. Marco Rubio built on his momentum, while Jeb Bush did not do much to bolster a wilting campaign, and Donald Trump stood out less than in previous debates as the field narrowed. 

By Gideon Rachman
Nothing can separate us. We are one family”. So said Xi Jinping after becoming the first president of China to shake hands with a president of Taiwan. The meeting between Mr Xi and Ma Ying-jeou was undoubtedly historic.

For anybody who used to visit Myanmar during the darkest days of the military junta, Sunday’s national elections seem little short of miraculous. I remember travelling to Yangon in the early 1990s, when the closest you could get to Aung San Suu Kyi was to drive past the gates of her residence on University Avenue – where the opposition leader was held under house arrest. Almost all the leading activists for her party, the National League for Democracy, were in jail – usually under very harsh conditions.

Myanmar pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi waves at supporters as she visits polling stations at her constituency

Myanmar pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi waves at supporters as she visits polling stations at her constituency  © Reuters

 Read more