Get the latest market trends in your inbox

Stay on top of the latest market trends and economic insights with the Axios Markets newsletter. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Denver news in your inbox

Catch up on the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Denver

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Des Moines news in your inbox

Catch up on the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Des Moines

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Minneapolis-St. Paul news in your inbox

Catch up on the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Minneapolis-St. Paul

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Tampa-St. Petersburg news in your inbox

Catch up on the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Tampa-St. Petersburg

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

A long-awaited test for Europe’s far right begins today with European parliamentary elections, which will send a medley of nationalists to Brussels and a message to mainstream parties all over the continent.

Why it matters: Emmanuel Macron, France’s fiercely pro-EU president, has portrayed it as a referendum on the European project. His nationalist foes agree — but their ambition is to weaken the EU from the inside.

  • All 28 European Union members will elect representatives to the EU's 751-seat parliament between today and Sunday.

The far-right is growing in strength, but it’s hardly a unified force. Things tend to get messy when nationalists, campaigning on “sovereignty,” attempt to join hands across borders.

  • Immigration, for example, is the signature issue for both Matteo Salvini, the Italian leader of a new far-right bloc, and Hungary’s authoritarian prime minister, Viktor Orbán.
  • Salvini, Italy's interior minister, wants the rest of the EU to share the migrant burden that has fallen heavily on Italy. He'll never get Orbán, who has vowed to keep immigrants out, to sign up to that.
  • Salvini has cobbled together a far-right coalition that’s expected to take about 10% of the new parliament. But it doesn’t include Orbán, Poland’s populist ruling party, or the Brexit Party — which is taking British politics by storm.

The big mainstream blocs — the center-left Social Democrats and the center-right European People’s Party — are likely to lose their long-held combined majority. That means a shift in Brussels’ balance of power.

  • Macron hoped to gather enough seats and sway to position his party as the “kingmaker," says Celia Belin of the Brookings Institution.
  • He’s short on allies, though, and now in a desperate fight simply to top Marine Le Pen’s far-right National Rally. Losing to Le Pen would be a major setback for his ambitions, both for the EU and for France.

What to watch: Turnout is often low in these elections, but the consequences can be significant.

  • Markus Schomer, Chief Economist at PineBridge Investments, tells Axios’ Dion Rabouin the 2014 vote was the “catalyst” for Brexit because the U.K. Independence Party triumphed over Britain's Conservative government, which in turn offered a referendum on EU membership.
  • “My worry is something could happen in these elections that lights the fuse for another Brexit-like event a few years from now," he says.

The big picture: Since 2014, Brussels has largely remained insulated from the political upheaval around the continent, says Erik Brattberg of the Carnegie Endowment. Not any longer.

Go deeper: Populism smothers Europe's mainstream conservatives

Go deeper

Dave Lawler, author of World
4 mins ago - World

China's Xi Jinping congratulates Biden on election win

Photo: Paul J. Richards/AFP via Getty Images

Chinese President Xi Jinping sent a message to President-elect Biden on Wednesday to congratulate him on his election victory, according to the Xinhua state news agency.

Why it matters: China's foreign ministry offered Biden a belated, and tentative, congratulations on Nov. 13, but Xi had not personally acknowledged Biden's win. The leaders of Brazil, Mexico and Russia are among the very few leaders still declining to congratulate Biden.

This story is breaking news. Please check back for updates.

Kendall Baker, author of Sports
55 mins ago - Sports

College basketball is back

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

A new season of college basketball begins Wednesday, and the goal is clear: March Madness must be played.

Why it matters: On March 12, 2020, the lights went out on college basketball, depriving teams like Baylor (who won our tournament simulation), Dayton, San Diego State and Florida State of perhaps their best chance to win a national championship.

1 hour ago - World

Scoop: Israeli military prepares for possibility Trump will strike Iran

Defense Minister Benny Gantz attends a cabinet meeting. Photo: Abir Sultan/POOL/AFP via Getty

The Israel Defense Forces have in recent weeks been instructed to prepare for the possibility that the U.S. will conduct a military strike against Iran before President Trump leaves office, senior Israeli officials tell me.

Why it matters: The Israeli government instructed the IDF to undertake the preparations not because of any intelligence or assessment that Trump will order such a strike, but because senior Israeli officials anticipate “a very sensitive period” ahead of Biden's inauguration on Jan. 20.