Along with sustainability, business and technology news, I like to keep informed on current international affairs. So, this post serves as an insight into the political dynamics in Europe.
The year 2017 appears to mark Europe’s summer of love.
Last year, following the Brexit and election of US President Trump, there was an overwhelming assumption that other countries, particularly Europe would follow suit in the wave of right-wing populism and nationalism.
History has shown us time and time again, that austerity breeds discontent towards migrants and the foreign. Some countries feared globalisation more than others, depending on the levels by which citizens, companies and countries around the world have become more interconnected through trade, investment and advances in technology.
Evidently, the political status quo and fear of mass migration triggered a global right-wing movement in Europe.
It was interesting to witness how the Austrian political showdown tried to emulate the unsavoury American style of debates, rhetoric and dirt digging. The far-right oriented Austria’s Freedom Party leader, Norbert Hofer put up a tough fight and retreated following a narrow win of the Pro-European Alexander van der Bellen, following the presidential elections on 4 December 2017.
Every country’s nationalist party should have a fair share of seats in the House of Representatives to protect the interest of tradition and domestic affairs. The Dutch nationalist Party for Freedom took it a step too far with constant feeds of anti-Islam propaganda, spearheaded by its sole member and controversial leader Geert Wilders. The world was surprised to learn of Prime Minister Mark Rutte’s conservative-liberal People’s Party for Freedom and Democracy to win the general election, and this despite the opinion polls prediction to put the right-wing populist Party for Freedom in the lead for the election held on 15 March 2017.
The populist and nationalist-oriented party, True Finns had false hopes in winning the municipal election to draw out of the European Union and drive away all migrants. The National Coalition, a conservative but liberal and strongly pro-European Party eventually won the election held on 9 April 2017.
Effects of globalisation and prevalent anti-immigration rhetoric brought the largest far-right movement in Europe.
Marine Le Pen’s Front National party failed to live up to supporters’ expectations in a closely-watch French general election. Similarly experienced to the US presidential election of Barack Obama in 2008, newly elected French President and pro-European Emmanuel Macron brought hope. France dodged a right-wing nationalist bullet at the general election held on 7 May 2017.
Despite the burden of handling a steady flow of desperate refugees, Italy’s neo-fascist party, the Lega Nord lost its recent local election and prepared to charge ahead for the general election in 2018. Italy’s pro-European Democratic Party emerged as winners of the local election held on 25 June 2017.
Along with the American, British politics is truly show business for ugly people. Current Prime Minister and Conservative Theresa May faced a humiliating defeat against Labour party leader Jeremy Corbyn who won 10% growth voters confidence; an achievement last experienced in 1945. The recent election appeared to be more about inequality than the nationalistic movement that led to Brexit. According to multiple poll surveys, the average Labour voters represented high-income, and highly educated demographic and Conservative voters represented the working class with only secondary school education. Usually, it’s the other way round …
The UK general election held on 8 June 2017 was overwhelmingly voted by the British wishing to remain in union with Europe.
The nationalist-populist party Alternative für Deutschland along with all other alternative parties have a slim chance of moving German Chancellor Angela Merkel from the throne. Since 2005, the Christian Democratic Union has managed to bring the German economy to a leading position in the world, along with 6% drop in unemployment and a largely multicultural and family-oriented democracy.
Who in their right frame of mind wants to vote against a stable and predictable Merkel economy? We will find out in the German general election held on 24 September 2017.
Austerity breeds populism.
Across the world, people are fed up with the political status quo. The effects of globalisation in Europe swing in favour of anti-immigration, anti-Islam and Euroscepticism. Also, emerging technology is to blame for the harsh transition of replacing labour with automation across all sectors.
Instilling fear, uncertainty and doubt through populist rhetorics achieve an abundance of votes in the short term. Evidently, love and sensibility trumps hate and ignorance in Europe. Many of us, including the most sensible right-wing conservative, can relate to the fact that immigration brings innovation and diversity.
The European Union brings security and international trade.
International trade which is associated with globalisation has been a practice for centuries. Countries need access to goods and service they don’t have or cannot produce. There are two ways to gain access; either through trade or conflict.
Which would way would you rather?