Today: March 19 2019
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European ebb and flow

European ebb and flow

Tags: Europe, Politics

Last weekend, important political events took place in Europe. On Sunday morning, the leadership of the Social Democratic Party of Germany announced the results of the party referendum whether to enter the government coalition with the CDU / CSU under the leadership of Angela Merkel. Two thirds of the members of the SPD voted for the participation. 14 March Merkel will officially become Chancellor for the fourth time. The political crisis in Germany (six months with the acting government) is over, everyone can breathe peacefully. Or not?

There is no glee. Social Democrats on the historical minimum (on a fresh poll - 16%). And in the new elections, inevitable in case of failure of attempts to create a coalition, they risked falling into the "lower league" - from system-forming to small parties. Therefore, an alliance with right-centrist is almost an inevitable measure.

The Italian vote confirmed the trend - the sinking, or even the failure of the systemically important parties in Europe

Entering the government postpones the electoral question for a couple of years (if there is no force majeure) and gives a chance to improve performance. But for this it is necessary to demonstrate that the Social Democrats are a consistent and independent political force that influences the policy of the Cabinet. It was not possible to do this for the previous mandate. The next cycle should be approached with a more pronounced political figure. After all, in those elections, the CDU will lead no longer Merkel, and the factor of her personal authority, which has so far exerted pressure on everyone else, will not be.

On Sunday, the general vote was held in Italy, and its results plunged the European establishment into depression. Half of the voters of the third EU economy supported the protest parties, which are more or less negative towards further integration. Undisputed success was achieved by the true populists from the "Movement of 5 Stars" (almost a third of the votes), for them the entire Italian south.The second triumphant is the right-nationalist anti-immigrant "League" - the formerly separatist party of developed Northern Italy. "The League" significantly outperformed the right-wing coalition partner " Forward, Italy "Silvio Berlusconi, and in the case of the formation of the right-wing government, its leader Matteo Salvini is counting on the premier's post.

The Italian vote confirmed the trend, which has been recorded in all European elections for a year now, two - the sinking, or even the failure of the systemically important parties, especially the moderately left, and the scattering of the usual political landscape. The successes of the protest forces become the rule, and it is impossible to isolate them. Following Austria, Italy has a chance to become the second Western European country, where the right-nationalist politicians, who declare sovereignty and identity as virtues, will receive levers of government. But if in Vienna the Freedom Party is a junior partner, then the "League" can become the eldest.

The shocking mainstream situation brought to life a fresh idea for Italian politics: to collect there also a "big coalition" from the Berlusconi party, wounded by the fact that he was on secondaries in the right camp, and the center-left (their leader, Matteo Renzi), who suffered an unpleasant defeat. But this design will be devoid of moral legitimacy, as it does not reflect the real mood of voters.

The irony is that Berlusconi, who was perceived in the EU as a tiring clown during the premiership (especially at the end), is now regarded almost as Europe's only hope for predictable Italy. Even if Rome follows in the footsteps of Berlin, the decision will be temporary. Voters are irritated with monotony. And either the leading political parties will depart from the centrist leveling, starting to declare a distinct ideological profile, that is, to demonstrate differences, or they will be superseded by other protest forces, perhaps ripe for more systemic actions. An example of the first kind is the Austrian People's Party, which the current Chancellor Sebastian Kurtz has noticeably shifted to the right, or the British Laborites, marvelously "furthered" under the leadership of Jeremy Corbin. Both transformations bear fruits. The French Socialists and Republicans, German and Italian Social Democrats testify to how quickly a powerful party can slip to the sidelines, which did not catch the demand for a new ideologization.

Europe in the coming years will be unreliable for Russia's partner - nervous and immersed in their problems

It is noteworthy that the left-centristists suffer more. After the failure of the Soviet experiment, they were particularly zealous in trying to prove their moderation, which led to the erasure of individuality. And when among voters there was a craving for classical left ideals - social justice, equality, it turned out that to work with the new "proletariat" all forgot how, and the latter becomes easy prey to the notorious "populists".
The opposite example is Emmanuel Macron, the personification of the elusive "escape" from any ideological clarity and party reference points. However, conclusions about the success of his approach are still too early to make.

Europe will continue to change rapidly, but the changes will continue to be spontaneous erosion rather than a conscious transformation of the previous model. A relatively weak government in Berlin will have to deal with crisis management with varying degrees of acuity, rather than working out and implementing a strategic line for restructuring the EU. And this means that for external partners, including Russia, Europe in the coming years will be a unreliable partner - nervous and immersed in its problems.

Fyodor Lukyanov
Rossiyskaya Gazeta
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