The future of the 28-nation bloc
It is often said that history repeats itself, with few modifications. The case with the modern Europe is not much different today. Many fear that Europe is again on the brink of breakup. The fear has originated from the recent populist movements that have shown remarkable performance in elections in many of the Western countries. For example, the German far-right party Alternative for Deutschland (AfD) won 88 seats with 13 percent votes in elections held last year. The growing influence of such populist parties rings alarm bells that Europe may lose its unity and this wave could make it to revert to its tendency toward hard power. The history of the twentieth century bears testimony to the fact that the West prompted the two World Wars – the biggest event of the use of hard power.
Many view World War II as a war of vengeance that Germany started to vent its anger caused by the Treaty of Versailles, 1919, that contained some humiliating terms for Germany – this treaty was concluded at the end of the First World War and through it the European powers de-weaponized Germany and deprived it of overseas colonies and other European occupations, finally splitting the country into two parts. The interwar period witnessed the rise of the Nazi party in Germany which believed in a racist doctrine that asserted the superiority of the Aryan race. Adolf Hitler, the co-founder of this party, started to re-weaponize the country and the game of making rival camps was on again. Ultimately, Germany waged the World War II with an attack on Poland on September 1, 1939.
Some bracket AfD with Hitler’s Nazi Party for it has seeds of racism in its ideology. The party is working against immigration. The 20th century Nazi party was anti-Semitic while the 21st century AfD — that calls itself the follower of Nazi — is anti-Islam. The mainstreaming of AfD has added an impetus to the promotion of racism. Entering Bundestag is a giant leap for the AfD; it would help it materialize its racist agenda, and the state will be bound to give it the rights it is entitled to, e.g. right to speak, to utilize state funds and to exposure on the media. It will ultimately grant parliamentary protection to the neo-Nazi leaning. The entry of such a party into the German parliament is a problem of critical importance and no less than a shocking development. Who are responsible for this all? German voters, indeed!
The whole Europe is presently facing a wave of extremism, radicalism and separatist movements. All these vices are evident in Brexit – the exit of Britain from the European Union (EU) – Catalonia’s bid for separation from Spain and Flemish separatism in Belgium.
Said simply, euroscepticism, anti-Islamism and centrifugalism are unfolding new events in Europe. Not surprisingly, the populist movements on the continent got momentum after the election of the demagogue Donald Trump to the White House; in addition, Brexit put the weight behind such movements and, hence, populism is now soaring to new heights.
The Catalonian crisis in Spain has gained momentum. Similar secessionist flames were lit in Belgium where nationalist party New Flemish Alliance supported the demonstrations held in favour of the Catalans. Both the movements are reciprocally strengthening each other.
The integration of the European Union suffered a serious setback when the United Kingdom voted to leave the bloc in June 2016. The campaign for Brexit was led by Nigel Farage for some 20 years.
Added to these is the France’s right-wing party National Front headed by Marine Le Pen. The party is becoming a centrifugal force against the European Union. The spate of populism is devouring the European Union from within, with no exception to the Netherlands where the Dutch Freedom Party of Geert Wilders has nearly identical objectives to those of France’s National Front. Addressing a press conference after an anti-immigration conference in the Czech capital Prague on December 16, 2017, Le Pen said, “The European Union is losing its breath. I hope we will overthrow the European Union from within. We must behave like conquerors… European nations must free themselves from the chains of the European Union.” This tough rhetoric speaks volumes about the clouds of disintegration hovering over the European Union.
The Austrian parliament is also hosting a number of populists after the elections, held on October 15, 2017, in which the far-right Freedom Party of Heinz-Christian Strache won a substantial number of seats. Worse, the party has joined the coalition government. The mainstreaming of the eurosceptic party has stunned the region and the world at large.
The populist spate remained unstoppable in Italy too. The world witnessed the victory of Five Star Movement and right-wing League Party in the 2018 Italian general elections and these parties are expected to form a coalition government.
Hungary is yet another country witnessing the rise of populist wave. In April 2018 elections, the Hungarians conferred victory on a populist party named Fidesz as it won 49 percent of the vote.
Many anticipate that the future fruition of the recent developments may leave the Europe in a lose-lose situation in the realm of economy, politics, integrity, prosperity, progress, global power politics, and all other fields.