Like Brexit but perhaps with more enthusiasm, there are more ruptures in Europe developing.
While the news is focused on Spain, new ruptures in Europe may soon appear at the Eastern end of the EU. The European Union aspires to be a transnational body that supposedly works to everybody’s benefit. But when member nations don’t feel that the EU is benefiting them, then voters are going to elect politicians who are willing to leave the EU. The only way they could stop that from happening is gaining military power to threaten these nations.
Bloomberg reports, “Europe Could See Another Brexit-Like Rupture—Beyond Spain.”
Some of the great moments of history sneak up on businesspeople. Two years ago, Britain looked to be Europe’s most economically rational country; now its companies seem to be rolling from one economic earthquake to another, with Brexit looking increasingly likely to be followed by the election of a near-Marxist prime minister, Jeremy Corbyn.[…]
Now, another rupture may be sneaking up on Europe, driven by a similar mixture of pent-up anger and short-term political maneuvering. This one is between the old West European democratic core of the EU, led by Merkel and increasingly by Emmanuel Macron, who are keen to integrate the euro zone, and the populist authoritarians of Eastern Europe, who dislike Brussels. This time the arguments are ones about political freedom and national sovereignty.
Later this month it looks likely the Czechs will have a new Trumpian prime minister—Andrej Babis, a populist billionaire who wants to send Arab immigrants back home and promises to make the government work as well as his businesses do. To be fair to Babis, he’s a rather more subtle figure than the American president (not to mention a more successful businessman). He is, for instance, careful to emphasize his respect for the judiciary and, on immigration, he welcomes newcomers from Ukraine, pointing out that he himself comes from Slovakia. His main appeal is efficiency (he fumes about his former coalition partners playing with their phones in cabinet meetings).
However, Babis is plainly opposed to increased European integration of the sort that Macron wants and is also against Brussels meddling in Eastern Europe. That means that, whatever the subtleties of Babis’s relatively centrist brand of populism, he is likely to be bundled in with Viktor Orban of Hungary and Jaroslaw Kaczynski of Poland as part of Europe’s authoritarian fringe.
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