The European Union is Breaking Apart
Italian voters rocked Europe’s elite more at the weekend more than Austrian voters were able to steady it. With its shaky banks and massive economy, Italy is now in the throes of energized populists who are not friendly with the EU leaders in Brussels.
A big Storm is on the horizon
Europe’s unity and single currency face growing uncertainty in several upcoming elections, notably in the Netherlands and France, where the far-Right looms large. And like Italy, both are founding nations that were at the cradle of the EU’s socialist experiment in the 1950’s.
“Europe in 2017, we all know, will be a disaster,” said a political scientist at the Luiss University in Rome. “We have to expect European paralysis.”
Unless the EU juggernauts France and Germany find ways to turn the tide, it could leave the defeat of the ight wing in Austria’s Presidential election (a ceremonial office) Sunday as a blip on the cracked screen.
What counts is that the anti-establishment wave that swept over the UK and then the United States won another victory Sunday that will further shake the foundation of the EU. Italians rejected constitutional reforms championed by Prime Minister Matteo Renzi, 41 anni, who had boldly staked his political future on winning the referendum.
Inside that vote was a vote of frustration, discontent, and punishment from the large margin of defeat; 60% from a robust turnout of nearly 70% of the Italian electorate.
That was terrific news far-right populists like Geert Wilders and his Party for Freedom in the Netherlands, and Marine Le Pen and her National Front in France.
“Congratulations Italia,” Mr. Wilders tweeted early Monday after Mr. Renzi’s defeat at the hands of Italy’s anti-establishment 5-Star Movement and anti-immigrant Northern League.
When the Dutch go to the polls in March, Mr. Wilders could well be next to ride the mood of discontent that has hammered the status quo since the 23 June referendum in Britain stunned all powers-that-be and forced the UK to seek an exit the EU.
The Netherlands has already had two referendums seen as punishing Europe — the country rejected the EU’s proposed constitution a dozen years ago and earlier this year voters rejected a free-trade pact between the EU and Ukraine — a vote that was widely seen as a rebuke of the bloc’s policies. Wilders called that outcome “a vote of no confidence by the people against the elite from Brussels.”
In May, anti-EU Le Pen could well have a shot at victory in the French Presidential election — an outcome which would not be considered as stunning as Donald Trump’s victory over Hillary Clinto in the United States.
The impact slivering single currency bloc would be devastating.
Ms. Le Pen is already relishing the challenge and happily watched Sunday’s implosion of Italy’s political establishment.
“This Italian ‘No,’ after the Greek referendum, after Brexit, adds a new populace to the list of those who want to turn their backs on absurd European policies that plunge the continent into misery,” Le Pen exulted.
By the time the German elections come around in late September, 3X Chancellor Angela Merkel may be fighting for her political life and power.
What European politics showed again over the weekend, a European political science professor at Ghent University, is that “the genie is out of the bottle.”
“With a lot of noise and fact-free politics you can win elections,” he said. “We have entered a period where nothing is impossible and it worries all capitals, and especially the EU headquarters.”
The global rejection of all EU policies, notably on the economy and migration, is accelerating on the continent.
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