Monday, November 30, 2015

European warning signs

The "Europe whole and free" that emerged after the cold war is in danger. The single currency for many of its members, the Euro, is exacerbating the economic troubles of the poorer states. The checkpoint-free travel of the Schengen agreement has exacerbated the problems of coping with the surge of refugees from Syria and other Arab regions. The migrant crisis itself has fueled the rise of right-wing, anti-immigrant parties that could well gain significant power in elections in the coming months.

Since so much of European governance is done by consensus or unanimity, the coming to power of these once fringe parties could destroy Europe as a geopolitical power. Jackson Diehl of the Washington Post points to what has already happened in Poland.
It’s been just two weeks since Beata Szydlo, a mild-mannered parliamentarian from the right-wing Law and Justice party, was sworn in as the country’s prime minister. During that time, the administration nominally under her control has installed a new chief of the secret security services who was previously convicted of abuse of power for prosecuting political opponents, replaced five members of the Constitutional Court in order to avoid challenges to that first appointment, and named as defense minister an outspoken anti-Semite.
The trend lines are clear and ominous. European leaders have to get their act together and solve these most pressing problems before the whole system unravels.

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