Saturday, March 11, 2017

Après nous le déluge

In Europe too, we see strange times. In the presidential elections in France the choice is between a xenophobic anti-EU candidate, a centrist populist and a man who attacks the judicial system and accuses it of being part of a political conspiracy against him. Of course the family Le Pen is not new. New is that most major parts of the political spectrum in France have decayed.

In the Netherlands the political party with the second-biggest popular support wants to ban the Quran, and most parties use opposition against the authoritarian Turkish president or de facto dictator as a disguise for racism. The same tendency is clear in Austria, where half the population earlier voted for a right wing populist as president. Of course Erdogan answers with grotesque nazi-accusations.

Here in Denmark all the major political parties are competing openly in proposing racist measures against traumatized refugees. The minister for (dis)integration accuses them of abusing the welfare system and boasts of (almost) violating human rights conventions. Sweden has ended the more than half a century old passport-free travel between the Nordic countries and thereby divided the greater metropolitan area Copenhagen-Malmö, only to satisfy xenophobic voters. Poland continues to subdue the judges and the press.

Truly, Germany is being surrounded by politically declined neighbors. Together perhaps with Spain it may be the only mature political system left in Europe! The talk about a EU with two speeds is becoming increasingly naive. In most of the union both the population and the politicians are moving away from  the European idea. The remaining old style politicians seem to close their eyes and with few exceptions continue business as usual while the water keeps on rising.

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

War of Gangs

These are strange days. The destiny of the world is being determined in gang wars in the entourage around Mr. Trump. Will the United States end the cold war with Russia? Will Washington embark on a disastrous anti-Palestinian policy?

Maybe the US president and his nearest followers have acted so clumsy that he is compromised to such an extent that in reality he will be a lame duck in the time to come. Building a real power base takes more than an election victory and a few decrees. Time will show if Trump can manage this after all.

In the meanwhile he may be reduced to a powerless front figure for the Republican party. After having returned them to power he is still allowed to shout and tweet insults. It may help to satisfy the desperado voters. But that may be all he can do.

Thus the radicalized, right wing extremist, puritan and populist republican fractions could prevail. Concerning the Middle East the Republican right wing will support Mr. Trump. This is certainly no good news. Concerning Russia the anti-Putin hawks could overrule the opposite policies of the president.

So, for Russia the main advantage of the new presidency may evaporate. But the other advantage may still be real. That is the destabilization of the United States because of the declined political system. Populism, a radicalization of the two parties, mutual obstruction and contradictory incompatible legislations shifting with elections.