Theresa May should expect Brexit talks to fail, so says Fergane Azihari, a Young Voices advocate in France. Ferghane joins the podcast to talk about the economic outlook of the UK and EU if Brexit is completed, and why the EU is rooting for them to fail.
In an address to the German parliament on April 27, Chancellor Angela Merkel had tough words for the British government. The European Union’s most powerful leader told the Bundestag that the United Kingdom, “cannot and will not have the same rights” after it leaves the union. In other words, the British government should expect European leaders to refuse to negotiate and grant total access to the European market.
These words have been harshly criticized by British Prime Minister Theresa May, who accused the EU of “lining up” to oppose the United Kingdom. While one may disagree with the punitive attitude of European leaders, May’s naivety is to be deplored: The European Union’s behavior was predictable.
With the recent rise to prominence of right-wing populist parties across Europe, it’s refreshing that Iceland has remained largely immune to such nationalistic rhetoric. On the continent, figures like Marine Le Pen in France and Geert Wilders in the Netherlands are capitalizing on what political scientists are calling a third wave of European populism that began after the international financial crisis of 2008. These parties are characterized by their anti-immigrant, and specifically, anti-Muslim sentiments. They fashion themselves the “protectors” of their homelands’ traditional culture against cosmopolitan globalism.
Yet, tiny Iceland has resisted this dirty brand of politics because of the rise of social movements that challenged the power structure of the Icelandic political establishment after the financial crisis of 2008. Unlike in other European countries, these social movements transformed themselves into a political movements, filling the vacuum of traditional center-right and center-left political parties, while also preventing far-right political projects from succeeding.
For starters, Iceland is a relatively young country that only became independent in 1944. It is a parliamentary democracy, based on coalitions because the Althing (parliament) has 63 members but a single party rarely has a clear majority. Unlike other Nordic countries, Iceland has been governed by the right for most of its history, either from the liberal conservative Independence Party or the center-right agrarian Progressive Party.