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.
Continue reading at FEE.
Jean-Claude Juncker, the President of the European Commission, recently presented a White Paper on the Future of Europe outlining five possible scenarios for the Union’s future. In a joint statement, the French and German foreign ministers have already endorsed one of these, the so-called “Europe of multiple speeds”.
The concept is not new, and bears some risks, but is the only conceivable option given the current political circumstances. Europe of multiple speeds, or as the White Paper frames it “Those Who Want More Do More,” means that countries willing to integrate further in certain policy fields can do so without an obligation for others to follow their lead.
In fact, this is already a reality. The EU currently has 28 member states, 22 of which form the Schengen area that also includes non-members such as Switzerland or Liechtenstein. 19 states have accepted the Euro as their common currency, and Denmark has an opt-out clause in the field of foreign security. However, until now these differences have been exceptions. This could change now. Europe’s leaders realise they need to find a way forward in a Union that is under threat from many sides. “Carrying On” is not an option anymore.
Continue reading at Freedom Today.
The Republican establishment has been taking a shellacking in the past few months, as Donald Trump continues his march to the GOP nomination.
Trump’s supporters are angry about a great many things, and his opponents don’t have a clue how to calm down them down. Their most recent ideas have included wheeling out failed former presidential candidate Mitt Romney, and issuing an open letter from the Republican national security community. Both have had little effect.
Trump’s key narrative is that he will stop the United States from being taken advantage of on the world stage. Usually this takes the form of ridiculous attacks on free trade, but Trump does have a point that the United States is being fleeced when it comes to foreign policy.
Read the rest on Rare, here.
Late February, on an otherwise quiet Tuesday morning, a group of thugs occupied the Hungarian National Election Office. They were there to stop members of an opposition party submitting their referendum proposal.
Such congregations are never a good sign in Hungary. They highlight the growing influence of the far-right, which openly venerates the Nazi regimes of world war II.
But these thugs weren’t connected to the neo-fascist Jobbik party, they were acting on behalf of the governing Fidesz party, which is increasingly taking an authoritarian approach.
This is a serious threat to Hungarian democracy, and if the Hungarian people don’t unite against it, their democracy may be gone for good.
It’s well known that Fidesz opposes western style democracy, defined by rule of law, checks and balances, and civil rights. In 2014, Prime Minister Viktor Orbán openly declared his plan to turn Hungary into an “illiberal democracy”, based on Russia, Turkey, and China – a statement that led Senator John McCain to describe Prime Minister Orbán as a “neo-fascist dictator”.
Orbán and Fidesz have been strenuously implementing this plan since taking office in 2010. They have tampered with election laws, tailoring the process and gerrymandering constituencies to retain their two-thirds majority in 2014. They have centralized power throughout society, creating new government bureaucracies and nationalizing private industries. Worst of all, they have curtailed the powers of the constitutional court, so that nothing can challenge the government’s frenzy.
This approach is already causing problems… Read the full article at CapX to find out how.
When the United Kingdom first applied for EEC membership in 1963, the answer it received was simple: “Non!”. The European project was still in the early stages of development, and Charles De Gaulle was afraid that UK membership would slow down or block necessary steps towards further integration. Accusing the UK of harbouring a “deep seated hostility” towards European integration, and a “lack of interest” in its common market, the fledgling EEC vetoed their candidacy, twice—once in 1963, and again in 1967.
Around half a century later, the situation has changed. While Britain has retained its scepticism of European integration—with many now advocating leaving the EU altogether—the other member states are suddenly in need of Britain’s restraint.
If the UK decides to turn its back on the European project, the EU will continue its dangerous spiral towards an ‘ever closer union’, culminating in a political and fiscal union that is doomed to fail.
Read the full article at CapX.