Is There a Connection between United Arab Emigrants and Political Instability in Europe?

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Anton Shvets The uprising of the “yellow vests” in France, stalled Brexit and Europe going right – instability in the EU countries, triggered by the influx of migrants, brought to light the long overdue request of the European society for change. The current situation in the states of the European Union is changing rapidly, which is noticeable even to an untrained eye. There is an intense struggle against the elites, who have determined domestic and foreign policies of Western European societies for many years. And they are completely losing this battle, getting outplayed by the population fighting for their rights and being unable to provide a convincing response to desires of the masses. It is difficult to recall such an episode in the European history in the last 50 years, when the integrity of European states, the values ​​propagated by their leaders and the European idea itself would be subject to such severe erosion. We are witnessing general loss of control due to persistence of the European establishment and its unreadiness to ensure the changes that public needs. Moreover, these events are taking place not on the periphery as before, but in the very heart of the European Union.

France is shaken by uprising of the “yellow vests”

The uprising of the “yellow vests” has long spilled over the traditional forms of conflict interaction between the authorities and the society of France and has already led to introduction of a state of emergency in the country. Two-weeks of deafening silence, and then the embarrassed penitence of President Emmanuel Macron, to put it mildly, do not guarantee implosion of the protest movement. The formal reason for the beginning of a militarized strike such as higher fuel prices only masks the deep existential crisis that the French society is going through. Despite his apparent progressiveness and broad views, Emmanuel Macron was unable to offer solutions other that further reproduction of the system that has existed over the years. The recent presidential elections in the country only for a short time delayed the moment when French society have benefited from its most effective instrument of influence on authorities – the street revolution. The French were impressed neither by Macron’s solo on the 100th anniversary of the end of World War I, nor by his close relations with US President Donald Trump, nor even by attempts to take the lead in the European Union. It is obvious that the endless elites’ postponing of concrete measures to ensure a new unity and stability in Europe will end in France very soon. A new vision will be offered with or without Emmanuel Macron.

Brexit: to leave or not to leave

The Brexit epic also starts to look surrealistic. It was clear from the very beginning that the task of the British exit from the EU would prove difficult for many reasons, both institutional and technical. This is especially so in the conditions of evident desire of Brussels to impose a harsh exemplary punishment in order to teach Euro-skeptics in other countries not to do so. However, the exhausting negotiations, which require each decision to be approved by the votes of 27 countries of the European Union, provoked significant political instability in the UK. European capitals share a strong opinion that it would be much more comfortable for absolutely everyone without Brexit. The situation is particularly absurd since the majority tend towards the similar view today in London. Therefore, the negotiations have long looked like marking time and a search for a convenient excuse to roll back the situation. Teresa May’s cancellation of the hopeless vote in the parliament about the “deal” with Brussels and the desire to try again to negotiate with the European Union looks like a statement of her own powerlessness and exhausted political mandate. Now, any steps by Teresa May will only deepen the gap between her and her political opponents, as well as between political reality and expectations of the voters. The exit attempt, which has turned into a dead end, is certainly one of the symbols of the current situation in Western European society and politics.

Transit of power in Germany in soft mode so far

The next point is related to the transit of power in the party, which has been absolutely dominating for decades in the politics of the European Union locomotive – Germany. As it could seem to an outside observer, the transfer of power there took place routinely, with all the rules of decency and continuity. Moreover, replacing Angela Merkel as chairman of the Christian Democratic Union (CDU), Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer was viewed by commentators as the person closest to the long-term Federal Chancellor in terms of ideological preferences and political manner. Nevertheless, the very replacement of Teflon-like Angela Merkel (including her refusal to run for the fifth time as chancellor, announced by her) marks the end of an era. It is obvious that the defensive reaction of the establishment in the case of Germany is directly connected with strengthening of the ultra-right sentiment and the electoral proactivity of the Alternative for Germany. At the same time, there is a feeling that the German political elite with modernization of its approaches took the path of least resistance – just as the French, which raised Emmanuel Macron. In this sense, the current reshuffle may be just a prologue to the coming more noticeable changes. One should also take into account that in the case of Germany, the interdependence of personnel shifts and migration policy has been particularly pronounced. In many ways, it was the migration issue that caused competition between the CDU and Bavaria’s largest Christian Social Union, which for many years were in a strong coalition. The Alternative for Germany gained electoral points also thanks to inability of the central Government, led by Angela Merkel, to offer a convincing strategy for solving the migration issue. That, in turn, resulted in recurrent outbursts of violence, extremism and countless scandals on ethnic and religious grounds. Thus, it is necessary to admit that the migration issue has become no less than the most difficult exam that the German authorities are not ready to pass today.

Europe is surely going right – from Italy to Poland

Previously, we repeatedly wrote about strengthening right-wing and Euro-skeptical sentiments in Poland and Hungary. Bravado of the political leaders in these countries, not being a serious threat, still adds a headache to the leadership of the European Union. One of the reasons for such concern are surely the forthcoming elections to the European Parliament already in the spring of the coming year and, consequently, changes in the executive bodies of the EU (change of President of the European Commission, President of the European Council, European Commissioners). Forecasts say that the new convocation of Eurodeputies can lean to the right and intensify discussions about the main directions for the future evolution of the union. Meanwhile, in Italy, Matteo Salvini gained immense fame – the Interior Minister, who forbade a ship with eight hundred migrants aboard to land on the shores of the country. His radical methods and sayings turned out to be so consistent with the spirit of the time and public demand that there is already information about European perspectives of the Italian politician. There are rumors that Matteo Salvini is preparing to fight for the presidency in the European Commission. Anyway, the government coalition in Italy is not only rather unusual in terms of its configuration (union of right and left), but also characterized by rather hard-line anti-immigrant views. However, they seem quite logical, since they are largely dictated by preferences of the voters. According to the authoritative Pew Research Center, more than half of EU voters do not want immigrants to come to their country. The highest percentage of opposition to immigrants is characteristic of Greece, the first to feel the consequences of the Arab Spring (82%). In Hungary, 72% are against migrants, in Italy – 71%, in Russia – 67%, in Germany – 58%. At the same time, a fairly stable power structure was established in those countries where the political elite listened to the masses (Italy is the most vivid example). But where the establishment follows its own passive way or tries to balance and postpone strategic decisions, contradictions spill over, including in the form of street protests.

Influx of migrants as a trigger for change in the EU political landscape

In general, exactly the migration issue triggered transition of conflicts between the state and society in the European Union to a new, more radical form. It was a marker for a divergence of views between the political and economic elite on the one hand, and the population on the other. This marker is very simple and understandable, since here preferences are based on emotions and prejudices. They cannot be easily controlled through information manipulations, which are usually used by the political elites of all countries. At the same time, the migration issue has outgrown the banal “troublemaker” and has become a daily reality, not only influencing the political decision-making process, but also defining the prospects of certain political forces. A distinct migration strategy is a definite bonus for a particular party in the eyes of a potential voter. The way the European and world community will finally cope with this new wave of the resettlement of peoples, which recipe they will choose (autarky and isolation or cooperation and an attempt to “feed everyone” or something third) will largely determine the political future of Europe. There is a reason to believe that some European leaders realize that already. The United Nations Intergovernmental Conference on migration started on December 10 in Marrakech. The main objective of the conference is to develop the Global Compact on Safe, Orderly and Regulated Migration, the first intergovernmental agreement at the level of the UN member countries, covering all dimensions of the problem of international migration. Meanwhile, a significant number of EU countries, as well as the United States, Israel, Switzerland, have already declared their refusal to accede to the compact. The list of hesitative countries is even longer. If the UN initiative fails, national governments will have to look for their own remedies under the constant and increasing pressure from the population. The one who first finds an acceptable and generally applicable solution may become the long-term leader of the European community.