What Is Needed Is a “Stiff Upper Lip”
We do live in interesting times, as the old saying goes. And no, this is not a blessing. Let us hope it is not going to be a curse either. If we look around us, 2017 is shaping up to be an interesting year for democracy and the Western world. 2015 and 2016 have not been very good either for Europe and particularly the European Union due to the terrorist attacks, the economic crisis in Greece and the waves of refugees coming from the Middle East and other areas damaged by war or sunk into the morass of poverty and dysfunction. All of these events have led to a rise in populism across Europe and many feel that this is the beginning of the end for the European Union. And we cannot forget that the EU is about to lose one of its key members, the UK, which chose to exit the European Union through a referendum.
The popularity of nationalist parties will probably impact decisions made by leaders of those countries, responding to the perceived shift in the preferences of at least a plurality of voters, which could lead to fragmentation within the European Union.
2017 will see elections in Germany and France, pillars of the European Union, the Netherlands and also perhaps elections in Italy, where populist parties are on the rise. The outcome of these elections could be an indicator of what is to be expected with regards to the fate of the European Union and whether its dissolution will slowly begin. While it is likely that populist parties will not win the elections – although such predictions are suspect after most polls indicated that Hilary Clinton will win the American elections with 90% to 99% confidence – the popularity of nationalist parties will probably impact decisions made by leaders of those countries, responding to the perceived shift in the preferences of at least a plurality of voters, which could lead to fragmentation within the European Union. This would result in nationalist measures beyond those required to reduce immigration and enforce border controls as a means to control the flows of migrants entering the European Union in the absence of a workable common migration policy.
So do we have hope? In the past, the world has often found the resources or rather the wisdom to rise from the ashes. Yes, there are reasons to hope: maybe we cannot anticipate them all, or maybe we do not always like what we see, but we definitely have reasons to hope. We do not have to look far – it is enough to look around at our own people who have had the courage and resilience to stand up against arrogance and disregard for the values that are professed during election campaigns and ignored afterwards. It means that governments have to walk the talk and keep their promises.