Skip to content

Category archive for: EU

Andropov’s ghost: language and society under global governance

Written by Mladen Pupavac and Vanessa Pupavac.

Frankly, we don’t know the society in which we live and work enough.

So General Secretary Yury Andropov warned the Soviet Communist Party Plenum in June 1983. Andropov’s speech was made a few months before one of us started a degree in Slavonic languages, and a year before the other began military service in the Yugoslav People’s Army. Andropov is now been quoted in the Russian media about the US political establishment, confronting not knowing the society in which they live.

The rude awakening of the US political establishment to the election of Donald Trump on 8 November is not the first political earthquake this year. There was similar political shock across the European political establishment at the British referendum result in June to leave the European Union. Continue reading Andropov’s ghost: language and society under global governance

How Marine Le Pen could become the next French president

Written by Paul Smith.

Never one to miss a bandwagon when it passes, Marine Le Pen, leader of France’s far-right Front National, was one of the first European politicians to congratulate Donald Trump on his election victory.

For the demagogic populist Le Pen, Trump’s win, like the Brexit vote, is the victory of the “people” against the “elites”.

Setting aside the ludicrous nature of anyone claiming the victory of a billionaire who inherited his riches as a blow against the established order, Le Pen’s intervention is important. France is facing its own presidential election in April and May of 2017 and Le Pen aims to win it. Continue reading How Marine Le Pen could become the next French president

What holds a democracy together – political parties, or the party system itself?

Written by Fernando Casal Bértoa.

Who hasn’t heard that democracy is in crisis? Election after election, we see people participate less and extremist political parties on the rise. The most recent example is in Georgia, where during this month’s legislative elections half of the country’s electorate decide to stay at home and a far-right pro-Russian Eurosceptic party (The Alliance of Patriots of Georgia) managed to gain its first seats in parliament.

Meanwhile, traditionally stable party systems are collapsing. Traditional parties are challenged and in many cases displaced by totally new political formations, making the polity more fragmented, volatility and unstable. Spain and Greece constitute, perhaps, the clearest examples. And political parties themselves are in crisis. It is not only that parties have lost members and voters, but – more importantly – they are considered to be among the most corrupt and untrustworthy institutions. Continue reading What holds a democracy together – political parties, or the party system itself?

Life after David Cameron: the Conservatives have lost a major asset

Written by Roger Mortimore

David Cameron – according to Kenneth Clarke – was a PR-obsessed control freak. If that is the case, he is not a bad advert for what PR and control freakery can achieve for a politician’s public standing. Cameron was almost always positively rated by the public – or at least viewed more favourably than is usual for politicians.

He was first elected as an MP in 2001 and was working for the Conservative party before that. But he attracted no notice in the polls before coming apparently from nowhere to emerge as a serious contender for the party leadership in September 2005.

When Ipsos Mori first included him in a poll during that leadership contest, only 8% of the public chose him as their preferred leader. Only 6% thought he would make the most capable prime minister of the four candidates in the running.

Continue reading Life after David Cameron: the Conservatives have lost a major asset

Why the EU is suddenly marching to a different drumbeat on defence

Written by Richard Whitman.

Now that the most militarily capable member state is on the way out of the European Union there have been proposals for greater defence collaboration between the countries that remain.

Without Britain, the EU is left with substantially degraded defence capacities. As they meet in Bratislava to discuss life after Brexit, EU leaders have taken the bold but risky move to draw attention to the EU’s continuing ability to deepen integration.

It is risky because, despite being a central commitment in the Maastricht Treaty, the EU has only made modest progress towards establishing a shared defence and security policy. Member states disagree on how much they should merge their military capabilities and have made slow progress towards their Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP). This has so far progressed via a series of civilian and military conflict management missions. Continue reading Why the EU is suddenly marching to a different drumbeat on defence

Radicalisation in Bosnia: old wounds reopened by an emerging problem

Written by Louis Monroy Santander.

Bosnia experienced a difficult reconstruction process after its 1992–1995 war. Now its ongoing political and economic crisis is making it harder to respond to a growing global problem – radicalisation.

According to recent reports, Bosnians have been travelling to Syria to fight for radical Islamist groups in increasing numbers since 2012. They now constitute one of the largest European foreign fighter contingents as a proportion of national population. Figures from 2015 suggest there are more than 300 Bosnians in Syria.

There have also been a number of low-level incidents of terrorist violence in Bosnia. In April 2015, for example, a 24-year-old man from an area near the town of Zvornik drove into a police station and opened fire. He killed one officer and injured two others before being shot dead.

This has prompted heated debates about how to handle the problem without feeding into the tensions that pervade in Bosnian politics. Of particular concern is the possibility that decisions about security will be coloured by ethno-politics. Continue reading Radicalisation in Bosnia: old wounds reopened by an emerging problem

May the Force Be With You: Britain’s New Government

Written by Tim Haughton.

For once the journalistic clichés were not over the top. The 23 June referendum on Britain’s membership of the European Union was a seismic event, an earthquake which brought a dose of destruction to the British political scene: the Prime Minister resigned, allies knifed each other in the Conservative party leadership election, a new Prime Minister was appointed who then undertook one of the most extensive cabinet reshuffles of modern times with some eye-catching appointments and the leader of the Opposition lost a no confidence vote of his parliamentary colleagues. Even caffeine-fuelled journalists found it difficult to keep up with the speed of events.

Like all earthquakes tensions had been building for some time. Divisions in the Conservative party had been evident since the UK first applied to join the then European Economic Community in the 1960s, but since the late 1980s the party had begun to tear itself apart over Britain’s continuing membership of the EU. Whilst a sizeable slice of the Leave vote in the referendum came from traditional Conservative voters in the heartlands of rural England, the Leave side was bolstered by disaffected Labour voters. Both groups were mobilized and emboldened by Leave’s alluring slogan to ‘Take Back Control’. A significant proportion of traditional working class Labour voters, many of whom had stayed at home in previous elections or who had cast their votes for UKIP, used their votes to express their discontent with the state of the government and to give the political class a good kicking. Continue reading May the Force Be With You: Britain’s New Government

Brexit: Europe’s new nationalism is here to stay

Written by Simon Toubeau.

It is something of a tragic irony that the European Union – originally constructed to lay to rest the atavistic nationalist impulses of the 20th century – is today behind the resurgence of such feelings across much of Europe. The British referendum that has delivered a vote for “Brexit” is the latest, dramatic indication that this nationalism is here to stay.

This nationalism has brewed largely in reaction to how the EU has evolved over the past few decades. What started as a common market grew to embrace a single currency, the Schengen area and integration in justice and home affairs. All this has diluted core aspects of national sovereignty: states have less control over macro-economic policy, borders and people. Continue reading Brexit: Europe’s new nationalism is here to stay

Six months after its last election, Spain is having another. Here’s what you need to know.

Written by Fernando Casal Bértoa.

Spaniards head to the polls again on June 26 — just six months after the last elections. Here’s why: As predicted here in the Monkey Cage, the four main parties — the conservative PP, the socialist PSOE, the liberal Ciudadanos and the radical-left Podemos — failed to come together to form a government, even though some of them (mainly PSOE and Ciudadanos) certainly tried. Since the parties weren’t able to form a coalition government, Spain will hold a new election. Continue reading Six months after its last election, Spain is having another. Here’s what you need to know.

Britain could become a global power – if it stays in the EU

Written by Mark Walters.

Even after weeks of campaigning, both sides of the referendum campaign have focused entirely on the short-term impacts of the debate. But the question really has to be where Britain will be in ten or 20 years from now.

And the future looks bright for Britain. It is actually on the brink of becoming the most powerful nation on the planet. But it has to remain in the EU to realise the ambition.

Before Brexit looked like a real possibility, the Centre for Economics and Business Researchpredicted that the British economy would overtake Germany’s as the largest in Europe by the 2030s.

Continue reading Britain could become a global power – if it stays in the EU