Tuesday, December 28, 2021

THE PRAIRIE EDITOR: European Mish-Mash, 2022

 The European political landscape, going into 2022, seems set for

some dramatic changes as immigration issues continue to

provoke voter unrest, and economic issues stir public anxiety.

Long-time German Chancellor Angela Merkel has retired, and 

her center-right Christian Democratic successor Olaf Scholz

seems so far unlikely to prevail in the next German election. 

German left-of-center parties, especially the Green Party, have

appeared to make the most gains. Merkel led her nation and

the rest of the European Union member countries in providing

a destination for Turkish and other Islamic emigrants in recent

decades — which has altered the ethnic make-up of European

demographics and provoked voter backlash.

France, following civil unrest caused by ending her North

African colonial possessions since the 1960s, opening her 

borders to all former colonial subjects, ended decades of

right-left governments with the surprise landslide election of

President Emmanuel Macron and a parliamentary majority of

his new centrist party in 2017, and M. Macron seemed headed

for easy re-election in April, 2022 until immigration issues

arose anew, and a second charismatic radical right figure, Eric

Zenmour, appeared and roiled French politics. He now will join

long-time radical leader Marine Le Pen to run against Macron.

This will split the far right vote, and would ensure the president’s

re-election except for the revival of the French conservative party

under Paris district leader Valerie Pecresse who is now likely to

make the first-round run-off — and might well defeat Macron in

the second-round final election if she receives most  of the

Zenmour and Le Pen votes. The French far left and Marxist vote,

once very powerful, is now very weak — and is unlikely to be

decisive in the run-off.

Spain is now a constitutional monarchy with a socialist government

under Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez. A new election is not scheduled

for 2022. but a new conservative party star, Madrid Regional

President (equivalent to a U,S, state governor) Isabel Diaz Ayuso

has succeeded where so many others have failed by imposing

lockdowns. Sra, Diaz Ayuso did promote mandatory mask use and 

vaccinations, but refused to impose lockdowns  and closing of bars

restaurants, stores and public events — relying on citiizens’ “common

sense.” During the first pandemic wave in early 2020, Sanchez locked

down all of  Spain..But when the second and third waves  followed,

Sra. Diaz Ayuse only ordered masking and promoted vaccinations.

Madrid, hit hard by the first wave, did much better in the later waves

despite having the freedom to circulate, shop and dine out —- even

as the  rest of  Spain and most of the rest of Europe was locked

down. Madrid district recently rewarded her with a huge landslide

re-election victory with a margin of a million more votes than her

previous election —- and the Madrid district economy has boomed.

Austria has seen its charismatic conservative leader Sebastian 

Kurz resign under fire, and his successor also resign, leaving 

the small central European nation’s politics unsettled going 

into 2022. Austria, like several of its neighbors, has resisted EU

open immigration policies, 

Italy has changed governments so often in recent years, it seems

always to be a political mish-mash, and nearly impossible to define

with traditional right-center left terms. As one of Europe’s major

tourist destinations, the pandemic has severely affected the IItalian

economy during mandatory lockdown periods.

The most stable nations, yet the most controversial for EU elites,

seem to be in Eastern Europe, including Hungary and Poland,

which have conservative governments that have resisted EU

open border policies. But bordering Russia, Belarus and Ukraine

creates economic and security issues for them.

Smaller northern European nations, including Belgium, 

Netherlands and the Scandinavian countries, long bastions of

national social welfare policies and single ethnic demographics,

are each facing acute pressures from debt and immigration.

In Denmark, the left-of-canter prime minister shut down the

nation’s mink farming industry (the world’s largest), prematurely

ordering minks to be killed, and putting 5500 mink farmers 

out of work when it was discovered that the pandemic

virus could be transmitted from minks to humans . It turned to

be an illegal government action, which the prime minister now

concedes,, but a major Danish export industry was destroyed,,                            

The off-continent United Kingdom led by conservative leader

Boris Johnson is undergoing some painful post-Brexit

adjustments, and like all European communities, the

persistence of pandemic issues. Short of a now-unexpected

no confidence  parliamentary vote, no change in 2022 is

anticipated, although Conservatives recently lost a long-time

Tory seat in a special election to a Liberal Party candidate —

and the leftist Labour Party is rising in the polls. Long-standing

issues about Northern Ireland and Scotland continue to confront

the Johnson government.

Banking, energy, security and trade issues plague Europe as

does the fallout from earlier immigration policies. The stability

of post-Cold War Europe and its general unity is being tested

once again, and 2022 could be one of its most pivotal years.


Copyright (c) 2021 by Barry Casselman. All rights reserved.



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