EU / Transit

The Trap of Being New Europe

In the face of the migration crisis and populist shift within the EU, the outmoded and stale division between New and Old Europe is coming back into favor in European public debate. The concept of ‘New Europe’ can easily serve to explain and at the same time to normalize, in a politically correct way, a qualitative difference between Western Europe and its Eastern neighbors. From a Central and Eastern European perspective, however, the term ‘New Europe’ seems essentially contradictory, since being a part of Europe in its cultural and political dimensions always was and still is an undebatable assumption.
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Shedding Light on Corruption: A Small Romanian Victory

“We see you”. This short message, projected on a building near the Romanian government’s headquarters, was the main message from hundreds of thousands of people to their politicians. At 9 PM local time, on Sunday, 5 February 2017, some 250,000 people turned on their mobile phones’ flashlights, in a symbolic gesture of “shedding light on corruption”. A total of 600,000 people gathered in Romania that night, making it the largest protest movement in the country since 1989.
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Invalid Anti-Migrant Referendum in Hungary

Despite all the immoral and unlawful efforts of the government to influence the Hungarian voters, the majority of them did not cast votes, and made the referendum invalid. Disregarding this result, at the night of the referendum, Prime Minister Orbán announced the amendment of the constitution “in order to give a form to the will of the people.”
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Austria: The Lesson of the Far Right

The presidential election situation that arose in Austria in May and will be repeated in October—a run-off between the Greens and the far right—has never occurred in Europe before. But it starkly reveals a fundamental political conflict that can be found in many Western democracies today. This conflict is not meaningfully described as one of “ordinary people versus the establishment.” In Austria, both the Freedom Party and the Green Party have been “established” since the mid-1980s; in Britain, Boris Johnson, one of the main faces of the Brexit campaign, is about as establishment as one can get in the UK; and Donald Trump is hardly the authentic representative of Main Street. Rather, on one side of the new conflict are those who advocate more openness: toward minorities at home and toward engagement with the world on the outside.
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The Warsaw NATO Summit and beyond

Obama’s criticism and the embarrassing act of censorship of his speech notwithstanding, the NATO Warsaw Summit proved on balance to be successful for Poland’s foreign policy goals, as well as those of NATO’s other Eastern Allies, as they have managed to secure NATO’s increased presence on the Eastern flanks as part of a defence against, and a deterrent to, Putin’s Russia. Nevertheless, with the UK gradually losing its influence following the Brexit referendum and most likely leaving the EU within a few years, Poland and NATO’s Eastern Allies are losing an important ally that provided significant political support for these countries in the EU and NATO. Law and Justice may also face growing isolation on the European level, especially if it does not find an acceptable solution for the constitutional crisis and continues questionable practices in the media sphere.
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Eastern Europe Is Both Dreading Brexit and Ready for It

What seemed impossible even a year ago now seems fated. The European Union will probably be better run with Britain out, but it is unlikely to survive if the British next week decide to leave. “The Radetzky March” is particularly apt here because, though the focus after a Leave victory will be on Britain, the real disaster will befall Roth’s literary stamping grounds of Central and Eastern Europe. Indeed, in a very real way, the disintegration of Europe will be set off by Brexit, but it will take place far to the east.
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Behind the New German Right

Throughout its postwar history, Germany somehow managed to resist the temptations of right-wing populism. Not any longer. It is now possible to be an outspoken nationalist without being associated with—or, for that matter, without having to say anything about—the Nazi past.
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America Hasn’t Gone Crazy. It’s Just More Like Europe

In comparing themselves with Europe, Americans prided themselves on the fact that “It can’t happen here” — namely, European socialism and European fascism. It viewed itself as immune to the pathologies of democracy: Crowds can go crazy in any other place in the world, but not in America, the land of common sense. But after the last years of extreme polarization and dysfunctional governance, are Americans still convinced that their democracy cannot be upended?
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Committee for the Defense of Democracy in Poland: Rebellion of the “Beneficiaries of the Transformation”?

KOD is avoiding sensitive subjects, which could divide its sympathizers, but at the same time with its moderate postulates it discourages those Poles who blame the former centrist government for its cultural conservatism and economic neoliberalism. By integrating different party groups, KOD is building its political capital, but at the same time it pays a high price for it. It is easy for PiS to frame these social protests as a revolt by those who lost the election and cannot accept their defeat.
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An Unruly Younger Generation? Student Protest and the Macedonian Crisis

Student protest has been a regular occurrence in the Balkans in recent years. While the actions of students against austerity policies and budget cuts at Greek universities or the Gezi protests in Istanbul gained wider international notoriety, it was the western Balkan countries that provided for a model of student protest action that has been emulated throughout the region.
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