Monday, May 11, 2015

Britain remains conservative, with consequences for Europe.

http://www.50report.com/
On the 7th of May the British public decided on their future government. While the pre-election opinion polls predicted a very close result, the Tories managed a surprise victory.

Despite the odds, they achieved a parliamentary majority meaning that for five more years, Britain will be ruled by the Conservatives.

This development will not only have an impact on the UK, but on Europe too.

With Conservatives gaining power in the UK, we now have the possibility of a "Brexit" from the European Union. Prime Minister Cameron has promised the country a referendum in 2017 on whether to stay in the European Union or to exit out of it. (CNN)

The result, if we take into account this election result, could be unpredictable. Europe will never be the same again without the UK as a member of the EU. 

Ireland for example will really need to rethink its relationship, both with Britain and the EU. The small country has close ties with its larger neighbor and the Northern Ireland situation will need to be renegotiated. Right now after the Good Friday Agreement, its citizens can chose either or both Irish and British citizenship.

How will this agreement be affected, once being British citizen won't guarantee being an EU one too? And will the borders between the North and the Republic have to be reinstated? 

Ireland of course will not be the only region of Europe which will be impacted. The EU will lose one of its oldest members and a net contributor to its budget, plus a nation with significant experience in international diplomacy and politics.

For Britain itself, a withdrawal from the EU could also bring numerous challenges. Apart from the obvious economic risks that many business and financial experts are warning of, there is also the question of Scotland.

The Scots may have voted against independence in the recent referendum, but that does not mean that the idea is dead in the water. In these elections the Scottish National Party became the third largest elected power in parliament. (CNN)

There have been speculations in the British press that a big win for the SNP could lead to yet another referendum in 2016. Many Scots also don't like the Conservative sentiments against the EU, where they'd like to stay. (CNN)

In an extreme scenario, Britain could leave the European Union, triggering Scotland to leave Britain, and join the EU. (CNN) Such possibility could redraw not only the map and politics of the UK, but Europe as well.

The only positive outcome from the British elections, is the failure of UKIP to win the seats they hoped for. The conservative party only managed to have one of their members in the new British Parliament, while its leader Nigel Farage has quit the party's leadership as result.

Nevertheless, the impact UKIP had in British politics is significant. One can say that they have achieved their goal, despite losing the elections. They have been a serious threat to the establishment parties, forcing the Tories and Mr. Cameron to guarantee a referendum on EU membership to the British people. 

Something that will result in their inevitable defeat in the next elections, should they backtrack on it.

But Britain's preference for the Right has not been the only one in Europe. In the recent Finnish elections, the nationalist Right-wing Finns Party came second, forming a coalition with the other two major parties in Finland. 

That will mean that the Scandinavian country will stick to conservative, nationalist politics that will pose some difficulties on European level. Especially in relation to managing the debt of other countries under the Troika's supervision, like Greece.

With Finland and Britain turning Rightwards, together with a conservative Germany as well as many other continental national governments, Europeans must realize that austerity is here to stay. Instead of complaining about it, they could start voting without being influenced by nationalist, populist agendas.

Perhaps Europe's citizens are not bothered by austerity after all. At least not until it starts affecting them in the same way it did, the citizens of the peripheral economies of the continent.

The only country that turned to the Left as a result of the austerity policies, was Greece. But how can a single Leftist government like Syriza can fight or limit austerity in Europe, when EU citizens keep voting for Right Wing and Conservative governments?

The latest developments in Europe's politics are thus particularly bad for Greece. The indebted country will have to face alone right-wing governments from all over Europe, organised in one political super-group the EPP. Their agenda is to turn Europe into a continent in which neo-liberal policies dominate, modeled after USA.

As result, an agreement between Greece and its European partners will be very difficult-if not impossible- unless other countries turn to the Left. But since Europeans seem to prefer conservative parties as governments, this outcome could be still far off.

No comments: