‘We’ve had the earthquake – now for the TSUNAMI’ Experts predict worst yet to come for EU
Analysts said the political earthquake unleashed by the financial crisis has morphed into an unstoppable anti-EU wave as wealth inequality and dissatisfaction with Brussels fuel an anti-establishment revolution.
The independent website VoteWatch, which analyses the state of the bloc, said unless radical action is taken Europe will “continue its fragmentation in a downward spiral leading to its break-up”.
Its dire warning comes amid a surge in support for populist parties across the continent which is threatening to engulf the euro establishment and rip the EU project apart.
Europhile Italian PM Matteo Renzi has been forced to quit after a crushing defeat in the country’s referendum on Sunday, which was largely seen as a chance for voters to give Rome and Brussels a kicking.
There was some better news for the EU as far-right candidate Norbert Hofer was defeated in the Austrian presidential election, although he still managed to score 46 per cent of the vote despite being labelled a Nazi.
The two elections followed an anti-EU referendum in Hungary in October, when voters overwhelmingly rejected Brussels imposed migrant quotas, and June’s monumental Brexit vote.
And they come with eurosceptic parties in France, Italy, Greece, Poland, Hungary, Austria the Netherlands, the Baltics and Bulgaria all riding high in the polls, threatening the future of the bloc.
VoteWatch warned that the collapse of the euro currency and the end of free movement cold both take place within “a couple of years” if mainstream politicians do not take immediate action to address people’s concerns.
In a blog post, the website writes: “The economic crisis and the rise of the anti-EU movements are like the earthquake and the tsunami. Once the first one has struck, you should expect the other one to follow soon, even though you can’t see it yet.
“It takes some time for the wave to take shape and reach a critical mass, but it is pointless to look the other way, because you know it’s coming. However, our European leaders and stakeholders still seem surprised every time a new country falls under the tsunami of populism.
“Governments are failing one after the other at selling Europe and some have even reached the conclusion that it may not be politically wise to promote Europe anymore.”
Mr Renzi famously removed EU flags from his press conferences in the run up to Sunday’s crunch referendum after being advised that their presence would only inflame tensions against his Brussels-backed reforms.
And VoteWatch said the choice of Francois Fillon, an anglophile who wants member state governments rather than the unelected Commissioners to run the EU, was a “big victory” for populists like her rival Marine Le Pen.
It observed: “The impact of anti-EU populism on the future of the EU is much bigger than it looks at first sight. Nationalists don’t even have to win elections to spread nationalist-minded decision-making.
“Successful nationalists are pushing mainstreamers to become more nationalist, as they fear that otherwise they won’t get elected.”
VoteWatch said the only way to save the EU is for politicians and businesses to come together and put forward a more positive image of the project, as well as listening more effectively to people’s concerns.
In particular voters are fed up of years of economic and wage stagnation and growing inequality, with the rich getting ever richer and the rest struggling to get by.
The site said: “What if there were ways to garner the energy of the civic groups and redirect it towards fighting populism and supporting Europe? When is the last time we’ve seen an enthusiastic crowd shouting out their support to the European project?
“Blaming the ignorance of voters or others for Brexit, Greece, Italy or Austria is childish and useless. What Europe needs is enlightened leadership able to bring all its stakeholders and supporters together.”
Published at Tue, 06 Dec 2016 20:20:00 +0000