Talking of the decline of the Left and the Right has become commonplace in European politics. The message is the same: they are are “old” categories which make little sense nowadays. If we accept as true the common knowledge of the convergence of the Left and the Right, there are two questions to be asked about it: the first is “why could this have happened” while the second is “is there anything that can be done about it?”
Thatcher’s TINA-Principle (“There is no alternative”) seems to apply in the European fabric of austerity measures. Economic refugees, downright cuts in public spending for welfare, health, pension and educational systems are their severe consequences. These are policy issues that traditionally concern the Left that leaves the policy room yet untrodden. How come?
In many European nation-states, traditional left and right-wing parties are increasingly challenged, by voters who express their dissatisfaction by not going to the polls or voting for newly emerged and/or extremist parties, and by these parties, which present themselves as an alternative. But neither of these challenges has fundamentally threatened neither the left-right cleavage nor the existence of traditional left and right wing parties in any member state.
After 5 long years of recession (which included a change in Westminster from a Labour to the first coalition government since WWII of the Conservative Party and the Liberal Democrats), dissatisfaction with politics is high, populism thrives and identity politics is ripe - not only in Scotland that may leave the UK after the referendum this summer.
Recent forecasts about the state of the Latvian economy in 2014 are largely optimistic and predict that the Baltic country will maintain its position among the top-performing EU nations this year in terms of economic growth. Many commentators have highlighted the importance of Latvia’s recent accession to the euro zone for its continued post-crisis recovery in 2014. However, apart from facilitating progress towards the Baltic nations’ medium- and long-term economic goals, the euro zone also poses a number of important challenges to national and European policy-makers.
This article aims to glance beyond the legal and administrative dimensions of EU enlargement and integration and examine conceptions and expressions of identity, suggesting the possibility that, although it is always difficult to judge success and failure in foreign policy making, the notion of identity, if approached with caution, can provide with useful hints for understanding challenges in external and internal EU politics. In this light, a few years down the line, what challenges has enlargement posed to the EU in terms of identity?
After two months of negotiations, the German election has finally led to the Grand coalition desired by some and feared by others. Chancellor Merkel commands a majority of 504 out of 631 members of the Bundestag, the remaining 127, composed of Die Grünen and Die Linke, form the opposition of 20% of the votes. Merkel autarchy and opposition pro forma, is this democratic? Hardly.
Postcard-pictures of crispy brown Schnitzels and majestically dressed empress “Sissi” have circled the globe so many times that they have become the first images popping up in everyone’s mind when thinking of Austria. But what do you find when you dig a bit deeper, from the well known clichés to the real ‘typical’ traits of Austria? 130 young Europeans have given their answers.
On 22 September 2013, the German federal election was held in the very eye of a European storm. While people throughout the Eurozone were debating whether or not the visibly dramatic effects of fiscal austerity policy in Southern countries would eventually be outweighed by the long-term benefits of structural adjustment, indifferent Germans enjoyed the warm breeze of relative economic well-being on their way to the polls.
From May 27th, 2013 we have been witnessing protests at Gezi Park in Istanbul, that were started by only 50 Environmentalists who were against to a plan to redevelop Istanbul's Gezi Park into a complex with new mosque and shopping centre. At a conference in Istanbul in June, EU Commissioner Štefan Füle echoed the statements of many other political leaders and claimed “Peaceful demonstrations constitute a legitimate way for these groups to express their views in a democratic society. Excessive use of force by police against these demonstrations has no place in such a democracy.”