All posts filed under: Europe

Austria’s Snap Election and the End of the Grand Coalition

It’s been a busy year of voting across Europe. Elections in the Netherlands, France, and Germany have dictated even the international news. On October 15, Austrians will go to the polls. A prosperous country at the heart of Europe, it has become used to relatively predictable politics. Two parties – the Social Democrats (SPÖ) and the People’s Party (ÖVP) – have dominated political life since the end of WW2. Yet Austria is also home to one of Europe’s most successful populist radical-right parties, the Freedom Party (FPÖ). Comparisons between the FPÖ and the French National Front or German Alternative for Germany are unavoidable. Even though these parties share more enemies than policies, talk of a ‘populist international’ movement is now rather crudely used to explain their rise. It’s true that the political, economic, and social shifts present in Austria have been visible across the EU. Parties have converged, markets have opened up, post-materialism is on the rise. But the FPÖ’s success is also a product of Austria’s very specific history and more recent political dynamics. …

Nationalism, Liberalism and the European Paradox

Imagine for a moment that an ethnic group declared a referendum of independence in an Asian country and the nation state in question promptly sought to take the act of rebellion down. Imagine that in the ensuing chaos over 800 people were injured in a brutal police crackdown. Imagine the international disgust if this had happened in Asia, or the Middle East, or Latin America, or even in parts of Eastern and Central Europe. There would be calls for interventions, the topic would be urgently raised at the Security Council —and there might even be talks of sanctions or the arming of moderate rebels. Of course, nothing of that sort happened as the Spanish state declared the Catalonian independence referendum a farce. Despite threats and coercion, over 2.2 million people voted in the Catalonian referendum—as the Spanish Guardia Civil attempted to crush the protesters—and  clashing with Catalan local police. Of the Catalans who managed to vote, 90% voted for independence. And today, thousands of people took to the streets in nationalist rallies in both Madrid …

The German Election—A Conservative Analysis

The Germans have a word for everything, as they say on this side of the English Channel. The German word, for the leader of opposition is Oppositionsführer, and suddenly in a strange twist of fate seems surprisingly apt. After 60 years of post-Cold war consensus, the far-right is back in German parliament in a poll defying show, scoring 13.5% of the vote. The unlikely Oppositionsführer however, is a lesbian West German single mother, academic and former banker, who is fluent in Mandarin, and whose partner claims Sinhalese heritage. Unusual for a far-right party in Mittel-Europa, whose standard demographic is anti-immigrant, primarily East German males, and who are instinctively opposed to LGBT rights. Germany is a country which takes politics seriously. Chancellor Angela Merkel is an academic herself. So is Alice Weidel, the unlikely star leader of AFD. Yet, for a nation which is so thoroughly qualified and post-modern, and regarded the most stable in Europe, Germany proved once again, that even in 2017, it has not bypassed the golden rule of classical Burkean conservatism. For …

The Islamist Decompression Chamber

The Islamic State (IS) is unique among terrorist groups. Its ability to inspire terrorist acts beyond the scope of its core militants far outscores that of Al-Qaeda and others. Understanding the specific peculiarities of IS will enable us to assess why our regular security procedures have failed to protect us, and what has to change. Looking back at the last 5 years one wonders how this relatively young and loose organization managed to secure such a morbid record compared to that of more mature and structured entities. The answer lies in its capacity to outsource most of its radicalization effort, crucial to the efficiency of its propaganda, to entities that pursue their task legally in the West. It is on our soil, in the blind spots of the law, that these groups proselytize an agenda of religious and cultural hegemony to the Muslim youth. These organisations are not taking orders directly from Raqqa but, willingly or not, they participate of an eco-system which IS exploits in order to further its objectives. Traditional militancy required careful …

A Tale of Two Europes

The Bravalla Music Festival, held this year between June 28 and July 1, is Sweden’s largest annual music event. Or it used to be. After a reported 23 sexual assaults and four rapes, festival organizers decided to cancel next year’s event, citing that “Certain men… apparently cannot behave.” This is not the first year that Bravalla has served as a breeding ground of sexual assault—five women were raped last year as well. Indeed, ticket sales have been declining for years, mostly due to concerns over the attacks. Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Lofven chimed in, “This is so disgusting. These are obnoxious acts by deplorable men.” In its place, Swedish comedian Emma Knyckare is planning to organize a “man-free” concert next year, until “all men have learned how to behave.” Indeed, a recently released statistic from the UN places Sweden as the second highest country in terms of rapes per capita, only behind a tiny country in southern Africa, Lesotho, that you’ve probably never heard of. It certainly appears that there is something amiss in the …

Manchester’s Children and the Regressive Left

Editor’s note: This goes to publication on the same day that the London Attacks have occurred on London Bridge and at Borough Market. This latest attack comes less than a fortnight after the Manchester bombing.   Are the enlightened losing the battle of ideas? It would certainly seem so. Moral decay, hypocrisy, ginned-up hysteria, and denials of verifiable fact are suffusing our public discourse. Atavism, nativism, undue respect for religion (and one religion in particular, about which more below) are now ascendant; a childishly intolerant, tantrum-like brand of Leftist militancy has emerged, with intersectionality, cultural appropriation, and “privilege” being the fashionable catchwords, and de-platforming controversial speakers a common manifestation. (The specter of postmodernism hovers over all the above.) This militancy displays a strain of ideological derangement so outlandish that it resembles the most vicious of nuthouse satire and would be risible if it weren’t so dangerous. We can safely say that we’re teetering on the brink of civilizational suicide—a suicide assisted by those of the illiberal left. Nowhere is this more evident than on university campuses. In mid-May at …

A Summer Night, London, 2017

What might take place on a random summer Saturday night in a European capital city? It might be full of armed police rushing to a pub, barking at patrons to lie down immediately, because there’s a possibility of a bomb that might go off. There will be texting to colleagues who work in an area, to ask if they are okay. Friends will call each other advising them to avoid certain “no-go” areas. There will be a constant refreshing of one’s Twitter feed or the feeling of being glued to a news channel if you’re at home. It is BBC writing there’s a “Van incident at a bridge”, a euphemism, of course. But everyone will know what it means, what just happened, and who might be responsible. No one talks about it in civilised circles anymore, and certainly not on the BBC. It is watching a high trust society behave like a war zone. It is police tweeting and asking public to “run, hide and tell”. It is police making hundreds of late night revellers walk in a straight …