The pandemic crisis continues and we are excited about any news of a life-saving vaccine. We also have enjoyments from the European context: promises that we will have a European budget for the period 2021-2027, and that a Brexit trade agreement will be reached. Even the US elections bring hope for global normalcy.
Of course, the impact of the pandemic crisis will have a huge effect on 2021 and I do not want to go into the economic crisis now, but I want to analyse a political phenomenon that is already showing its fangs.
There are strong messages that are opposing the way the authorities manage the crisis. Not everyone is happy that they are isolated at home, that they are forced to wear a face mask or that they are blocked from visiting their family and friends.
Recently, the German chancellor said that "populists who question the seriousness of the crisis are putting people's lives in danger." But the leader of the French left, Jean-Luc Mélenchon, is already launching his candidacy for the presidency of France in 2022, with messages such as: "When everything is bad and it seems like a dark night for many people who do not find their purpose in this society, it is necessary to turn on a light. The German far right, AfD, is protesting virulently, with 40,000 people in the streets, "calling on Putin and Trump to liberate the country." After the unexpected success with the Brexit procedure, Nigel Farage even launches an anti-lockdown party. European liberals are trying to position themselves with a message along the lines of "Covid-19 measures must not jeopardise democracy, the rule of law or fundamental rights".
There are two political extremes that paradoxically have a point of interest. Far right and far left. With totally contradictory doctrines, they come to a similar conclusion, going as far as a common approach to tackling the corona crisis. The "narrative of dictatorial governments and the world conspiracy" catches some, finding that we already have a bud of "global liberation movement." With a little bit of well-coordinated fake news, a phenomenon like the protest against the Vietnam War of the '70s can be quickly reached.
Politicians are race entrepreneurs and they will feel the pulse of the electorate. At the level of EU member states, some parties will quickly convert to a single "anti-corona management" message, and in other countries even new parties will appear, with charismatic leaders.
I do not think that there will be a majority of such political movements, but they will certainly have an impact on the European political landscape. I am referring in particular to the elections in Germany in September 2021, but also to those in France in the spring of 2022.
If the budgets for 2021 were made like an interception of previous years, surely those of 2022 will twist unexpectedly. Societal priorities will impose massive reforms on politicians in the allocation of public funds to sectors such as health, education or defence.
We live in exceptional times, and the difficult part is just beginning…
Dan LUCA / Brussels
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