Is there hope for the EU?
I was born and raised in California, but as much as I love my home state, I have always desired to be in Europe. With my first trip at the age of 13, I was hooked. Since then, I have lived in Provence, Sicily, Norway, the French Riviera, the Italian Riviera and the UK. I love Europe and I love the mix of cultures. There is no place on Earth I feel happier and proud to be--something that my family still finds hard to understand.
Of course, living in Europe is not the easiest life and I in no way pretend to see la vie en rose. Some days are so frustrating and complicated (these are usually days that involve paperwork and public offices) that I don't understand why things can't work smoothly or why the concept of customer service has eluded this utopia for so long. But then I meet friends for aperitivo at sunset, or have dinner with people from six different countries, and I remember why I love it so.
A taste for politics
Living in Italy during the aftermath of the financial crisis, was no walk in the park. But as turmoil began to spread across the member states with smaller economies and bigger public debt; as austerity measures were enforced (don't get me started on Greece) and publicly elected leaders were 'removed' by non-elected heads in Brussels, I developed a fierce sense of protection for the continent I hold so dear.
The Five Star Movement in Italy came on strong and fast and appeared to be a way out of the quagmire. Their rallies drew tens of thousands of people to piazzas across the country and I wrote an optimistic post of a possible Italian Spring. But the party has become a quagmire in itself, and constantly fight an uphill battle to accomplish anything substantial. Not to mention their front-runner, Di Maio, has zero professional political experience.
During my Master's program in the UK, we covered the 2015 general election--described as one of their most dramatic and surprising elections in Britain's history. I certainly learned a lot about European politics that year. I then joined the Political Studies Association and volunteered as the media officer for the Italian Politics Specialist Group.
While I couldn't vote in the Brexit Referendum, I stayed up all night watching the results come in and it was pretty shocking. My city of Sheffield, a longtime Labour Party stronghold and anti-conservative constituent (Thatcher closed down all the steel factories throwing the once prosperous city into abject poverty). But in this referendum, Sheffield voted overwhelmingly for Brexit. There were "Remain" signs posted all over, but the term heard most the following day was "quiet conservatives", the people who don't share their opinion, but show up to the poles.
Europe is in turmoil and it will be an interesting few years ahead, for sure. What I have learned is this: never believe opinion polls, and nothing is for sure. Even events that were supposedly 'written in stone' like the activation of Article 50 to withdraw from the union, we see things are not so black and white. Today, with the upcoming snap elections for 8 June, the president of the EU Parliament said that if Britain voted to undo Brexit, the EU would support it and "welcome them back with open arms." Ha. Imagine if that were to happen. We certainly are in unchartered territory!
But I am an optimist and I have faith in Europe (even if I have given up every last shred of hope for Italy). I support groups like Wake Up Europe! and DIEM25 that hold fast to European ideals and want to move the EU towards a more transparent and sustainable future.
This weekend is France's first round of polls for their next president and I am keeping a keen eye on their developments. The candidates are numerous enough at this point to play ring around the rosy! But the surprise of Mélenchon shooting up in the polls (yes, I did say never believe opinion polls) is causing a big stir. Many are now projecting a final runoff between far-right Le Pen and far-left Mélenchon. Status-quo supporters are trying to label Mélenchon a communist or Putin-praiser, but many international experts (including economists) are backing him. For a great (opinion) piece on Mélenchon's proposals, see this article in the Guardian. I have faith the French will not vote for Front National, and while the policies that Mélenchon is proposing make me feel warm and fuzzy, they aren't realistic for keeping France's economy stable. If you would like to know DIEM25's assessment of all the candidates' policies, click here.
We still have elections coming up in Germany and now again in the UK, so try to keep up!
13/11/2022 01:56:25 am
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is for my personal posts about issues in this world that I feel strongly about. I like to inform people about current events, the environment, food news and more.