The recent neck-to-neck presidential race in Austria is not a unique phenomenon, but it adds to the growing negative feelings against the European establishment
Alexander Van der Bellens Wahl zum Bundespräsidenten sei eine große Erleichterung für das demokratische Europa. Der knappe Wahlsieg auch ein Beweis, wie ungeduldig und unzufrieden Wählerschaften quer durch Europa mit den etablierten Parteien seien, erklärt der griechische Syriza-Politiker und Vizepräsident des Europaparlaments Dimitris Papadimoulis.
Im Userkommentar, den DER STANDARD in Englisch veröffentlicht, stellt Papadimoulis fest, dass die Europäische Union ein neues, überzeugendes Narrativ brauche. Etwa konkrete Wachstumsstrategien und soziale Inklusion statt Austerität oder gehässiger Reden. Papadimoulis' Prioritätenliste umfasst drei Punkte: Die Prüfung des Stabilitäts- und Wachstumspakts, ein Wachstumsprogramm für die europäische Peripherie und eine Erweiterung der demokratischen Kontrolle in der Europäischen Union.
The victory of Alexander Van der Bellen is a huge relief for democratic Europe. At the same time the difficult win is also a proof of how impatient and unsatisfied electorates across Europe have become against established parties. These parties are now heavily scrutinized for the wrongdoings and bad decisions they have taken during the last years.
The structural problems of the European Union were always there, but never so imminent and pressing than since 2008 and the spill-over of the financial crisis in the continent. Austerity politics first came as an "inevitable bad" to control budget and high public deficits and debts, ended up damaging the real economy and causing a lasting recession. Despite wishful thinking of many EU leaders, fact is that EU and Eurozone are still entrenched with slow recovery, while other members-states, like Greece, try hard to consolidate their economy and recap growth or others, like Portugal and Spain, keep struggling in a vicious circle of excessive deficits.
Growing negative feelings against the European establishment
At the same time, the refugee crisis came to deepen divisions in the EU. The lack of cooperation and non-implementation of collective agreements by all member-states, the way EU has handled this issue, and the flawed deal signed with Turkey are considered a direct blow against solidarity, fueling public support over far-right parties across the continent. The recent neck-to-neck presidential race in Austria is not a unique phenomenon, but it adds to the growing negative feelings against the European establishment. The European Union is no more as attractive as it used to be, and a new convincing narrative is necessary now more than ever.
Furthermore, for the younger generations that have to face persisting unemployment and few opportunities that touch on their education and skills, economic uncertainty coupled with the rise of far-right is a lethal combination that could lead to deep political instability. The EU leaders, the European Parliament and all democratic movements should stand firm and cooperate against the downfall of our founding principles. This broad alliance will not come with more austerity or hatred speeches, but with concrete policies of growth and social inclusion.
Three major priorities to work on
To that end, there are three major priorities to work on: the first is the revision of the Stability and Growth Pact that has to correspond to the current financial and social reality in Eurozone and the European Union; the second is the creation of a growth scheme that will motivate private investors to show trust to the European periphery; the third is the enhancement of democratic control in the EU, along with the a constant fusion and dialogue between the political parties and social collective networks and grassroots movements.
All these priorities demand strong political will and commitment foremost in European, and then in national level. The role of the European Parliament, as the only elected EU body, but also that of the European Commission as a centralized, coordinating authority are decisive on that matter. Broad coalitions are needed in political level as well as an orchestrated effort to turn Europe into a place of equal opportunities, democracy and prosperity. (Dimitris Papadimoulis, 27.5.2016)
Dimitris Papadimoulis is Vice President of the European Parliament, MEP of Syriza party.
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